Andrea Dovizioso took the battle for the championship to the wire in the Malaysian Grand Prix but Marc Marquez still remains the favorite for the title as the 2017 MotoGP action enters its grand finale in Valencia. With a 21-point lead in the championship standings, the title is still in Marquez’s reach. He just needs 5 points or an 11th place finish in Valencia to walk away with the crown, even if Dovizioso wins the race.
Why Marquez Settled for 4th in Malaysia Rather Than Fight for an Early Title Win
Marc Marquez would have taken the 2017 MotoGP championship last weekend in Malaysia with a race to go but instead postponed the battle to another day by finishing 4th in the race. The battle goes down to the wire between him and Dovizioso although Marquez goes to Valencia 21 points ahead.
After 17 out of 18 races, both Marquez and Dovizioso have won six races each but Marquez is ahead in points.
There are several ways Marquez would have lifted the crown with a race to go last weekend in Malaysia. For instance, if he would have finished second after Dovizioso, he would have won the world championship.
If Dovizioso had finished second and Marquez finished fourth or better he’d still have won the championship. In fact, he only needed to have Dovi finishing lower than 7th to automatically lift the world championship crown. However, none of them happened and the world championship is still a close contest with Marquez having the upper hand.
Talking to reporters in a post-race press conference, the reigning champion admitted that he didn’t see any sense in pushing to finish the race higher than 4th given that he already has a comfortable lead in the championship.
He said that despite having started the race quite aggressively, he realized the two Ducatis were faster than his Honda Repsol in the rain-hit track and settled to stay in the fourth position.
He’d have won the championship in Malaysia if he’d taken more risks but a crash would have meant going to the season finale in Valencia with just seven or eight points ahead of Dovizioso. “Better to take things step by step,” he said.
On the question of why he was unable to fend off the Ducatis, Marquez admitted that he lacked confidence in his braking system in the wet conditions and there was that corner entry that cost him dearly.
A Ducati Day in the Malaysian Grand Prix
As Marquez admitted, the Malaysian Grand Prix was indeed a battle between two former champs from the Ducati team. It was a Ducati battle between Italian Andrea Dovizioso and Spaniard Jorge Lorenzo.
With four laps to go, Dovizioso overtook Lorenzo, who had maintained an early lead in his typical style, and went ahead to win his sixth race of the season in a rain-soaked Sepang circuit. Lorenzo finished second, making it a Ducati one-two finish for the first time this season.
Frenchman Johann Zarco on a Yamaha scooped the third position despite suffering a soft rear tire but still frustrating Marquez’s hopes of an early championship win. Dovi’s win stalled Marquez’s triumph for another two weeks.
Marquez now has 282 points with 25 more points to grab in Valencia if his bike remains on its two wheels to the end of the race. However, life is characteristically unpredictable and anything could happen in Valencia.
This is why Dovizioso is not ruling out his chances of getting the title. Talking to reporters, the 31-year old Italian said he’s keeping his hopes up as anything can happen. “You never know about the weather,” he said.
Talking of Rossi and Viñales
It would be an injustice to Valentino Rossi’s fans if I didn’t mention that their idol is still in the fourth position in the championship standings with 197 points. Compared to his stellar performance in the Australian Grand Prix in Philips Island more than a week ago, the MotoGP legend’s performance at the Sepang Circuit last weekend was not something to write home about.
He finished 7th and I can authoritatively state, at this point, that Rossi won’t be the 2017 MotoGP championship winner.
Maverick Viñales is still placed third in the world championship standings with 226 points. He finished 9th in the Malaysian Grand Prix and not likely to be crowned the 2017 world champion.
As MotoGP action moves to Valencia for the season’s finale in two weeks, everything points to another Marc Marquez world championship victory. After his calm performance in Malaysia, I’m expecting to see him wrap things up in an impressive style.
Read more from the MotoGP championship:
- Marquez Proves to Rossi Once Again That He’s The Better Rider
- With Three Races to Go, It’s Either Marquez or Dovizioso for the MotoGP Title
- Unstoppable Marquez Extends His Championship Lead With the Aragon MotoGP Win
- Marc Marquez Regains Championship Lead After A 4th Victory in Wet San Marino GP
- MotoGP meet in Silverstone, A Game Changer In The Championship?
- The Austrian Grand Prix: A Minor Setback in Marquez’s Quest for the Championship
- Marc Marquez Inching Closer To The World Championship After The Brno Victory