Marquez takes stride towards MotoGP title

11 October 2018 - 19:08 By Thomas Falkiner
Reigning champion Marc Marquez won a MotoGP thriller from Ducati’s Andrea Dovizioso at the inaugural Thailand Grand Prix on Sunday, and moved closer to a third successive title.

After fierce racing in the closing laps at Buriram, the Honda-riding Spaniard nosed in front at the last corner and beat the Italian by 0.115 seconds to prevail in a thrilling duel.

The win extended the four-times champion’s lead to 77 points over Dovizioso with four races left, and Marquez can wrap up the series in Japan in two weeks with a win at Motegi.

Maverick Vinales finished third ahead of team-mate Valentino Rossi, signalling a return to form for the Yamaha team after a string of poor results. Marquez started on pole after winning his 50th qualifying on Saturday but relinquished the lead after a poor early lap, allowing Rossi and Dovizioso to pass.

Rossi’s challenge fell away, leaving Dovizioso to battle Marquez alone.

Ducati had tested poorly at the track in February and it looked gloomy for the Italian as Marquez bided his time to strike. With four laps left, Marquez pounced and snatched the lead but Dovizioso bravely wrested it back quickly to kick off a breathless series of overtakes, which led to Marquez diving into the lead on the final corner.

SA’s Brad Binder (KTM) crossed the line fourth in the Moto2 class to consolidate his third place in the standings. The race was won by championship leader Francesco Bagnaia.

Lewis wins & Sebastian spins:

Sebastian Vettel’s run of bad luck continued in Japan on Sunday and it will take a miracle for the Ferrari driver to take the title, with Lewis Hamilton winning his fourth race in succession to extend his lead to 67 points.

Vettel, who started the race eighth after a failed tyre gamble in qualifying, made contact with Max Verstappen’s Red Bull and spun while trying to pass the Dutch driver for third. He resumed in 19th and finished sixth, setting the fastest lap.

Up front, an untroubled Hamilton led from pole to flag, crossing the line 12.9 seconds ahead of his Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas in a second successive Mercedes one-two. Versappen was third.

Hamilton now has 331 points to Vettel’s 264 with four races remaining, and the Briton could seal his fifth championship in Austin, Texas on October 21 if he wins and Vettel is lower than second. Hamilton has won all but one race there since 2012, and few would bet against him.

After the season was developing into a captivating duel between two four-time world champions, it has recently turned into a one-horse race with Hamilton winning six of the last seven races. Vettel’s highest finish since his win in Belgium at the end of August has been third and he will need to win at least the next two, with Hamilton failing to score, for any miracle to look remotely possible

Ogier rules in Wales:

World champion Sebastien Ogier won the Wales Rally Great Britain for M-Sport Ford on Sunday to close the gap on Hyundai’s overall leader Thierry Neuville to seven points with two rounds remaining.

The Frenchman prevailed after a battle with Toyota’s Jari-Matti Latvala, who had the lead in the morning but fell to second place on the penultimate stage.

Ogier, who has won five times in Britain, finished with an advantage of 10.6 seconds. Esapekka Lappi ended third.

The next round is Rally Catalunya in Spain on October 25-28. – BD Motor News