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Marquez & Motegi: the one that got away

Title celebrations in 2014 saw the Repsol Honda rider enjoy Japanese glory - but the Championship leader is yet to win at Honda's home track

Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) continues to break records, and after his victory at MotorLand Aragon equaled the number of Grand Prix career wins (54) of MotoGP™ legend Mick Doohan. And that's at only 23 years old.

So far Marquez has accumulated 28 wins in the premier class, and this season seems on track for his third MotoGP™ world title with a 52 point advantage going into the flyaways. The Spanish rider has notched up wins at Losail, Austin, Termas de Rio Hondo, Jerez, Le Mans, Mugello, Catalunya, Assen, Sachsenring, Indianapolis, Laguna Seca, Brno, Misano, Silverstone, Aragon, Phillip Island, Sepang and Valencia so far. Notice one missing?

The Red Bull Ring in Austria is one, as Ducati took their first win since Casey Stoner left competition with the Borgo Panigale factory. However there is also one long-standing MotoGP™ circuit where Marquez has not tasted victory in the premier class - the home track of manufacturer Honda, the Twin Ring Motegi. Wins in Moto2™ in 2012 and 125cc in 2010 give the 'Ant' a good CV at Motegi, but he has thus far been unable to secure a win at the track in three MotoGP™ visits.

Although Marquez’s three premier class races at Motegi have produced some mixed results, his visits to the ‘land of the rising sun’ have not been unproductive…

2013: The Japanese Grand Prix was the 17th and penultimate round of the season in 2013, as the title fight suddenly closed up once again in Philip Island. In his rookie season the Honda rider had already taken six victories and eight podiums in his stunning first MotoGP™ campaign, before he arrived in Japan 18 points clear of Jorge Lorenzo going into the weekend - with the Grand Prix affected by fog and rain during the free practice sessions. Yamaha rider Lorenzo took control in pole position.

On race day, Marquez suffered a spectacular crash in warm up before the race and by the end of play on Sunday Lorenzo took victory by three seconds, ahead of the Honda rookie. The distance between them was reduced to 13 points in the standings, so Marquez would take the title fight on to the final round at Valencia - coming out on top after a spectacular fight

2014: In his second season in MotoGP™ Marquez dominated from start to finish. The Honda rider took victory in the first ten races of the year, meaning the title looked inevitable from then on. After those ten initial successes Marquez added a win at Silverstone before the flyaways in Japan, Australia and Malaysia. When the Twin Ring Motegi welcomed the MotoGP™ paddock back, everything pointed to a 12th victory of the year for Marquez as he looked to wrap up the title again - this time at the venue designed by Honda and in front of his factory bosses.

Motegi 2013 - MotoGP - FP - Action - Marc Marquez - Crash

In qualifying things they did not go as expected and Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team) took pole while Marquez lined up fourth on the grid. Lorenzo again took the victory on Japanese soil, but by finishing second in the race Marquez celebrated his second consecutive MotoGP™ title in stunning samurai style. No race victory, but plenty of reasons to celebrate for the young Spaniard.

2015: His third year in the premier class was the most complicated to date, after numerous crashes and a more challenging season onboard his Honda. Arriving in Japan to compete in the 15th round of the season, Marquez had four victories under his belt but was not in serious contention for the title after too many zeros on the scoreboard. With the pressure off would this be his year to secure a Motegi win? It was not to be again and this time Marquez finished off the podium in fourth place.

#MM93WorldChampion: Marquez celebrates 2nd World Title

2016: This season Marquez arrives in Japan as the leader of the MotoGP™ World Championship once again, with 52 points separating him from nearest rival Valentino Rossi (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP). Just as was the case in 2014, Marquez could clinch the title in Japan - depending on the results of Rossi and Lorenzo - and a first MotoGP™ win at Motegi would take him a long way towards achieving that goal. But Marquez is a changed man in 2016, and plays the long game for points. Will the Repsol Honda rider cut loose as he did in Silverstone? Or will he keep his eyes firmly on the bigger prize, and prove his patience once again...