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Marquez: “The title is between three riders”

The reigning Champion talks about the title fight, tactics and 2017 season as the flyaways get underway

“For me, the title is between three riders. I think the Championship will be between Dovizioso, Viñales and me. I think 90% it will be decided in Valencia.”

Marquez: "This year I have more pressure and I like it"

That’s what reigning Champion – and Championship leader – Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) is expecting in the final four races of the year:  a three-way battle to the end against Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team) and Maverick Viñales (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP). With the story of the season having ups and downs for all three, Marquez’ ups of late – on the podium in every race since the Catalan GP bar one – have seen him able to gain a 16 point lead with 100 points still on the table. But the season didn`t get off to the best start; something that challenged Marquez to be patient and ‘revert’ to his 2016 way of thinking.

“The most difficult was the first five races,” says the five-time World Champion. “I was slow, plus taking a lot of risks, plus a lot of crashes, especially after Le Mans and Mugello and I said: ‘OK, it will be impossible’. I had the feeling from 2015, like ‘I can’t’. I was trying to be safe to be with the bike but I wasn’t able because if I was riding smooth then I finished 6th or 7th.  And that was not the way to fight for the Championship so then I tried to change a little bit the mentality to 2016: be patient. Be patient until you have the feeling. Then we come back after Assen and again I had a good feeling with the bike, I understood the limits a little bit better than before. I think still I’m learning from this year, but I understand that a very small thing can change your riding style or can change completely your feeling. Every move matters of course.”

#JapaneseGP: Every move matters!

Now the challenge is less the restraint and defensive strategy of 2016, and more one of judging how much to attack and when. “I think it will be the key to understand when you can’t fight because there will be some races where Viñales or Dovizioso or another one will be much faster than you,” affirms the points leader. But if he feels good? “I will attack. But if I don’t feel good, it will be better to finish or to take some points.”

Marquez says the bike is on a similar level, but part of this ability to attack more in 2017 – and manage the risks – comes from one key change: the engine. “One important thing is that we changed the engine this year. We changed the balance of the bike, that helps a lot, and now we are in a moment that we understand really quickly what we need in each situation,” says Marquez. “We arrive at a circuit and we already know or we can have some idea of which setup we need.”

#MM93WorldChampion: Marquez celebrates 2nd World Title

For Motegi, that means working on the setup to find the compromise between the hard acceleration and braking of the track. With three wins at the Twin Ring Motegi so far - one in the 125 World Championship, one in Moto2™ and one in MotoGP™ - Marquez has also wrapped up two of his premier class titles in Japan, and the track and country hold good memories. Now he’ll be looking to make some more, and choose when to attack as he begins to hone in on World Championship number six - ready to give 100% on the flyways beginning from the Japanese GP: “These races are always demanding due to the different time zones and conditions, and this year with the Championship so close, they’ll be even more of a challenge..."