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The heat is on: Marquez and Dovi discuss the title

Calm, collected, focused – but very much ready for a fight

Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) arrives at Sepang International Circuit 33 points clear of Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team) at the top of the standings, and that means he now has his first chance at the 2017 World Championship. Speaking at the Pre-Event Press Conference, the reigning Champion says he’ll be riding with the title in mind – but that he will battle it out if needed. A week after the incredible Phillip Island fight, of that there is little doubt.

“One of the main targets is try to finish,” says Marquez. “I’ll try to be on the same level, with the same mentality, but obviously you feel a little bit different and it’s a special weekend. But on the other hand, I have the same motivation and mentality and I’ll try to push in the practices to the maximum to prepare the race, and we’ll see how we can fight and finish on Sunday.”

One thing a bit different about Sepang is the preseason testing at the venue – with Yamaha also having done an extra private test – and Marquez knows it could be a tough one. But with two races to go, it’s not yet now or never.

“A lot of riders are fast here, and we did a lot of laps here during preseason,” explains Marquez. “So it will be a tough weekend. Here in the past I’ve had some ups and downs, it’s not one of my best tracks. We will see where we can arrive. But I have a good advantage, there are two races remaining, and we’ll try to be on a good level and think about the Championship. But if I need to fight, I will fight.”

Andrea Dovizioso, meanwhile, similarly had some fighting talk, saying he’ll try everything to try and keep the title open. “We know it’s difficult,” says the Italian, “but the Championship is open and we’ll try everything. We’ll try and get the best result, and then we’ll see what happens with Marc and the other riders. Before we approached the weekend looking to win the race, and we won’t change that.”

Dovizioso is also on happy hunting ground at Sepang, and it was the track that kickstarted his recent winning form when he took a spectacular win last season. On that, the Italian says he has great memories – and that he loves the track.

“Last year it was an amazing victory and battle with Valentino and Iannone,” affirms the Ducati rider. “I have good memories and I really enjoy riding this track. In the past in the dry we’ve never been very competitive, but I expect it will be different this year. And we have to be ready in all conditions.”

They will, with Malaysia known for its changeable weather, fast-drying track and sudden storms: a perfect melting pot for the first showdown for the crown.

Press conference marks start of the #MalaysianGP