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Marquez vs Dovi: who will shine brightest in Japan?

Italian rider is looking to make the Championship leader wait another week for his seventh world title in the land of the rising sun

The Motul Grand Prix of Japan could be a Championship clinching weekend for Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) and joining him in the pre-event Press Conference was closest rival Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team), Maverick Viñales (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP), Alex Rins (Team Suzuki Ecstar), Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda Team) and home hero Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda Idemitsu) to preview Round 16.

Motul Grand Prix of Japan: Pre-race Press Conference

With a 77-point lead in the overall standings, Marquez has his first match point of the season at the Twin Ring Motegi: the home of Honda and a venue he’s sealed the title at previously in 2014 and 2016. The number 93 isn’t wanting to put any extra pressure on himself though and is treating this race like any other weekend.

“Here we have our first match point but the target is the same as every other weekend, start well in FP1 and try and be ready to fight for the victory. After Warm Up we’ll see whether we can fight – let’s not forget these guys are very strong in Motegi, so no stress and no panic.”

“These guys” was an indication to the rider sat immediately to his right – Dovizioso. The two were embroiled in an unforgettable battle in Motegi last season and it’s one Marquez remembers like it was yesterday. Is a repeat on the cards? “Those kinds of battles are in my mind like they happened yesterday! It was nice but a difficult race with a lot of water but a great battle. He beat me on the back straight and braked later, he was already in front and I tried at the last corner but it was too much. He made a great move in that race but this year on Sunday it looks like it will be dry, and it could be different…”  

What happened last year at the Twin Ring Motegi?

‘DesmoDovi’ will be hoping the outcome won’t be different from that particular battle as he aims to put Honda’s title celebrations on hold. And in addition to his Spanish colleague, Dovi is treating the Japanese GP as he would any other weekend: not thinking about the Championship and simply just trying to win the race.

“Let’s try and win the race and make Marc have to wait for the celebrations,” commented the Ducati rider. “I think, unfortunately, I’ve been racing not thinking about the championship for a long time because the gap is so big. Here is just another race and we want to win, come back to victory and it could be a good track for us.”

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It certainly seems like Motegi’s 2018 mixture is a recipe for another potential Marquez vs Dovizioso classic. Despite the weather looking like it will have a part to play on Friday and potentially Saturday, Sunday’s weather forecast is predicting a dry race for both riders to go into full attack mode.

Will it be magnificent seven for Marquez or delight for Dovi? Thankfully, we don’t have long to find out. Watch both riders join the rest of the premier class field as they take to the Twin Ring Motegi for FP1 at 09:55 local time (GMT +9) on Friday morning.

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