“A shame” the duel with Rossi was cut short – Marquez

A last lap showdown between the seven-time and nine-time Champions didn’t materialise at Sepang, but the 93 takes home win number 70

A six-place grid penalty wasn’t going to stop 2018 World Champion Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) taking victory at the Shell Malaysia Motorcycle Grand Prix; his eighth of the season and 70th of his career across all classes.

An incident with Andrea Iannone (Team Suzuki Ecstar) in Q2 cost Marquez pole on Saturday and despite starting seventh on Sunday, the seven-time World Champion was soon making his way to the forefront of the pack. But it wasn’t an easy race, by any means:

“It was a hard race,” began the number 93. “I didn’t get a perfect start, and then my first lap was good but not one of the best of my career. Step by step, I overtook some riders and got to second place. I saw that Valentino was pushing and I started to chase him, lapping at qualifying pace! But in the process, I overheated the rear tyre; the front was also warming up quickly and the feeling wasn’t good. So for a few laps, I just tried to cool down and in so doing I began to feel better and better.”

Valentino Rossi (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP) was the man setting the scorching pace at the front, with Marquez pressuring his rival from just under a second back. Shades of 2015 at Sepang were appearing and it looked like we could be in for a grandstand finish between two of the sports all-time greats.

“I saw I was getting closer to Valentino and honestly that gave me extra motivation. At that moment, it was just a matter of instinct and pushing, something that you can do when you’ve already got the Championship,” explains Marquez. But then, disaster for ‘The Doctor’ as he slipped out of contention with four laps remaining at Turn 1.

“Unfortunately, he made a little mistake in Turn 1, which is a shame as it would have been nice to see how the duel would have ended,” admitted the Honda rider – and we can only agree. From there though, the Spaniard could relax as the buffer back to third place Johann Zarco (Monster Yamaha Tech 3) was over three seconds.

“Anyway, when I saw him crash, I just cooled down and focused on finishing the race. We won, and that was the best way to seal the Constructors Championship. I would also like to congratulate Jorge Martin and ‘Pecco’ Bagnaia for taking Championships. We’ll celebrate together in Valencia.”

Will number 71 come at the season finale in Valencia to cap off another magnificent Marquez campaign?

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