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GP Week : Issue 194
For the first time since 2006, and at the same circuit, the premier motorcycle title will be decided only in the last of 18 races, with the final showdown between Marquez and Lorenzo at the Ricardo Tormo circuit at Valencia on sunday. Last time it was Honda vs Yamaha, American (Hayden) vs Italian (Rossi). This year reflects the dominance of Spanish riders, and the fans will flock to see two of their own fight for glory, with third place also secured for Marquez’s Repsol Honda team-mate Dani Pedrosa. The Valencia circuit is expecting capacity crowds at the self-contained 4.005-km circuit, looping back and forth in a small area between massive grandstands and hillsides packed with spectator ... and the post-race fireworks (a regional tradition) will go with a special bang, no matter which rider is victorious. Marquez’s task is simple: he needs to finish no lower than fourth. Then he will still be champion, even if Lorenzo wins. Apart from two non-finishes (crash in Italy, black flag in Australia) the star rookie has been on the top-three podium at every race in his first MotoGP season. Only disaster – a crash, a technical failure, another black flag – could stop him walking away as the youngest-ever premier-class winner, and Lorenzo will be piling on the pressure to try to force a mistake. But Marquez is prepared for either outcome: “We must remember it is my first year, and the championship was not my target,” he said. Last year’s wet race was won by Pedrosa’s Honda ... but only after crowned champion Lorenzo had a spectacular crash misjudging the speed of a lapped rider after galloping away. On top form in the latter half of the season, the Mallorcan is favourite for another win. It would be his eighth this year; Marquez has six to his name, giving him the chance to equal his older rival’s tally. The only other riders to win races this year – Honda’s Pedrosa three and Yamaha’s Rossi one – are secure in third and fourth overall, likewise Cal Crutchlow (Monster Yamaha) in fifth. Only a few minor positions remain in serious doubt, while Stefan Bradl (LCR Honda) has only a slender chance of regaining sixth from Alvaro Bautista (GO&FUN Honda), now 14 points adrift. ABOVE: The last time there was a MotoGP last round showdown was Valencia 2006 – where Nicky Hayden (above) triumphed after Valentino Rossi inexplicably crashed MOTOGP >>> nEWs SHOWDOWN! 15 GPWEEK.com // 15 GPWEEK.com // PARTNERS: