VALENCIA, Spain (AP) — If history is any indicator, drama is certain to accompany the MotoGP championship decider in Valencia.
Motorcycling is bracing for Sunday's finale when Marc Marquez looks to close his rookie season by wresting the title from defending champion Jorge Lorenzo. The 20-year-old Marquez knows a top-four finish assures him of the title in front of a capacity crowd of more than 100,000 at the Cheste Circuit.
The last time the championship came down to the finale was in Valencia seven years ago when Nicky Hayden snatched the title from Valentino Rossi with a third-place finish after the Italian crashed. "I've watched the video of 2006. If it can happen to Valentino, it can happen to anybody," said Marquez, who leads two-time world champion Lorenzo by 13 points.
"The conclusion you take from it is that anything can happen in the race." Lorenzo has won the last two races to close the gap, heaping further pressure on his Spanish countryman who would have clinched the title already if not for a team error in Australia leading to his disqualification.
Lorenzo is hoping for some wet weather to help his cause plus some help from Rossi, his Yamaha teammate, especially after what happened in 2006. "I'm sure that if (Rossi) can, he will help me. I'd do the same in his case," Lorenzo said. "We've got to be competitive on Friday and Saturday and especially in the race and then we'll see."
Hayden won that title despite then teammate Dani Pedrosa colliding with him in the penultimate race to see him crash. But he eventually took it in a dramatic finale. "I'd love it if the title was decided on the last lap," Hayden said. "It's always best when you don't know how it will finish until you see the checkered flag."
Pedrosa did not make it clear if he would help Marquez, his Honda teammate. "Honda has no team orders as far as I know and I think he is still 13 points ahead and always on the podium, so I think he's capable of doing it anyway," Pedrosa said. "And winning it would be the best way of helping the team."
Marquez can clinch the title with an eighth-place position if Lorenzo is second. Marquez can clinch it with a 12th-place finish if Lorenzo is third, while a 15th-place finish is enough if Lorenzo is fourth.
If Lorenzo finishes out of the top four, Marquez will be champion. The circuit will be treated to a Spanish champion, regardless of the result, which means a Spanish sweep of all three racing categories.
Pol Espargaro has already clinched the Moto2 title, while Maverick Vinales, Luis Salom, and Alex Rins are battling for the Moto3 title with five points separating them.