CHESTE, Spain — Marc Marquez cemented his status as the top rider in motorbike racing on Sunday after the Spaniard won his fourth MotoGP world title in the final race of the season.
Marquez was assured he would retain the crown with six laps remaining of the Valencia Grand Prix when challenger Andrea Dovizioso crashed out of the race.
At the age of 24 years and 254 days, Marquez became the youngest four-time champion, breaking the milestone set by Mike Hailwood of 25 years, 107 days that had stood since 1965.
Marquez only needed to finish in 11th place or better to seal the title. Starting from pole, the Spaniard steered his Honda to a third-place finish behind race winner Dani Pedrosa.
Dovizioso was the sole rider who could challenge Marquez. His only hope of tipping Marquez for the title was to win and see Marquez finish 12th or worse. Instead, the Italian crashed out as pressure built near the end.
Moments before Dovizioso lost control of his Ducati, Marquez had a scare when he barely managed to keep his bike up and on course for the championship.
With his bike leaning perilously close to the surface, Marquez poked his left elbow out and appeared to use it to stave off disaster.
“That save will go down in history and that elbow gave us the title,” Marquez told Movistar television. “I told myself ‘I won’t let go even if the bike flips, if I have to get hurt then this is the time to do so.'”
Marquez celebrated his fourth title in five years with his fans at the Circuit Ricardo Tormo. He also has two titles in the lower classes.
“Dovi has been a very strong rival. I learned a lot of things from him,” Marquez said. “I have had a lot of stress this year, it’s been very rough. I hadn’t confessed this before, but during a period of the season I lost some hair … it’s tough, but you get through it with the team you have around you.”
Pedrosa, another Honda rider, overtook Johann Zarco late in the race.
In Moto2, Miguel Oliviera won ahead of champion Franco Morbidelli.
In Moto3, pole-sitter Jorge Martin won the race ahead of champion Joan Mir. It was Martin’s first race victory.