Marquez wins world championship in dramatic finale
By: Michael Tozer
Published: 13 November 2017 Image credit: Getty Images
Marc Marquez has won the 2017 MotoGP World Championship in dramatic fashion, after title rival Andrea Dovizioso crashed out of the race with seven laps remaining.The race was taken out by Dani Pedrosa, who edged out French rookie Johann Zarco on the final lap to win, while Marc Marquez rounded out the podium to finish in third and seal his fourth top-class title.
Going into the race, the title could only be claimed by Marquez and Ducati's Andrea Dovizioso - with Dovizioso needing to win the race to claim the major prize, while also relying on the Spaniard to finish lower than 11th.
It was always going to be a difficult task for Dovizioso - as Marquez had the perfect start to his weekend, qualifying for the race on pole position, while the Italian was stuck in ninth after a subpar qualifying performance.
As the lights went out and the race began, Marquez couldn't have asked for a better start - as he got the hole-shot off the line and maintained his lead, while his Honda team-mate Dani Pedrosa managed to follow behind him to slot into second, protecting Marquez from Johann Zarco and the threat of the two Ducatis of Jorge Lorenzo and Dovizioso, who rose to 4th and 5th respectively.
As the laps ticked on, Zarco looked impressive and made easy work of Pedrosa - moving into second and setting his sights on the lead and the first MotoGP race win of his career, putting pressure on Marquez.
After four laps, Zarco had made his way past Marquez - with the Spaniard allowing the rookie rider to move ahead and ease the pressure, knowing he just had to maintain a Top 10 finish to secure the title.
A clear front five of Zarco, Marquez, Pedrosa, Lorenzo and Dovizioso began to emerge - and the pack stayed in those positions for 19 consecutive laps of the 30 lap race, despite Ducati's orders for Lorenzo to move aside for Dovizioso and let him challenge the Hondas in front.
On Lap 23, Marquez made his move on Zarco and reclaimed the lead after biding his time in second for over half an hour - as the crowd in Valencia erupted for their home-town hero.
But elation quickly turned to shock when Marquez ran wide only moments later - narrowly averting disaster and miraculously staying on his bike, re-joining the race behind Dovizioso in fifth after running into the gravel pit.
The drama escalated when both Ducatis crashed out of the race on the next lap - ending Dovizioso's dreams of winning the World Championship and handing Marquez his 11th podium finish of the 2017 season.
With only five laps remaining and a six second gap ahead of Alex Rins in fourth place, the world title was inevitable for Marquez, but there was still a battle for the lead going on at the front of the field, as Pedrosa stayed within 0.2s of Zarco's lead.
Going into the final lap, the French rider had a 0.107s advantage on Pedrosa and wanted to end his first top-class season in the perfect fashion - but it was not to be, as Pedrosa made a move on the rookie with half a lap to go and pulled away as he roared across the chequered flag to win his home Grand Prix.
Zarco crossed 0.3s behind pace, while Marquez cruised into third place ten seconds behind the leaders - soaking up every spare moment of celebration he could.
Suzuki's Alex Rins finished in fourth, narrowly edging out Valentino Rossi by 0.25s, while fellow Suzuki rider Andrea Iannone finished just behind them in sixth.
Australian rider Jack Miller crossed the line in seventh in his last race as a Marc VDS Honda rider, while Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda), Michele Pirro (Ducati) and Tito Rabat (Marc VDS Honda) rounded out the top ten.