Level 7: Marc Marquez takes a magnificent seventh crown at Motegi 1

Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) is now a seven-time World Champion, with the number 93 wrapping up his fifth premier class crown in six years in Japan. That makes it a more than 83% success rate for the 25-year-old Spaniard as he continues to work his way through the record books, with 2015 so far the only season since he graduated in which he hasn’t been crowned MotoGP™ Champion. The youngest rider to win five premier class titles and the youngest rider to reach seven Championships overall, Marquez is also now one of only four men to have won five or more premier class crowns, joining Valentino Rossi, Mick Doohan and Giacomo Agostini in that exclusive club.

Marquez’ rise to glory began with his first title in the 125 Championship in 2010, just two years after making his debut on the world stage at 15. A podium finisher in that rookie year despite the season ending in some injury struggles, Marquez impressed early – and in 2010 his talent shone fully for the first time as he took the crown and won ten of the last 14 races of the year.

2011 saw Marquez make the move to Moto2™. It was a difficult start to the season punctuated by crashes, but then the Spaniard gained some serious momentum and went on a winning run – taking seven victories to close down the gap to Championship leader Stefan Bradl. Marquez also took a podium at Phillip Island from 38th on the grid following a penalty, and that put him in striking distance of the lead – but the Malaysian Grand Prix changed the course of the season. A crash in practice ended his charge as the number 93 suffered problems with his eyesight and was forced to forfeit the rest of the season and the chance at the crown.

Marquez spent that winter in limbo as he sought to cure the problem, before finally surgery was successful and he was ready to get back on track. Despite the tough off season the number 93 came out swinging and was the pacesetter from the off, taking the Championship in style – including a win from the back in the season finale in Valencia to underline the spectacular year. Then it was time to try a MotoGP™ machine for the first time as Marquez prepared for his premier class debut in 2013.

It started with a bang as the number 93 duelled the likes of Valentino Rossi to take his first podium and that laid the groundwork for next time out as Marquez won only his second ever MotoGP™ race. He went on to become the youngest rider to clinch the premier class crown after a stunning rookie season and was the first rookie to achieve the feat in 35 years. That was a taste of what was to come as Marquez kept barrelling through the record books, beginning 2014 with victory in the first ten races to extend a stunning lead and retain the crown at the Twin Ring Motegi. That was the first time he won it in Japan, on the home turf of manufacturer Honda.

2015 began well with a win in the Americas GP once again, but the season was punctuated by a few more ups and downs and Marquez lost the title for the first time since moving up to MotoGP™. Drama characterised the end of that season as the number 93 clashed with Valentino Rossi, and it was Jorge Lorenzo who emerged victorious in the Championship. That remains the only empty space in Marquez’ trophy cabinet as yet and 2016 saw the Spaniard on a serious mission to make sure it wasn’t repeated.

It wasn’t. Marquez rode to win the title and not simply to win races, honing his aggression into a more targeted weapon and once again taking the title at Motegi in Japan. With wins in Texas, Argentina, Germany and Aragon ahead of wrapping up MotoGP™ Championship number three, it was a season of consistency. 2017 didn’t begin the same as the reigning Champion suffered a DNF in Argentina, and by Le Mans he’d recorded his third 0 of the campaign. It was going to be a big mountain for Marquez to climb if he was to retain the crown – but that he did.

Marquez’ team had told him he’d be ahead going into the summer break and somehow, he was. Back on top in the German GP and going on a run of podium finishes until a mechanical issue at Silverstone, the consistency was back in the later part of the season. At Motegi there was no chance at the crown but there was a stunning duel in the rain between Marquez and key rival Andrea Dovizioso, and the Italian won it to become the first man to beat Marquez in a last lap duel after the number 93 had begun that lap in the lead. The fight rolled on and on and went down to Valencia – with Marquez eventually emerging victorious by virtue of an awe-inspiring save at Turn 1 when he was chasing the win. He didn’t get that win and instead took a podium in third, but he did wrap up title number six and his fourth premier class Championship.

Then began 2018 and the long road from Qatar to Valencia was reset once again. This time it was 19 rounds that would decide the Champion and it began with fireworks in the desert as ‘DesmoDovi’ came out swinging and duelled Marquez for the first victory of the season. The Italian took it at the final corner of the final lap – the duo’s third duel and the third win for Dovizioso – but Argentina was up next, where Marquez was expected to be the favourite. That he was, but with start line drama hitting the number 93 and three penalties given to the reigning Champion during a riotous race, it was a Grand Prix that saw him fail to score and caused some big debates in the paddock.

Next time out in Texas, Marquez was on a mission to quell the aftermath and rode a lights-to-flag spectacular to take the win by a big margin, only challenged briefly by Andrea Iannone in the early stages. His first win of the season, it put him back in the title hunt – and Dovizioso had had two more challenging rounds since his Qatari celebrations. But it was time to return to Europe and Marquez was about to turn the screw.

Jerez was dramatic not for Marquez’ antics, but for a huge crash at the front involving three key rivals – Andrea Dovizioso, Jorge Lorenzo and Dani Pedrosa. They all collided and failed to score, setting the scene for a big points gain for Marquez. The bad luck kept coming for Dovizioso next time out in Le Mans and the Italian crashed out the lead, with the number 93 on the top step once again…

Mugello was a shake up though. The Italian classic was a race to remember for Ducati as they took their first 1-2 at the venue – and it was Lorenzo on the top step for the first time in red. Winning by a sizeable margin, there was a new big threat to Marquez’ mission on the scene, and the Majorcan followed it up by the same, ‘Lorenzo-style’ victory the following race weekend in Barcelona. Marquez was second, however, and did some good damage limitation – with the next race set for the TT Circuit Assen in the Netherlands.

After qualifying for that Dutch GP it looked like it was going to be a tight fight at the front, but no one could have predicted quite how tight. One of the best races of all time saw a huge battle for the win between a huge group of riders, but it was Marquez who, once again, was able to pull the pin late on and escape to take the flag. A ninth win in a row at the Sachsenring followed it up before a duel with Lorenzo saw Marquez take P3 in Czechia as Dovizioso won, and the number 93 would face the number 99 again in Austria in the following Grand Prix…

Rivalry reignited, the battle for the Red Bull Ring was a spectacular scrap and it was Lorenzo who took the spoils. The Majorcan was on a serious run of form that he followed up with pole at Silverstone, but with racing then cancelled on Sunday it was a blow for the hopes of those who had shown superior pace in practice. Dovizioso won in Misano to gain some ground but Lorenzo crashed, and Marquez’ second edged him ever closer to the crown. Aragon only underlined that as the number 93 took the win before he finally – on the fourth attempt – beat Dovizioso in a last lap duel with the fight going down to the wire at Buriram in the first ever Thai GP. From there it was next stop Motegi and a first chance at wrapping up the crown.

Qualifying didn’t quite go to plan for Marquez in Japan and he was left to start sixth. Needing a clean getaway to get on the level with polesitter and key rival Dovizioso, that’s exactly what he got – slicing through to third and the race slowly forming into another tantalising 93 vs 04 duel. After taking the lead in the latter laps it was clear the Spaniard was giving it everything to try and wrap up the title with the win – and that he did. Drama struck on the penultimate lap for Dovizioso as the Italian slid out from the chase, leaving Marquez in clear air in the lead and one lap from being a seven-time World Champion.

That lap ended with a huge wheelie across the line as the number 93 wrote another chapter in his legend, making yet more history in style.

Level 7: Marc Marquez takes a magnificent seventh crown at Motegi 2

Statistics: Marc Marquez

– Marquez is the youngest-ever rider to win five premier class titles, at the age of 25 years and 246 days, taking the record from Valentino Rossi, who was 26 years and 221 days old when he won his fifth premier class title in 2005.

– Marquez is also the youngest rider of all-time to reach the milestone of seven World Championships, taking the record from Mike Hailwood, who was 26 years and 140 days old when he won his seventh title, the 1966 350cc crown.

–  Marquez has joined Valentino Rossi, Mick Doohan and Giacomo Agostini as one of only four riders to have taken five or more premier-class World Championships.

– Marquez is one of only eight riders to have taken seven or more World Championships over all classes, the others being John Surtees (7), Phil Read (7), Carlo Ubbiali (9), Mike Hailwood (9), Valentino Rossi (9), Angel Nieto (13) and Giacomo Agostini (15).

– Marquez has won all his MotoGP™ titles riding Honda motorcycles, equalling Mick Doohan as the riders with the most premier class titles with the Japanese manufacturer (5).

– Only one Spanish rider has won more world titles than Marquez: Angel Nieto, who won 13 World Championships (seven in the 125cc class and six in the 50cc class) between 1969 and 1984.

– Marquez has won at least five GPs per season over the past nine years, across three categories: 125cc, Moto2™ and MotoGP™. He is the first rider to achieve this distinction in the 70-year history of motorcycle Grand Prix racing, beating his own record from last year. Previously, Mike Hailwood was the only man to have achieved at least five victories per season over seven years, across at least three classes, between 1961 and 1967.

– Marquez’s current tally of pole positions extends his all-time pole record (in the modern era, since 1974 when full poles began to be officially recorded) to 78 poles across all three classes.

– At Chang International Circuit, Marquez (25 years 231 days old) became the youngest rider to reach the milestone of 50 pole positions in the premier class of Grand Prix racing, taking the record from Mick Doohan. who was 32 years 122 days old when he set his 50th pole position in Australia back in 1997.

– This season Marquez has won more MotoGP™ races than any other rider: eight. He has also scored the most podiums – thirteen – and the most pole positions: five.

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