DRAMA-FILLED RACE: Marc Marquez (front) takes a corner as Yamaha rider Valentino Rossi (top) crashes during the MotoGP race at the Japanese Grand Prix. Image: AFP / Toshifumu Kitamura
Cape Town - At the start of Sunday's (October 16) Japanese Grand Prix in Montegi it seemed unlikely that championship leader Marc Marquez would win his third MotoGP title in four years.
The reason? Well nearest rival Valentino Rossi on the factory Yamaha and Jorge Lorenzo were the only men capable of preventing the 23-year-old from winning the title. The former needed to finish 15th or lower and if third-placed Jorge Lorenzo comes in fourth or worse for Marquez to celebrate in Montegi.
Yamahas dominated front-row
Rossi started on pole, Marquez in second and Lorenzo in third.
Marquez took the lead on the fourth lap and never looked back, putting in a consummate performance to win the race and become the youngest rider to ever win three MotoGP titles.
Ducati rider Andrea Dovisiozo was second 2.992 seconds behinf and Suzuki rider Maverick Vinales was third, 4.104 seconds back.
The drama in the race came as both factory Yamahas crashed out. First was Rossi, who lost the front-end on Turn 10 on the seventh lap of the race.
Watch: Valentino Rossi Crash at Motegi Japan
Rossi's team mate Lorenzo lost control of his bike with five laps to go. The Spanish rider was in second place at the time and needed to finish on the podium to extend the championship battle to the next race at Phillip Island, Australia on October 23.
In fact, it was the 2015 world champion's second crash in two days, after he spectacularly flew off his bike in third practice.
Watch: Lorenzo crash Motegi third practice
Earlier on Friday (14 October) Supersport reported that another Spaniard Dani Pedrosa, suffered a fracture of his right collarbone in a heavy fall in Friday practice and was due to fly back to Spain later for surgery.
Pedrosa said: "I'm obviously very sad about what happened, as I was looking forward to racing in Japan at Honda's home circuit and one of my favourite tracks."
Watch: Dani Pedrosa in huge crash at Japanese practice
It certainly was an interesting weekend of racing in Japan, Marquez was able to win in Honda's backyard and clinch another world title. 2016 is the final season for Rossi and Lorenzo as team mates as Maverick Vinales will take Lorenzo's place next season.