It was almost all in the hands of title rival Andrea Dovizioso as Marc Marquez suffered a huge moment at Turn 1 during the Valencia GP, with the Championship leader left sliding into the run off on his knee and ending up in the gravel.
But he didn’t go down, rejoining behind ‘DesmoDovi’ in fifth and then watching the drama ahead as Jorge Lorenzo crashed out, followed soon by Dovizioso. With that, the crown was his in the dramatic Final Showdown.
“I think you have good highlights of the race," were the first words of the grinning, newly-crowned World Champion, before he explained his race.
“It was difficult to control. The easiest strategy was just to finish the race but it was hard to control myself. I let Zarco past because I knew he would try to push. Behind him I was able to be faster, and I was too comfortable, losing concentration and making some small mistakes…when he made a mistake, I overtook but he was aggressive."
"When I made that mistake at the final corner I was scared because I thought he was close and tried to brake late to avoid a critical moment, but then I created my own critical moment! But I stayed on the bike and said ‘time to finish the race’, then Lorenzo and Dovi made mistakes, and I was disappointed that Dovi isn’t here because he had an amazing season."
"Then I wanted to push and catch them again but I was missing gears and everything – so I just finished the race.”
That made it job done, and the newly-crowned Champion then turned his gaze on the season in the post-race Press Conference, revealing the stress of fighting for a title and what he believes is the secret to his success.
“It has been a really tough season, lots of ups and downs,” says Marquez. “I would like all my team, my family, everyone who helps me here because they helped me a lot this season, especially in the first part of the season, which was very hard."
"After Montmelo, I was with my hairdresser and she said ‘what’s going on, what happened’ because she said I was losing my hair! And I said ‘I’m 24, that’s impossible! My dad and grandad still have hair!’ I went to the doctor and he said I had to change my approach to races because of stress."
"I changed my approach, but also the feeling with the bike. We made a big change and we got a better feeling. In Le Mans I told Emilio I wasn’t enjoying riding the bike, then we changed the mentality, and said first we need to find a way to enjoy it on the bike, then the results will come."
"With hundreds of laps on test days, we found the right way. We are all human, but when you have a good team and good people around you it helps a lot. You can go out and be better and better. For me the second half of the season has been perfect.”
The final race wasn’t without one huge moment of stress especially when Marquez almost lost it at Turn 1. And when asked about his crash statistics – with 27 falls this season – the number 93 replied that moment made it 27 and a half, and re-iterated his approach.
“It wasn’t easy, I was pushing every practice,” explains the reigning Champion. “I was all in in every practice. But that’s something we need to change for the future, I try to be realistic and I’m happy we won but there are a few things we need to improve for next year.
I had 27 crashes, but I learned something. And I crashed 27 times but I was close to crashing 50 times. With 27 crashes you can understand a lot! But I want to improve that for the future – with the same level but safer.”
Finally, the rider from Cervera talked about his title rival Andrea Dovizioso.
“I already said before I’m disappointed he didn’t finish today,” affirms Marquez, “because he was an incredible opponent and incredible person."
"I have a very good relationship with him. And Ducati went to my box to congratulate my team, so full respect, that’s very nice. I learned many things from Andrea, especially mental things."
"The way to approach races and weekends showed me you need to forget the others. Not many people can, and he’s one of, if not the best one at doing that.”
With one man retaining the throne and the other coming a close second, it’s now time to begin thinking about next year – with Marquez explaining how he’ll end 2017 and begin 2018 with a succinct approach:
“Now, for the moment I’m World Champion. We're Champions until December. But from the 1st of January it’s a new year, and I’m a new rider.”
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