VALENCIA, Spain (Reuters) - Honda’s Marc Marquez won his fourth MotoGP world championship in five years on Sunday after the Spaniard’s only rival Andrea Dovizioso crashed out of a dramatic season-ending race in Valencia.
The 24-year-old, who started on pole position with a 21-point lead and also almost fell, finished third and safe in the knowledge that he was the sport’s youngest four times champion in the top category.
“It’s an amazing feeling. During the race I always tried to be calm, control the situation,” said Marquez of his wobble during the race.
“Suddenly I said now is the time to push because I felt really good. But in turn one I lost concentration on the brake point, I braked too late...Marquez style until the end,” he grinned.
Compatriot and team mate Dani Pedrosa won the race with French rookie Johann Zarco second for the Tech3 Yamaha team after leading early on.
With Dovizioso in fifth place and unable to find a way past his Ducati team mate Jorge Lorenzo, despite repeated team orders, Marquez looked in control until he misjudged his braking and ran wide with seven laps to go.
The Spaniard managed to stay on the bike as he ran wide into the gravel trap, dropping to fifth place and with Dovizioso ahead of him.
Both Ducati riders then fell a lap later, first Lorenzo and then Dovizioso. The Italian got back on track before retiring in the pits as Honda started the celebrations.
Marquez, who celebrated with a large red dice highlighting the numbers four and six, for his MotoGP titles and total championships in all categories, ended the season with 298 points to runner-up Dovizioso’s 261.
“I‘m happy because we tried until the end, and it was open until 10 laps to the end,” said Dovizioso, who saw Marquez’s slide and save but could do nothing to take advantage of it.
”It was really on the limit from the first lap. At the beginning I wanted to overtake Jorge, but in some corners I was slower. So at the end he created a good pace and it was good for me to follow him.
“I was able to stay with them but we were over the limit for all the race. We both did a mistake but we have to be happy about the championship.”
Marquez replaced the late Mike Hailwood as the youngest ever four times champion in the top flight, achieving the feat at 24 years and 268 days compared to the British great’s 1965 record of 25 years and 107 days.
The Spaniard, who has won all his titles with Honda, also replaced Italian great Valentino Rossi as the youngest to win six world championships.
He was also the first rider in the 69-year history of grand prix motorcycling to win at least five races a season for eight years in a row.
Reporting by Alan Baldwin in London, editing by Toby Davis