Honda’s Marc Marquez stormed to victory in a nail-biting Japan race Sunday to capture his third straight MotoGP world title.
The Spaniard has now won five championships in motorcycling’s premier class, putting him level with Australian legend Mick Doohan.
Marquez started from sixth on the grid at Motegi but quickly knifed through the field before passing Ducati rival Andrea Dovizioso with a daredevil move on lap 21 of 24.
The Italian, who needed to complete a pole to flag victory to keep alive his fading championship hopes, subsequently crashed out on the penultimate lap in a desperate last push, ending this year’s title race.
Marquez was mobbed by his team mechanics after crossing the line for this eighth win of the season to confirm his coronation with three races left.
Fellow Honda rider Cal Crutchlow finished runner-up after Dovizioso’s late spill with Alex Rins (Suzuki) edging out Valentino Rossi (Yamaha) to round out the podium.
Marquez, still just 25, trails only the Italians Rossi, who won the last of his seven championships in 2009, and Giacomo Agostini, whose record eighth came in 1975.