Marc Marquez has clinched the 2019 MotoGP championship after stealing victory away from Fabio Quartararo on the final lap of the Thai Grand Prix.
Much like Misano a few weeks ago, Marquez stalked Quartararo for the majority of the race. Marquez used the horsepower advantage of the Honda to go around the outside of his rival at turn three.
Desperate to avoid a repeat of Misano, Quartararo dived down the inside at the final turn. Momentarily, it appeared that the Frenchman had got the job done, only for Marquez get better drive coming out of the corner. The new champion would cross the line +0.171s clear of Quartararo.
Marquez now has six premier class titles, moving ahead of Mick Doohan in the all-time standings. At 26, he also becomes the youngest rider in history to secure eight world titles. Only Valentino Rossi and Giacomo Agostini have more premier class titles than Marquez.
Maverick Viñales secured another podium in third spot. The Monster Yamaha rider gave himself a little too much to do after falling behind the leading duo in the early stages. This is Viñales’ third podium in four races.
Andrea Dovizioso finished fourth after fighting through from seventh on the grid. His title aspirations are officially over, so Dovizioso must now concentrate on securing second in the championship.
Alex Rins battled to overcome Dovizioso but had to settle for fifth. Franco Morbidelli took sixth, with Joan Mir impressing once more in seventh.
Despite initially making a good start, Rossi eventually faded in the Thai heat and finished eighth. Danilo Petrucci’s struggles continued for Ducati, with the Italian down in ninth. Takaaki Nakagami completed the top 10 for LCR Honda.
Before the lights went out Jack Miller stalled his Pramac Ducati and was forced to start in the pits. The Australian would fight back to 14th.
Quartararo made a fantastic start to the race, with Marquez slotting down the inside of Viñales into turn one. Meanwhile, Dovizioso made up three places and was fourth by the end of the opening lap.
In the early stages Quartararo and Marquez would exchange fastest laps. As a result, the pair pulled clear of Viñales and the rest of the field.
Further down the order, Mika Kalio crashed on the KTM at turn eight. On the track, Rossi was up into sixth after getting by Mir.
At the front Marquez was stalking Quartararo for the lead of the race. Around turns three, four and five, Marquez was almost on top of Quartararo, such was his speed advantage. Quartararo, like at Misano, was holding his nerve however and was not making any mistakes.
Behind them, there was contrasting fortunes for the factory Yamaha duo. Viñales was once again showing late race pace, but Rossi was beginning to fall down the order. Meanwhile, Aleix Espargaro pulled into the pits with a mechanical issue.
There was a feel of inevitability heading into the final few laps. Marquez clearly had the pace and was going to make a move on the final lap.
He did just that, powering around the outside of Quartararo into turn three. The rookie wasn’t going to give up though and kept on the back of the Honda. Heading down into the final turn, Quartararo launched down the inside of Marquez. The move was almost perfect, however Marquez had just enough room for the cut back.
Marquez is the champion, but Quartararo is the emerging force that is going to challenge him in the years to come.