Champ Marquez seeks to seal Triple Crown in Malaysia
Sepang (Malaysia) (AFP)
World champion Marc Marquez will seek to cap a stellar season at this weekend's Malaysian MotoGP by winning the team title to seal the Triple Crown for Repsol Honda.
The 26-year-old Spaniard clinched his sixth rider's title in Thailand this month and has sealed the constructors' championship for Honda.
Now the Repsol Honda outfit -- Marquez and teammate Jorge Lorenzo -- sit just behind Ducati in the race for the team title, as Marquez aims for his second consecutive win at the challenging Sepang circuit.
He also needs to score just nine points in Malaysia -- a seventh-placed finish or above -- to top three-time world champion Lorenzo's highest ever tally of 383 across 18 races.
But victory may be tough against Ducati's Andrea Dovizioso, who has already been confirmed as this year's runner-up in motorcycling's premier class, and was the winner at Sepang in 2016 and 2017.
Marquez insisted he was not going to ease off even after his stellar season.
"Not it's time to keep going.... fight again for another victory," he told reporters at a pre-race press conference Thursday.
He also said he was focused on winning, not topping Lorenzo's points record: "I'll keep the same strategy, target to try finish on the podium but of course today my target is to win.
"My opponents will give an answer whether that will be possible over the weekend."
With the Spaniard so dominant, Italy's Dovizioso conceded the champion's rivals were focused on "thinking about how we can stop Marc. This season (he's) even better than in the past".
Marquez triumphed at last week's Australian MotoGP, his fifth win in a row and 11th this season, which saw fellow Spaniard Maverick Vinales crash out on the last lap.
The Monster Energy Yamaha rider had dominated all weekend at Phillip Island and was leading for much of the race until Marquez darted past in the dying stages.
Racing in tropical Malaysia is particularly challenging due to the heat and humidity, with conditions often changing rapidly from bright sunshine to intense downpours.
At last year's MotoGP, qualifying was delayed due to rain and organisers then brought forward the start of the main race by two hours to avoid a potential downpour.
In the Moto2 class, Marc Marquez's younger brother, Alex Marquez, sits atop the leaderboard and will be seeking to seal the world title in Malaysia after missing out in Australia.
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