TOKYO (AFP) – Marc Marquez can retain his MotoGP title in Japan this weekend but safety fears loom large as another typhoon approaches, days after a horror crash left a Formula One driver fighting for his life.
With Jules Bianchi battling severe head injuries after losing control in treacherous conditions at Suzuka, sympathy for the Frenchman and worries over another accident will overhang Sunday’s two-wheel race.
Super Typhoon Vongfong is expected to bring torrential rain and strong winds long before its scheduled impact on Monday, mirroring last week’s situation at the Formula One race.
And with Suzuka organisers under fire for refusing to start earlier and avoid the worst of the weather, Motegi officials are likely to be under close scrutiny.
Despite the difficulties, championship leader Marquez will hope to end the weekend in triumph by sealing an astonishing campaign at Motegi’s Twin Ring circuit.
Going into the Japanese Grand Prix, Marquez has a commanding 75-point lead over closest rival and Honda team-mate Dani Pedrosa with only three races remaining after Japan.
Even if Marquez fails to win, the Spaniard could still seal the title, depending on the placement of his key rivals.
Marquez refused to get ahead of himself, despite dominating this year, saying he was focused on regaining his top form at Honda’s home circuit after a minor crash at rain-hit Aragon two weeks ago, when he finished 13th.
“I will try not to think about it (championship) too much, even if I know it would be great to achieve this on Honda’s home track,” said Marquez.
“We will go there and work hard from day one and treat it as a normal race weekend and push for the victory on Sunday,” he added.
The 21-year-old became the youngest ever MotoGP world champion last year and the first rookie title winner for 35 years.
In an electrifying series of successes, Marquez won 10 straight races this season since the opener in Qatar, before coming in fourth in the Czech Republic in August.