Behind the three hopefuls for the bronze is Valentino Rossi, 30 points down.
The pilot from Tavullia will be facing this race plunged into a performance crisis. He hasn’t climbed up the podium since the United States, and Australia marked his 44th race without a win to match the worse ever winless streak of his career.
Márquez, breaking new records
Rossi’s closest enemy, on the other hand, is living the opposite story. Since being crowned in Thailand with four races still remaining till the end of the championship, Marquez has kept the motivation up by breaking new records. He made his intentions clear when he said: “The goal is to finish on the podium in all of the remaining races. Not necessarily winning them, but getting a podium position”.
His aim is now to break the 16 podiums in 18 races’ record that he himself holds from his debut MotoGP season in 2013. If he does so, he will also beat Valentino Rossi who got 16 in 2003 and 2005 over a total of 17 races and in 2008 over a total of 18.
He will also surpass Jorge Lorenzo, who got 16 podiums in 2010 and 2012 over 18 appointments; and Casey Stoner, who did the same in 2011 over 17 races. If he manages to be among the first three both in Malaysia and Valencia, he would have had a total of 18 podiums out of a possible 19.
Márquez has had a sensational season with 11 wins and 5-second places, and has only been off the podium in Austin after suffering a fall.
In addition, he is very likely going to break the record of the highest points score ever achieved during a season, which is currently held by Jorge Lorenzo (383 units with Yamaha in 2010). This feat is now a walk in the park for Marc, who is starting Sunday’s race with 375 points.
The Team title at stake
The outcome of the Malaysian MotoGP 2019 will also be key in deciding the Team’s title winner. Repsol Honda has so far secured both the Driver’s and Constructor’s titles and is keen to seal the deal. It was precisely, Marquez’ triumph in Phillip Island that brought the team up to a single point away from current leader, Ducati.
Despite the short distance, it will not be an easy task for Honda to beat Ducati. Marquez’ teammate Jorge Lorenzo’s contribution to the points is very limited, which means the pilot from Lerida must add all of the points pretty much single-handedly. The team from Borgo Panigale, on the other hand, can count on the contribution from its head of ranks, Dovi, and his erratic squire, ‘Petrux’.
Marc will virtually have to battle alone against the two pilots and their Desmosedicis. That would be Honda’s only chance to take the pending title unless the Mallorcan pilot undergoes a miraculous recovery.
Numbers, however, are on Márquez’ side. The Malaysian layout has also been traditionally kind to the Spaniard and to Honda. Marquez won last year as well as in 2014 at the Sepang Circuit, and Honda has done so in five of its last seven visits. Ducati and Dovizioso have also won there together in 2016 and 2017.
Images of ‘Malaysian MotoGP 2019’: Repsol Honda Twiiter