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Sports

MotoGP: Marquez wraps up third world title in Japan

Marc Marquez secured his third MotoGP world championship crown by winning the Japanese Grand Prix on Sunday. Closest rivals Valentino Rossi and Jorge Lorenzo both crashed out in a stunning surprise.

The 23-year-old Honda rider became the youngest man to win three premier-class world championship titles, and did so at Honda's home circuit, where he had never won before, with three races to spare.

Marquez finished the 24-lap race in 42min 34.610sec in dry, sunny conditions, 2.992sec ahead of Ducati's Andrea Dovizioso and 4.104sec ahead of Maverick Vinales of Suzuki.

"Obviously, amazing, amazing feeling," Marquez said immediately after his victory with a big smile, his face flushed with excitement.

He knew he had a chance to claim the trophy but securing it would require Yamaha duo Rossi and Lorenzo to perform uncharacteristically poorly.

Marquez started second on the grid, after Rossi. Last season's champion Lorenzo also started in the front row.

Marquez took the first corner, but was quickly overtaken by Lorenzo, who had a commanding lead in the race's early phase.

On the second lap Marquez and Rossi swapped places several times, with the Honda rider keeping the upper hand.

On the fourth lap, Marquez closed in on Lorenzo to take the lead and gradually expanded the gap.

Flying solo

With 19 laps to go, Rossi also passed Lorenzo to pursue Marquez. But on the following lap, the Italian slipped on the tarmac at a hairpin bend for reasons that even the nine-time world champion could not himself immediately identify.

He got up on his own only to withdraw from the race, sending Lorenzo to chase Marquez who was already flying solo.

With five laps remaining, Lorenzo also slipped on the track, this time at the V-shaped left-handed turn nine.

Marquez said he had struggled find his form early in the season and felt immense personal pressure after a stressful 2015 season, which was marked with crashes, lost opportunities and an open feud with Rossi, while Lorenzo reclaimed the world championship.

"Last year, I paid an expensive price. I learned," Marquez said, adding that he had become a wiser rider.

idr/AFP