Meetings take place, new faces multiply, visits are unusual. There are more Japanese engineers than ever swarming through the box, through the offices of the Repsol Honda team. And the pilot takes days from event to event. The grand prize of Japan is not a great prize for the factory based in Saitama. It is not for any Japanese MotoGP brand, but less for Honda, which has in the circuit of Motegi, its property, its test track. And a museum – with so many champion bikes in the world, with the odd Formula 1 – which is a demonstration of brute force. Motegi, inspiring stage of the Pokémon series, which marked so many Spanish children of the generation of the world champion, in a rural enclave, the circuit sheltered by an endless forest, surrounded by the pristine waters of the Nakagawa River, is once again a ideal place to celebrate the Alirón.
In Motegi, about 150 km north of Tokyo, Marc Márquez can claim to be world champion. Again. As in 2014 and 2016, in front of the bosses of the most powerful MotoGP factory. This Sunday he could get his seventh title and be the youngest driver to win five world titles in the premier class. With 25 years and 246 days. Only Dovizioso can stop him. Mathematically, also Rossi – he should win, something he has not done for more than a year – although the carom seems as unlikely as the one that occurred in 2016, when Rossi and Lorenzo fell and he won against the race and the World Championship .
"The Japanese of the team and my uncle have asked me to win this Sunday, but there is no hurry," admits the World Championship leader, 77 points ahead of Dovizioso. "At the end of what people remember is if you win the World Cup, it does not matter where," they say. You can be calm. That generous mattress of points that was worked at the beginning of the course allows it. Also, the other three races that would be ahead in case of not taking advantage of this first match ball. "I'll try to win here because I want to be a champion, but not because it's a more special circuit," he says. And, at the time, he recognizes himself calm. It is not the first time that he fights for a World Cup. And this is not the last race. "If it were, as it happened last year, you're more nervous already, you have butterflies in your stomach."
"When you start as a world champion, the pressure is always there," points out Santi Hernández, its chief technician. "I imagine he will really want to win here, but the ultimate goal is to win the championship. And that he has it very clear, "says Alberto Puig, director of the team. "The Japanese would like to win at home and in their circuit. But the objective is the title ", agrees Hernández.
Marquez has not yet reached its zenith. And what he has left does not depend on the experience, or on the motorcycle … It has to do with the style
Alberto Puig, director of the Repsol Honda Team
And for that, Márquez applies the tactic of each grand prize: going out to win. And risk, as always. "Although I do not want to fall, I do not want to lose 25 hit points. If I can not win, I will try to add as many points as possible. That this is facing, but it is also very long, "he says. The speech, in his mouth, sounds hackneyed. But after many falls he seems to have learned. "It is a pilot that absorbs information, which is constantly evolving. And analyze everything. This year has understood that to win a World Cup is not worth all or nothing. There are times when you have to settle, know how to manage careers. He has matured a lot, he has better understood the races, the bike, the electronics, the tires, and how to run depending on how he is on the weekend, "explains Hernández.
And the pilot corroborates that vision. "Falling, passing that limit, that red line, is a matter of a moment. It could have happened in Thailand or Aragon. It is a matter of feeling that limit or not. In 2015 I did not know how to feel, I just attacked, because a third party knew me to defeat. Even today a third one knows me as a defeat, but I know it's important to get the title. "
"This year has been very consistent, that has been the key", recognizes Maverick Viñales, one of his rivals. "He is very strong in many areas and in the circuits where he is not very fast he always ends up on the podium," says Dovizioso. Men like Puig, ex-pilot, fine smell for raw talent, believe that we have not yet seen everything: "It has not yet reached its zenith. And what he has left does not depend on the experience, nor on the motorcycle … It has to do with the style, with how he thinks about where he should improve, with the effort and effort that he puts into doing it, with the desire and motivation to continue learning . You can still go faster lap after lap. "