Newly crowned MotoGP World Champion Marc Marquez said his mind became a blur when he realised he was on course to win a third premier class title at Motegi in Japan.
In a scarcely believable turn of events at the Twin Ring Circuit, Marquez's key title rival Valentino Rossi crashed out at Turn 10 after losing the front of his Yamaha to end his chances of a tenth world title. There was more drama to come when 2015 champion Jorge Lorenzo also fell with five laps remaining, handing Repsol Honda star Marquez the championship with three races still to go – his third title in four years.
The 23-year-old becomes the youngest rider ever to win three MotoGP world crowns and is now a five-time world champion after his 125 and Moto2 championship successes in 2010 and 2012.
Marquez, who marked Honda's 50th anniversary of Grand Prix racing in perfect style by claiming his first ever MotoGP win at the Japanese manufacturer's own circuit, said he temporarily forgot where he was after he realised the implications of Lorenzo's crash with five laps remaining.
“Amazing – honestly the feeling is amazing. When I woke up this morning I feel normal pressure, just like a normal race because I feel that it was impossible to win the championship here,” he said.
“Honestly when I saw Lorenzo was out I forget everything, I missed a gear three, four or five times in the lap, I didn't know in which circuit I was! It was so difficult to concentrate and I looked behind me and I saw Dovi. You can see on the lap times I lost one-and-a-half seconds.
“The I kept the concentration and when I passed the finish line I said 'there will be no celebration because we are not ready and we don't prepare anything'. But the team always believe in me and they were there ready with the T-shirts.”
An ecstatic Marquez dedicated his third MotoGP title success to his grandmother, who passed away earlier this year, and admitted he felt more pressure to win the 2016 title than in previous championships.
“It's special to win here in Motegi and it is my first victory here in MotoGP in front of our boss, which is important too! I'm really happy and this title maybe is a title that I felt more pressure on myself.
“It was really difficult to manage during all the season but always I believed,” he said. “I don't want to forget my grandmother who said, 'be careful, but nothing is impossible – just keep pushing'. She will be very happy of course.”
Reflecting on the race, Marquez said he decided to try and make a break for it at the front after becoming locked in a battle with Rossi.
“I started well in the race and normally it never happens but then I saw on the first laps that Valentino overtook me three or four times in a strange way. I felt that he was maybe a little bit nervous so I decided to push to try to open a small gap,” he said.
“I pushed harder when I saw Rossi out and I said I will go for the victory. I did my rhythm like in the free practice and honestly I felt really good with the bike.”
Marquez won with almost three seconds in hand over Ducati's Andrea Dovizioso, with Maverick Vinales completing the top three on the Ecstar Suzuki.
He wrapped up the championship with 77 points in hand over Rossi, who is 14 points ahead of Lorenzo in a battle for second place in the championship that is set to go down to the wire.