Marc Marquez has fond memories of Motegi, where the Repsol Honda rider wrapped up his third MotoGP title in 2016.

The Spaniard opened a championship advantage of 16 points over Ducati’s Andrea Dovizioso following his victory at Aragon, where Marquez headed a Honda one-two ahead of Dani Pedrosa.

October will be a decisive month in the title outcome with three successive flyaway rounds before the season finale at Valencia in Spain in November.

With a cushion established over his nearest rivals, Marquez is aiming to turn the screw this weekend in Japan, although he admits this season’s unpredictable trend leaves a ‘question mark’ hanging over each track.

“Motegi in the past was one of the circuits that I was struggling a little bit, but last year I felt really good there. I was riding so consistent and so fast,” said Marquez, who also won his maiden MotoGP title at Motegi in 2014.

“We will see this year. This year is a question mark. Austria was a circuit that I expected to struggle a lot, but I was fast. [Aragon] I expect to be really comfortable but even with the victory I was struggling more than I expected. So I hope that Motegi, on Friday, we can go out and fell good from the first laps.”

Marquez has given himself some breathing space as he attempts to retain the premier class crown and acknowledges his points gap represents a significant advantage as the championship race enters the final stretch.

“To win [at Aragon] was important also because the main opponents for the championship lose some points. We open a small advantage. It’s important to arrive in Japan with that very small advantage,” he said.

“Now we are leading by 16 and 28 points [over Maverick Vinales]. Better to have that advantage than don’t have. Anyway for me the most important is that since Montmelo I am feeling really good. I finish always in the podium, just Silverstone that you know what happened.

“But since Montmelo, all conditions in different circuits we are there. We will try to keep focused, keep the same mentality, same speed for the next races.”

Since Catalunya, Marquez has taken full advantage of Michelin’s new front tyre with a harder casing, which has been available since Mugello – an improvement he concedes has aided his charge towards the title.

“Of course, the first part of the season I was struggling a little bit to understand – not only me, if you see the amount of crashes in the first part of the season and later, was much more in the first part of the season,” said the 24-year-old.

“Of course, the hard casing gives me a little bit more feeling. The feedback is better. But for example in Montmelo, still was the old casing. In a few races I felt better, a few races worse. But this I think helps everybody to be more safe and to be more competitive.”


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