MotoGP champion Marc Marquez and team-mate Dani Pedrosa completed their 2017 activities with the annual Honda Thanks Day, held in front of 24,000 fans at Motegi.

The Repsol Honda riders were joined by fellow HRC stars including new MotoGP rider Takaaki Nakagami, Trial's star Takashisa Fujinami, MXGP's Tim Gajser, local hero Takuma Sato - who this year became the first Japanese driver to win the Indianapolis 500 - plus F1 drivers Jenson Button and Stoffel Vandoorne.

As well as meeting and greeting their fans, the Honda Thanks Day also provides the opportunity to try a range of different machinery.

One of the highlights for Marquez and Pedrosa was driving a Japanese F3 single seater racing car for the first time, alongside races and exhibitions using Karts, Super Cubs, and Honda Jazz cars.

The pair even had the opportunity to give zip-lining a try before moving back to Tokyo in the evening for the flight home.

“Every year it gets more and more interesting and enjoyable for us," said Marquez, now a four-time MotoGP world champion. "Everything is always perfectly organized, and we get to try many different cars and bikes.

"This year, for instance, we had the chance to drive an F3 car. It was a new experience that I liked a lot, so thanks to Honda for this special treat.

"Today it was an honour to make a lap together with Takuma [Sato] who won at Indy! It was also very good to meet so many Japanese fans. When we come here for the GP they’re always so supportive and make us feel really welcome, so I’m happy to be here for them and to be able to celebrate another great season together.

"The Riders Title was our main target, but having also achieved the Triple Crown with the Constructors and Team Titles is a particularly special feeling.”

Pedrosa, fourth in the MotoGP standings with two wins, also relished the chance to unwind after a long season.

“The season is of course demanding on the mind, as you must keep focused all the time, so it’s really nice when we come here in December when we’re completely ‘stress-free’ and can have fun with the cars and bikes," he said.

"I really enjoyed driving the F3 car; I think it was one of the best experiences I’ve ever had at Honda Racing Thanks Day, and one of the best overall apart from riding my MotoGP bike!

"Last year we tried the NSX, which was very nice, but this time was even better—maybe because I could feel the air, like on my bike. It’s possible to brake so late into the corners, and the entire time that I was driving I was thinking about what it would be like in an F1 car! It was an amazing experience.

"I think this event is also very special for the fans because they can really get quite close to us, and we also have more time to dedicate to them. That’s great because when we come here for the race it’s more difficult to spend time with them. There’s always a great atmosphere here and just fun.”

Marquez and Pedrosa will next be on track for the official Sepang test at the end of January.


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