Marc Marquez will have his first chance to be crowned a five-time MotoGP champion at this weekend's Japanese Grand Prix.

After a close victory in Thailand, Marquez holds a 77-point lead over nearest rival Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati) and 99-point advantage over Valentino Rossi (Yamaha), the only riders still mathematically in the title hunt with 100-points remaining.

If Marquez can finish Sunday's Motegi race with an advantage of at least 75-points he will be the 2018 champion, at Honda's home event and with three rounds still to go.

That effectively means Marquez must focus on beating Dovizioso, the rider he fended off at the final turn in Buriram, but who won last year's wet Motegi race after a thrilling showdown with the Repsol rider.

The only way Rossi can delay Marquez's celebrations is if the Italian wins Sunday's race and the #93 doesn't score a point.

"We have our first 'match ball' at Honda’s home race, which is very important for our Factory," said Marquez, who won the 2014 and 2016 titles in Japan.

"Of course we’ll try to get the best result in front of Honda’s people and home fans, but Motegi is a stop-and-go track where strong acceleration is a key factor, so we’ll have to work hard and improve a little bit in that area if we want to fight with Ducati.

"Otherwise, we’ll try to remain focused and calm and handle the situation as well as possible. The important thing is to ultimately achieve our goal at some point.”

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Team-mate Dani Pedrosa will be starting his final Japanese Grand Prix, where he has won five times across all classes.

"I’ve had many good results at Motegi in the past as I enjoy the track a lot, but I’ve also suffered some challenging moments," said Pedrosa, referring to injuries at the venue.

"So we must wait and see, but of course I hope this year will be good and we’ll be able to continue the progress we’ve made in the last races, in term of pace and bike setup.

"The Japanese fans have always made me feel welcome and supported, and I look forward to be there again soon.”

Pedrosa, yet to take a podium this season, is currently eleventh in the world championship.

While Marquez is on course for the riders' title, Honda also has a 33-point lead over Ducati in the constructors' standings with Repsol Honda 34-points clear of Ducati in the teams' standings.



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