Motorcycling: Marquez closes in on world title

Honda MotoGP rider Marc Marquez of Spain answers questions during a press conference ahead of the MotoGP Australian motorcycle Grand Prix in Phillip Island in Australia on Thursday, Oct 17, 2013. Marquez can clinch the world MotoGP championship
Honda MotoGP rider Marc Marquez of Spain answers questions during a press conference ahead of the MotoGP Australian motorcycle Grand Prix in Phillip Island in Australia on Thursday, Oct 17, 2013. Marquez can clinch the world MotoGP championship and become the first rookie to win in 35 years if results fall his way at Australia's Phillip Island circuit this weekend. -- PHOTO: AP

PHILLIP ISLAND, Australia (AFP) - Young Spaniard Marc Marquez can clinch the world MotoGP championship and become the first rookie to win in 35 years if results fall his way at Australia's Phillip Island circuit this weekend.

The Repsol Honda Team rider can carry off the title in his debut premier class season if he beats Yamaha Factory Racing's Jorge Lorenzo by sufficient points to carry a 50-point margin into the last two races in Japan and Spain.

The 20-year old Spanish star holds a 43-point lead heading into Sunday's Australian showdown and a win, worth 25 points, could land the title if Lorenzo cannot finish second.

If that happens Marquez would become the first rookie to clinch the premier class championship since American Kenny Roberts in 1978.

Australia's five-time premier class title winner Mick Doohan said on Thursday the world crown is for Marquez to lose.

"The championship is his to give up at the moment - although the likelihood of that is very remote," Doohan said.

"Marquez really needs to have some sort of mechanical problem or some other mishap for Lorenzo to have any chance going forward from here."

Marquez's task of sealing victory could be complicated by his Honda teammate Dani Pedrosa.

Spaniard Pedrosa scored a dominant win at Malaysia's Sepang track last weekend and is not mathematically out of the championship, as he trails Marquez by 54 points with 75 points still in play.

"For me it will be another race, there are still more races so the most important thing is to try and get it (world championship), it doesn't matter when," Marquez said ahead of the weekend test.

"I will try to concentrate this weekend, try to be focused and then we will see on Sunday if I can fight for the victory, for the podium, or take the points for the championship."

Defending world champion Lorenzo has yet to claim a premier class win at the Phillip Island circuit but does have two 250cc victories in Australia in 2006 and 2007 and sealed his world title here last year.

Lorenzo and Yamaha teammate Valentino Rossi will be banking on the notoriously colder and blustery conditions at the exposed island track to suit their bikes better than last week in the heat of Sepang.

"The last two race results were not the best for me, we tried everything at Aragon and Sepang, we couldn't do it," Lorenzo said.

"I guess this circuit can suit us better than Aragon or Malaysia so I look forward to riding in a good shape this weekend."

Pedrosa is another who has had mixed results in the past at Phillip Island but last weekend's win in Malaysia has given him renewed confidence.

"I will look to finish these three remaining races as strong as possible," he said. "The track is a lot of fun, the layout makes for an interesting race, and I'm also excited to testing the new asphalt surface."

Nine-time world champion Rossi is a proven performer around Phillip Island with two 250cc wins in 1998 and 1999, a 500cc win in 2001 and an unbroken four-year premier class win sequence from 2002 to 2005.

Rossi cannot win this year's world title as he is 100 points back in fourth place. But he said: "I really like the Phillip Island circuit, the track is very different from Sepang and I think that for us it will be better.

"We are improving with every race and I'm curious to see what happens in Australia. I made good races here and I've won a lot."