Motegi: MotoGP rookie sensation Marc Marquez hopes to make it third time lucky when the world championship goes down to the last race of the season at Valencia in a fortnight.
The 20-year-old Honda rider is guaranteed to become the youngest ever MotoGP champion if he finishes fourth or better on November 10, having passed up opportunities to seal the title in Australia and then in Japan at the weekend.
Fellow Spaniard and title rival Jorge Lorenzo, the reigning world champion, beat Marquez to the line in thrilling fashion at Motegi on Sunday to keep the championship just about alive, although Marquez is still firm favourite -- even if the momentum is with the more experienced Lorenzo, 26.
It is the first time since 2006 that the world title will be decided in the last race of the season.
A wary Marquez believes that Lorenzo is in the form of his life.
"I am so happy because in my first season on MotoGP I am fighting maybe with the best Jorge of his career," said Marquez, who was disqualified at Australia`s Phillip Island earlier this month and pushed Lorenzo all the way at Motegi but was unable to claim the victory which might have earned him the world crown.
"We will try our 100 percent to try to get this title," Marquez said. "I have to concentrate on my job and my bike and try to do my best in Valencia."
The young Spaniard`s consistency has been key to his title assault. He has finished on the podium in every race this season except in Australia on October 20 -- when he was black-flagged after failing to make a mandatory pit stop -- and when he crashed out in June in Italy.
Yamaha`s Lorenzo, who has clawed his way back into the title race with two impressive wins on the trot, knows the odds are stacked against him because he still trails by 13 points.
"Not so much pressure," Lorenzo said as he looked to Valencia.
"Until we finish racing we know the championship is not over. I`m not the leading rider so it`s not all up to me, so let`s see how our strategy is at Valencia," he said.
If Marquez does lift the world crown on home soil next month he will go down in history as the first rookie to do so in 35 years.
His fast rise from Moto2 -- he won that title last year before making the step up -- has surprised even his experienced Honda team-mate Dani Pedrosa, whose third place at Motegi saw his unlikely title chances extinguished.
"We all knew he was very fast already from the beginning. Obviously, you normally expect some more mistakes in the race, which he did in practice," Pedrosa told AFP.
"He looks to have a strong will inside and that`s why he`s so fast," Pedrosa added.