BARCELONA (Reuters) - Newly-crowned world champion Marc Marquez powered to victory in the season-ending Valencia MotoGP on Sunday to set a new record of 13 wins in a year.
The 21-year-old Spaniard led from the 11th lap on his Honda and crossed the line in a time of 46 minutes 39.627 seconds, ahead of Valentino Rossi and Dani Pedrosa.
Italian Rossi continued his strong finish to the season and was guaranteed second place in the drivers’ championship after Jorge Lorenzo retired from the race having dropped back to 18th position.
Lorenzo decided to change tires with the threat of rain in the air but the move failed to pay off as there were only a few drops.
Marquez clinched his second successive world title in Japan last month and has now beaten the record for victories in a season which he shared with Australian Mick Doohan who won 12 races in 1997.
“I’m really happy with how it went, almost more so than when I won the championship in Japan. This was the cherry on the cake,” Marquez told reporters.
He was also pleased for his brother Alex who won the Moto3 championship earlier in the day at the Valencia track.
“It is a great year for my family. During the race at times I was thinking about my brother as he said to me I had to do well,” Marquez said.
“It was difficult to concentrate in the rain but in the end it all went well. I enjoyed the race. At the start I didn’t want to take risks but then when it started to rain I decided I had nothing to lose.”
Rossi claimed his first pole position for over four years during qualifying on Saturday but Andrea Iannone and Marquez quickly went past him on the first lap.
Iannone was unable to maintain the tempo and was dropping back before mechanical problems with his Ducati midway through the race caused him to finish last.
The expected battle between Rossi and Lorenzo for second place in the championship did not materialize and the Italian’s position behind Marquez was never under threat in the closing laps.
“It was a good race and I pushed hard on Marquez when it began to rain,” Rossi said.
“It has been a great end to the season and finishing second is good motivation for me to return and try and win the title next year.”
Reporting by Tim Hanlon, editing by Ed Osmond