Crunching The Numbers: How Dovizioso And Marquez Can Win The Title At Valencia

On Sunday, Marc Márquez and Andrea Dovizioso will line up on the grid for the final MotoGP race of the 2017 season. At stake is the title of 2017 MotoGP champion. For Marc Márquez, it would be his fourth MotoGP title, making him the most successful Spanish rider in the premier class. For Andrea Dovizioso, it would be his first title, the one which is always most highly prized.

Dovizioso's challenge cannot be underestimated. He trails Marc Márquez by 21 points. His path to the championship is difficult, and relies heavily on things going wrong for others. Marc Márquez, on the other hand, faces a much easier task. The Repsol Honda rider has his destiny entirely in his own hands.

After 17 races, Marc Márquez has 282 points, while Andrea Dovizioso has 261 points. With 21 points separating them, who needs to do what to win the 2017 MotoGP title? We break down the arithmetic below.

Andrea Dovizioso needs:

The Grand Prix points system awards 25 points for a win, and 20 points for second place. Dovizioso trails Márquez by 21 points, which means that Dovizioso's only hope of winning the championship is to win the race.

But winning alone is not enough. If Dovizioso wins, his points total would be 286 points, and victory would bring his race win total to 7 wins. If Marc Márquez finishes thirteenth or worse, his points total would be 285 or lower, and Dovizioso would be champion.

If Dovizioso wins and Márquez finishes twelfth, scoring 4 points, Márquez and Dovizioso would be tied on 286 points. But Dovizioso's victory would mean he would have 7 race wins to Márquez' 6 wins, and that would break the tie in Dovizioso's favor. (For more on how tied points are dealt with, see the explanation below.)

In brief - Dovizioso wins the title if:

  • Andrea Dovizioso wins the race at Valencia, and Márquez finishes no better than twelfth.

Marc Márquez needs:

Márquez has 282 points, and needs to score 5 more points to bring his total to 287 points to put him beyond reach of Andrea Dovizioso. Finishing eleventh or better would be sufficient for Márquez to score the points he needs.

However, if Andrea Dovizioso does not win the race, then Marc Márquez is automatically champion, wherever he finishes, and whether he finishes or not.

In brief – Márquez wins the title if:

  • Márquez finishes eleventh or better, or
  • Dovizioso fails to win the race.

What are the odds either way?

  • In his 15 previous races at Valencia, Andrea Dovizioso has never won, and only finished on the podium twice, in 2004 and 2011
  • The last time Marc Márquez finished worse than fourth at Valencia was in 2009, on a 125cc bike. He has won there twice, finished on the podium three times. He did not race at Valencia in 2011, after suffering an injury which damaged a nerve in his eye.

The title fight in a table:

  Dovizioso Márquez Champion  
Points after 17 races 261 282    
DOV wins, MAQ 13th or worse 286 285 Dovizioso Wins on points
DOV wins, MAQ 12th 286 286 Dovizioso Wins on # of race wins
(7 vs 6)
DOV wins, MAQ 11th 286 287 Márquez Wins on points
DOV 2nd, MAQ DNF 281 282 Márquez Wins on points
DOV 2nd, MAQ scores points 281 > 282 Márquez Wins on points

How ties are decided

In the case of a tie on points, titles are decided by positions in races. First, the number of wins is compared, and the person with the most wins is declared champion. If the number of wins is equal, then the number of 2nd places is compared, then number of 3rd places, and so on.

If riders were to finish the last race tied in points and with identical results, then the rider who performed best at the last race would be champion. In other words, if the championship resulted in a dead heat in points and positions, the rider who crossed the line first in the last race of the year is declared champion.

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To guess the outcome. It's impossible to imagine MM finishing 12th....
But it's still gonna be exciting: no matter what Dovizioso will throw it all to win.
He did a spectacular season. Nobody would have put money on him at the beginning of the season.
He can be really proud of this achievement and prepare for great things in 2018.

I can't see Marc finishing less than 11th.  The only way I can see this going to Dovi is if Marc has a DNF.  Marc has only finished a race in motoGP lower than 11th twice, in San Marino and Aragon in 2014; were those both races were he fell off and remounted?

The only thing I can say is remember Rossi and Hayden? This hopefully will be a nailbiter race enjoyed by all of us!

The odds of Dovi winning. Perhaps not as bad as some think. First, I think we can assume that no Ducati will beat him. Lorenzo or Petrucci won't because the factory won't want them too, and I highly doubt that any of the others are fast enough. The Suzuki's are a long shot, Vinales looks lost and Rossi generally doesn't go well at Valencia. That leaves Zarco, Crutchlow and Pedrosa. The latter two have been very inconsistant, but Zarco could be a real problem. So I'm predicting a Dovi-Zarco battle, with Dovi taking it in the end.

On Marquez, all the commentary I've read assumes that he starts the race. I'd point out that he has crashed a bunch this year in practice and qualifying. He's the ultimate rubber man, but at some point the luck will run out and he's going to get hurt. He'll have motivation to qualify well, if only to stay out of the first turn mid-pack craziness. That desire may prove his undoing. 

So there you have it. Dovi wins a race long battle with Zarco, Marquez doesn't make the race, and Dovi is the 2017 MotoGP champ. You read it here first. :)


Have to agree with you as well as a certain famous rider (VR46) who said, "Dovi has already won".  No one expected him to be there and no one expected Ducati to be there, and yet there he is.  Very exciting season and I'm really hopeful that next year Ducati have the "problem" of having two riders competing for the championship.

Having said that I am also very concerned about the satellite Yamaha team, despite their confidence that they will receive competitive bikes I would place zero dollars on that "wish/hope/projection" as Yamaha always seem to have a 2 bike policy and nothing else.

Sepang Moto2 and Moto 3 and I'm still listening. Back to topline. Dovi cant win the title and can't lose it on Sunday. A whole bunch of what if's will cloud Marc's 4th premier GP title. How can this switch in Dovi's favour? I remember Capirex vs Harada in 250 some years back, Dovi and Marc have too much respect for each other so that won't happen,.Stranger, self inflicted  scenario's may play out. Marc has too canny a head to give up 12th place versus Dovi's potential podium at a circuit like Ricardo Tormo.

With all the possible permutions the question remains, what will happen. It's exciting, unpredictable and it's why we watch this wonderful sport!