Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) made it four wins on the bounce with a superb victory at the Motul Grand Prix of Japan. The 2019 World Champion held off an early challenge from second place finisher Fabio Quartararo (Petronas Yamaha SRT), who was made to sweat in the final stages by third place Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team) - the Italian claiming his 100th Grand Prix podium.
It wasn’t the perfect getaway for polesitter Marquez but he held his advantage into Turn 1, with Quartararo braking late to get underneath his teammate Franco Morbidelli (Petronas Yamaha SRT) as the duo went slightly wide, allowing the fast-starting Jack Miller (Pramac Racing) to grab P3 on the exit of Turn 2. A frantic opening lap then unfolded as Quartararo passed Marquez for the lead at Turn 7, only for the number 93 to pounce back at the tight Turn 10. It was a late lunge from the Honda man as the duo ran slightly wide. Quartararo looked for the cutback but almost lost the front of his YZR-M1, with third place Miller sniffing an opportunity to grab P2. That door quickly closed though as Miller almost ran into the back of Quartararo.
Suddenly though, Marquez had pulled the pin. Eight tenths were his advantage over Quartararo as the two in-form men started to break clear of the chasing pack. Hovering around the second mark, Quartararo couldn’t quite latch himself onto the back of the leading RC213V as the gap kept swinging from 0.9 to 1.2 seconds each lap. Further behind, the battle for the final podium spot was intense. Miller was holding P3 but it wasn’t long before the Australian was suffering with tire issues. Morbidelli, Maverick Viñales (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) and Dovizioso were ready to pounce.
On Lap 10, Morbidelli passed Miller, with Viñales and Dovizioso also getting the better of the Pramac Ducati in quick succession. This group was over three seconds off Quartararo at the midpoint of the race, with ‘El Diablo’ now dropping to over 1.5 back of the relentless Marquez. For P3, it was two Yamahas vs one Desmosedici. With 11 laps remaining, the number 04 surpassed the number 21 and soon after, the blue number 12 machine was also through.
Morbidelli was seemingly starting to struggle as it soon became Dovizioso vs Viñales for the final rostrum place. It was a real insight into how two different motorcycles work around different areas of the track, Viñales constantly threatening in the second and third sectors, with Dovi using the Ducati grunt to defend on the stop-and-go parts of Motegi.
Now over two seconds back, Quartararo had given up chasing Marquez. But, the Frenchman would need to be careful. Dovi had fended off the swarming wasp that was Viñales and the Ducati man was setting personal best laps, which saw him rapidly reel in Quartararo. With two laps to go, Dovi had a Petronas Yamaha SRT machine within touching distance, closing Quartararo down by 0.8 on the previous lap.
Would it be enough though? On the last lap, the podium fight concertinaed up as Marquez cruised round for the win. Dovizioso couldn’t quite get close enough to make a final lap lunge on Quartararo and it would end Marquez, Quartararo and Dovizioso on the podium – and three reasons to celebrate.
"At the Malaysia, we set a goal to score 50-80 points!" - @FabioQ20 🎙️— MotoGP™ 🇯🇵 (@MotoGP) October 20, 2019
The 2019 Rookie of the Year has now scored more than double the points he was targeting for the season! 💪#JapaneseGP 🇯🇵 pic.twitter.com/NNehmFlmF0
Marquez’s win gave Honda the constructors crown, Quartararo claimed 2019 Rookie of the Year and Dovizioso notched up a ton of Grand Prix podiums. Viñales ran out of steam in the latter stages as a fourth podium in the last five went astray. Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda Castrol) beat Morbidelli by 0.047 on the run to the line to grab his first top five finish since the Czech GP.
Morbidelli’s early podium hopes sadly faded as the Italian picked up P6 in Japan, with Alex Rins (Team Suzuki Ecstar) recovering from P11 on the grid to P7 in the race. Teammate Joan Mir rode a solid race to finish just over a second behind Rins to finish P8, with the Ducatis of Danilo Petrucci (Ducati Team) and Miller rounding out the top 10.
Andrea Iannone (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini) and Valentino Rossi (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) crashed out of contention in Japan – riders ok.
Step two of three completed for Honda and Marquez, the rider’s title and constructor’s title have now been sewn up, with Marquez also equalling Mick Doohan's 54 premier class win tally. It’s not long to go until the riders are back out on track at Phillip Island, as the Team’s Championship between Ducati Team and Repsol Honda Team intensifies.
SKY Racing Team VR46’s Luca Marini clinched back-to-back wins for the first time in his career after fighting off Dynavolt Intact GP’s Tom Lüthi in the closing stages at the Motul Grand Prix of Japan. In a fiercely competitive Moto2 race, Marini and Lüthi were joined on the podium by 2018 Moto3 World Champion Jorge Martin (Red Bull KTM Ajo), who earned a debut top-three finish in the intermediate class after starting from 14th on the grid.
A fortnight on from taking victory in Thailand, Marini started from pole position and got the perfect start to help him take the holeshot. It was the polar opposite start for ONEXOX TKKR SAG Team’s Tetsuta Nagashima, however. The home hero crashed on the sighting lap, only to make the grid before then crashing again at Turn 1. A home round to forget.
Behind Marini, FlexBox HP40 teammates Augusto Fernandez and Lorenzo Baldaasarri started to squabble over second place. Their fight allowed Idemitsu Honda Team Asia’s Somkiat Chantra to join the podium hunt and he took full advantage of a mistake from Baldassarri to settle into third place.
Championship leader Alex Marquez (Marc VDS EG 0,0), meanwhile, was having all sorts of problems, compounded by a huge moment on the exit of the final corner on lap two. Despite being nowhere near as dramatic as yesterday’s miraculous Motegi save, it was certainly a close call for the title protagonist. There was also a frightening moment for Red Bull KTM Ajo’s Brad Binder after the South African ran wide on the exit of Turn 1. The 2020 MotoGP rider hit the grass and was well and truly sideways, with Sam Lowes (Federal Oil Gresini Moto2) snapping his handlebar when brushing past him and consequently ending his race.
With nine laps now completed, Marquez was embroiled in a fierce fight over sixth with Marcel Schrötter (Dynavolt Intact GP) and Fernandez. There were some extremely firm moves been put in by all three riders as the leaders were allowed to escape. The main threat at the front at this point looked like coming from Lüthi, who made quick work of Baldassarri moments after setting the fastest lap of the race. He then started to apply some pressure on the race leader, Marini. The Italian stood firm for a lap, but the Swiss rider hit the front with a classy move up the inside at Turn 9.
Meanwhile, Marquez began to muscle his way through by, again, showing some uncharacteristic aggression. The Championship leader squeezed past Chantra for fifth, as the Thai rider began to slip backwards. In the fight for third, Martin set the fastest lap of the race with just three laps remaining to close onto the rear wheel of Baldassarri.
Two laps were left when the podium picture took shape. Marini dived through on Lüthi and, within a few seconds, Martin had pounced on Baldassarri. Despite their best efforts, both Lüthi and Baldassarri were unable to respond, meaning Marini took the checkered flag and, as a result, a 50-point haul in the space of a fortnight. Lüthi was back on the podium for the first time since Barcelona and Martin tasted intermediate class bubbly for the very first time after a remarkable ride through from the fifth row of the grid.
Behind Baldassarri in fourth was Beta Tools Speed Up’s Jorge Navarro, who again showed incredible late race pace to take another top-five finish. Marquez came across the line in sixth place, meaning he sits 36 points clear of now Lüthi with three races remaining. Italtrans Racing Team’s Enea Bastianini ended seventh ahead of Fernandez and Schrötter, who both slipped backwards, before MV Agusta got themselves inside the top ten thanks to Stefano Manzi (MV Agusta Temporary Forward).
Lorenzo Dalla Porta (Leopard Racing) took a huge step towards the Moto3 World Championship title after claiming a stunning victory at the Motul Grand Prix of Japan. The Italian came from P6 on the grid to claim his second win of the season as main title rival Aron Canet (Sterilgarda Max Racing Team) crashed out, with Albert Arenas (Gaviota Angel Nieto Team) and Celestino Vietti (SKY Racing Team VR46) completing the podium.
Home hero Tatsuki Suzuki (SIC58 Squadra Corse) got the holeshot from P3 on the grid to lead Alonso Lopez (Estrella Galicia 0,0) into Turn 1 and the Japanese rider was untroubled at the front for the opening exchanges. Both Dalla Porta and Canet got average starts from 6th and 8th on the grid, but the duo slowly made their way towards the front and on Lap 9, Dalla Porta was leading. Your top five at this point included Dalla Porta, Suzuki, rookie Sergio Garcia (Estrella Galicia 0,0), Arenas and Canet.
However, Canet seemed to be struggling slightly to keep up with the pace. A couple of mistakes saw him drop to sixth as the top four then created a half-second gap to Vietti, Canet and John McPhee (Petronas Sprinta Racing). Trying to make up time, with Dalla Porta controlling the race from the front, Canet was pushing. But, with seven laps to go, that pushing became too much for Canet’s front tire. At Turn 9, the Spaniard crashed out – colossal for the 2019 Moto3 Championship as Canet pulled into the pits, with third in the title race Tony Arbolino (VNE Snipers) also crashing out midway through the race. The Italian was stretched off at Turn 5 after making a fantastic recovery from P27 on the grid, cruel luck for Arbolino.
Dalla Porta immediately got the signal from his team: “44 OUT”. Would that see Dalla Porta back off? No chance. The Italian was in the zone and looked incredibly comfortable at the front. Second place Suzuki showed his wheel on a number of occasions but Dalla Porta bit straight back. On the last lap, Dalla Porta led from Suzuki and Arenas, with Garcia and Vietti also well in the hunt for the podium.
Arenas made his move on Suzuki at Turn 7, a nice move from the Thai GP winner, who then had his sights set on Dalla Porta. The Leopard man wasn’t showing signs of pressure though and down the back straight, it was his to lose. Dalla Porta ran slightly wide at the tight Turn 11 trying to defend any late lunges but it didn’t matter, he rounded victory corner to fend off Arenas, extending his Championship lead to 47 over Canet.
A few meters behind, it was late heartbreak for home hero Suzuki. Running first or second for pretty much the entire race, Vietti made a classy sweeping move up the inside at Turn 13 to snatch the final podium spot behind Arenas. No dream Japanese GP podium for the SIC58 rider, but it was once again another great ride from Suzuki. Vietti’s podium was his third of the season, with Garcia grabbing his best result of the season with a magnificent P5.
McPhee had a lonely final few laps in P6, the Scotsman having a decent ride after starting from P11 in Japan. Jaume Masia (Mugen Race) threatened the top five scrap before a mistake at the final corner with nine to go ended his hopes of a podium, the Spaniard finishing P7. Leopard Racing’s Marcos Ramirez by a tenth, with front row starter Lopez slipping down the order to eventually take P9. Andrea Migno (Mugen Race) closed out the lightweight class top 10.
A dramatic first lap saw Jakub Kornfeil (Redox PrüstelGP) and Kömmerling Gresini Moto3™’s Gabriel Rodrigo crash at Turn 4, thankfully both riders were ok, with Tom Booth-Amos (CIP Green Power) crashing down the straight shortly after – rider ok.
A huge day in the Moto3 Championship scrap sees Dalla Porta take a commanding points lead into Australia. 75 points remain on the table with 47 now Dalla Porta’s advantage, but it’s not over yet. The Team Championship is over though, Dalla Porta and Ramirez’ top 10s mean Leopard Racing are 2019 Champions. The rider’s title rumbles on to Phillip Island, a track that is sure to throw up yet more surprises in a week’s time!