A third consecutive win for Jorge Lorenzo has kept the MotoGP championship alive until the final round of the season, as he led home the Repsol Honda pair of Marc Marquez and Dani Pedrosa at Twin Ring Motegi in Japan.
Another weekend of extraordinary circumstances, this time caused by the weather rather than the tyre manufacturer, meant that Sunday’s race was once again impossible to predict, with the grid upset due to a wet qualifying session and the riders having had just one dry practice all weekend.
As the lights went out it was Lorenzo who made the best start from pole, while both Hondas were stumped by a superb getaway from Valentino Rossi from fifth on the grid making it a Factory Yamaha one-two in the early laps. Rossi soon slipped down the order, however, out-braking himself twice at the end of the back straight, firstly letting through the two Hondas before the second time running into the gravel and dropping back to 11th. A spirited ride from then on would see the #46 machine rise back through the field to finish sixth, but it was nonetheless another difficult weekend for the nine-time world champion.
Back at the front and it was another exhibition ride from the three seemingly untouchable Spaniards, who ran in close proximity for much of the contest. Marquez looked to have the edge over Lorenzo at the halfway stage, but a misjudged manoeuvre saw him run wide at the 90° corner. From that point on the championship leader was unable to mount another attack, settling for second ahead of the fading Pedrosa.
Alvaro Bautista impressed for Gresini Honda in fourth ahead of Stefan Bradl who returned with great pace following his ankle injury at Sepang last time out. With Rossi rounding out the top six, it was a tough weekend for the Tech3 squad, whose riders Cal Crutchlow and Bradley Smith finished seventh and eighth respectively ahead of the factory Ducatis of Nicky Hayden and Andrea Dovizioso.
The championship will now be decided at the final round in Valencia in two weeks’ time, with Lorenzo just 13 points behind Marquez.
MotoGP Motegi: Race result
|1||25||99||Jorge LORENZO||SPA||Yamaha Factory Racing||Yamaha||162.3||42'34.291|
|2||20||93||Marc MARQUEZ||SPA||Repsol Honda Team||Honda||162.1||+3.188|
|3||16||26||Dani PEDROSA||SPA||Repsol Honda Team||Honda||162.1||+4.592|
|4||13||19||Alvaro BAUTISTA||SPA||GO&FUN Honda Gresini||Honda||161.1||+19.755|
|5||11||6||Stefan BRADL||GER||LCR Honda MotoGP||Honda||160.9||+22.810|
|6||10||46||Valentino ROSSI||ITA||Yamaha Factory Racing||Yamaha||160.8||+24.637|
|7||9||35||Cal CRUTCHLOW||GBR||Monster Yamaha Tech 3||Yamaha||160.6||+27.496|
|8||8||38||Bradley SMITH||GBR||Monster Yamaha Tech 3||Yamaha||160.4||+30.969|
|9||7||69||Nicky HAYDEN||USA||Ducati Team||Ducati||160.0||+37.010|
|10||6||4||Andrea DOVIZIOSO||ITA||Ducati Team||Ducati||159.7||+42.944|
|11||5||21||Katsuyuki NAKASUGA||JPN||Yamaha YSP Racing Team||Yamaha||159.0||+53.345|
|12||4||5||Colin EDWARDS||USA||NGM Mobile Forward Racing||FTR Kawasaki||158.4||+1'03.213|
|13||3||14||Randy DE PUNIET||FRA||Power Electronics Aspar||ART||158.2||+1'06.840|
|14||2||29||Andrea IANNONE||ITA||Energy T.I. Pramac Racing||Ducati||158.1||+1'08.218|
|15||1||68||Yonny HERNANDEZ||COL||Ignite Pramac Racing||Ducati||157.5||+1'18.240|
|16||8||Hector BARBERA||SPA||Avintia Blusens||FTR||157.5||+1'19.108|
|17||7||Hiroshi AOYAMA||JPN||Avintia Blusens||FTR||157.3||+1'21.174|
|18||9||Danilo PETRUCCI||ITA||Came IodaRacing Project||Ioda-Suter||156.8||+1'30.546|
|19||70||Michael LAVERTY||GBR||Paul Bird Motorsport||ART||153.7||+2'23.358|
|20||71||Claudio CORTI||ITA||NGM Mobile Forward Racing||FTR Kawasaki||154.4||1 Lap|
|21||50||Damian CUDLIN||AUS||Paul Bird Motorsport||PBM||153.4||1 Lap|
|22||67||Bryan STARING||AUS||GO&FUN Honda Gresini||FTR Honda||153.2||1 Lap|
|41||Aleix ESPARGARO||SPA||Power Electronics Aspar||ART||158.3||12 Laps|
|23||Luca SCASSA||ITA||Cardion AB Motoracing||ART||144.3||23 Laps|
|52||Lukas PESEK||CZE||Came IodaRacing Project||Ioda-Suter||139.3||23 Laps|