On Sunday we found out just what it takes to bring overtaking back to MotoGP. A light sprinkling of rain on the grid, a mad rush to swap bikes at the end of the first lap, and then rain increasing in intensity as the race goes on. Ideally the rain would have eased off after a while, so the race could have gone full distance, rather than being red flagged. But the 12 laps of Motegi which settled the final result showed just how good MotoGP can be when the racing is in the riders' hands, rather than in the hands of engineers.
After Saturday, rain was thought to be the only thing that could prevent another demonstration by Jorge Martin. The wildcard of a wet track would surely shake things up, and stymie his relentless march. But as Johann Zarco said on Saturday, "He's like in a bubble now. Everything he is doing is working well." That includes racing in the wet. Martin simply outclassed everyone else over half race distance on a soaking track.
Pecco Bagnaia put up resistance, and the outcome could perhaps have been different had the race gone on. But it didn't, and no one had an answer for Martin's superior drive.
Smarts plus talent