Press releases from the teams and Michelin after Sunday's MotoGP race at Motegi:
Marc Marquez crowned 2016 World Champion at Motegi
Marc Marquez took a remarkable victory at Motegi today to become the 2016 MotoGP World Champion with three races to go, in front of Honda President Chief Executive Officer and Representative Director Mr. Takahiro Hachigo, who joined Marc on the podium, Operating Officer and Director Mr. Shinji Aoyama and HRC President Mr. Yoshishige Nomura.
Marc got off to a brilliant start and immediately engaged in a fight for the lead with Jorge Lorenzo and Valentino Rossi. On the second lap he overtook the Italian at turn eight and began to pursue Lorenzo, taking over the lead on lap four.
He immediately showed that he had the rhythm and speed to make a breakaway, putting in a series of laps in the 1’45 range and pulling a half-second gap on his countryman. Lap six brought the first major turn of events, as Rossi fell at turn seven and was forced to retire. Marc continued stretching his lead until Lorenzo also slid off, with five laps remaining.
With his fifth win of 2016 and the 55th in his career (across all classes), Marc became the youngest rider in the history of the sport to earn five World Championships (125cc in 2010, Moto2 in 2012 and MotoGP in 2013, 2014 and 2016).
Marc is also the only rider in any class to score points at every race so far this year. Today’s victory also extended Honda’s lead in the Constructors World Championship to 28 points, and it is the sixth Honda victory in the last eight races.
Hiroshi Aoyama stepped in to replace Dani Pedrosa (who broke a collarbone in a fall on Friday and underwent successful surgery the following day) just on Saturday morning, and today he scored a single final point for his 15th-place finish.
Race Winner 2016 MotoGP World Champion
“It’s incredible! Before the race I didn’t expect to be Champion, and I said that here it would be impossible. However, when I saw that Rossi was out of the race, I decided to push hard for the victory. I was riding my hardest, and when there were three laps to go, I read on my pit board that Lorenzo was also out; on that same lap, I made mistakes in four or five corners, as it was difficult to stay focused! I’m very happy because this title is very special considering some of the crashes I had last year, and also because it came at Motegi, Honda’s home. Honda has worked so hard this year, and you could see the fruits of that effort also at this track, where we’ve struggled in the past. I myself also improved during the season; for instance, I learned how to better use the front Michelin tyre. It has been a demanding year, but a fantastic one. It’s great for my team, and of course I don’t want to forget my grandmother, who passed away this year and would be very happy with this World Championship. Now we can just enjoy it and go into the last three races with maybe a more ‘Marc Marquez’ style.”
“It was quite a long and tough race for me, as it had been a long time since I last raced. Anyway, this was my home Grand Prix, and I had a lot of fans and friends here. That gave me a lot of positive energy and I was able to push until the end of the race. I fell yesterday, but today crashing wasn’t an option. I tried to stay on the bike and do my best. In the end I was able to finish in the points, even if it was just one. Today Marc won the title, and it was really a great day for HRC and Honda—congratulations to him! I’m happy that Dani’s surgery went well and I hope to see him back on his bike soon.”
“The regulation changes posed a big challenge for Marc and the team this year. To be able to win such a season is the culmination of a lot of talent and a lot of hard work. I’m thankful for the hard work the team put in and all the support we have had from our sponsors and our fans worldwide”.
Andrea Dovizioso steps onto the podium at Motegi with an excellent second place in the Japanese Grand Prix. Hector Barbera crashes out on lap 9 but finishes the race in 17th place
Andrea Dovizioso put in a fine performance today in the Japanese Grand Prix at Motegi, finishing runner-up in the fifteenth round of the 2016 world championship. The Ducati Team rider, who started from the second row, powered away well at the stat but lost a few positions at the first corner and crossed the line at the end of lap 1 in fifth place. Andrea then passed Aleix Espargarò on lap 6 and began to chip away at Lorenzo, who crashed on lap 20. At that point Dovizioso was able to control the recovery by Viñales and he finished his race with a well-deserved second place.
Hector Barbera, who was making his debut on the Demosedici GP of the Ducati Team, had not such a good race. The rider from Valencia, who started from row 3, lost several positions at the start and then began his recovery by passing Petrucci and catching Pol Espargarò. In an attempt to pass his fellow Spanish rider, Hector made a mistake and crashed, managing to restart however despite a damaged bike, and he crossed the finish-line in seventeenth place. Barbera will again replace the still convalescent Andrea Iannone in the Australian Grand Prix next week at Phillip Island.
Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team #04) – 2nd
“Today’s race was really very difficult. I started quite well but was boxed in by Valentino at the first corner and lost several positions and above all contact with the leading trio. I remained calm however and began to get closer to Lorenzo lap after lap: I didn’t want to take too many risks, but I had almost caught him when he made a small error and crashed out. I am very pleased with the feeling I had with the bike and with how I managed the situation: I couldn’t take too many risks because it was very easy to crash, but I was able to be constant throughout the race and with a good pace, and get an important result for both me and Ducati. This weekend we worked well, and confirmed that we have a good base on which to continue to work to improve several aspects of the bike.”
Hector Barbera (Ducati Team #8) – 17th
“For me it was a fantastic opportunity to ride the 2016 Desmosedici GP and race for a factory squad like the Ducati Team and so I want to thank both Ducati and Avintia Racing for giving me this opportunity. For me it was all new: in fact, I didn’t know either the bike or the guys in the team, but after every session the situation improved a lot. Unfortunately in the race I was not able to get a good start, especially because the clutch is very different to the one I normally use, and I immediately lost two positions. I took a bit of time to pass Petrucci and then I caught Pol Espargarò, who I tried to overtake several times, until I tried with even more decision and unfortunately I crashed. I feel bad about it because I think that today I could have finished in fifth or sixth place. In any case I picked the bike up to finish the race, but in the crash the two wings had broken off and I was no longer able to ride it well. However it was a great experience and I am very happy that I have been given another chance next week at Phillip Island.”
VIÑALES THIRD WITH WISE RIDING & ESPARGARÓ FOURTH
Team Suzuki Press Office – October 16.
Maverick Viñales – 3rd
Aleix Espargaró – 4th
Team SUZUKI ECSTAR’s Maverick Viñales raced to a podium position in today’s Motul Grand Prix of Japan at Motegi as team-mate Aleix Espargaró scored his best result of the season in fourth.
The positive results arrived in a very special weekend for Suzuki; in 1962, 54 years ago on October 14th, Ernst Degner won the very first World Championship title for the manufacturer, at the GP of Argentina on an RM62 machine.
Riding in his 100th GP, Viñales jumped from seventh place and decided for a conservative strategy in the race. Being consistently on the pace – which was improved by his team for this morning’s warm up – he preserved the tyres for the first half of the race, before attacking his team-mate and getting to the final third place.
Fourth place was a good reward also for the positive weekend Espargaró has had in Japan. His performance improved session-by-session and he could be competitive among the top riders for the most of the race, giving-up his aggressiveness only towards the end of the race when he settled for his best result of the season.
Ken Kawauchi – Technical Manager:
“It was good to have a podium here because Japan is our home GP and we could show our performance in front of our colleagues from the factory and all fans. Until yesterday Maverick has been struggling with the setting, for this I couldn’t expect such a great result, although we could deliver some improvements already this morning. Aleix did a very good job during this weekend so we were expecting a good result, finally he couldn't get the podium but the weekend overall is very positive for us. All the team is happy, we want to improve more for Phillip Island because that will be a more favourable track for us and we will try to get more podiums until the end of the season.”
“I’m very happy for this podium because it’s the result of two main points; first of all, the team managed to make good improvements since yesterday, delivering me a machine with which I felt more comfortable than yesterday. This means we have a lot of potential to express, still. Second thing, is that I managed to make a very wise race; the jump was not as good as I wanted, but then I decided to stay calm and not to waste the tyre in order to keep some performance for the end of the race. This allowed me to be consistent and keep my performance until the end and getting third. It was also a nice battle with Aleix, when finally I managed to overtake him it was too late to go and catch up for the second place, but this podium is very emotional, being here in front of all our fans and colleagues from the Suzuki factory.”
“I’m disappointed for the final result because I was expecting a little more, but at the end of the day the whole weekend has been very positive. We did a great job, and finally we are seeing the improvements I was waiting for. It was the first time in the season I managed to stay very close to the head of the race and fight for the podium, so it’s a pity I couldn’t get up there, I tried all I could but finally I had to settle in fourth. It is my best result of the season and I’m proud of it. I’m happy that the next race will be immediately next weekend, we keep the focus and we’ll try to continue this positive period we’re having.”
THE TWO APRILIAS IN THE TOP-10 AGAIN AT MOTEGI
ALVARO BAUTISTA SEVENTH AND STEFAN BRADL TENTH, CONFIRMING THE RS-GP'S PROGRESS
In the race that decided the 2016 World Championship, Aprilia has plenty to be satisfied about. Alvaro Bautista, fast and precise for all 23 laps, took a nice seventh place (his best result of the season) 23 seconds from the leader. Tenth place for Stefan Bradl after a small mistake in the finale kept him from making a go for ninth and eighth place.
Overall, the Japanese weekend confirmed the Italian team's excellent form. Fast in qualifying and consistent in the race, the season finale promises to be positive for both Aprilia Racing Team Gresini riders. Alvaro Bautista got off the line well when the lights went out from his twelfth spot on the grid, overtaking Redding and Petrucci in succession. From the tenth lap, Alvaro kept the gap behind Pol Espargaró constant without making any mistakes and consistently lapping at 1'47. When the chequered flag came out, the gap behind the winner, Marquez, was 23 seconds, whereas the gap behind the fifth place finisher was reduced to 8 seconds.
Stefan Bradl also had a positive performance, skilfully recovering after a less than perfect start, coming back to take tenth place. The German also had the potential for a better placement, but a mistake in the penultimate lap made him lose contact with eighth and ninth place, positions that were within his grasp up to that point.
ROMANO ALBESIANO - APRILIA RACING MANAGER
"A good race for us. We continued our trend in this stage of the season. We are headed to a track at Phillip Island that has very different characteristics where we will be seeking further confirmation. The goal is to keep improving, looking for more steps that will allow us to further close the gap behind the leaders. I am satisfied with everyone's work, from the team to the riders, as well as the guys who are working at home".
FAUSTO GRESINI - TEAM MANAGER
"We confirmed our progress here again throughout the weekend. Despite the crashes in qualifying, the riders recovered well. Alvaro rode a great race and Stefan also brought home important points. We need to continue like this, taking small steps and staying focused. Aprilia and the team are doing an excellent job. We have narrowed the gap and now we need to set our sights on finishing the season well".
"A good race, the best result so far with Aprilia. Of course, the crashes gave us a couple of positions, but that is all part of racing. I am especially satisfied with the work done this weekend. After not having good sensations on Friday, we were able to recover, going through to Q2. We showed that we can be fast on tracks with very different characteristics: from Misano, twisting, to Motegi with a lot of hard braking and acceleration sections. This is important as it shows that we have taken a step forward on all fronts. We will try to confirm this in the coming races. I want to finish the season in the best possible way".
"I am not fully satisfied with the race today. We had the potential to aim for a better result. Unfortunately, I lost a few positions straight away at the start, whereas during the race I could not find the same feeling braking that I had yesterday in practice. Because of that, I made a few mistakes that certainly cost us a few positions. In any case, being in the top-10 is important to continue our positive trend. We worked well throughout the weekend and we want to do the same at Phillip Island as well".
Movistar Yamaha MotoGP Encounters Dramatic End to Motegi Race
The Movistar Yamaha MotoGP team were unlucky to see both riders crash out of a promising second place at the Twin Ring Motegi track after heroic efforts of the two teammates. Jorge Lorenzo was riding impressively at the start of the 24-lap sprint and was defending his position until a crash at turn nine meant the end of his challenge. Earlier on in the race, pole-setter Rossi also suffered an unfortunate premature halt to his strong pursuit of the lead in turn ten.
Lorenzo had a good start to the 24-lap race when he launched from third on the grid to arrive at the first corner in second place, passing his teammate. He immediately also overtook Marc Marquez in turn two, who had snatched the holeshot into turn one, to take over the lead.
With a feisty fight ensuing between Rossi and Marquez, Lorenzo put his head down to increase his advantage to over 0.6s, but the two chasing riders were not out of the race yet. The first attack came from Marquez on lap three. Lorenzo spurred on his Yamaha to prevent his compatriot from clearing off at the front and was followed closely by the Doctor. Lorenzo had to let his teammate pass on lap six but regained the position when Rossi crashed out of the race.
With Marquez too far ahead, Lorenzo focused his attention on defending his second place from Andrea Dovizioso, who arrived at the back of his Yamaha with five laps to go, but the Mallorcan's quest for a podium ended when he crashed out of the race in turn nine.
Rossi had a good start from pole, but had to let Marquez and Lorenzo pass going into turn one. What followed was a flurry of activity on the first lap as the Italian scrapped with Marquez and Aleix Espargaró. Completing the first lap in third place, Rossi refused to give up and cleverly bided his time whilst following Lorenzo and Marquez, to take second from his teammate five laps later. He was chasing the victory and kicked up the pace a nudge until he lost the front end in turn ten on lap seven, ending his race prematurely.
Yamalube Yamaha Factory Racing Team wildcard rider Katsuyuki Nakasuga made his experience count and rode a confident race, securing a strong eleventh place aboard the YZR-M1, earning himself five championship points.
After today's unexpected race results, Rossi and Lorenzo hold second and third place respectively in the championship with 196 and 182 points. Yamaha holds second place with 288 points in the Constructors' classification, 28 points from first, and Movistar Yamaha MotoGP is also chasing the Teams' title in second place with 378 points in the rankings.
Massimo Meregalli - Movistar Yamaha MotoGP Team Director
"It is a disappointing end to an otherwise strong weekend from our team. After yesterday's qualifying results we were really confident that we would be able to get a good result, but unfortunately this was a race day to forget. Jorge and Valentino gave a solid performance today, especially since both were not feeling a 100% after Jorge's extreme highside yesterday and with Vale suffering a severe cold. Nevertheless, they fought their way to the front in the early laps and they definitely didn't make it easy for Marquez in the first stage of the race. It was unfortunate that Valentino's and Jorge's crash ended our race early. Congratulations to Marc for securing the Riders Title."
DNF / -5 laps. Championship: 3rd / 182 points
"I'm very disappointed, because I made a mistake. I tried to push too much when the bike was not working well with the tyres. In Aragón we made a good decision with the tyres and this time it was the opposite. We chose the wrong front tyre, with the soft I think I would have made a better race, because my front tyre on the first laps was vibrating and closing. I didn't have a good feeling, that's why I couldn't keep up with the pace of Marquez. Finally, because Dovizioso was coming, I pushed more than before in that corner and the front tyre didn't give me any support or feedback and I crashed. It's a pity, because I think we had the potential to fight for the victory with the right front tyre, but it was impossible today and we lost a great opportunity to be second in the championship. I want to congratulate Marquez because he didn't have an advantage from his bike this year and he was the most consistent rider, so he deserves this championship."
DNF / -18 laps. Championship: 2nd / 196 points
"First of all, I would like to say that I'm OK, fortunately no problems. On the other hand it's a shame because I was quite strong and I had a good pace. Unfortunately my start was not fantastic and I lost a position to Marquez and Lorenzo. After that, Marquez was a bit faster than me to overtake Lorenzo, I lost a bit more time behind him, but the pace was good. I was able to push a lot to try and catch Marquez but unfortunately I lost the front. Sincerely, I felt nothing like going into the corner too wide or too deep, but I lost the front and logically I made a mistake."
Rabat returns to the points in Japan with a well executed race strategy
Team Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS rider Tito Rabat finished a morale-boosting 14th in today's Japanese Grand Prix.
Rabat rode a controlled race at the 4.8km Twin Ring Motegi, one of his least favourite venues on the calendar.
The performance was a reward for Rabat's willingness to learn in his rookie season in the premier class and he fully deserved his two championship points.
Starting 18th on the grid Rabat stuck to his plan of riding his Honda RC213V within his limits and it paid handsome dividends five laps from the finish when he moved ahead of factory Honda rider Hiroshi Aoyama to secure fourteenth.
It was a less rewarding day for Rabat's teammate Jack Miller, who returned to MotoGP after being sidelined from recent races with a hand injury.
Miller's day ended early on lap seven of 24 when he lost the front-end and crashed at turn one.
Miller had charged in the opening laps and looked set to challenge for a top ten result in a tight tussle in a group featuring Scott Redding, Danilo Petrucci, Alvaro Bautista and Stefan Bradl. But a small braking error and another front-end slide put paid to the Australian rider's chances of completing the race distance as a warm-up for his home race at Phillip Island next weekend.
The Australian GP is the second leg of three consecutive flyaway races.
Tito Rabat: 14th
"I am very happy for this 14th position after scoring zero points at the past two races. I was very focussed this weekend on understanding my limit and finishing the race to learn more about MotoGP and I did this. Two points at Motegi, which is not an easy track for me, is great for the team and now I want to take this feeling to Australia next week and continue to improve."
Jack Miller: DNF
"I just made a small mistake and braked a little too late and lost the front-end in turn one. I tried to stay on the racing line but I was a little too fast and just tucked the front. I was pushing hard to stay in the group with Scott, Petrucci, Bautista and Bradl and it was shaping up as a nice little battle until I made the mistake and it was all over."
Michael Bartholemy: Team Principal
"Jack's crash was a little disappointing because I feel he had the potential to challenge for a top ten finish here and it was important for him to finish the race because next weekend is a big one for him at Phillip Island. Jack had some issues at turn one all weekend and that is where he crashed. For Tito this result shows that he is getting closer to being more competitive in MotoGP and the gap to the riders ahead is much less than at the beginning of the season. A good performance by Tito today."
Espargaro finishes as leading Yamaha in Motegi - Heroic Smith seizes points
Pol Espargaro delivered a strong performance in front of 52,000 passionate fans at the Twin Ring Motegi circuit to seize 6th in his 50th MotoGP race with the Monster Yamaha Tech3 Team. The Spaniard sped away from the rear of the third row of the grid when the event began and after navigating his way around the stop and go track on the first lap, he crossed the line in 8th, having improved on his qualifying position by one place. From here, the 25-year-old quickly set into a strong rhythm, which saw him open up a gap to the pursuing riders as he tried to hunt down Cal Crutchlow in front of him. At the midpoint of the 24 lap sprint, the 2013 Moto2 World Champion was up to 7th as he maintained his consistency whilst he pushed on as the distance counted down. After producing a tireless effort right until the end of the demanding race, Espargaro met the chequered flag in 6th which marks a solid conclusion to the round 15 battle.
On the other side of the Monster Yamaha Tech3 Team pit box, Bradley Smith bravely rode to 13th at the Japanese Grand Prix, despite not having full race fitness due to his injured right knee. The young Briton, who was making his first MotoGP appearance since damaging his knee in August, began the 24 lap contest from the fifth row of the grid. When the lights went out, he lunged forward but was shuffled back to 18th by the close of the opening lap. However, Smith focused and quickly set into a consistent rhythm, which saw him move back into the points with a third of the total distance having been completed. He dug deep and at the half way point, he was running in 14th as he continued to lap at a notable pace. Eventually, the 25-year-old crossed the finish line in 13th, which marks an impressive result when considering his condition, at Yamaha's Home Grand Prix. Now, Smith confidently eyes up the Australian Grand Prix, which will take place in a week's time.
6th / +19.654 / 24 laps. Championship: 8th / 106 points
"It has been a tough day and it is important that we could take 10 points from this race, especially as it was a tricky GP but I am still a bit disappointed because we were not as competitive as we possibly could have been this weekend. I didn't feel really comfortable in any of the practice sessions so I always knew it was going to be a long event. However, my start was good and I was able to stay in front of the Ducatis which I think was the key to our result. After the beginning, I couldn't stay with the group who were ahead of me and I ran almost the entire Grand Prix on my own. Yet, with the crashes in front, we managed to finish in 6th, so we have to be happy about leaving Motegi with some crucial points for the independent rider fight in the Championship standings. Now, I'm really looking forward to Australia as the Phillip Island track is one that I really enjoy riding at and I have a lot of good memories there."
13th / +53.783 / 24 laps. Championship: 17th / 45 points
"No doubt, today has been a very hard day for me but it is definitely nice to get some points as a reward for the effort. In the last seven weeks I've had to watch the rest of the MotoGP world go racing, whilst I've been at home, so it is a good feeling to be back on the grid and getting myself involved, therefore I can't be disappointed about a 13th place finish as I didn't even know if I was going to be able to complete the GP a few days ago. To be honest, I forgot how long the races are in terms of distance, but riding out there for 24 laps at the absolute maximum was really demanding today and doing it without making any mistakes is probably the hardest challenge for me at the moment. I want to say a big thank you to the whole team because they have done a fantastic job over the weekend in preparing a great bike, as well as taking a lot of care, even if I wasn't able to work as closely as usual with them, because the physiotherapy took a lot of time away. Moreover, I also want to thank Yamaha for all their assistance during my stay in Japan. Being away from home meant that I truly needed a helping hand and they have been very supportive so I'm really grateful for that."
Hervé Poncharal - Team manager:
“It was another great race today and who could have imagined that the two factory Yamaha MotoGP riders would not see the finish flag and Marc would win the championship. With regards to the Tech3 guys, firstly, I want to congratulate Pol because he did the best that he could all weekend long. 6th is a solid position, plus he was also the leading Yamaha, but we know the reasons why. He was a bit too far behind Cal and never got close enough to pass him, so he wisely just kept control of the gap to the pursuing riders, before crossing the line. In terms of the fight for the top independent rider in the championship standings, anything is possible because Cal is only ten points ahead of us and we have three more races to go. On the other side of the garage, I have to say that Bradley did a superb job today and I want to give him very special congratulations because when he arrived here on Thursday, we weren’t sure if he could even do one lap. Not only did he complete all of the practices, but he also qualified in 15th which is quite incredible. However, we didn’t think that he could complete the entire distance. It’s amazing that he did and he scored a good result ahead of some of the regular riders who are fully fit. So I want to give him massive thanks and hopefully, his knee should be a bit better in Australia. Thanks to the whole team for their hard work and let's see what happens down under next week.”
Octo Pramac Yakhnich ends up #JapaneseGP with a double Top 10:
Petrux 8th, 9th Scott
A precious Sunday for Octo Pramac Yakhnich team who takes good points thanks to good races of Danilo Petrucci and Scott Redding at the Motegi circuit, where Marc Marquez has became World MotoGP Champion for the third time, also exploiting Valentino Rossi and Jorge Lorenzo’s crashes .
Danilo made a good start managing to gain one position at the first corner. Between the seventh and the tenth lap he fought hard with Bautista, then did well to keep the concentration and defend his position from Scott Redding attack, finishing in eighth place.
Redding was not brilliant at the start as he lost three positions in the first corner but reacted immediately recovering the Top 10 on lap 8. From mid-race on, the British rider tried to chase his teammate remaining in its wake until the end but could not find the ideal conditions for an attack. For Scott a good ninth place finish.
9th - Scott Redding
Unfortunately my race pace was not so good at the beginning and this has a little penalized me. Then I found a good rhythm and I started to reduce the gap. I had some problems especially in braking and I was not able to get close enough to groped an attack to Danilo. But I'm happy because I made a lot of experience after the last difficult races, working on maps, improving the feeling with the tires. In the end it was a good weekend.
8th - Danilo Petrucci
It is a good result although frankly I expected to do better in the race because during the weekend the pace was better. I had problems with the front, I could not brake how I wanted. At first I tried to stay with Barbera and Espargaro but I was not fast enough. Now we move to Australia and there is no time to think. Phillip Island is a totally different track we will have to work a lot to change the set up. I can not wait to get back on track.
Yonny Hernández picks up four important points at Motegi
Sunday, 16 October 2016 06:59
Pull&Bear Aspar Team rider finishes twelfth after starting from seventeenth, as Eugene Laverty crashes out on lap three
The first match point was all Marc Márquez needed to secure the MotoGP World Championship with victory in Japan, his third title in the premier class. The Spaniard's win, combined with crashes for both Valentino Rossi and Jorge Lorenzo, means he can not be caught before the end of the season, taking his career tally to three titles in MotoGP and five in total. Márquez continues to break records and at the age of 23 years and 242 days he becomes the youngest ever five-time World Champion, almost a year younger than Valentino Rossi was. The Italian remains fourteen points clear of his team-mate in the chase for the runner-up position with three races left whilst, in the absence of Dani Pedrosa, Andrea Dovizioso and Maverick Viñales joined the World Champion on the podium today, Viñales moving up to fourth place in the championship, just 17 points shy of Lorenzo. The next race takes place in Australia in just seven days' time.
Pull&Bear Aspar Team rider Yonny Hernández has four more points to his credit after a difficult race at Motegi. Hernández started from seventeenth on the grid but was unable to make up ground in the early laps as he struggled to get his bike stopped. However, lap by lap he recovered and made up positions to secure a creditable twelfth place at the line. Eugene Laverty's topsy-turvy weekend did not finish on a high, the Irishman having made a strong start to the Grand Prix only for his progress to be upset by a crash on Friday. Today he slid off again, this time on the third lap of the race when he was overtaking wildcard rider Katsuyuki Nakasuga. Laverty lost the front at the apex and was upset not to make up for an otherwise disappointing weekend.
12th Yonny Hernández: “It was a good race, we have been able to finish and pick up four more points. At the beginning I was really struggling to get the bike stopped and I lost a lot of ground to the others. We had to use the hard rear but lots of guys went with the soft, which limited us a little, because with my style on the soft we wouldn't have made it to the end of the race. I have gained more experience and improved my pace here this weekend, which is positive.”
Eugene Laverty (DNF): “The crash was my mistake. I was overtaking Nakasuga in turn nine, the first gear left corner. I I tried to turn too tight when I overtook him and lost the front at the apex. The third lap of the race is too early to make a mistake like that so I am upset because after everything that has happened this weekend the main thing today was to try and get a result but I made a silly mistake on lap three, so that's why I am disappointed. It has been a strange weekend for sure, maybe it wasn't to be. We started the weekend so strong until the crash. Now we will try to regroup and start again in Australia.”
CRUTCHLOW CLAIMS TOP-FIVE FINISH IN JAPAN
LCR Honda rider Cal Crutchlow completed a fine weekend’s work by coming home in fifth place at Sunday’s Grand Prix of Japan at the Twin Ring in Motegi. On the day that fellow Honda rider Marc Marquez clinched the world championship, Crutchlow overcame a slight error in the middle of the race to produce another solid showing which reinforces his position as the Best Independent Team rider of the standing (7th overall with 116 points).
Having started from fifth place on the grid, the Briton was always looking to try and come on strong in the second half of the race. His plans were disrupted when he went off track near the halfway point, but he managed to keep his bike upright and return to the race. The incident ruined his hopes of challenging for a podium spot but the Brit was quite satisfied with the final result. Now Cal and his squad will move to Australia for the sixteenth round of the calendar at the spectacular Phillip Island circuit.
Cal Crutchlow #35 (5th – +15.049)
“Today was a good finishing position for me and the team, but I made a mistake in the middle of the race. I ran the hard front tyre, which I believe was the correct choice, but it was really difficult to go fast at the start of the race. So I waited and looked to do a good job towards the end, which was always going to be the plan.
“I believe I could have done that, but I ran off the track which complicated things for me. I lost eight or nine seconds on that lap. It was my own fault, but I managed to stay on the bike as I went through the gravel, which was the main thing. We still managed to finish in a strong position, but evidently we are a bit disappointed as we could have battled for the podium today.
“The Team did a great job, though, and another top-five result is important for the second half of the season.”
Avintia Racing riders leave Japan without reward
Avintia Racing started the Japanese Grand Prix with high expectations, as Hector Barbera was rewarded for his good season and rode injured Andrea Iannone’s Desmosedici GP inside the official Ducati Team. After qualifying eight yesterday, Barbera was aiming at a good result in the race today, but he lost the front in turn one on the ninth lap, when he was fighting with Pol Espargaro for the seventh place. He picked the bike up and finished the race, but without any options for the point rankings. Next week in Australia he will have another chance to show his potential with the factory team.
The race was not easy for Loris Baz either. He started from the back of the grid and although he improved his pace and reduced a gap of three seconds with Hiroshi Aoyama to just 0.8s on lap 19, he had to realize that he still isn’t in his best physical condition after two consecutive injuries. Finally, he was not able to fight for the championship point that seemed within reach in the battle with the Japanese rider. On positive result from this race is the fact that Loris got his confidence back, right in time ahead of the next race at Phillip Island, one of his favourite tracks where he did a great winter test.
Mike Jones, who got the opportunity to replace Barbera this weekend, finished his first race in MotoGP. The 22-year-old Australian got 18th place and was really happy with the experience he had in Motegi. “Mad Mike” will ride Barbera’s bike at his home race in Phillip Island.
Hector Barbera - P17
“For me it was a fantastic opportunity to ride the 2016 Desmosedici GP and race for a factory squad like the Ducati Team and so I want to thank both Ducati and Avintia Racing for giving me this opportunity. For me it was all new: in fact, I didn’t know either the bike or the guys in the team, but after every session the situation improved a lot. Unfortunately in the race I was not able to get a good start, especially because the clutch is very different to the one I normally use, and I immediately lost two positions. I took a bit of time to pass Petrucci and then I caught Pol Espargaro, who I tried to overtake several times, until I tried with even more decision and unfortunately I crashed. I feel bad about it because I think that today I could have finished in fifth or sixth place. In any case I picked the bike up to finish the race, but in the crash the two wings had broken off and I was no longer able to ride it well. However it was a great experience and I am very happy that I have been given another chance next week at Phillip Island.”
Loris Baz - P16
“I got my confidence back during the first ten laps. But when I’m riding the bike I feel that I’m on the limit, and then I see the lap times and I’m far away from the pace. One positive thing from today is that I gained a better feeling and my race pace was better than ever this weekend. Negative is that we are still far from where we should be. I also realized that my physical condition is not at 100%, because when I caught Aoyama, I had no more energy left. Now we go to Phillip Island, a track I love and where I was fast during the winter test. I’ll have some days to relax and train before the race, so I hope to improve and to be competitive again.”
Mike Jones - P18
“I’m very happy and I can’t believe the experience of finishing my first ever MotoGP race. It was fantastic to be part of the Avintia Racing Ducati team this weekend. They worked so hard to help me learn so much, but definitely I gained more experience through the race. My start wasn’t very good. We tried a practice start in the warm-up this morning and I felt really, really good, but we changed the clutch for the race and when I went to do the race start it felt different, so I really struggled with the start. Once I got going, I tried to follow the guys in front of me, but I had a few small problems and I couldn’t get the bike stopped like in qualifying. But I just wanted to finish the race, no matter how, and I did it. I really want to thank Avintia Racing and Ducati for this opportunity and I hope to do it better at Phillip Island.”
MOTEGI SEES MARQUEZ CROWNED FIRST MICHELIN WORLD CHAMPION OF THE NEW ERA
Michelin witnessed a comprehensive victory from Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) at Motegi in Japan today which saw the Spaniard claim the first World Championship title of the French tyre company’s return to MotoGP™.
Starting from second on the grid, Marquez got the holeshot, but was passed in the first corner by Jorge Lorenzo (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP) and the former champion held first position for the next three laps. Marquez made a move on lap-four and regained the ascendency as he set consistently quick times, with the fastest lap of the race coming on the sixth circulation. The 23-year-old Spaniard increased his lead as the race progressed and with his nearest rivals Valentino Rossi (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP) and Lorenzo both crashing out when pushing hard to catch the leader, Marquez held his nerve to take victory and secure his third MotoGP World Championship and the fifth world title of his Grand Prix career.
The battle for podium places was as intense as ever, with Rossi and Lorenzo involved in the fight before both fell, leaving Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team) in a perfect position to secure a well-deserved second place following a controlled race. The encounter behind was even more absorbing, as the combatants were from the same team, with Maverick Viñales (Team SUZUKI ECSTAR) just getting the honours ahead of his team-mate Aleix Espargaro (Team SUZUKI ECSTAR) to seal the final rostrum place. With all of the first four riders choosing the medium front and soft rear MICHELIN Power Slicks, fifth placed Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda) chose a hard front, paired with the soft rear, as he raced his machine to the position of First Independent Team Rider and strengthen his position at the top of those standings. Pol Espargaro (Monster Yamaha Tech 3) took sixth, with Alvaro Bautista (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini) recording his best result of the season so far with seventh. The Ducati pair of Danilo Petrucci (OCTO Pramac Yakhnich) and Scott Redding (OCTO Pramac Yakhnich) took eighth and ninth respectively, with Stefan Bradl (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini) rounding out the top-ten.
A crowd of 52,216 watched from trackside and were bathed in warm, sunny weather as air temperatures reached 25°C, pushing track temperatures up to 37°C. They witnessed Marquez become the first Michelin motorcycle world champion since Nicky Hayden – also of the Repsol Honda Team – secured the title in 2006. Michelin will now head south as it travels to Phillip Island in Australia and round 16 of the championship, where the French tyre company will also be title sponsors for the event as the Michelin® Australian Motorcycle Grand Prix takes place on Sunday 23rd October.
Marc Marquez – Repsol Honda Team:
“This race was difficult, because when you are fighting for the championship it is hard to keep the concentration. I started the race and I was convinced my rhythm was good on the Michelin tyres and I was pushing hard early on. Then when I saw ‘Valentino out’ on my pit-board I decided to go for the victory. Then when I saw ‘Lorenzo out’ the feeling changed and I lost concentration a bit, but I then just couldn’t wait for the moment to cross the line and celebrate with the team. The tyres worked really well in the race, the front tyre temperature went up because conditions were different today and I was a little bit unsure how it would behave, but it worked really good. I want to say a big thanks to my Michelin technician Patrick, he has done a really good job all season and has helped me to understand the tyres we have used this year, so a big thanks to him because we are working really well together. It was quite difficult at the beginning of the season because I had ridden for a while on the same tyres and when you change it is hard to understand, but you must understand the potential and from Michelin it was really good. The rear tyre is amazing from Michelin and I am really happy to be the first champion with Michelin for many years and every time we go on-track we are learning many things and this year we did a great job.”
Nicolas Goubert – Deputy Director, Technical Director and Supervisor of the MotoGP Programme:
“Firstly I want to give my congratulations to Marc Marquez and the Repsol Honda Team on winning the rider’s championship today. Marc has ridden very intelligently this season, he has shown a great maturity and adapted to the Michelin tyres in many different conditions very well. So well done to all involved on behalf of everyone at Michelin.
“This weekend has been another learning curve for us and we will take away a lot of important lessons that we know we can act upon and rectify for the future. We were quite surprised by the cold track and the time it took our tyres to heat up during the practice sessions in Motegi, but we spoke with all riders and teams to explain the situation and this is something we will work on for here in 2017. We now head to Australia, which everyone knows is a real inspection of the performance of the tyres. We are up to the challenge as we had a positive test there earlier in the year and have produced a tyre especially for the circuit. It will also be great to be involved in the event because it is the Michelin® Australian Motorcycle Grand Prix and it will be important for us to give a good account at our own GP!”