Press releases from the MotoGP teams and Michelin after the Japanese Grand Prix at Motegi:
Andrea Dovizioso scores a fantastic win in the GP of Japan at Motegi to cut the points gap from Marquez to 11. Sixth overall for Jorge Lorenzo, with Ducati now second in the Constructors’ standings
Andrea Dovizioso powered to his fifth win of the year today at Motegi at the end of an exciting race and a terrific scrap right down to the final corner with Marc Marquez. The Ducati Team’s Italian rider has now reduced the gap in the overall standings to 11 points to the Spanish champion, with three rounds left in the 2017 MotoGP World Championship.
Dovizioso, who started from row 3, moved up to third in the early laps behind Petrucci, who led until lap 12, and Marquez. Once he had passed the Pramac Racing Team rider, who eventually finished an excellent third at the flag, Andrea began to chase down Marquez up at the front. Dovizioso then caught and passed him on lap 21, but three laps later Marquez was back in the lead. The Ducati man didn’t lose touch with his title rival however, attacking four corners before the finish to hold onto his first place until the chequered flag.
Jorge Lorenzo eventually finished in sixth place after starting from the second row. The Spanish rider got off to a good start and led during the opening lap, but then dropped a few positions following a contact with Zarco and suffering from a poor feeling with rear tyre grip. Six laps from the end Jorge began his recovery from ninth and after passing Viñales, A. Espargarò and Zarco, he finished the GP of Japan in sixth place.
Thanks to today’s result, Ducati moves into second place in the Constructors championship with 273 points.
MotoGP returns to the track next weekend at the Phillip Island circuit, the venue for the Australian Grand Prix.
Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team #04) – 1st
“It was a difficult race because at the start there wasn’t much grip and I didn’t have a good feeling with the bike but I never gave up, not even when I was losing ground, and this made all the difference. Marc was really quick and he tried right until the end, but there were some places where I could attack and he also made a small mistake on the last lap which gave me a chance to catch him again and try and pass him at Turn 11. I knew that he was going to attack me in the final two corners but I was prepared for this, I closed the door on him and he had to go a bit wide to pass me. It was absolutely vital to win here and I’m really so pleased for the whole team and for the championship.”
Jorge Lorenzo (Ducati Team #99) – 6th
“I can’t be happy with my race, because we had the potential to try and win if there hadn’t been so much water on the track. We weren’t able to find the right setting to be quick in these conditions and without rear grip it was impossible for me to do anything more. I gradually succeeded in getting a better feeling with the bike, and I improved my pace and was able to pass Viñales, Zarco and Aleix Espargaro. In the end we were missing almost a second per lap today, and that’s a pity because this weekend we were always fast. I want to congratulate Andrea, because he’s proving to be a really strong rider, mentally as well, and he is able to take advantage of every chance of fighting for the world title. Hats off, and congratulations to him and all the team!”
Luigi Dall’Igna (Ducati Corse General Manager)
“There was so much tension today but in the end also so much satisfaction! Andrea was awesome, he did a truly perfect race, and in so doing reduced the gap from Marquez to eleven points. His fifth win of the season, here in Japan, has a special significance and I’m really happy. Pity about Jorge, who wasn’t able to get the result in a weekend in which he had always been competitive. Now we are thinking about Phillip Island, and we know that it will be a tough battle until the very end but we have all the right cards to fight for the title right down to the wire.”
Marc Marquez scores 100th career podium after epic Motegi battle
With the Japanese Grand Prix facing wet weather all weekend, the race was no exception and the tricky conditions made the epic duel between Title contenders Marc Marquez and Andrea Dovizioso even more dramatic.
The Italian prevailed over the Repsol Honda rider fighting to the last corner of the last lap after the pair closely chased and passed each other time and again after passing provisional race leader Danilo Petrucci on lap 13.
Marc began the final lap out front but a small mistake at turn 8 – where he almost crashed out – allowed Dovizioso to close in and then take the lead. Marc tried one final attack braking late into the last corner but he exited a little wide and Dovizioso won the drag race to the finish line by 0.249s.
Marc’s second place signals his 100th career podium from 165 starts (the younger rider ever to achieve this milestone), and his 61st in the premier-class. He retains an 11-point lead in the Championship before round 16 at Phillip Island next Sunday.
Dani Pedrosa had a very difficult race as he had some issues with his rear tyre that forced him to retire on lap 21.
“Of course I tried and gave it my 100%, fighting until the last lap and the last corner. It was an amazing race with the two guys fighting for the Championship fighting for the win. Today there was a lot of water on track and for some reason I was struggling a little more than expected. I tried to push and be smooth but Andrea was very fast too for the entire race. Entering the last lap, I knew I had only a very small advantage ahead but then I made a small mistake in turn eight, well, quite a big mistake actually, and he caught me. After he passed he was very strong on the brakes and I wasn’t able to match him. In the last corner I tried again but it was not possible to pass him again. Today he did an incredible race and won but anyway I’m happy with our result as I was expecting him to be very very fast here. We scored some good points and made a good show for the fans so it’s ok".
“It’s been a very difficult day and I'm really disappointed as there was a great opportunity to have a nice race. We have improved so much during the free practice sessions, from FP1 to yesterday, but it isn’t clear what happened with the rear tyre today in the race. At the beginning the rear tyre spun a lot and I lost a lot of traction which prevented me from opening the throttle on the straight. This issue continued to persist and halfway through the race it became worse and worse. I tried everything to make the bike work but it was almost impossible to ride in these conditions. I lost so much time and when I finally dropped out of the points I took the decision to retire, rather than crash. With so much water on track I didn’t expect to have problems with the extra soft rear tire and in fact Petrucci used the same one and he ended up on the podium. We will study together with Michelin the data and try to avoid it from happening again.”
FOURTH AND FIFTH PLACE FOR IANNONE AND RINS IN JAPAN
Team Suzuki Press Office – October 15.
Andrea Iannone: P4 / +18.845
Alex Rins: P5 / +22.982
Finally rain proved to be beneficial for the Team SUZUKI ECSTAR riders at the Japanese GP. Andrea Iannone got 4th place at the end of the race, with his teammate Alex Rins immediately behind in 5th. This is also the best result of the season for both the riders and for the team. The performance was seen a gift to Mr. Toshihiro Suzuki – CEO and COO of Suzuki Motor Corporation – who joined the Team in the garage to experience the race from the inside.
Despite the warm-up session being shortened to only 15 minutes, Iannone and Rins immediately felt positive in the wet conditions which they had already encountered the previous sessions. With heavy rain falling, the Italian set himself in 8th place with 1'57.554, while Rins was even faster setting the third best time of the session with 1'57.215, less than half a second behind the session leader.
With the track still drenched, the configuration of the GSX-RR proved to be effective again, with both riders confident during the race and able to set a consistent pace.
In the early stages of the race Iannone maintained his pace, keeping up with the leading group, which allowed him to be at the right place at the right time in the end of the race to make his move, overtaking to reach 4th place.
Despite a good start, Alex Rins was not able to find the best line through the first corner; he was pushed wide by other riders and lost positions, forced back to 15th place. However, the young Spaniard made the most of the progress made with his GSX-RR and quickly recovered, advancing through the field and regaining contact with the leading group. His consistent pace allowed him to fight until the end of the race, when only in the last few laps he had to give up the fight and settle for 5th place.
Ken Kawauchi – Technical Manager
“This year, at least until now, we have struggled a lot to get some good results. Therefore I’m very happy about today’s race. We couldn’t get to the podium, but the progress we made is solid and consistent. We improved throughout the whole weekend and the configuration we employed for the race proved to be beneficial for the riders, who also had positive performances themselves. Now we can be a little more relaxed because we were able to demonstrate this to all our fans and engineers from Japan, and to all the people supporting us. Now we have to try to repeat it – and also further improve – these performances in dry conditions as well. I want to thank you, the riders, the whole team, and all the people that came to Motegi today to support us. We will try to push hard until the end of the season.”
Davide Brivio – Team Manager
“Today we can be very happy. Although this was not a podium or a victory, it is a great result considering the struggles we encountered throughout the season. This is an important result and it is positive that both riders got into the top five right here in Japan, with our President and all the Management with us in the garage. We gave them a good show to enjoy. The weekend has been tough because of the conditions; it was very easy to make a mistake in the race, but the riders have been very good. Andrea had a good pace the whole race. Alex was force to make a comeback from 15th to 5th place, and he did it perfectly. This result gives us some breathing room. We are aware that this race has been run in peculiar conditions, but it’s important we haven’t made any mistakes.”
“Finally this was a race that I enjoyed. It has been a positive one for us. I had a good start and was able to keep a consistent pace. I’m happy for the improvements we made from the time of the warm-up to the race which allowed us to find that consistency. It’s also positive that we could have a good race right here in Japan. It’s a good sign after the struggles we have faced this year. We still have much work to do and to improve, but compared to the beginning of the season, we are now more aware of where we can improve. I want to thank the whole Suzuki Company for all the effort they are putting into the project, and also my crew, and the whole Team SUZUKI ECSTAR. They have never given up and they continue to believe in me.”
“I think it has been the best weekend of the season so far. The result is fantastic and the bike has worked pretty well in wet conditions the whole weekend. The race was very positive. I started a bit far back when in the first corners someone forced me to go wide and I lost some more positions, falling back to 15th. It took me some time to regain my position in the race, but I finally managed it and finished in 5th, so I'm very happy. I lost some time behind Zarco but the conditions of track were not easy. I can say I learnt so many things today and now we are facing the Australian race with more optimism.”
ALEIX ESPARGARÓ SEVENTH AT MOTEGI
ANOTHER SOLID TOP TEN FOR APRILIA AND CHAMPIONSHIP POINTS FOR SAM LOWES TOO
ALBESIANO: “WE ARE STABLY IN THE TOP TEN, BUT NOW THE GOAL IS TO IMPROVE IN THE RACE”
Aleix Espargaró rode his Aprilia RS-GP to a seventh place finish in the GP of Japan held in Motegi in the persistent rain. This is another placement that, after the Aragón race, confirms the Aprilia rider as a solid presence in the MotoGP top ten.
After two days of practice and qualifying as a protagonist, consistently in the top five, Aleix started well from the second row, but a few problems with aquaplaning from the start of the race made him lose contact with the front runners. As the laps went by, Aleix found his rhythm and in the final phases he defended his position well, overtaking Zarco who had started from pole position.
It was also a good race for Sam Lowes who was able to find his pace in the extreme conditions, overtaking several rivals and moving up from 24th place on the first lap to finish the race 13th.
"Seventh place is a good result, but our potential was better than that. To be honest, I am disappointed. After the speed we demonstrated all weekend, our expectations were different. Unfortunately, I never found my rhythm in the race. I had big problems with aquaplaning that cost me a lot of ground. I don't really understand it. I even tried to change the engine map, but the situation did not improve much. Toward the end of the race, when it stopped raining, I was able to do a few good laps, getting close to the Suzukis, but then it started raining again and I had to settle. In these final races I want to try to get into the top ten in the rider standings."
"In the early laps I struggled to get the tyres and brakes up to temperature because of all the water. Once I found my pace, I was able to ride a good race. I overtook a lot of riders and had a fun ride. With three weekends in a row, it is important to get off on the right foot. I managed to do that, also gaining great experience in such difficult conditions. I had gotten very close to Pol in eleventh place. Maybe I wouldn't have been able to overtake him because there were only a few corners left, but the bike had a problem and we will have to look into what caused it. I lost a position, but I am satisfied with how I rode throughout the weekend anyway. I finished in the points and, above all, I battled down to the last lap."
ROMANO ALBESIANO - APRILIA RACING MANAGER
"Aleix's result is another placement that confirms us stably in the MotoGP top ten. It was a very positive weekend in which we demonstrated great competitiveness both in true wet conditions and in mixed dry and damp conditions which had really penalised us in the past, so this is also a very important sign of improvement. In practice we did much better than we did in the race and that indicates that we need to improve our race management so that on Sunday we can confirm all the good we are able to do in practice and now in qualifying as well. It was also a nice race for Sam who does very well in these conditions and he managed to finish in the points."
FAUSTO GRESINI - TEAM MANAGER
"Aleix did a very good job. We can be satisfied and today Sam also demonstrated his qualities in the wet. Of course, we were in the top spots all weekend, but a finish like this should be considered positive because it is still a top ten and because our goal here was to confirm the nice result from Aragón, so we are in line with this target. It is true that in the race we did not repeat our extraordinary performance in practice and qualifying, but we had some spinning that we had not had even in warm up. In any case, we battled once again today with fierce rivals, leaving several behind us."
Mixed Results for Movistar Yamaha in Moist Motegi Race
Today Movistar Yamaha MotoGP's Maverick Viñales put in a consistent ride at a very wet Twin Ring Motegi track to secure ninth place. Valentino Rossi had an impressive start to the Motul Grand Prix of Japan and was riding in eighth position when a crash in turn 8 brought an end to his challenge.
Viñales had a great start to Yamaha's home race, riding midfield through the spray from a 14th-place starting position to eighth in the opening lap. He had to let Alex Rins and teammate Rossi past on lap 3 as he warmed his tyres, but this setback was only temporary.
The Spaniard overtook Jorge Lorenzo three laps later, while Rossi crashed out of the race, and reclaimed eighth place. He gradually started to up his pace as his confidence grew at the very wet Motegi track, but soon realised Aleix Espargaró, riding directly in front of him, was too far ahead.
In the second half of the race Viñales focused his attention on defending his eighth place from Lorenzo, who arrived at the back of his Yamaha with six laps to go. The number-25 rider put his head down, but was unable to hold off his compatriot. He crossed the line in ninth place, 36.575s from the front.
Rossi also had a good launch off the line, starting from 12th on the grid. He quickly began his charge and had picked up three positions by the end of the first three laps. The Doctor spurred on his YZR-M1 to prevent his rivals from clearing off at the front, overtaking Lorenzo on lap 6. However, his pursuit came to a premature halt when he suffered a crash in turn 8 and was unable to rejoin the race.
Today's race results see Viñales and Rossi hold third and fifth place respectively in the championship with a 41 and 76 point-gap to the leader. Yamaha is in third place in the Constructor classification, 29 points from first, and Movistar Yamaha MotoGP is chasing the Team title in second place with 43 points to the top of the rankings.
The team will soon head south to take part in next week's Michelin Australian Motorcycle Grand Prix on Phillip Island, Australia.
Position: 9th - Championship: 3rd - Points: 203
"I expected things to be a little bit worse, because this morning I was trying to be in the top-15. Finally, in the race, I pushed a lot in the beginning. I tried to risk only the necessary, trying to give our best. Today this was the maximum and we will have to think now about Australia. Until all the points are collected it is impossible to know if there is still a chance to win the championship. For sure we we'll face different circumstances in Australia. It will be a different bike and different tyres, we don't know what we're going to have there, but it's a track I like a lot, I like to ride there, so I can't wait to be on the bike again."
Position: DNF - Championship: 5th - Points: 168
"Today was the end of a very difficult weekend. Because of the wet conditions I was not very competitive, I was struggling a lot with the wet setting of the bike. In the race I was trying to follow Aleix Espargaró and I was trying to stick with him, but unfortunately I crashed. Now we'll try to do some good races and it will be important during the next weekends to give Yamaha as much information as possible to improve the bike and to decide on the direction for next year."
Movistar Yamaha MotoGP - Team Director
"When we arrived here in Japan, we weren't expecting this weekend to be as difficult as it turned out to be. We really worked hard to try to find a solution. We put in a lot of effort, but we weren't able to do it in the end. We never found the rear grip that the riders were looking for in almost all the sessions, as well as in the race itself, but Maverick and Valentino tried to make the best of it. We know that we have a lot of work ahead of us, and I expect that we will use the next round to explore different solutions for the future."
Solid points in MotoGP & Podium in Moto3 for Red Bull KTM Factory Racing at Motegi
RACE 15th Rd. MotoGP 2017 – Twin Ring Motegi (JAP)
Following KTM‘s best qualifying in MotoGP yesterday, the rain continued today at Motegi, Japan, to give some of the worst conditions seen for a Grand Prix in many a year but through the rain Pol Espargaro scored yet more points for Red Bull KTM Factory Racing in their debut MotoGP year. Niccolo Antonelli returned to the podium with his Moto3 KTM RC250 GP after brilliantly starting from the front row, his second position today was a fabulous fight back after injury mid season, proving his speed and commitment as a racer. Moto2 was again a thrilling race with Miguel Oliveira and his KTM Moto2 bike just 3.5 seconds off the podium in seventh place. The MotoGP World Championship now moves on to Australia and the spectacular circuit of Phillip Island next weekend.
The Red Bull KTM Factory Racing Team had never before been on Japanese soil but the team managed to brilliantly qualify both bikes through Q1 directly into Q2 for the first time to be 7th and 8th on the grid as the lights went green. Through enormous plumes of spray both Bradley Smith and Pol Espargaro made great starts. The pace was frenetic at the front but Espargaro cut through the rain on his KTM RC16 to be easily inside the team’s regular target of the top 15 to cross the line in 11th, just outside the top 10. Bradley Smith played it safe in the first few laps but saw the flag in 17th place.
Espargaro: “It is so hard to ride in these conditions, but considering this is the first time we’ve been here in Japan with the KTM it has been super impressive to qualify so well as a team and then face this race with this amount of water on the track. We’ve never raced in conditions such as these and that was such a step, but in the end I finished 11th. Finishing the race was a priority; we did that as a team so we’ve got more points in the pocket not just from a top 15 finish, but a finish from just on the cusp of the top 10.”
Smith: “They were tricky conditions out there with a lot of water; kinda similar to what we had in Misano but here it just kept on raining. I went back a bit from seventh on the grid...but I was seventh on the grid! It’s been a positive weekend in many ways and through all of the sessions even after a small crash this morning which put me a little on edge at the start. We have had many positives from the wet laps here to take forward to Phillip Island and Sepang, particularly for it rains there. Overall I’m happy with the overall weekend as it was the first time in these conditions so we’ll learn going forward.”
Mike Leitner (Team Manager MotoGP): “For all riders that was a difficult race but especially for us as we have not so many kilometres of experience in the wet, but we performed so well yesterday in qualifying that gave us a chance today. Much of this on going improvement is coming from the KTM Motorsport team in Austria who are working so hard reacting, designing and manufacturing new parts. In today’s race, when you have to look after the tyre we still have potential to improve. Pol did so well and to be fair, Bradley was not so bad at all but not quite in the points, but after his great qualifying yesterday he showed he can ride a bike well. But as I said, in the rain we’ll take this data forward for the next wet race that could easily be in Australia or Malaysia.”
Triumph in Japan. Dovi plays the Italian Anthem. Petrux sings it on the podium after a fantastic race.
Once again on podium, another success for Octo Pramac Racing - that thanks to Danilo Petrucci - joins the Ducati party for the awesome victory of Andrea Dovizioso. Petrux is the protagonist of a fantastic race, dominated for 12 laps and then ended up with the joy of the 4th podium in this 2017 stunning MotoGp season. For Scott Redding a very difficult weekend but also an encouraging comeback from 22nd to 16th.
The first laps of the Gran Prix of Japan are a spectacle for millions of spectators connected from all over the world. Starting from P2 Petrux engages in a good duel with Lorenzo and Zarco, then fights with Marquez. Halfway through lap-2 the rider from Terni passes Jorge and takes the lead. His lap-times are explosive and allows him to make a vacuum. Danilo leads up until half race then must undergo the return of Marquez and Dovizioso. Petrux tries to fight for victory then holds an extraordinary 3rd position, 10 seconds ahead of Andrea Iannone who finished 4th.
A weekend to forget for Scott Redding. The English rider never managed to find a good feeling during practices but since the first lap tried to push to bring home a few points. On lap 7, he overtook Smith for 13th place but he couldn’t keep a good pace and had to settle for 16th place.
3rd - Danilo Petrucci
“It was an extraordinary race. After Mugello this is the podium that makes me happier. I tried to push from the first laps and when I was in front with a good gap I thought I could get to the end and win my first victory. Dovi and Marc, however, have been faster. It was nice to be behind them to see that battle. I feel very close to being there and I will try in the next three races. I would like to thank the team for their great work. This is a great moment for us”.
16th - Scott Redding
“If I have to be honest, my desire is to forget this weekend as soon as possible. I never found a good feeling and I could not make any progress after FP1. I tried to push in the race as well, but I had problems. I found the feeling of Friday morning after a few laps but I wasted a lot of time starting from behind. In the last laps I had problems with aquaplaning that didn't allow me to gain more positions. There are three races missing and I want to give the maximum to finish in a positive way a very difficult season for me”.
Zarco perseveres to complete Japanese Grand Prix in 8th – Determined Nozane unfortunate on race debut
Monster Yamaha Tech3 Team rider Johann Zarco experienced a challenging afternoon to finish the Motul Grand Prix of Japan in 8th. The French star lunged forward from pole position as the rain continued to pour. After relentlessly battling at the front of the field for the opening laps, he settled into a formidable rhythm as he battled against the gruelling conditions. Eventually, he powered across the finish line and now optimistically awaits the Australian Grand Prix next week.
Meanwhile, substitute rider Kohta Nozane endured a tough time after falling in the early stages of the race. The promising young Japanese rider who was riding with a small fracture in his right hand following a crash in FP4 yesterday made progress after the start before unfortunately sliding off on the 4th lap. Monster Yamaha Tech3 would like to thank Nozane for his efforts during the Japanese Grand Prix.
Position: 8th - Championship: 6th - Points: 125
“It was a tough race. I had a good start and the feeling was quite ok at the beginning. However, the rear was sliding a little bit but I was able to control it and overall, the front felt great which allowed me to brake how I wanted to. I was slightly limited with the corner entry yet, on the whole, it was positive. Some riders overtook me but I managed to stay with them, even if I lost a bit in acceleration. This means that we are doing a good job as we can make this same step in the wet as well as the dry. I waited when I was running in 4th and I thought that I would get more confident with the front and then catch the leading group. Yet, the opposite happened and despite the fact that I always felt good on the brakes, the tyres wore, which limited me. By the end of the race, there was a lot of spinning and even though I tried my best to find a solution on the straight by carefully opening and closing the throttle to catch some grip, the other riders got past me. This was why I lost the positions at the end but we will try again in Australia next week.”
Position: DNF - Championship: Not classified
"After the warm-up session, under a local anaesthetic, I decided that I could race today. The track conditions were pretty bad this afternoon when compared to this morning. If I was not injured then I could have managed the GP better, but the fact is that I crashed quite early on. I am frustrated with myself and I have to say sorry to Yamaha and to the entire team. However, these three days have been like a dream and again I would like to thank Yamaha and Hervé for trusting me!"
“Altogether I believe that it has been a positive weekend for the Monster Yamaha Tech3 Team. It was an incredible feeling on Saturday to get the pole position with Johann Zarco for the Motul Grand Prix of Japan. This was special for us all and also for our partners, with Motul being the title sponsor for this race and I’m sure it’s something that they enjoyed. We knew that today was going to be very difficult as the conditions were really challenging and almost dangerous. There was a lot of standing water on the track and it never stopped raining. Yet, Johann had a great start and stayed behind the top three for most of the race. However, we knew that the end of the GP would be tricky and Johann quite easily kept the riders behind him until the last five laps, and there we couldn't fight anymore as there was no more grip on the rear tyre. To lose four positions in the final few laps is not something that we can be happy about but 8th is still a good result and we collected some valuable points. Overall, the weekend was positive and I would like to thank Yamaha for looking after us in the way that they did. On the other side of the pit box, Kohta Nozane was really impressive on Friday and we thought that he would eventually be fighting for a top ten finish on race day. Unfortunately, a small mistake at the beginning of FP4 saw him crash and fracture his right hand, which meant it would be very difficult. Yet, he never gave up and worked hard throughout the night to get his hand fixed. The warm-up went well, so we thought it was ok to compete. However, I think it was just a bit too much and he wanted to start his home Grand Prix so we gave Kohta the chance and I’m happy we did. Yet, we were not very confident because we could see how badly his hand was and at such a hard braking circuit, with a fractured right hand, it was almost impossible. I would like to thank him and I think he has shown that he has a really good level and he could be a very successful MotoGP rider in the near future. I don’t know what Yamaha has planned, but it was a pleasure for us to look after Kohta. He is a really nice guy and we would eventually like to give him another chance to show his full potential. Thanks to the whole team and we will pack everything tonight and then head to Australia where we hope there will be no rain.”
Top 10 for Loris Baz in rain-soaked Motegi as Barbera scores points
Reale Avintia Racing rider Loris Baz achieved a fantastic ‘top 10′ at the Japanese Grand Prix today in very difficult conditions. The rain had been the key player throughout the weekend at the Twin Ring Motegi, and the race was no different. Baz, starting from the ’12 + 1’ position on the grid, recovered little by little until he caught Dani Pedrosa. After a few laps he was able to pass the Spaniard to cross the finish line in tenth place. This was great work from the Frenchman and his technical team in a day where Andrea Dovizioso and Ducati won their fifth race of the season.
Hector Barbera also got his prize in Japan following a very difficult weekend. The Spanish rider struggled since Friday to find rear grip on the Japanese track, but today he was able to fight until the last lap with Tito Rabat and Scott Redding, to finish 14th and score two championship points.
The Reale Avintia Racing team now moves on from Asia to the Pacific region for the Australian Grand Prix at Phillip Island.
Loris Baz | P10
“Considering how the weekend started with a gap of more than three seconds to the fastest guys, the result is not bad. The first laps were very difficult, the conditions were extreme and I don’t remember ever being in a race with so much water. To be honest, being in the middle of the group was very dangerous because you could not see a thing, as far as safety goes it was right on the limit. At the beginning of the racee, I was holding back because of the visibility, but once I started to see a little more I tried to gain some positions. When I caught Dani (Pedrosa) I struggled to overtake him, but since I had no rhythm to move forward, I stayed calm until I saw the right moment to pass. I’m happy because my team did a great job over the weekend and this ‘top ten’ after several races without scoring points is a good result.”
Hector Barbera | P14
“It’s been a pretty difficult weekend, because normally I’m a very fast rider in wet conditions, as I’ve shown on many occasions in the past. But here I’ve suffered a lot. This is a track that usually has good grip, but I couldn’t find in the three days of the Grand Prix. Maybe when it rains we are going too soft with the set-up of my bike and maybe today it would have been better to have the bike harder…I don’t know, we have to analyze the data to make sure this doesn’t happen again. 14th place is not bad after the last few races, but to be honest is not where I would like to be.”
Rabat in the points in wet Motegi race
Team Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS rider Tito Rabat finished an impressive fifteenth to score a world championship point in today’s wet and slippery Japanese Grand Prix.
The 24-lap race at the Twin Ring Motegi was run in steady rain and low visibility, which required a huge physical and mental effort just to finish.
Rabat was swamped in spray in the early laps after starting19th on the grid but by lap five had moved into 15th and began a long duel against Katsuyuki Nakasuga and Scott Redding.
Late in the race this trio were joined by Hector Barbera with Rabat dropping back to 16th but securing 15th position on the final lap just behind Barbera, with Redding squeezed out of the points at the flag.
Home hero Hiroshi Aoyama, having his first MotoGP outing in 12 months as replacement for the injured Jack Miller, finished 18th in the rain-lashed race.
Aoyama’s race ended in disappointment with the Japanese star struggling with rear grip issues right from the start. Aoyama had hoped his experience with the Honda RC213V at Motegi would have allowed him to deliver a much better result.
Team Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS now moves to Australia for the second of three fly-away races at Phillip Island where they will welcome back Jack Miller his home race.
Tito Rabat: 15th
“It was a difficult weekend, always wet and very cold but it was good opportunity to improve my riding style in the wet especially in braking. I gave 100% but to go faster was very high risk in these conditions and I almost crashed twice on the rear when opening the gas. In racing you have to take any gift and this one point in Motegi is a good reward and I’m now very motivated to go to Australia next week.”
Hiroshi Aoyama: 18th
“I am very disappointed because I don’t know what happened in the race, I didn’t have any rear grip, nothing. In a wet race I thought with my experience I could get a good result here in Motegi but it was not possible. On the second lap I almost crashed, I had very big moment and even though I saved it I lost a lot of time so my race was already over. It was pity because the team worked hard for a good result. I want to thank the team for this opportunity, it was not easy to come in for one race to replace Jack.”
Michael Bartholemy: Team Principal
“In these conditions it was important for Tito to finish in the points so a positive feeling for the first of the fly-away races before going to Australia. I just hope the weather conditions are better in Phillip Island. It was difficult race for Hiroshi but I am happy he could replace Jack and I want to thank him for doing that and even in these conditions he was able to finish the race. Jack has been home in Townsville but will be back for Phillip Island and he has been out cycling and his fitness is coming back. We look forward to a nice weekend with Jack at his home race.”
Pull&Bear Aspar pair unable to finish Japanese GP
Álvaro Bautista and Karel Abraham both retire from the race at Motegi
The MotoGP title race stepped up a gear at the Japanese Grand Prix, as Marc Márquez and Andrea Dovizioso battled for victory on the final laps at Motegi. Although either of the pair could have emerged victorious from the last lap, it was Ducati rider Dovizioso who crossed the line first, closing the gap to Márquez in the overall standings to 11 points with three rounds remaining. The Japanese GP was contested with intermediate tyres, after Michelin withdrew the soft wet tyre option in the morning.
The Pull&Bear Aspar team leave Japan without having added points to their tally for the season, after both Álvaro Bautista and Karel Abraham crashed during the race. Bautista, who had started from sixteenth on the grid, fell just three laps from the end, and was unable to complete a race for the first time since the Czech GP. Karel Abraham was twentietth on the grid and was able to get amongst the group of riders fighting for points in the early going. However, five laps in, he suffered a crash, having lost the rear of his Ducati. The Czech rider returned to the pits and changed bikes, but several laps later he retired from the race. Both he and Bautista are eager to turn their fortunes around at the Australian GP, which takes place next weekend at Phillip Island.
Álvaro Bautista (DNF): "I don't know what caused my crash. I entered the corner off the gas, without braking, and I lost the rear. We were having a good weekend and we had found a good feeling in the wet which was getting better, but this morning we were told that we couldn't use the soft front tyre. In the warmup my good feeling disappeared. We didn't have time to react with the medium front, as we couldn't work on anything. Everything we had done before was spoiled. I'm unhappy with the situation; it is not fair that this be changed at a crucial moment. We could have been fighting for the top ten, now that we are getting better in the wet."
Karel Abraham (DNF): “I'm really angry now, because the start of the race and the opening laps weren't bad. I think we were in a group fighting for points and the bike was working pretty well, and then -just before the last corner- I went into the lefthander and highsided without having pushed the brake or the throttle. I'm angry because I don't know how to ride the bike if this happens -I don't know what I could have done differently to avoid this situation. I don't think I made any mistake, and I've crashed in three consecutive races. We have different problems in the dry, but I can't ride with these issues in the wet. We had a very good base and started well, I felt very good, but I don't know what I could have done to have avoided a crash.”
MICHELIN RAIN TYRES POWER DOVIZIOSO TO VICTORY AT A SOAKED MOTEGI
MICHELIN Power Rain tyres enabled Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team) and Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) to provide a stunning climax to today’s Motul Grand Prix of Japan at Motegi with the Italian clinching victory on the last-lap after an exciting MotoGP™ race.
Unprecedented weather at Motegi this weekend had seen every session declared wet – the first time in the MotoGP era – and today was no exception as the skies opened and a torrential downpour covered the 4,801m Japanese circuit. With rain in the air, the riders lined up on the grid, Johann Zarco (Monster Yamaha Tech3) took pole position after setting the best time in yesterday’s qualifying. As the lights changed Marquez was ahead in the first corner, but was soon passed by Jorge Lorenzo (Ducati Team). The Spaniard held this position until lap-two, before Danilo Petrucci (OCTO Pramac Racing) took his place at the head of the field. Petrucci began stretching his lead at the front, as the remainder of the pack got involved in their own battles behind him.
As the race progressed, Marquez closed on the leader and overtook him on lap-13, before Dovizioso snatched the lead from the reigning World Champion on the 19th of 24 circulations, with what was to be the first of many changes of leadership between the pair as the race drew to a close. Dovizioso’s surge to the front resulted in him setting the fastest time of the day, with a lap-time that was only just over 10% away from the dry lap-record, again highlighting the incredible grip the MICHELIN Power Rain tyres give the riders. The top-two in the championship then went head-to-head over the remainder of the race, before heading into the last-lap with Marquez out in front. With rain still falling, Dovizioso lined up a successful pass at the 90° corner, only to see Marquez come past him straight away, before the Ducati-rider again got the best of the Honda-mounted man to take victory at the end of a scintillating race. Marquez crossed the line in second and saw his title-lead cut to just 11-points, with three races remaining. Petrucci finished third and had the distinction of taking the First Independent Rider honours.
With so many wet sessions Michelin had been able to give a full evaluation to its Power Rain tyres and the incredible amount of grip that the French rubber produced on the Motegi track led to impressive lap-times in the wet, but also resulted in very high stress levels on the front tyres from the hard-braking sections. The riders had the opportunity to select from the extra soft and soft versions, which again saw a split in choice, with two of the podium finishers choosing the soft, whilst the other opted for the extra soft and the medium option front tyre gave good performance to the whole field.
Today’s event was watched at trackside by 52,439 fans that braved the awful weather and they were treated to battles throughout the race that almost matched the excitement at the front. Andrea Iannone (Team SUZUKI ECSTAR) took fourth, just ahead of team-mate Alex Rins (Team SUZUKI ECSTAR), both recording their best results of the season so far. Lorenzo was sixth, followed home by Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini). Zarco took eight and continues to lead both the Independent Team Rider and Rookie Championships. Maverick Viñales (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP) was ninth, with Loris Baz (Reale Avintia Racing) rounding out the top-ten.
Michelin and the MotoGP paddock now head to the southern hemisphere, where the French company become title sponsor for the 16th round of the season, as Phillip Island welcomes the championship for the Michelin® Australian Motorcycle Grand Prix on Sunday 22nd October.
Andrea Dovizioso – Ducati Team:
“Michelin’s medium front tyre worked very well, so that was good and the rear worked well up until the end and we did a fast race. The grip in the wet was really good all weekend and I am very happy to get this victory.”
Nicolas Goubert – Deputy Director, Technical Director and Supervisor of the MotoGP Programme:
“This has been a very demanding weekend and one that we did not really expect. To have two or three wet sessions is a lot, but for every session and then the race to be wet is unheard of. We had to work very hard all weekend with all the teams to get the best performance and having so much track-time with so many riders – and in those conditions – helped us to do one of the most comprehensive tests on the rain tyres we have ever been able to complete. The race produced some incredible battles and very fast lap-times, so the rain tyres certainly produced a lot of grip and confidence, which allowed the riders to push to the limits. To be so close to the dry lap-record in these conditions is evidence that again the tyres are giving the utmost performance in all conditions. We will work on the data we have learned this weekend and continue to improve. Now we head to one of the most challenging races of the year, as we go to Australia and our ‘own’ Grand Prix.”