Results and summary of the MotoGP race in Japan:
Casey Stoner has won his second race in a row at Japan, taking what turned out to be a comfortable victory after fighting off a tough challenge from Andrea Dovizioso for most of the race. Valentino Rossi and his putative teammate Jorge Lorenzo had a vicious dust-up in the later laps which saw Rossi emerge victorious, taking the final spot on the podium, and leaving Lorenzo off the podium for the second race in a row. Lorenzo's 4th place finish means he will need to race at Sepang to secure the 2010 World Championship.
Andrea Dovizioso made good on his first ever pole position, leading off the line and into turn 1, but his eagerness got the better of him, and the Italian ran his Repsol Honda a little wide, all Casey Stoner to slot his Marlboro Ducati past at Turn 2 and into the lead. Valentino Rossi had the jump on his Fiat Yamaha teammate Jorge Lorenzo, but Lorenzo dived inside Rossi to takeover 3rd spot as they headed into Turn 3, a move which turned out to be a sign of things to come.
The four front runners quickly split into two pairs, with Dovizioso chasing Stoner, and Rossi harassing Lorenzo. Dovizioso and Stoner swapped fastest laps for the first half of the race, but the Italian could never get close enough to stage a full-scale attack. Dovi pushed all race long, but as the race approached the three-quarter mark, Dovizioso's resistance was finally broken. Stoner's lead started to expand as the laps ticked away, and the Marlboro Ducati rider went on to claim his second victory in a row, ending the race nearly four seconds ahead of a surprisingly contented Andrea Dovizioso. Dovizioso is still caught up in contract negotiations with HRC, and such a strong result at Honda's home track - and more importantly, taking away valuable points from Jorge Lorenzo - will have improved his chances of Honda putting together a three-bike factory team for 2011, rather than dumping Dovi in the Gresini Honda squad.
If the fight for first was settled relatively quickly and simply, the battle for 3rd was both riveting and bitter in equal measure. Lorenzo's pass on Rossi would turn out to be the first of several, but they would mainly be compressed into the final two laps. The reigning world champion got back past his successor on lap 6, but neither Fiat Yamaha rider could break the other, and the tension began to grow as the race neared its climax. With three laps left to go, Lorenzo made his intention to pass Rossi unmistakably clear, taking a look at Rossi going into Turn 1, and then once again at the end of Motegi's long back straight. Next lap, he pounced, lining Rossi up into Turn 5, but the wily veteran would not surrender so easily. Rossi was straight back past at Turn 6, a trick he learned from Troy Bayliss.
Lorenzo had some tricks of his own, however, and he would not be denied so easily. Lorenzo tried again at the next lap, prepared for Rossi's response, and banging fairings as they went under the bridge, Rossi came out on top, at least temporarily. Lorenzo passed once again going into the S curves, but Rossi was back again a couple of turns later, on the way out of the V curve. Lorenzo tried once again through the S curves on the final lap, but once again Rossi was back into Turn 9, holding Lorenzo off for the rest of the lap.
Rossi could barely conceal his delight at beating his teammate and the man he considers a usurper, but Lorenzo could celebrate too. While Rossi had been racing with pain in his shoulder, he had been using the new, faster engine that Yamaha had brought to the Japanese track. Lorenzo changed his mind at the last minute, electing to use an older, slower engine, and saving his newer, faster engine for later on. If Dani Pedrosa comes back at Sepang, then Lorenzo will have to finish ahead of him to secure the championship, and the fewer races Lorenzo has on the new engine - the last of his six-engine allocation - the better.
Behind the Fiat Yamahas, Colin Edwards brought his Monster Tech 3 Yamaha home in 5th, his best result of the season, finishing ahead of the three strongest rookies: San Carlo Gresini's Marco Simoncelli, Rizla Suzuki's Alvaro Bautista and Edwards' Tech 3 teammate Ben Spies. Spies had run off the track early in the race together with Nicky Hayden, and had to battle his way forward from close to dead last. Finishing 8th is an impressive feat for the Texan.
Dani Pedrosa's absence and Lorenzo's 4th place finish leave the Fiat Yamaha man 69 points ahead of Pedrosa, and needing 6 more points to clinch the title. A 10th place finish at Sepang should be sufficient if Pedrosa does not race, which remains a very strong possibility given that the Repsol Honda man has just had his fractured collarbone plated. If Pedrosa does race, Lorenzo will have to wait until at least Phillip Island to secure the title, or at the latest, Estoril.
|9||14||Randy DE PUNIET||HONDA||43'59.830||47.564|
|65||Loris CAPIROSSI||SUZUKI||38'16.692||3 laps|