2017 Motegi MotoGP Race Result: The Fifth Time Is Charmed

Andrea Dovizioso won his fifth race of the season in a thrilling late-race battle with Marc Marquez Sunday at the Motegi Circuit in Japan. The Italian's win closed the gap to Marquez to a mere 11 points and cemented the Ducati rider's reputation as a racer who can carry the fight with the championship leader to the finish line.

Marquez, who finished two-tenth of a second behind the winner, appeared to have the race in hand halfway through the final lap but a near high-side at Turn 8 allowed Dovizioso to close the gap and then seize the lead and the racing line heading into the final three corners. Ducati's Danilo Petrucci, who led race's middle stages, held on for third place, his fourth podium of 2017.

Suzuki riders Andrea Iannone (4th) and Alex Rins (5th) not only gave the factory squad its best race of the season they also both had personal best finishes for the year. Jorge Lorenzo, who led the race at the end of the first lap, faded into the pack but made a late climb into sixth, four seconds in front of Aprilia's Aleix Espargaro (7th). Pole-sitter Johan Zarco finished just in front of fellow Yamaha man Maverick Vinales (9th). Loris Baz rounded out the top 10, the privateer's third top-10 finish of 2017.

The Cold and Wet Generated Some Heat

Similar to conditions all weekend, the 24-lap race began in moderate rain, standing water and lousy rider visibility at the 4.8 km, 14-corner circuit. At the start, pole-sitter Johann Zarco was swallowed up by the pack and by the end of the first lap, Lorenzo led the race. Petrucci grabbed second with Marquez and Dovizioso in tow. 

But soon after, Petrucci, who was running the fastest laps in the field, took the lead from Lorenzo with 23 laps remaining. Both Marquez and Dovizioso also pushed past the former World Champion and the three lead riders began to slightly gap the field. Petrucci began to pull away and within another three laps, the former test rider led the chasing pair by 1.3 seconds.

Back in the pack, Valentino Rossi had climbed into ninth from his start at 12th on the grid. With 19 laps remaining, he passed his teammate Vinales for 8th place. But the charge didn't last. Half a lap later, Rossi crashed out of the contest. The race then settled into an uneasy rhythm with the riders fighting, tire spray, low-visibility and a slick track as much as they fought each other.

Then with seven laps to go, the race grew into one of the finest two-rider battles of the year.

At this point, Marquez led the race with Dovizioso in close pursuit. Petrucci was several seconds behind the pair in a lonely third place. Behind him, a battle for fourth had erupted between Rins, Zarco and Iannone.

Dovizioso set the fastest lap of the race to close within three-tenths of a second to the leader. At Turn 3 with five laps remaining, he locked on Marquez's tail. Two corners later, he sliced past the World Champion to take the lead. With five laps remaining, Dovizioso opened a small lead of eight-tenths of a second.

But Marquez is Marquez. He wasn't about to concede.

With four laps to go, Marquez cut the lead to three-tenths. At three laps remaining and rain still falling, the gap dropped to two-tenths. At Turn 3, Marquez pushed his bike inside, stood up Dovizioso and seized the lead. At Turn 6 Dovizioso fought back, diving hard inside Marquez's Honda as both bikes struggled for traction.

Marquez again put a wheel in front only to have the Ducati man slam the door shut at Turn 7. Marquez remained locked on Dovizioso's rear wheel, inches separating the bikes. At Turn 9 Marquez pounced again, diving to the inside and forcing Dovizioso wide. 

Marquez held the lead through the second-to-last lap. In the final lap, it was Marquez turn to open a gap of four-tenths. The gap held until Turn 8. There, Marquez opened the throttle too early or too much and the rear snapped sideways, nearly bucking the rider from the Honda. Dovizioso immediately closed the gap. 

By Turn 10, and heading into the downhill back straight, Dovizioso jumped on Marquez's rear wheel. Charging down the soaked, half-mile straight side-by-side, Dovizioso braked a little deeper into the 90-degree Turn 11 and passed Marquez to the inside. Marquez answered back at the race's final corner, Turn 14, but couldn't hold his line in the wet. Dovizioso slipped his bike inside and carried the narrow lead to the finish line.

Result:

Pos. No. Rider Bike Time / Diff.  
1 4 Andrea DOVIZIOSO Ducati 47'14.236  
2 93 Marc MARQUEZ Honda 0.249  
3 9 Danilo PETRUCCI Ducati 10.557  
4 29 Andrea IANNONE Suzuki 18.845  
5 42 Alex RINS Suzuki 22.982  
6 99 Jorge LORENZO Ducati 24.464  
7 41 Aleix ESPARGARO Aprilia 28.01  
8 5 Johann ZARCO Yamaha 29.475  
9 25 Maverick VIÑALES Yamaha 36.575  
10 76 Loris BAZ Ducati 48.506  
11 44 Pol ESPARGARO KTM 56.357  
12 21 Katsuyuki NAKASUGA Yamaha +1'00.181  
13 22 Sam LOWES Aprilia +1'00.980  
14 8 Hector BARBERA Ducati +1'03.118  
15 53 Tito RABAT Honda +1'03.514  
16 45 Scott REDDING Ducati +1'04.162  
17 38 Bradley SMITH KTM +1'06.271  
18 7 Hiroshi AOYAMA Honda +1'13.250  
Not Classified        
  19 Alvaro BAUTISTA Ducati 3 Laps  
  26 Dani PEDROSA Honda 4 Laps  
  17 Karel ABRAHAM Ducati 5 Laps  
  35 Cal CRUTCHLOW Honda 10 Laps  
  46 Valentino ROSSI Yamaha 19 Laps  
  31 Kohta NOZANE Yamaha 21 Laps  
           

 

Round Number: 
15
2017
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Total votes: 44

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Comments

If you are among those who thought that MotoGP is no fun without Rossi, this season is your answer. Look at Dovi. Who would have guessed him being a main contender this season? But here he is. And what a race! CMIIW, but I think he won more dogfights with Marquez than anybody else. If he can carry on like this, a new world champion from Ducati is not out of reach at all...

Suzuki had its best results of the season, no? But it looked like they are in the zone on a full wet race. Solid race and good 4th-5th, they needed it. Now they need to do it on the dry too.

Zarco never looked like a contender for the race until the QP yesterday, and the race proved that it was a farce. But he still managed to finish ahead of Vinales, who was nowhere. And Rossi was down and out before he can do anything. Yamaha should write off this season already, and prepare for next year. They won't be able to fix it right now.

Is that Baz in 10th? And Lowes in the points? Nice results for both. Pity that they never managed to get going early on, and we won't see them again here next year. I wish them well for the rest of the races. Also, it's a shame that Nozane fell too early, but that's a common thing with one-off riders.
Overall, a great race at the front, and it's a shame that Petrucci chose the wrong tyre, otherwise we might saw a 3-rider scrap for the lead. Nonetheless, Dovi deserved this, and the championship benefits from it too. On to the next race!

Total votes: 34

No one ever said MotoGP will be no fun when Rossi retires. Racing will always be fun. The assertion was only that Rossi helps attract the casual observer or the hero worshiping type. 

Total votes: 22

here in this small part of the world called Southeast Asia, where the overwhelming majority of MotoGP audiences are Rossi fans, it's a common opinion, hero worship or not. I can't say about the other parts of the world, but I believe it's the same in many places. Personally I experienced the same thing all the time:
- whenever there's a MotoGP race broadcast on a public place, a large crowd will form, and if Rossi crash out, the crowd will disperse smiley
- whenever there's a live streaming (note: illegal) of a MotoGP race, and Rossi crash out, the live stream will be stopped immediately, viewers be damned smiley

Not true fans? Maybe. Then again, the majority of them are motorcycle buyers/riders, many have more than one. They are the ones giving Honda and Yamaha big monies to go racing in MotoGP in the first place...

Total votes: 24

I doth my cap to Dovi, what a win! This has been a truly remarkable year for him. I doubt a single person geniunely thought he'd be mixing it in the title battle, especially at this stage of the season. Even back around Germany time when we had 5 contenders close together, Dovi's name was the only one out of the 5 that most pundits had down to eventually fade away.

And yet, it's been Pedrosa and the Yamahas that have faded away and if anything  Dovi is stronger than ever. He said pre race, he HAD to win this race. And the sheer determination to beat someone like Marquez again in a last lap duel is absolutely stunning. The Dovi of old would've probably settled for second. But the new 2017 version is a new man. The title is still going to be tough work but he's doing everything he can. He's riding on a total another level. It almost seems cruel that there can only be one rider that can be allowed to win this title,, because both totally deserve it.

People often say what will MotoGP be like when Rossi retires? On the evidence of the last two seasons, it'll manage just fine. Amazing!

One last note, throughly delighted to see Suzuki get both bikes in the top 5.; They've had a torrid season, but this was like the Suzuki of 2016. So nice to see the sky blue bikes up the sharp end again. In particular that result for Iannone could be massive for him. I hope it's not a false dawn, as it's so much more fun when the likes of him is towards the front. Rins is really coming along very nicely too.

Truly great race. Now let's hope the weather in Phillip Island can be a bit kinder next time out!

Total votes: 25

Thank you very much for an insightful write up for those of us that didn't stay up late or get up early to see the race.  I can just imagine what the last lap, last corner was like!

Total votes: 6

Dovi rode like a true champion, Marc looked truly shaken in Parc Ferme. Bring it on Phillip Island! Gonne be there, can't wait!

Total votes: 20

A riveting race and another superb win in diabolical but consistent conditions for Dovi to beat yet again the hardest nut to crack on the last lap of any race when that tuff nut is Marc.  The willpower and controlled aggression was something to behold between the pair. Marc always looks over the top but you come to expect he has it under clutch, so to speak. Dovi on the other hand seldom looks over the top ever. This performance by him was stunning. That Ducati shaking its head in the Honda's slipstream and then Dovi outbreaking Marc comprehensively in turn 11 and then once again having the confidence and presence of mind to not allow Marc to use him as berm in the final corner. Epic performance by both. Petrux had a good day and probably made a smart tire choice...not in terms of the win but the podium. Looking back down the field and back into history, the time gap from winner to 4th place finisher was reminiscent of the infamous Rossi/Stoner 2008 duel which left the rest for dead, 20 or 30 seconds adrift in the dry. This was no less remarkable a result in the wet. Jorge was being touted as potential winner the whole weekend if it stayed wet. Finishing up a respectable 6th but 24 seconds off Dovi with the same tire choice and same aero package and 14 seconds off Petrux on the soft rear....ummm...15 races in. A dry PI and Dovi will surely not use the aero kit. Nothing seems to get inside Marc's head but he knows for sure that a last lap scrap with Dovi at any race is not going to be a cakewalk even into the last turn. Dani and Vale will scrap it out for fourth and fifth in the title chase. Maverick, 30 shy of Dovi needs him and Marc both to DNF to get back in the hunt. 2017 misfortune and how it can affect things. Marc's blown engine and Dani's indicretion taking Dovi out in Argentina. Thats even stevens.  Head to head last lap 2017, 2 love Dovi. I hope Domenicali is paying Dovi massive bonuses for each win and podium. He is sure as hell earning it. Anyway, amazing performance from 9th on the grid, through the spray to win against a rampant #93. Memorable. 

Total votes: 14

Ducati GP17 1st, 3rd, 6th.

Honda RC213V 2nd, 15th, 18th, DNF, DNF.

Yes, lots of other independent variables involved, but it appears that for the race, the Ducati was the better bike, and as usual Márquez got 2nd place on a bike that really did not belong in the top 8 or so.

As for Pedrosa crashing out Dovi, were you thinking of Austin/COTA?  To me it looks more like Pedrosa lost it trying to keep pace, not with a "ambition exceeding his talent" passing maneuver.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JsxlKOY71yw

Total votes: 6

Pedro/Dovi/COTA was last year. This year Aliex Esparago took out Dovi at Argentina while he was running 7th and fading.  It seems unlikely it would have been a podium, but if he loses the title by 5-10 points it might be critical.  Marquez on the other hand lost a solid 16-25 points with his engine failure at Silverstone.

Total votes: 0

He's obviously frustrated, but also making progress and cashing some pretty big paychecks. Not as big as if he's on the box or winning, but still.

With as well as Dovi is doing it's hard to think that Ducati is going to change the bike for Lorenzo. So where is Lorenzo going to go after his two years at Ducati are up?

Total votes: 3

Am I the only one that thinks that maybe Dovi left the door open just enough to let Marc through hoping he'd blow the turn? If so does Dovi have Marc figured out? I mean even in Marc knows Dovi is going to do it, Marc is going to go for the opening every time, isn't he?

Great racing in all classes in horrid conditions. Hats off to everyone that went out and braved the spray.

Total votes: 27

race! So good to see Dovi beat Marquez again! In fact Marquez has been beaten quite a lot in these last lap duels because of his predictable last ditch effort no matter the circumstance, and by a clever opponent. Assen 15, Austria and now Motegi 17 come to mind. Great for championship, excellent for Ducati.

Not so good for Yamaha, I haven't witnessed such major problems for them since 2003. What a false dawn the preseason was, well for one of the factory riders anyway.  

Total votes: 3

... it isn't enough. Superb performance. He rode with his head at the beginning and his heart at the end. A true champion even if he doesn't actually win the championship.

Total votes: 5

I'd have bet serious money at the start of this season that Dovi would never beat Marc in a last lap shootout ever... period... end of sentence.

Aaaand now he's done it twice in super tricky conditions. Brilliant.

What does this kind of success do to a riders self image? Will it convert Dovi from Mr Sensible into one of the 'Big Beasts' of MotoGP... three races to find out!

 

Total votes: 4