2018 Motegi MotoGP Race Result: A Bridge Too Far

Marc Marquez won his seventh world title – his fifth in the MotoGP class – with a victory Sunday at Japan's Motegi circuit after a race-long battle with his primary rival, Andrea Dovizioso. And like the season-long battle between the top two riders, it came down the end of the race when Dovizioso pushed a touch too hard in Turn 10 and crashed out of a close second place.

 

And with his oppenent's crash, Marquez at 25 years old retained his dominance of motorcycle racing’s top class.  With Dovizoso's second-to-last lap crash, Cal Crutchlow climbed into second with Suzuki's Alex Rins right on his tail for the final podium spot. Valentino Rossi with a fourth gave the struggling Factory Yamaha team reason for optimism. Satellite Ducati rider Alvaro Bautista continued a strong late-season run with a fifth, after qualifying 10th.

 

Johann Zarco, pushed wide on the first corner after a front-row start, was the final victim of Bautista's late surge and settled for sixth. Maverick Vinales, who ran in 10th for much of the race, finished in a lonely seventh, two seconds in front of Dani Pedrosa (8th).  Danilo Petrucci, set to take Jorge Lorenzo's factory Ducati seat next year, finished 9th with Hafizh Syahrin rounding out the top 10.

 

The Race

 

Before the race even began, it seemed Dovizioso's to win. The Italian has been consistently fastest in the dry practices and he'd won the race last year in the wet. And at 77 points behind Marquez, Dovizioso had to keep the current champion from a victory if the championship contest was to continue into next week's Philip Island race.

 

True to form, Dovizioso parlayed his pole position into a holeshot and the lead into Turn One, closely followed by Jack Miller and Marc Marquez who had pushed into third from a sixth-position start. Within a lap, Marquez dove past Miller into second. Cal Crutchlow had moved into fourth, closely followed by Rossi (5th) and Rins (6th). 

 

Crutchlow then took third from Miller with 22 laps to go and two corners later, Rossi passed a slowing Miller for fourth.  The top three riders, Dovizioso, Marquez and Crutchlow began to open a gap on the following group, expanding it to six-tenths of a second with 18 laps remaining. Within two more laps, the gap to fourth-place Rossi was nearly a second. 

 

In the middle of the pack, Maverick Vinales struggled and slipped into 11th place. But Andrea Iannone began to charge, slicing through the pack to press the fourth-place Rossi with 15 laps remaining. The factory Suzuki rider made quick work of his friend and moved into fourth. Rins, on the other factory Suzuki, followed suit and dropped Rossi into sixth. 

 

Then Miller, who was trying to climb back into the second group, crashed out of 7th place with 14 laps remaining. By this point, the lead three riders had opened a 1.5-second gap on Iannone in fourth. And in the second group, the two Suzukis began to open a lead on Rossi. 

 

At the front, Marquez began to challenge Dovizioso, passing him onto the back straight but running wide and beyond the curb through a patch of dirt. Dovizioso repassed his title rival one corner later with Crutchlow holding third. But the dustup had allowed the Suzukis to close to the lead group. Iannone sensing a chance to make up space, ran into Turn 10 too hot and lost the front, crashing out the race with nine laps to go.

 

Three laps later, Dovizioso and Marquez began to turn up the wick, with both riders setting their fastest laps of the race and opening a gap to Crutchlow. But some of the fastest laps of the race also were happening mid pack as Bautista, who has climbed into seventh, continued his charge.

 

With four laps remaining, Marquez block passed Dovizioso at Turn 9 to take the lead.  And for the next lap, the title rivals were locked in a tight battle, half a bike length separating the pair. Marquez opened the slighest gap, one tenth of a second. Then two-tenths. On the second-to-last lap, his title hopes slipping away with every tenth of a second, Dovizioso tried to follow Marquez's blistering pace through Turn 10.

 

But where there's a will, there's not always a way. The Ducati's front end washed out, handing Marquez the win and the title. 

 

Result:

Pos. Num. Rider Bike Gap
1 93 Marc MARQUEZ Honda 42'36.438
2 35 Cal CRUTCHLOW Honda +1.573
3 42 Alex RINS Suzuki +1.720
4 46 Valentino ROSSI Yamaha +6.413
5 19 Alvaro BAUTISTA Ducati +6.919
6 5 Johann ZARCO Yamaha +8.024
7 25 Maverick VIÑALES Yamaha +13.330
8 26 Dani PEDROSA Honda +15.582
9 9 Danilo PETRUCCI Ducati +20.584
10 55 Hafizh SYAHRIN Yamaha +24.985
11 21 Franco MORBIDELLI Honda +25.931
12 38 Bradley SMITH KTM +26.875
13 44 Pol ESPARGARO KTM +27.069
14 89 Katsuyuki NAKASUGA Yamaha +32.550
15 30 Takaaki NAKAGAMI Honda +37.718
16 10 Xavier SIMEON Ducati +39.583
17 81 Jordi TORRES Ducati +39.839
18 4 Andrea DOVIZIOSO Ducati +42.698
19 45 Scott REDDING Aprilia +49.943
20 12 Thomas LUTHI Honda +52.707
21 50 Sylvain GUINTOLI Suzuki +1'01.848
    Not Classified    
  29 Andrea IANNONE Suzuki 10 Laps
  17 Karel ABRAHAM Ducati 12 Laps
  43 Jack MILLER Ducati 14 Laps
  41 Aleix ESPARGARO Aprilia 18 Laps
Round Number: 
16
2018
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Total votes: 84

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Comments

Congratulations to Marc for a very solid effort in taking his fifth MotoGP crown. Well deserved.

Commiserations to Andrea for having fallen short despite his brilliant riding all year.

And thanks Zara for your terrific commentary/reports, always a pleasure to read. I particularly liked the brevity and finality of your last sentence, it summed up todays outcome as succinctly as could be possible. Don't go anywhere :)

Total votes: 24

Ha, sorry Mike, I've grown accustomed to her face :)

Always enjoy your writing too mate.

Total votes: 32

I had hoped for a different result. That's racing.

Congratulations Marc Marquez champion again.

Have fun at Phillip island, see youse at Sepang.

Scroll down, scroll, scroll.

Total votes: 20

see you at Sepang too-Marc Márquez tribune!!

Total votes: 27

I'm going over to Sepang too, can't wait. First GP I went to was 1992 Australian GP at Eastern Creek, last was 1999 Australian GP at Phillip Island. So it's been a while :)

Total votes: 22

Envious! And meeting up w you three would be really cool. I haven't been since Laguna Seca where Nicky had his 1st. Way too long. Not going, wish I was.

You folks should meet up! I feel like we are friends just from connecting in here.

Total votes: 27

Send me an e-mail, fingers crossed my phone company will allow me to receive them.

Since the championship is decided it should be a good race.

Red wine or beer ?

Total votes: 18

Send me an e-mail, fingers crossed my phone company will allow me to receive them.

Since the championship is decided it should be a good race.

Red wine or beer ?

Total votes: 32

I kind of hoped for a different result but it sounds like a clean race and deserving podium. And I too really liked the brief last paragraph. I’m sure AD’s move will be thoroughly anaylyzed, but for now, brevity was a good writer’s choice. 

Total votes: 23

The two bikes and riders are so different, Marc and Dovi. Really enjoying their genuine rapport, SO refreshing. The unqualified praise Hodgson has for Marquez at the end of the race was real. Not knocking Dovi or Ducati in any way, fantastic efforts. Dovi made a mistake entering that corner. Yes, his front tire was a bit worn which was a factor. Long before he lost the front he hadn't entered the corner well at all, as could be seen in real time. Compare to previous laps, his body is closer to the bike and he has hesitated.

Greater consideration is appreciation for Andrea Dovisioso. He is hard working, level headed, smart, genuine, and surprising the shite out of me. If an era of Aliens has passed, here is the new breed of rider that has made it do so. Very human, real, and making efforts to steadily improve his riding.

And the Ducati project. Like Dovi, arising against odds. A second time since arriving on the GP scene. This is a new breed of machine. If you don't think it is the best bike on the grid, you likely find it neck and neck with the Honda. This is amazing for comparatively wee Bologna's resources. (Third best bike in normal conditions for 2018, is it not the Suzuki?). Fantastic job Red.

Lastly, MotoGP. 2017 was fantastic beyond words. This year is offering much to enjoy as well, and next year should too. Ducati had much to do with the pivot in dynamics within the series. DORNA has done really well. I used to be so very frustrated with rule changes that benefited Honda and Yamaha factory teams. Like when the single tire manufacturer is doing a great job, DORNA gets nearly no attention when performing well. When DORNA comes up short they get much more harsh coverage. Good vision, good backbone, well executed. This is a great time to love motorcycle road racing.

(But yes, I wanted Dovi to win. Or even dare I say a mistake from Marc that would mirror last year in which this time Dovi saves it on the knee and Marc safely goes down chasing. These two sometimes share symmetry).

(Redding "Stevie Wonder Head" dislocated Marc's shoulder?! I thought the lay down on the ground bit was planned celebration oddness).

(Yes, again btw, the Yamaha just improved a tad w setup changes. Motor is coming. Weight shift a-la Lorenzo tank extension for the rider and whole bike geometry changes are coming. The electronics computer geek squad's improvements are coming. Someone with a name that doesn't start with a T to lead the change is coming. Crystal ball - Summer break 2019 the bike will be there. Where though? Just behind the front two).

Total votes: 26

This is one of the insteresting News, any update on this? Can MM93 participate on the next flyaway back to back race? It really a shame if MM cannot do PI race.

Total votes: 28

It "pops out and I just pop it back in" often, loose connective tissue. He is fine, but is talking about having it operated on over winter to snug it up. Nothing stops this kid!

Total votes: 16

The two points scored by Katsuyuki Nakasuga. If you don't, know him, he's one of the best superbike racers in Japanese history and a well-respected guy in the paddock. Japan has a terrific history of wildcard riders in the GPs and, if you look at who he has finished in front of in his wildcard history, he is part of that lore. (And this is not the first time he's well in MotoGP; Remember 2012?) Plus he is the holder of one of Arai's best looking signature helmets

Total votes: 27

I have had a significant shoulder damage for 26 years, diagnosed this year. It doesn't affect my riding, but is a problem for swimming & paddling a surfboard. The doctor tells me it's too late to put it back together now. This one has been dislocated since the original crash & went back in OK.

Total votes: 13