– Motegi MotoGP Race Day Guide- Statistics by Dr. Martin Raines

• Jorge Lorenzo starts from pole for the fourth time in 2013. Lorenzo finished second at Motegi last year from pole position.

• Second on the grid is Marc Marquez, his 11th successive front row start. Marquez has won twice in the last three years at Motegi; the 125cc race in 2010 and the Moto2 race last year.

• Nicky Hayden takes the final place on the front row – his best qualifying result since he took third place on the grid at the Spanish GP at Jerez last year. This is the first front row start by a Ducati rider since Dovizioso qualified third at Mugello earlier this year.

• Heading the second row of the grid is Dani Pedrosa, who has won for the last two years at Motegi.

• Valentino Rossi starts from fifth place on the grid. Rossi has finished on the podium nine times at Motegi, including race wins in both 2001 and 2008.

• Andrea Dovizioso takes the final place on the second row, which is his best qualifying result since the Italian GP at Mugello.

• The highest-placed satellite rider on the grid is Alvaro Bautista, heading the third row. Bautista finished third last year at Motegi, which was the last time that he stood on the podium.

• Just two weeks after breaking his ankle at Sepang, Stefan Bradl has qualified in eighth place on the grid at a circuit where he won the 125cc GP in 2008.

• Aleix Espargaro is the top CRT rider in qualifying, in ninth place on the grid.

• Yonny Hernandez is in tenth place on the grid – his best-ever qualifying result in the MotoGP class.

• In 11th place on the grid is Cal Crutchlow, his worst qualifying result of the year.

• Taking the final place on the fourth row is wild-card rider Katsuyuki Nakasuga, who finished second at the final race of 2012 at Valencia in mixed weather conditions.

Moto2™

• Mika Kallio takes his first-ever pole in the Moto2 class. The last time he was on pole was for the 250cc GP at Valencia in 2007. Kallio has won three times at Motegi; the 125cc class in 2005 & 2006, and the 250cc race in 2007.

• Xavier Simeon is in second place on the grid – his best qualifying result since he was on pole at the German GP.

• Taking the final place on the front row is Johann Zarco, who took his only GP win so far in the 125cc race at Motegi in 2011.

• Simone Corsi heads the second row of the grid – his best qualifying result since he was on pole in Aragon last year.

• Rafid Topan Sucipto has qualified in fifth place on the grid, the best-ever qualifying result in grand prix racing by an Indonesian rider.

• Esteve Rabat is in sixth place on the grid – his worst qualifying result since the German Grand Prix.

• Championship leader Pol Espargaro heads the third row, which is his worst qualifying result since he was 10th on the grid at Mugello.

• Just one week after breaking his wrist at the Australian GP, Scott Redding has qualified in 15th place on the grid.

Moto3™

• Alex Rins starts from pole for the seventh time this year. Rins has won five of the last eight races.

• In second place on the grid is Maverick Viñales, who has finished on the podium 13 times from the first 15 races of the year, but who has not had a win since the fourth race of the year at Le Mans.

• Alex Marquez has qualified in third place on the grid; his fourth front row start of the year. Marquez has finished in the top-five at the last 12 successive races.

• Championship-leader Luis Salom heads the second row of the grid. Salom has scored points at all 18 races since he crashed out of the Japanese GP last year when battling for the lead on the final lap.

• Jack Miller is in fifth place on the grid, which is the ninth time this year that he has qualified on the second row.

• Isaac Viñales takes the final place on the second row, equalling his best-ever qualifying result from Australia seven days ago.
• Hiroki Ono is in eighth place on the grid – the best qualifying result by a wild-card rider in the lightweight class of GP racing since Miroslav Popov was sixth on the grid at Misano in 2011.

- MotoGP 2013 – Round 17 – Motegi
– Thundering Lorenzo on pole as Spies announces retirement

Jorge Lorenzo will start from the front in the AirAsia Grand Prix of Japan, having clinched his second pole position within the space of a week. At the end of a single 75-minute qualifying session, the Yamaha Factory Racing rider headed Marc Marquez and Nicky Hayden, who picks up a first front row start for over a year. On the same day, Ignite Pramac Racing’s Ben Spies, who has been plagued by injury, announced his retirement from racing.

On a weekend heavily disrupted by inclement weather, Qualifying on Saturday afternoon marked the first time the MotoGP™ riders had taken to the track at Twin Ring Motegi. In order to allow the field as much track time as possible, one single session of 75 minutes replaced the usual setup of 15-minute Q1 and Q2 periods.

Already quickest on a drying track, Lorenzo recorded blistering pace as conditions improved towards the end of the period, registering an effort of 1’53.471. Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) went second on his final flying lap, demoting Hayden to third; nevertheless, the Ducati Team rider still achieves his best qualifying result since the Spanish Grand Prix at Jerez in 2012. He now aims to take advantage of his grid position with Ducati before switching to Power Electronics Aspar next season.

Lorenzo’s impressive pace was demonstrated by the fact that all riders from third place downwards were over a full second in arrears. Behind, Row 2 will be occupied by Dani Pedrosa and Valentino Rossi for Honda and Yamaha respectively, with the second Ducati of Andrea Dovizioso in sixth position. GO&FUN Honda Gresini’s Alvaro Bautista will line up seventh – despite a crash at Turn 7 – from LCR Honda MotoGP’s Stefan Bradl, with the German returning from a fractured right ankle. Aspar’s Aleix Espargaro was ninth, having already claimed the overall CRT honours for 2013.

Yonny Hernandez completed the top ten for Ignite Pramac Racing, while wildcard Katsuyuki Nakasuga enjoyed a strong session en route to 12th place for Yamaha YSP Racing Team. However, it was a difficult time for Monster Yamaha Tech3 as Cal Crutchlow and Bradley Smith could manage no more than 11th and 13th spots. Nakasuga’s compatriot Hiroshi Aoyama will begin his home race from 18th position on the grid with the Avintia Blusens FTR machine.

Should he be able to end the race with a points lead of 26 or more, 20-year-old Marquez will become the youngest ever MotoGP™ World Champion and first rookie title winner for 35 years. Taking place over the course of 24 laps and with dry conditions expected, Sunday’s 2013 AirAsia Grand Prix of Japan is set to begin at 2pm local time (GMT +9). Due to the lack of track time, Free Practice will start at 9.40am local time, and run for 50 minutes.

On the same day, American rider Ben Spies, who has taken part in only two races this season, has announced that he will retire from racing, and hence split from the Ducati family. Spies and Ducati sighted his injuries as being too much of a hindrance, feeling that he is not able to race at the highest standard next season. He had originally signed with Ducati until the end of the 2014 season.

MotoGP™ Qualifying Practice Classification
1 Jorge Lorenzo 1’53.471 SPA YAMAHA Yamaha Factory Racing
2 Marc Marquez 1’54.129 SPA HONDA Repsol Honda Team
3 Nicky Hayden 1’54.539 USA DUCATI Ducati Team
4 Dani Pedrosa 1’54.542 SPA HONDA Repsol Honda Team
5 Valentino Rossi 1’54.732 ITA YAMAHA Yamaha Factory Racing
6 Andrea Dovizioso 1’55.036 ITA DUCATI Ducati Team
7 Alvaro Bautista 1’55.135 SPA HONDA Go & Fun Honda Gresini
8 Stefan Bradl 1’55.610 GER HONDA LCR Honda MotoGP
9 Aleix Espargaro 1’55.719 SPA ART Power Electronics Aspar
10 Yonny Hernandez 1’55.998 COL DUCATI Ignite Pramac Racing Team
11 Cal Crutchlow 1’56.058 GBR YAMAHA Monster Yamaha Tech 3
12 Katsayuki Nakasuga 1’56.125 JPN YAMAHA Yamaha YSP Racing Team
13 Bradley Smith 1’57.114 GBR YAMAHA Monster Yamaha Tech 3
14 Colin Edwards 1’57.297 USA FTR-KAWASAKI NGM Mobile Forward Racing
15 Andrea Iannone 1’57.347 ITA DUCATI Energy T.I. Pramac Racing Team
16 Danilo Petrucci 1’57.540 ITA IODA-SUTER Came IodaRacing Project
17 Randy De Puniet 1’57.715 FRA SUZUKI Suzuki Test Team
18 Hiroshi Aoyama 1’57.994 JAP FTR Avintia Blusens
19 Michael Laverty 1’58.540 GBR PBM Paul Bird Motorsport
20 Luca Scassa 1’58.802 ITA ART Cardion AB Motoracing
21 Claudio Corti 1’59.617 ITA FTR-KAWASAKI NGM Mobile Forward Racing
22 Hector Barbera 1’59.646 SPA FTR Avintia Blusens
23 Damian Cudlin 2’00.982 AUS PBM Paul Bird Motorsport
24 Bryan Staring DNQ AUS FTR-HONDA Go & Fun Honda Gresini
25 Lukas Pesek DNQ CZE IODA-SUTER Came IodaRacing Project

– Moto2

Mika Kallio will start from pole position for the AirAsia Grand Prix of Japan, picking up the top spot in Moto2™ for the first time. The Marc VDS Racing Team rider will share the front row with Xavier Simeon and Johann Zarco, while title contenders Tito Rabat, Pol Espargaro and Scott Redding line up sixth, seventh and 15th.

Ahead of Qualifying, there had been no track action for any category through a lack of visibility and heavy rain at Twin Ring Motegi. Eventually, the intermediate class had one hour of running time in which to set up bikes as well as posting lap times for grid position. On a mostly dry circuit as the sun began to set in Japan, Kallio topped the timesheets with a 2’01.248, edging out Simeon by two tenths of a second; this marked Kallio’s first pole since the 250 season closer in Valencia six years ago.

Less than one tenth of a second covered the riders filling spots two to four, with Simeon (Maptaq SAG Zelos Team) second, as Zarco (Came IodaRacing Project) demoted Simone Corsi (NGM Mobile Racing) to fourth place in the last knockings of the session. There was a top-five effort from QMMF Racing Team’s Rafid Topan Sucipto of Indonesia, while Tuenti HP 40 pairing Rabat and Espargaro will line up sixth and seventh from Technomag carXpert’s Dominique Aegerter. The top ten was rounded out by Danny Kent (Tech3) and Mattia Pasini (NGM Mobile Racing).

It was a difficult day all-round for Redding. On Thursday, the erstwhile championship leader had been cleared to compete, having missed the last race in Australia after breaking his left wrist on the Saturday. In pain today, the Marc VDS rider rode to 15th position ahead of a day on which Espargaro could win the 2013 title; to claim the ultimate honour, he would need to finish inside the top seven, with Rabat not winning and Redding far enough behind to be left outside of touching distance. The current margin between Espargaro and Redding is 16 points, with a maximum of 50 remaining.

Sunday’s Moto2™ AirAsia Grand Prix of Japan is schedule to commence at 12:20pm local time (GMT +9), being decided over the course of 23 laps. Due to the lack of track time, Free Practice will start at 8:50am local time, and run for 40 minutes.

Moto2™ Qualifying Practice Classification
1- Mika Kallio FIN Kalex 2:01.248
2- Xavier Simeon BEL Kalex +0.204
3- Johann Zarco FRA Suter +0.236

– Moto3

Fresh from his victory in Australia last weekend, Moto3™ title contender Alex Rins has taken pole position for the AirAsia Grand Prix of Japan. The Estrella Galicia 0,0 rider sealed the top spot for the seventh time this season as the field was presented with an unprecedented challenge, having not taken to the track before Qualifying.

In a highly unusual situation, Moto3™ Qualifying signalled the first track action of the weekend at Motegi, with all Friday action plus Saturday morning practice having been called off due to poor visibility and wet weather. Qualifying began at the slightly delayed time of ten to one; with 55 minutes on offer, the riders were challenged with adapting to track conditions as well as attempting to post lap times for grid position.

With the circuit already wet when the green light illuminated, further late rain helped to cemented pole in the form of Rins’ best effort of a 2’09.387 – 11 seconds off record pace. On Sunday, the Spaniard will aim to overhaul compatriot Luis Salom in the championship table, having already moved to within five points of the leader. Rins will be joined on the front row by fellow title challenger Maverick Viñales (Team Calvo) and Estrella Galicia 0,0 teammate Alex Marquez.

Championship leader Salom (Red Bull KTM Ajo) will start fourth, joined on the second row by Caretta Technology – RTG’s Jack Miller and Ongetta-Centro Seta’s Isaac Viñales. Niccolo Antonelli and Jonas Folger will line up seventh and ninth for their respective GO&FUN Gresini Moto3 and Mapfre Aspar Team Moto3 outfits, while Japanese wildcards shone as Hiroki Ono (Honda Team Asia) and Sena Yamada (Team Plus One & Endurance) qualified eighth and tenth. Fellow countryman Hyuga Watanabe also enjoyed a strong day, managing 12th place for La Fonte Tascaracing.

Some qualified lower than expected, but could be ones to watch in Sunday’s race, which is forecast to take place in dry conditions. Mahindra Racing’s Miguel Oliveira and Efren Vazquez could muster no more than 18th and 21st positions, while Red Bull KTM Ajo’s Zulfahmi Khairuddin and Arthur Sissis will be looking to rise from their corresponding 13th and 19th places. Several riders were caught out by the wet surface, including Rins, who slid off-track at the end of the session but had already sealed pole.

Sunday’s Moto3™ AirAsia Grand Prix of Japan is scheduled to begin at 11am local time (GMT +9), taking place over the course of 20 laps. Salom could win the title this weekend, but would have to win the race with Rins finishing 11th or lower. Due to the lack of track time, Free Practice will start at 8am local time, and run for 40 minutes.

Moto3™ Qualifying Practice Classification
1- Alex Rins SPA KTM 2:09.387
2- Maverick Viñales SPA KTM +0.923
3- Alex Marquez SPA KTM +0.926

– Yamaha Report

Yamaha Factory Racing’s Jorge Lorenzo delivered a stunning performance in this afternoon’s extended MotoGP qualifying session to take pole position for tomorrow’s Grand Prix of Japan.

Following yesterday’s cancellation of practice sessions due to weather conditions, the premier class were today given a special 75-minute qualifying heat, allowing the drama of the Japanese round to finally move to the track.

Defending world champion Lorenzo made full use of the extended session, getting straight out onto the wet circuit to start working on his race set up. Having initially swapped the top spot with rival Marc Marquez early in the session he dropped down the timesheets. After some work on the set up he was back, rising quickly to 2nd after a third of the time had gone, 0.1seconds from Marquez in top. The top positions continued to change until with 15 minutes to go, when Lorenzo put the hammer down and delivered a perfect 1’53.965 to go over half a second clear at the top. Whilst his rivals were able to improve, so was he, dropping even further to a 1’53.471 in the final seconds to secure pole 0.65 ahead of Marquez.

Teammate Valentino Rossi was also looking comfortable around the Motegi circuit. The nine-time world champion was one of the few who climbed to the top of the timesheets early in the session with a 1’59.304. He continued to be a key protagonist, regularly swapping positions in the top four places with his rivals. With 30 minutes remaining Rossi had taken provisional second on the grid, just 0.12 seconds from Pedrosa on pole. The last minutes as usual saw a flurry of activity as his teammate took a stunning pole position. Rossi eventually took fifth on the second row at the end of the session with a 1’54.732 second lap.

Jorge Lorenzo – 1st / 1’53.471 / 25 laps – “I’m really happy, it was not so simple because my last memory of the rain was Assen. At the beginning I was a little bit scared and didn’t want to crash. We were lucky to have the extended qualifying time to get used to the track. Little by little I got confidence and finally I felt really good with the bike and the grip of the track, especially under braking. It doesn’t matter if it’s wet or dry tomorrow, it’s not my problem to think about it, I have to ride in whatever conditions we have. A wet race would be better for the championship though!”

Valentino Rossi – 5th / 1’54.732 / 29 laps – “The result is not so bad, I hoped to arrive on the front row, I’m not so far but I am behind. I was in a better shape when it was full wet and felt better with the bike. When there was less water on the track and some places were quite dry I was able to improve my time a little but not enough for the front row. Tomorrow will be a surprise because if it is dry we will have to make the best set up in the morning warm up and try to arrive competitively for the race!”

Yamaha Factory Racing Wilco Zeelenberg Team Manager – “A very special weekend so far with only one qualifying practice in two days, but pole position! Jorge has a very good feeling with the bike in the wet conditions after his dramatic wet crash in Assen, it was important for Jorge to recover his confidence in such conditions. Tomorrow’s race seems to be dry, looking at the weather forecast; last year we finished second behind Dani with a good pace but at that time we were leading the championship and we did not risk anything. Tomorrow we need to make the difference and there is just one option for us, which is to beat Marc. The team is ready if tomorrow’s practice are dry; we have found a good base set up during the last two races so we are greatly motivated and ready for all circumstances.”

Yamaha Factory Racing Massimo Meregalli – Team Director – “It was once again a difficult day but luckily we were able to make the most of the qualification session. We approached the heat in the best way. We knew we had to do a pole position, and we succeeded. It was important to do a few laps, even in wet conditions. Tomorrow probably the track will be dry but we gathered some good data and that’s what counts. Jorge’s attitude was the right one; he started slowly and eventually hit the target. Valentino also made quite an effort, even if in the end he missed the best finish. We did a great job and tomorrow we will try to do the same thing. We want a good result and we are ready to fight!”

– HRC Report

Repsol Honda RC213V rider Marc Marquez qualified second for tomorrow’s Japanese Grand Prix, further extending Honda’s record of front-row starts at every race this year, after two days of practice and qualifying when the riders only went out on track once, and all free practice was cancelled.

Team-mate Dani Pedrosa qualified fourth, to lead the second row; Alvaro Bautista (FUN&GO Honda Gresini RC213V Honda) heads the third row in seventh position, with Stefan Bradl (LCR Honda RC213V) alongside. Bryan Staring (FUN&GO Honda Gresini FTR Honda) placed 24th on his CRT-category machine.

Times were set in a single qualifying session extended to one hour and 15 minutes, after foul weather conditions on the periphery of Typhoon Francisco caused all Friday sessions to be cancelled, and also the scheduled final free practices on Saturday.

The track was streaming as heavy rain continued to fall, but the major cause of cancellation was indirect: the essential medevac helicopter was officially grounded under strict Japanese aviation regulations, because low cloud cover at the hilltop circuit cut visibility below safe limits. With the official hospital more than one hour away by road, Race Direction kept competitors grounded as well, because of the risk of being unable to provide quick treatment in the case of serious injury.

The delays and repeated rescheduling tested the patience of riders and fans alike. Finally the green light came after mid-day on Saturday, with all three classes having just one session – 75 minutes for MotoGP, 55 minutes for Moto2 and Moto3,

Marquez moved up to second on a drying track in the closing stages, to start alongside pole qualifier and title rival Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha).

This is a crucial race for the championship fight between the two Spaniards. Defender Lorenzo clawed back a significant 25 points one week ago in Australia, when Marquez scored zero points after he was disqualified for a technical infringement. With serious tyre-life issues, the race featured a compulsory pit stop and bike change for the first time in grand prix history. A misunderstanding of the instructions meant the championship leader missed the prescribed pit-stop window. The penalty was severe: a black flag and disqualification.

It was the first serious set-back to the 20-year-old class rookie’s stunning first season in the premier class. Marquez won the Moto2 championship last year having previously claimed the 125 crown; and adapted instantly to the much more powerful and specialised V4 Honda RC213V. The first of six wins came at only the second round, and before the Australian debacle Marquez has finished on the rostrum at every race but one.

He arrived in Australia with a points advantage of 43 and the possibility of becoming the youngest ever World Champion. But he left for Japan – third of three flyaway races on successive weekends – with his lead cut to 18 points, with a maximum of 50 still available.

Marquez will be youngest-ever champion if he extends that advantage to more than 25 points tomorrow … he needs to win, and for Lorenzo to finish no higher than third. Failing that, the fight will continue to the final round at Valencia in Spain in two weeks.

Pedrosa will also have his sights set on Lorenzo, in his own interests. The 28-year-old former 125 and double 250 champion is still in touch for second overall, only 16 points adrift. He has won at Motegi for the past two years, and a third win at the Honda-owned circuit would narrow the gap still further.

Pedrosa added a third win this season in Malaysia three weeks ago, following it up with second in Australia as his return to full strength maintains momentum. He missed the Motegi front row by three thousandths of a second

The older Repsol Honda RC213V rider led on points earlier in the season, but fractured his collarbone at round eight in Germany, missing that race, and hampered over the next rounds, though he did claim two more second places while still recovering. A further set-back came at round 14 at Aragon, when a minor collision with his team-mate freakishly disabled his crucial electronics, and he crashed out while challenging for the lead.

Pedrosa has been on the top-three podium at every race he has finished bar three.

It is an important race also for seventh-placed Bautista. The Spanish former 125cc World Champion has a special role: race-developing Showa suspension and Nissin brakes, made by Japanese companies with close ties to Honda. As the only rider using this equipment he has no reference points: his and the team’s good progress in this task has seen a series of strong rides in the latter part of the season. He has not finished lower than seventh in the last ten races, with a best of fourth, and fifth places at the last two rounds.

Motegi marks a comeback ride for final RC213V rider Bradl, who has missed the past two races after sustaining ankle fractures in practice in Malaysia. Immediate surgery gave hopes he might return the next weekend in Australia, but after a brave attempt in the first free practice, he was ruled out. Another week of intensive physiotherapy meant he was passed fit to ride in Japan. His two missed races allowed Bautista to move ahead, to sixth overall, but only 12 points ahead.

Bryan Staring is approaching the end of his first grand prix season, riding the Honda CBR1000RR-powered CRT bike. He has scored points as he adapts to the machine and learns new circuits, but today his time was outside the 107 percent-of-pole cut-off point for qualification. Due to the extraordinary circumstances, however, the team hoped he might be allowed to start.

Moto2’s single qualifying session was the last of the day, run on a drying track as sun broke through for the first time all weekend, reinforcing hopes of good race-day weather. Close and reliable racing is a given for the all-Honda powered class, with all riders using identical race-tuned Honda CBR600 engines supplied sealed by the organisers.

Although it was never dry enough for riders to use slick tyres, conditions improved throughout the session, yielding a somewhat different front row.

Mika Kallio (Marc VDS Racing Team Kalex) claimed a career-first pole position, only his second front-row start this season. The Finnish rider has taken one race win and two more podium finishes so far this year.

Belgian racer Xavier Simeon (Maptaq SAG Zelos Team Kalex) took second place, two-tenths slower than Kallio. This was his second front row start of the season having claimed pole position in round eight at The Sachsenring earlier this year. France’s Johann Zarco (Came Iodaracing Project Suter) sits alongside alongside, his third time this year on the front row.

Italian Simone Corsi (NGM Mobile Racing Speed Up) headed row two from Rafid Topan Sucipto (QMMF Racing Team Speed Up), a career best for the Indonesian racer.

With his team-mate Esteve Rabat sixth, new championship leader Pol Espargaro (Tuenti HP40 Pons Kalex) was pushed down to lead the third row in seventh.

Dominique Aegerter (Technomag carXpert Suter) came through in the closing stages for eighth. Danny Kent (Tech 3) was ninth; Mattia Pasini (NGM Mobile Racing Speed Up) completed the top ten.

All eyes were on English rider Scott Redding (Marc VDS Racing Team Kalex), making an heroic return one week after breaking his wrist in practice for the last round at Phillip Island. Missing the race meant he lost a long-standing World Championship lead to Espargaro, by 16 points. Redding underwent same-day surgery, with a plate and six screws to repair the fracture. Determined not to give away the title easily, he was passed fit to ride at Motegi, and qualified 15th.

The Moto3 class sees Honda-powered machines pitted against rival factories – and the single 55-minute practice session gave riders a chance to show the strength of the well-balanced design. Five Honda riders placed in the top ten, with the next-best 12th. The best of them only missed a front-row start by tenths of a second.

That was Australian Jack Miller (Caretta Technology-RTG FTR Honda), who was in the top three until the closing minutes, and was caught up in traffic in his final attempt to get back for his first front-row start of the year.

Miller ended up fifth, at the head of a phalanx of fast Hondas. Isaac Vinales (Bimbo Ongetta-Centro Seta FTR Honda) was sixth, alongside on row two. Seventh and eighth were Niccolo Antonelli (GO&FUN Gresini Moto3 FTR Honda) and Japanese wild card Hiroki Ono (Honda Team Asia Honda), heading row three. Second wild card Sena Yamada (Team Plus One & Endurance Honda) led the fourth, tenth-fastest, after showing the regulars the way in the early stages.

Hyuga Watanabe (La Fonte Tascaracing FTR Honda) was 12th, but usual front-runner Alexis Masbou (Ongetta-Rivacold FTR Honda) was 20th, with John McPhee (Caretta Technology-RTG FTR Honda) 22nd, Lorenzo Baldassarri (GO&FUN Gresini Moto3 FTR Honda) 24th, Romano Fenati (San Carlo Team Italia FTR Honda) 26th, Alan Techer (CIP Moto3 TSR Honda) 27th, Hafiq Azmi (La Fonte Tascaracing FTR Honda) 28th, Matteo Ferrari (Ongetta-Centro Seta FTR Honda) 30th, Juanfran Guevara (CIP Moto3 TSR Honda) 33rd and Francesco Bagnaia (San Carlo Team Italia FTR Honda) 34th.

Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda RC213V): 2nd – 1m 54.129
“Today was a different kind of qualifying session, like those from the past with a lot of track time, as we had an hour and 15 minutes. It is the first time that I’ve ridden here in MotoGP at Motegi and in addition it was wet and I didn’t have time to set the bike up, but nevertheless I think we had a good session. We achieved our aim of a spot on the front row. Tomorrow’s race is forecast to be dry, and it will be interesting as nobody has had time to find a good setup.”

Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda): 4th – 1m 54.542
“It was a long wait, but in the end we were finally able to put some laps in and I tried to get the best out of this wet session. We led the time-sheet for a long time, but in the final ten minutes we had some problems with the tyres I used. I wasn’t able to ride as well as I wanted and we eventually took fourth. Tomorrow we will try to get a good start and we will see if the warm-up is dry beforehand, in order to try out everything possible with the bike and tyres.”

Alvaro Bautista (Team GO&FUN Honda Gresini): 7th – 1m 55.535
“I had a really good feeling for the bike during the session this afternoon so it was a shame about crashing because for sure it has cost me a better starting position. We were on a good lap when I ran a little bit off line in one corner and onto a particularly damp patch. Anyway, these things happen and I am still confident that in dry conditions tomorrow we can have a good race.”

Stefan Bradl (LCR Honda RC213V): 8th – 1m 55.610
“It was a good qualifying for us and I am happy about the mobility of my ankle. The rehabilitation programme we had in the last week helped me a lot. We must be happy with our result today considering my physical condition. Obviously I had a painkiller injection before the session and I have tried to improve my pace lap by lap. In the last part of the qualifying the track started to dry up and I could not improve my lap time on a rain tyre. Until now it has been a weird weekend but now I am quite happy because I could test my ankle on tricky conditions. It looks like the weather is going to be sunny tomorrow so it will be important to adjust the bike in the warm up session.”

Bryan Staring (GO&FUN Honda Gresini FTR Honda): 22nd – 2m 02.712
“Unfortunately I didn’t have time in the one session we had to get comfortable on the bike around this track. It’s a completely new circuit for me but that’s not the only reason why we struggled. The rear was sliding around a lot in the corners, we couldn’t get any traction and now we just have to hope that they let us start the race tomorrow because we have lapped outside the 107 percent limit.”

Honda Moto2 Rider quotes
Mika Kallio (Marc VDS Racing Team): 1st – 2m 01.248
“The track was changing so rapidly at the end that for a few moments we considered whether to switch to slicks for the closing stages. So we waited a bit, had a look, than decided to go for wets again. I’m very happy for the pole, but conscious that the great day is tomorrow when, moreover, the race will be in a different condition – should be dry. I will do my race, and if I can help Scott, I will do. He was fine, today, but perhaps on dry and with slicks it will be tougher, for him.”

Xavier Simeon (Maptaq SAG Zelos Team): 2nd – 2m 01.452
“What a weekend … we have been waiting, and then waiting again, without knowing what would be. In practice, as the track was getting better (drying) I too felt better and better. We will do our best, and I am confident of a good race tomorrow.”

Johann Zarco (Came Iodaracing Project): 3rd – 2m 01.484
“Not easy at all, but when track dried up I’ve been able to be very fast. On the last lap I was on a pace that could lead me to the pole, and probably lost it because slower riders in front. But it does not matter: pole will come next race, or next season … I have a good pace, and my race can be good both on wet or dry. If I can stay at the beginning with the top three, I can play my cards.”

Honda Moto3 Rider quotes
Jack Miller (Caretta Racing Technology): 5th – 2m 10.671
“Today was good – we finally got to ride the bikes, going directly into qualifying with no pre-practice. It was good for us. We ended up on the second row. I’d like it to have been better, but under the circumstances we must be happy. I think the rest of the weekend will be good if the weather is okay … though it would be nice to have a long wet race. That would be okay!”

Isaac Vinales (Bimbo Ongetta-Centro-Seta): 6th – 2m 10.881
“A very strange week-end, with a weather condition that prevented us from riding free practices, and I’m very happy to see myself so high on the board just at the first attempt. The point is that I felt quite comfortable in the wet, and I’m sixth. I want to thank the team – great job. If tomorrow is dry, OK. If it is wet, I have a good rhythm in this condition, and it could be a chance to fight within the top group.”

Niccolo Antonelli (FUN&GO Gresini Moto3): 7th – 2m 11.011
“Concentrating has been quite difficult, with such an unusual schedule and conditions. In spite of a wet track, we had to push from the start. At the end rain was even stronger, and the asphalt very, very tricky. I’m happy with the result I got – maybe I could get even something better: not that much, but a few tenths anyway.”

– Ducati Report

After a day and a half of delays due to poor visibility and dreadful weather conditions, track action at the Twin Ring Motegi circuit finally got underway early this afternoon with a single, extended wet qualifying session for tomorrow’s Japanese Grand Prix, the penultimate round of the 2013 MotoGP Championship.

Both Ducati Team riders, Nicky Hayden and Andrea Dovizioso, made the best of the 75 minutes available for qualifying, the American in particular showing superb wet-weather prowess to head up the timesheets on two separate occasions during the session. He eventually ended up third, equalling Dovizioso’s best qualifying performances of the year at Le Mans and Mugello.

The Italian took a bit more time to find his rhythm on the drying track, but he gradually moved into sixth position near the end of the session. Afterward, Dovizioso expressed satisfaction with his performance, which put him on the second row for tomorrow’s GP.

With a relatively rain-free forecast for Sunday, the schedule now has a 50 minute free practice session in the morning and a race start at the normal 2 p.m. time slot.

Nicky Hayden – Ducati Team, 3rd (1:54.539)
“We know our GP13 works well in the wet, and it’s nice to be on the front row here in Japan. If I’m honest, I’m a bit disappointed because at times in the session I was very fast and really had good feeling; I thought even pole position was a possibility, but in the last part of the session, the other guys really stepped it up, and as the track dried out, I wasn’t able to improve. Maybe I should’ve put on a new front tyre for the last exit, but it’s nice to be able to smile, and the important thing is to try to take advantage of the front row in the race. We know it’s going to be much more difficult if it’s dry, but I’ll try to get a good start and put up a fight for as long as I can. Thanks to the team for being pros and continuing to give me their best.”

Andrea Dovizioso – Ducati Team, 9th (1:55.036)
“It was sort of a strange qualifying session. The grip was very good but I had no feeling in the beginning, partly because I wasn’t really focused after a day and a half with no action, and in part because the setup wasn’t right initially. Fortunately, we had an hour and a quarter, so we were able to make changes and the bike improved a lot. Then the track began to dry and everything got easier. I’m pleased with my last lap, even though I found my rhythm a bit too late. Still, I did my best lap by myself, which is always good. It’s great to start from the second row tomorrow, and I’m really happy.”

– Bridgestone Report

Bridgestone slick compounds: Front: Soft & Medium. Rear: Super-soft, Soft (Asymmetric) & Extra-soft (Symmetric)
Bridgestone wet tyre compounds: Soft (Main) & Hard (Alternative)
Weather: QP – Wet. Ambient 14-15°C; Track 16-17°C (Bridgestone measurement)

After yesterday’s and this morning’s Free Practice sessions at Motegi were cancelled due to poor weather, Yamaha Factory Racing’s Jorge Lorenzo adapted best to the revised qualifying format and the wet track, setting a time of 1’53.471 to claim the top spot on the grid for tomorrow’s Japanese Grand Prix.

Lorenzo’s best effort put him 0.658 of his closest challenger, Repsol Honda’s Marc Marquez who was the second best qualifier with a time of 1’54.129. Ducati’s Nicky Hayden had his best qualifying result of the season, rounding out the front row in third place by clocking a time of 1’54.539 on his twenty-sixth lap of the session. The highest placed CRT rider on the grid tomorrow will be Power Electronics Aspar’s Aleix Espargaro, the newly-crowned CRT class champion was ninth quickest with a time of 1’55.719.

The track for today’s extended Qualifying Practice session was wet, although the rainfall stopped during the session resulting in parts of the track beginning to dry slightly towards the end of the session. In addition to the rain, ambient and track temperatures were low with a peak tarmac temperature of just 17°C recorded. All riders in the qualifying session used the main wet tyre specification for Motegi, the soft compound wet tyre to ensure maximum grip in the tricky conditions. Each rider this weekend can select up to two front and two rear wet tyres in the alternative, hard compound, should they wish to run this option if conditions are wet again tomorrow.

The next MotoGP™ session on the revised Japanese Grand Prix schedule is an extended Warm Up session from 0940-1030 local time (GMT +9) tomorrow, while the twenty-four lap race is set to start at 1400.

Hiroshi Yamada – Manager, Bridgestone Motorsport Department
“After one and a half days of poor weather which prevented any activity on track, it was great to see the riders finally get out on their bikes this afternoon. Having to go out without any previous track time and learn the track conditions, work on setup and set a qualifying time in one session must have been a real challenge to the riders but they all handled the situation very well. There are many MotoGP fans here at Motegi and they’ve had to brave the extreme conditions, so I hope they are rewarded tomorrow with an exciting race in what are hopefully, dry conditions.”

Shinji Aoki – Manager, Bridgestone Motorsport Tyre Development Department
“Conditions today were cold and wet which meant all riders preferred to run the soft compound wet tyre during qualifying, with no one trying out the alternative, hard compound wet tyre. The performance of our wet tyres today was very good, with very quick lap times and the riders were able to get up to speed quickly thanks to the warm-up performance of the soft option wets. This year at Motegi we’ve shifted our rear slick compounds one step softer, including adding a new super-soft rear slick just for the CRT riders, and I hope we have dry conditions tomorrow so the riders get to try out this new slick allocation for the Japanese Grand Prix.”

– MotoGP 2013 – Round 17 – Motegi – Contingencies plans revealed as first day in Motegi cancelled due to bad weather

Following bad weather disruption to the World Championship schedule at Motegi on Friday, which saw all practice sessions of the day cancelled, Race Direction has developed a series of contingency plans in order to ensure that all three classes are able to compete at the AirAsia Grand Prix of Japan.

On Friday, all practice sessions were called off as heavy cloud cover at Twin Ring Motegi meant the medical helicopters could not be operated. On the grounds of safety, the helicopters must be operable in order to cater for any medical emergencies that could arise. This was explained in a press conference on Friday afternoon.

“We are not prepared to run in these conditions when there is a risk that a seriously injured rider could not be given correct care,” commented MotoGP™ Race Director Mike Webb.

“The reason no helicopter is here is that, with the low cloud, there is a lack of visibility in which it is not safe to fly. The helicopter has been trying to get permission to fly to the circuit since Thursday and has even tried to take off and then been told to land again. As soon as permission was granted that it could be taken off, we would have given ten minutes’ notice to the teams, but the helicopter was never given permission to fly.”

For Saturday, heavy rain is expected to fall in the morning but Race Direction hopes that, by the afternoon, the cloud cover should have abated which would allow the medical helicopter to operate. Currently situated five minutes’ flying time from the circuit, should cloud cover in its current location remain too much, the helicopter will be dissembled, transported to the racetrack by road and then reassembled. Two medical helicopters must be available at the circuit at all times, and on Friday time has been spent analysing the best possible locations for their positioning around the circuit, in order to avoid the need of taking off or landing amidst any further heavy cloud cover at the circuit, which is situated on high ground.

In the meantime, Race Direction has developed a number of contingency plans in order to provide each of the three classes with as much track time as possible; this could be spread across Saturday and Sunday, half of Saturday and a full Sunday or a condensed routine of practice, qualifying and races all on Sunday should Saturday conditions remain too poor. The weather on Sunday is forecast to be a significant improvement in comparison with the conditions witnessed so far.

“The length of sessions depends on the weather,” Webb continues. “I have written up draft schedules for all possibilities tomorrow, including starting in the afternoon after rain in the morning which could ease at around two o’clock. It depends around what time the weather conditions will allow us to run. We will give as much track time as possible to all classes. Nothing is fixed because it depends on the weather, but I’m aiming at 75 minutes for MotoGP™ and perhaps a little shorter for other classes. Taking into account the shortage of daylight at the end of the day, we will just run for as long as possible. We also have a draft schedule for Sunday; we have prepared a possible plan, in case we don’t have any practice tomorrow, which would be 40 minutes for each qualifying session. Also, teams have proposed that perhaps they would like a single, longer practice session rather than two. We need to discuss this with the riders as well, to make sure they agree with these possibilities”.

“The original weather forecast when we arrived here on Tuesday and Wednesday was that the nearby typhoon would be quite close with very strong winds, so we made a plan that tents (housing several of the teams in the paddock) would be disassembled and those teams moved into solid accommodation. Every day those forecasts have got better, so we have been able to leave those teams in place. However, in place of those strong winds we have had low cloud cover, which has been a lot worse (disrupting track action). We are still expecting heavy rain tomorrow morning, but rain does not stop the helicopter from flying – that all depends on the visibility.”

Apart from the cancellation, official MotoGP™ tyre supplier Bridgestone called a press conference at mid-day to discuss the events of the Phillip Island race, which was run with mandatory pit stops, as tyre-life could not be guaranteed for more than 10 laps on the newly resurfaced surface. Hiroshi Yamada, Manager of the Bridgestone Motorsport Department, told the assembled press that despite the company having brought the extra-hard compound to deal with the new track surface, it was caught out in particular by the bikes having a higher average corner speed by 12km/h over last year due to the higher grip levels – something not anticipated in its calculations.

He went on to say that the company would be carrying out a test at Phillip Island next year, preferably with prototype machines and their riders, to ensure the safety and longevity of its tyres for the 2014 race. No date or approximate timing has been given for this event.

– Repsol HRC

It’s been a frustrating first day at the Twin Ring Motegi circuit as relentless light rain and fog prevented any bikes taking to the track.

The decision was taken by race control to cancel both sessions due to safety concerns as the circuit medical helicopter has been unable to fly and is therefore not available in the event of an emergency, with the nearest hospital an hour away by road.

Hopefully weather will improve tomorrow and sessions will resume as normal. If it’s still not possible in the morning, then the afternoon sessions will be extended. If no sessions can take place again tomorrow then race direction will look at a suitable solution, together with the teams, that will include free practice, qualifying and race all taking place on Sunday – again, weather permitting.

Marc Marquez – “There wasn’t much that we could do today due to the weather conditions and therefore we didn’t have a medical helicopter and weren’t able to ride. The forecast for tomorrow is similar, but let’s hope that things improve and we can go on track. If not then we will have to see the proposed schedule for Sunday and how it will work, sure it’s not the ideal situation but it’s the same for everybody!”

Dani Pedrosa – “There’s not much to say about today – we were unable to undertake any practice sessions, which meant we were a little bored. We hope to have better luck tomorrow and be able to go out on track!”

– Yamaha Report

The MotoGP paddock was quiet today at the Twin Ring circuit in Motegi, with all free practice sessions for this weekend’s Japanese Grand Prix cancelled due to weather. Heavy fog around the circuit made it impossible for the air ambulance to land or take-off, meaning no sessions could be run in full safety.

Dorna, IRTA and Race Direction will hold further meetings over the next 24hrs to finalise a schedule for the weekend in case of further weather disruption.

Jorge Lorenzo – “It was a boring day for everyone but the things were like that. I think it is much better to stay calm and accept the circumstances. Safety is the most important thing in the sport and without the medical helicopter no one can be safe. We will see tomorrow because the forecast is not so positive and if once again the sessions are cancelled we have to wait on a decision from Dorna, IRTA and Race Direction. I hope the race will go ahead because two races is better than just one for us. I spent all the day stretching, relaxing, making some exercises and speaking with the team. I hope tomorrow the meteorological conditions improve and we can ride.”

Valentino Rossi – “A great pity about today because there was good conditions for riding on the track. It was wet but there was no wind and not too much water so it’s a pity that because of the helicopter we cannot ride. It’s an important day today because it looks like tomorrow the weather will be worse. Anyway we must wait and in the end it was the right decision for safety so I am in full agreement. It is a shame though that we cannot go on the track.”

Massimo Meregalli – Yamaha Factory Racing Team Director – “It was a pity that we couldn’t ride today but I think the decision they took was right, the safety of the riders is very important and also the rules state that the helicopter must be here. We respect the decision of the race commission. Hopefully tomorrow will be a different day and we can start a normal Saturday. In case it is not possible to ride in the morning they have already prepared a counter measure and we will follow this. We will try to do everything possible for tomorrow and Sunday.”

Practice cancelled at foggy and wet Twin Ring Motegi

Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Team riders Cal Crutchlow and Bradley Smith experienced a frustrating start to the Japanese Grand Prix today, with both practice sessions cancelled because of adverse weather conditions.

Morning mist rolling in off the hills surrounding the Twin Ring Motegi resulted in low visibility that meant the essential medical helicopter was unable to land at the vast Japanese motorsport arena.

FP1 was cancelled after a lengthy delay and the foggy conditions remained throughout the day. With no sign of conditions improving by early afternoon, FP2 was also cancelled just as heavy rain started to hammer down on the Twin Ring Motegi.

Contingency plans have been put in place for a revised schedule for the remainder of the weekend, subject to weather conditions with further disruption anticipated tomorrow ahead of improved forecasts for race day on Sunday.

Cal Crutchlow – “Obviously it is disappointing for the Japanese fans not to see us ride today but the safety of everybody on track has to come first. Nobody could have predicted the circumstances preventing the medical helicopter from flying to the track but it was definitely the right decision to cancel both practice sessions and there’s no doubt Race Direction once again made the best call on safety grounds. Hopefully the weather will improve and we can ride and put on a good show on Sunday.”

Bradley Smith – “None of us want to be sitting in the box waiting around when there are people coming to watch us ride but it was definitely the right decision to cancel practice. Rider safety is paramount and Race Direction should be applauded once again for ensuring the safety of everybody on track comes before anything else. We need to see what the conditions are like tomorrow but hopefully we can ride. It seems the best conditions will be on Sunday for the race, so all we can do is wait and see how much time the weather will allow us to be on track to prepare in the best possible way.”

Katsuyuki Nakasuga – Yamaha YSP Racing Team – “This is my second time competing in the Japan GP following my entry last year, so I am accustomed to the overall atmosphere of it now. It is unfortunate that the free practice had to be cancelled on this first day due to the bad weather, but with regard to machine development testing, there is no problem there because we know everything we have to do in that process. Since the development test work is part of my job in this wildcard entry, I will be doing everything possible to prepare the machine for the race on Sunday, and then give my all from start to finish. At last year’s Japan GP, I ran a time of 1’46.780 in the official qualifying, so tomorrow I want to try to best that time.”

– Ducati Report

The first two free-practice sessions for the Japanese Grand Prix were cancelled today due to bad weather conditions, and like the rest of the MotoGP squads, the Ducati Team kept the Desmosedici GP13 race machines of Andrea Dovizioso and Nicky Hayden parked in the garage.

A steady drizzle fell on Twin Ring Motegi all day, but it was the layer of fog that limited visibility, thus preventing the medical helicopter from accessing the circuit, in accordance with Japanese law. Considering the circuit’s relatively remote location, and faced with the possibility of an excessive delay for emergency hospital transport in the case of a serious accident, Race Direction decided in the afternoon to cancel the entire day’s track activity.

Officials will monitor the situation tomorrow and make further adjustments to the remainder of the weekend schedule depending on the weather conditions.

Vittoriano Guareschi – Team Manager
“It was a long day for both the riders and us, but unfortunately, we weren’t able to ride. It’s a shame because we had some things to try, but it was the same for everyone. We’ll see what the weather is like tomorrow, and now we’ll have to review our whole work program. Only when we wake up tomorrow morning will we know what to do!”

– MotoGP 2013 – Round 17 – Motegi – Rain on horizon as MotoGP™ arrives in Land of Rising Sun

The AirAsia Grand Prix of Japan began on Thursday at the Twin Ring Motegi as Repsol Honda Team’s Marc Marquez was joined by Yamaha Factory Racing duo Jorge Lorenzo and Valentino Rossi, Avintia Blusens’ Hiroshi Aoyama, Tuenti HP 40’s Moto2™ title contender Pol Espargaro and Italtrans Racing Team’s Takaaki Nakagami in the Thursday pre-race press conference.

The day itself started with important news for the Moto2™ class, as championship contender Scott Redding was declared fit for opening free practice, after suffering a fractured left wrist in a crash at Phillip Island last weekend. At the same time, LCR Honda MotoGP’s Stefan Bradl will also make a return to action, following his fractured right ankle sustained in Malaysia.

Marquez, who could take the title this weekend should he beat Lorenzo by eight points or more, commented to those gathered in the Motegi press room:

“Motegi will be another race and I hope it will be much better than Phillip Island. Confidence is high. We’ll see the weather here because it doesn’t look so good, but I look forward to riding here with a MotoGP™ bike. I said at Phillip Island that the most important thing is to get the title, but it doesn’t matter when. Jorge is closer now and did a very good race in Australia, but now we’ll see how we can manage the situation. We have two important races so I hope to be there fighting for victory or the podium.”

Lorenzo, whose win last time out at Phillip Island was the 50th of his career, will be hoping for more success as he continues his fight for the title, but explained that his Yamaha M1 could struggle under heavy braking should conditions remain dry.

“Before the race, we almost had the championship lost,” the current title holder admitted of Phillip Island. “With one mistake from Marc and his team, we don’t have the championship in our hands – because it’s still very difficult – but we have another chance and we have to play our cards in the best way. The weather could play either in our favour or against us. It’s true that braking is not normally our strong point, but we have good corner speed and acceleration. We have won here at Motegi in the past and this year the weather could play in our favour.”

His teammate Valentino Rossi could prove vital in helping Lorenzo fight for the title, especially with the Italian looking on good form of late. However, with a typhoon in the vicinity, the multiple World Champion knows Motegi could provide another unusual set of circumstances in the 2013 season.

“We are now more or less at the end, with two races left, and this championship has gone very quickly for me,” Rossi began. “Last weekend everything happened and I was able to do a good result and work well in such a strange race. We arrive here and I like this track. It is very difficult and so demanding for the body and bikes, especially under braking. It could be an issue if it is dry, but the weather doesn’t look fantastic and everybody is expecting wet conditions. We will have the chance to run in the wet; I don’t think it has rained this year since Le Mans, so we’ve been lucky all season and now it looks like this weekend we’ll pay a bit for the weather.”

Aoyama, for whom this year has been plagued with injury, will look to put this behind him and aim for a strong race in front of his home fans: “I was injured earlier in the season and was a little bit down, but my confidence is coming back race by race and physically I’m getting better. This is one of my favourite race tracks and I have had good results here in the past. It is not so easy with a CRT to keep up with the MotoGP™ bikes, but who knows what could happen with the weather. We will see where we can finish on Sunday.”

Espargaro, who stands a chance of taking the Moto2™ title this weekend after celebrating victory at Phillip Island, laughed at the possible dramas rain could provide and stressed that dry conditions would be favourable. At the same time, he is pleased to see title rival Scott Redding (Marc VDS Racing Team) attempting to race at Motegi.

“I found Scott in the hotel and he said that he is okay,” Espargaro recalled. “He has pain in the arm but he will try; that is good for the championship, for him and for the people following him. I was not 100% happy in Australia because, although we got first position in the championship it was not perfect without him being there, but this sport is dangerous, you have to be very careful and one mistake can win or lose you the World Championship. It was bad luck for him in Australia but I’m happy to see him here in Japan and to know that he will try tomorrow.”

Other local boy Nakagami, who has narrowly missed out on the top step of the rostrum on numerous occasions this year, now hopes to take that extra leap with his home support: “Sure, this is a big chance. I have been waiting for Motegi since before the season started and now I’m here. After the summer break we had four second places in four races and I was very close to my first victory. Here, as always, I will push 200% and hope to be on the podium and maybe on the top of it on Sunday. We will see.”

he day before, there was a gathering at the Spanish Embassy in Tokyo as Marquez, Lorenzo, Repsol Honda’s Dani Pedrosa, GO&FUN Honda Gresini’s Alvaro Bautista, Italtrans Racing Team’s Julian Simon and Hiroshi Aoyama, as well as Dorna Sports, were made Sporting Ambassadors of the Spain-Japan Dual Year, marking 400 years of exchanges between the two countries.

1 2 3 4 5 6 Pre1_Group1 Pre1_Group2

– MotoGP 2013 – Round 17 – Motegi – Marquez in with renewed title shot as Japanese Grand Prix awaits

In the final round of the triple-header at the AirAsia Grand Prix of Japan in Motegi, Repsol Honda Team’s Marc Marquez will get another shot at taking the title if he beats Yamaha Factory Racing’s Jorge Lorenzo by more than seven points.

Marquez, who in the previous round was disqualified due to a team error regarding the then-compulsory mid-way bike swap, will be looking to make amends at Honda’s home track. And with the stop-and-go nature of the Motegi circuit, both he and his teammate Dani Pedrosa will be two of the favourites for victory.Yet Lorenzo will be buoyed by the fact that the championship is once again in his reach, and will no doubt be a force to be reckoned with after his convincing victory in Phillip Island last time out. The Yamaha man knows that nothing but a win will do, making the race with the Repsol Hondas yet another exciting prospect. His teammate Valentino Rossi will be looking to make further strides towards the three at the front, and once again challenge for a podium.Monster Yamaha Tech3’s Cal Crutchlow, who only narrowly missed out on the podium in Australia to Rossi, will hope to overhaul the Italian this time out, whilst also keeping GO&FUN Honda Gresini’s Alvaro Bautista at bay. Bautista was a podium-sitter in Motegi last year after an entertaining battle with Crutchlow, and will be an outside favourite for yet more success at the track.

LCR Honda MotoGP’s Stefan Bradl, who fractured his right ankle in Malaysia and was unable to race in Australia, will be assessed by track doctors before the race weekend to check if he is fit enough to take part in FP1. Tech3’s Bradley Smith will aim to make further strides towards the front after an impressive outing in Phillip Island, whilst Ducati Team riders Nicky Hayden and Andrea Dovizioso will look to squeeze the most out of their Desmosedicis.

In the CRT class it will be Avintia Blusens’ Hiroshi Aoyama who will aim to put on a show for his home fans on his FTR-Kawasaki. He has been showing some good form recently, and will hope to make it into the top-CRT spot that so far has eluded him. He will however face the stiff challenge from the Power Electronics Aspar riders in the form of Aleix Espargaro and Randy de Puniet, as well as NGM Mobile Forward Racing’s Colin Edwards. There will be one wildcard taking part on a Yamaha M1 in the shape of Katsuyuki Nakasuga with the Yamaha YSP Racing Team.

Due to many riders suffering braking issues in last year’s race due to the hard-braking nature of the track, the technical rules for this weekend have been altered to allow the use of 340mm carbon brake discs – a 20mm increase from the regulation size. Some of the teams, including Ducati, have already carried out tests with the bigger brakes in the Misano test this year.

World Championship Standings MotoGP™
1 Marc Marquez 298 pts SPA HONDA Repsol Honda Team
2 Jorge Lorenzo 280 pts SPA YAMAHA Yamaha Factory Racing
3 Dani Pedrosa 264 pts SPA HONDA Repsol Honda Team
4 Valentino Rossi 214 pts ITA YAMAHA Yamaha Factory Racing
5 Cal Crutchlow 179 pts GBR YAMAHA Monster Yamaha Tech 3
6 Alvaro Bautista 147 pts SPA HONDA Go & Fun Honda Gresini
7 Stefan Bradl 135 pts GER HONDA LCR Honda MotoGP
8 Andrea Dovizioso 127 pts ITA DUCATI Ducati Team
9 Nicky Hayden 111 pts USA DUCATI Ducati Team
10 Bradley Smith 99 pts GBR YAMAHA Monster Yamaha Tech 3
11 Aleix Espargaro 88 pts SPA ART Power Electronics Aspar
12 Andrea Iannone 55 pts ITA DUCATI Energy T.I. Pramac Racing Team
13 Michele Pirro 50 pts ITA DUCATI Ignite Pramac Racing Team
14 Colin Edwards 36 pts USA FTR-KAWASAKI NGM Mobile Forward Racing
15 Randy De Puniet 33 pts FRA SUZUKI Suzuki Test Team

– Moto2

Tuenti HP40’s Pol Espargaro has the opportunity to win the Moto2™ World Championship this weekend at the AirAsia Grand Prix of Japan in Motegi, if he comes away with a 25-point lead over his closest challenger Scott Redding.

Marc VDS Racing Team’s Redding looks set to miss the race due to a fractured left wrist sustained in qualifying for the Australian GP, and unfortunately won’t be able to fight it out with Espargaro on track. The Spaniard’s teammate however, in the form of Esteve Rabat, may be able to challenge, despite not having a great race in Phillip Island last time out.

Interwetten-Paddock’s Tom Luthi and Mapfre Aspar Team Moto2’s Jordi Torres both made it onto the podium in the previous round and will be ones to watch, whilst Marc VDS’ Mika Kallio will have recovered further from his crash over the weekend to be a podium contender once more. Technomag carXpert’s Dominique Aegerter is proving a continual threat, whilst local boy Takaaki Nakagami, with the Italtrans Racing Team, will be hoping for a much-improved weekend over last.

Other local riders will include wildcard Kohta Nozane with the Webike Team Norick NTS outfit, and Tetsuta Nagashima as a substitute for Mike di Meglio in the JiR Moto2 team. There will be one other wildcard taking part in the form of Thailand’s Decha Kraisart with the Singha Eneos Yamaha Tech3 team.

World Championship Standings Moto2™
1- Pol Espargaro SPA Kalex 240
2- Scott Redding GBR Kalex 224
3- Tito Rabat SPA Kalex 204
4- Mika Kallio FIN Kalex 165
5- Dominique Aegerter SWI Suter 143

– Moto3

With the Moto3™ grid tightly poised at the top of the championship table, the AirAsia Grand Prix of Japan in Motegi this weekend is a mouth-watering prospect.

Red Bull KTM Ajo’s championship leader Luis Salom now only holds a five-point advantage over Estrella Galicia 0,0’s Alex Rins, with 50 still on offer in the final two rounds. Rins came out victorious on the last occasion in Phillip Island, and will be hoping for a repeat in Motegi to overtake his compatriot ahead of the final race of the season.

Yet Team Calvo’s Maverick Viñales is also still in contention, despite having a slightly tougher task at hand with a 22-point deficit to Salom. He has however shown that he can scrap it out with the top two, after coming second to Rins in Australia by a mere 0.003 seconds.

And with Mahindra Racing’s Efren Vazquez and Miguel Oliveira, GO&FUN Gresini’s Niccolo Antonelli, as well as Caretta Technology – RTG’s Jack Miller looking strong, the podium could go many ways. Two Japanese wildcards will join the field in the form of Team Plus One’s Sena Yamada and Team Honda Asia’s Hiroki Ono.World Championship Standings Moto3™
1- Luis Salom SPA KTM 300
2- Alex Rins SPA KTM 295
3- Maverick Viñales SPA KTM 278
4- Alex Marquez SPA KTM 175
5- Jonas Folger GER Kalex KTM 147– MotoGP 2013 – Round 16 – Phillip Island – Lorenzo wins P.I. as Marquez disqualified

Jorge Lorenzo has inflicted maximum damage on the day Marc Marquez could have clinched the MotoGP™ crown, as the current title-holder clinched his 50th career race victory in a Tissot Australian Grand Prix including mandatory bike changes. Failing to acknowledge the pre-determined pit window, Marquez was shown the black flag.

Prior to the race, it was announced that the duration would decrease from 27 to 19 laps on the grounds of safety, with tyre degradation throughout practice having been significantly higher than expected on the newly resurfaced Phillip Island circuit. Furthermore, all riders would be obliged to pit for bike changes on either the ninth or tenth lap of the race, while also running the harder available compound throughout.

A clean start saw no fallers, with Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) attacking Lorenzo at the Honda hairpin, but the Yamaha Factory Racing man immediately retaking the top spot on the run into Siberia. The sensation would come with the mandatory pit window, with Marquez’s teammate Pedrosa first to peel off from third place at the end of Lap 9 and followed by numerous other riders.

Lorenzo would pit at the end of the tenth tour but, having expected a pit lane duel with Marquez, saw the 20-year-old rookie continue for another circulation of the circuit. Marquez then came in at the end of Lap 11, outside the pre-determined window of pitting by Lap 10 at the latest. In a remarkable twist for the 2013 World Championship battle, Marquez was disqualified, as was Australian Bryan Staring (GO&FUN Honda Gresini) as the same error had been committed.

Having escaped a touch with Marquez as the latter re-joined from the pits, Lorenzo went on to claim win number six of the season; this also marked the first time since 2006 that a rider other than the now retired Casey Stoner had clinched victory at Phillip Island. Pedrosa finished second to maintain his own title aspirations, as Yamaha Factory Racing’s Valentino Rossi beat Monster Yamaha Tech3’s Cal Crutchlow and GO&FUN Honda Gresini’s Alvaro Bautista in a thrilling contest for third, while light rain began to fall as proceedings drew to a close.

Bradley Smith was sixth for Tech3, having run as high as fourth thanks to a rapid start, while the top ten was rounded out by Nicky Hayden (Ducati Team), Andrea Iannone (Energy T.I. Pramac Racing), Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team) and Randy de Puniet (Power Electronics Aspar) who ended a race as lead CRT for the first time this year. Danilo Petrucci finished 15th for Came IodaRacing Project, denying a first point for Luca Scassa as the Cardion AB Motoracing rider finished less than one tenth of a second behind. On the same day, Aspar’s Aleix Espargaro collected honours of top CRT for the season.

After the race, the Repsol Honda Team put Marquez’s disqualification down to a misunderstanding in the team, saying that it thought he was able to run ten whole laps before pitting in, which is why he entered in the 11th.

The MotoGP™ fight now rages on to Motegi Twin Ring and the Grand Prix of Japan, with the championship lead having been decreased from 43 to 18 points. The season will then end at the Ricardo Tormo circuit in Valencia, Spain on 10th November.

– MotoGP™ Race Classification – Race Result – Round 16
1 Jorge Lorenzo 29’07.155 SPA YAMAHA Yamaha Factory Racing
2 Dani Pedrosa +6.936 SPA HONDA Repsol Honda Team
3 Valentino Rossi +12.344 ITA YAMAHA Yamaha Factory Racing
4 Cal Crutchlow +12.460 GBR YAMAHA Monster Yamaha Tech 3
5 Alvaro Bautista +12.513 SPA HONDA Go & Fun Honda Gresini
6 Bradley Smith +28.263 GBR YAMAHA Monster Yamaha Tech 3
7 Nicky Hayden +32.953 USA DUCATI Ducati Team
8 Andrea Iannone +35.062 ITA DUCATI Energy T.I. Pramac Racing Team
9 Andrea Dovizioso +35.104 ITA DUCATI Ducati Team
10 Randy De Puniet +37.426 FRA SUZUKI Suzuki Test Team
11 Aleix Espargaro +46.099 SPA ART Power Electronics Aspar
12 Colin Edwards +48.149 USA FTR-KAWASAKI NGM Mobile Forward Racing
13 Yonny Hernandez +49.911 COL DUCATI Ignite Pramac Racing Team
14 Hector Barbera +49.998 SPA FTR Avintia Blusens
15 Danilo Petrucci +58.718 ITA IODA-SUTER Came IodaRacing Project
16 Luca Scassa +58.791 ITA ART Cardion AB Motoracing
17 Claudio Corti +1’08.105 ITA FTR-KAWASAKI NGM Mobile Forward Racing
18 Michael Laverty +1’27.230 GBR PBM Paul Bird Motorsport
19 Lukas Pesek +1’31.093 CZE IODA-SUTER Came IodaRacing Project
20 Hiroshi Aoyama +1 lap JAP FTR Avintia Blusens
21 Damian Cudlin +2 laps AUS PBM Paul Bird Motorsport
22 Bryan Staring DNF AUS FTR-HONDA Go & Fun Honda Gresini
23 Marc Marquez DNF SPA HONDA Repsol Honda Team

– Championship standings
1 Marc Marquez 298 pts SPA HONDA Repsol Honda Team
2 Jorge Lorenzo 280 pts SPA YAMAHA Yamaha Factory Racing
3 Dani Pedrosa 264 pts SPA HONDA Repsol Honda Team
4 Valentino Rossi 214 pts ITA YAMAHA Yamaha Factory Racing
5 Cal Crutchlow 179 pts GBR YAMAHA Monster Yamaha Tech 3
6 Alvaro Bautista 147 pts SPA HONDA Go & Fun Honda Gresini
7 Stefan Bradl 135 pts GER HONDA LCR Honda MotoGP
8 Andrea Dovizioso 127 pts ITA DUCATI Ducati Team
9 Nicky Hayden 111 pts USA DUCATI Ducati Team
10 Bradley Smith 99 pts GBR YAMAHA Monster Yamaha Tech 3
11 Aleix Espargaro 88 pts SPA ART Power Electronics Aspar
12 Andrea Iannone 55 pts ITA DUCATI Energy T.I. Pramac Racing Team
13 Michele Pirro 50 pts ITA DUCATI Ignite Pramac Racing Team
14 Colin Edwards 36 pts USA FTR-KAWASAKI NGM Mobile Forward Racing
15 Randy De Puniet 33 pts FRA SUZUKI Suzuki Test Team
16 Hector Barbera 31 pts SPA FTR Avintia Blusens
17 Danilo Petrucci 24 pts ITA IODA-SUTER Came IodaRacing Project
18 Yonny Hernandez 20 pts COL DUCATI Ignite Pramac Racing Team
19 Hiroshi Aoyama 13 pts JAP FTR Avintia Blusens
20 Claudio Corti 11 pts ITA FTR-KAWASAKI NGM Mobile Forward Racing
21 Ben Spies 9 pts USA DUCATI Ignite Pramac Racing Team
22 Karel Abraham 5 pts CZE ART Cardion AB Motoracing
23 Alex De Angelis 5 pts RSM DUCATI Ignite Pramac Racing Team
24 Michael Laverty 3 pts GBR PBM Paul Bird Motorsport
25 Bryan Staring 2 pts AUS FTR-HONDA Go & Fun Honda Gresini
26 Javier Del Amor 1 pts SPA FTR Avintia Blusens
27 Martin Bauer 0 pts AUT S&B SUTER Remus Racing Team
28 Lukas Pesek 0 pts CZE IODA-SUTER Came IodaRacing Project
29 Luca Scassa 0 pts ITA ART Cardion AB Motoracing
30 Ivan Silva 0 pts SPA FTR Avintia Blusens
31 Damian Cudlin 0 pts AUS PBM Paul Bird Motorsport
32 Blake Young 0 pts USA APR CRT Attack Performance

– Moto2™

Pol Espargaro has retaken the Moto2™ World Championship lead, winning Sunday’s Tissot Australian Grand Prix in the absence of Scott Redding. Tom Luthi and Jordi Torres completed the podium, with Tito Rabat sinking to eighth place.

When looking back at the Phillip Island round of the 2013 season, the race is likely to be remembered as a key turning point in the campaign. Redding’s chances took a major blow on Saturday, with the Englishman and long-time championship leader being ruled out of action as he fractured his left wrist. Following an operation on Saturday night, the Marc VDS Racing Team rider was left helpless on the sidelines.

Espargaro (Tuenti HP 40) started from his fifth pole of the season, joined on the front row by teammate and last weekend’s Sepang winner Tito Rabat who has demonstrated rapidity since practice began on Friday. A reduced race distance saw the riders tackling only 13 laps of the southern Australian venue, with fears over tyres having seen changes to the duration following the qualifying session on Saturday.

It would prove to be a lights to flag victory for Espargaro, his fifth of the season, allowing the Catalan to win at Phillip Island for the second consecutive year; in the process, he snatches back the championship lead for the first time since after the season-opening race in Qatar. In a brilliant day for Espargaro’s championship situation, teammate Rabat finished only eighth after running off the circuit.

Tom Luthi (Interwetten Paddock Moto2 Racing) pushed Espargaro all the way, finishing only half a second behind Espargaro for a fifth rostrum of the season and his second within the space of a week. Jordi Torres was third for Aspar Team Moto2, collecting his first rostrum result since winning the German Grand Prix in July.

The top five was completed by NGM Mobile Racing’s Simone Corsi and former Phillip Island winner Alex de Angelis, who ran second for NGM Mobile Forward Racing in the early stages of the race. Redding’s teammate Mika Kallio was seventh from the aforementioned Rabat, Aspar’s Nico Terol and QMMF Racing’s Anthony West who successfully finished in the top ten in his home event. Reigning Moto3™ World Champion Sandro Cortese finished 11th for Dynavolt Intact GP from Forward’s Ricky Cardus and Tech3’s Danny Kent.

Five riders failed to finish: Julian Simon (Italtrans Racing Team), Johann Zarco (Came IodaRacing Project), Xavier Simeon (Maptaq SAG Zelos Team), Louis Rossi (Tech3) and Alex Mariñelarena (Blusens Avintia), while Tuenti HP 40’s Alex Pons finished 24th after an early-race off. Pons, Italtrans’ Takaaki Nakagami and Maptaq SAG Zelos Team’s Marcel Schrotter were all handed penalties for jumping the start.

With just the Japanese and Valencian rounds of the season remaining, Espargaro leads Redding in the championship by 16 points following a dramatic shaking up of the establishment. Rabat sits third, 36 points behind the leader with a maximum of 50 left on offer. The action will continue at Twin Ring Motegi next weekend.

Moto2™ Race Classification
1 / Pol ESPARGARO / SPA / Tuenti HP 40 / KALEX / 20’19.219 / 170.7 /
2 / Thomas LUTHI / SWI / Interwetten Paddock Moto2 / SUTER / 20’19.810 / 170.6 / 0.591
3 / Jordi TORRES / SPA / Aspar Team Moto2 / SUTER / 20’19.898 / 170.6 / 0.679
4 / Simone CORSI / ITA / NGM Mobile Racing / SPEED UP / 20’20.112 / 170.6 / 0.893
5 / Alex DE ANGELIS / RSM / NGM Mobile Forward Racing / SPEED UP / 20’20.330 / 170.5 / 1.111
6 / Dominique AEGERTER / SWI / Technomag carXpert / SUTER / 20’22.292 / 170.3 / 3.073
7 / Mika KALLIO / FIN / Marc VDS Racing Team / KALEX / 20’22.453 / 170.2 / 3.234
8 / Esteve RABAT / SPA / Tuenti HP 40 / KALEX / 20’22.874 / 170.2 / 3.655
9 / Nicolas TEROL / SPA / Aspar Team Moto2 / SUTER / 20’29.401 / 169.3 / 10.182
10 / Anthony WEST / AUS / QMMF Racing Team / SPEED UP / 20’37.302 / 168.2 / 18.083
11 / Sandro CORTESE / GER / Dynavolt Intact GP / KALEX / 20’37.536 / 168.2 / 18.317
12 / Ricard CARDUS / SPA / NGM Mobile Forward Racing / SPEED UP / 20’38.634 / 168 / 19.415
13 / Danny KENT / GBR / Tech 3 / TECH 3 / 20’51.413 / 166.3 / 32.194
14 / Gino REA / GBR / Argiñano & Gines Racing / SPEED UP / 20’52.054 / 166.2 / 32.835
15 / Doni Tata PRADITA / INA / Federal Oil Gresini Moto2 / SUTER / 20’54.807 / 165.8 / 35.588

CHAMPIONSHIP POSITIONS TILL DATE:
1 ESPARGARO 240, 2 REDDING 224, 3 RABAT 204, 4 KALLIO 165, 5 AEGERTER 143, 6 NAKAGAMI 138, 7 LUTHI 130, 8 ZARCO 123, 9 TEROL 115, 10 TORRES 106, 11 CORSI 92, 12 SIMEON 71, 13 SIMON 63, 14 DE ANGELIS 57, 15 WEST 48.

Moto3™

Alex Rins has won a thrilling Moto3™ Tissot Australian Grand Prix, coming out on top of a multiple-rider battle to beat Maverick Viñales by just three thousandths of a second. Both riders decreased the championship-leading advantage of pole-sitter Luis Salom, who completed the podium at Phillip Island.

Rins’ latest victory of 2013 was surely his most dramatic to date, ensuring he has now matched Salom on six race wins this season, as well as having won three of the last four Grand Prix. Remarkably, the top seven riders were covered by just over one second, with Niccolo Antonelli only a further 1.1 in arrears.

The majority of riders in the field found themselves in tight groups for the duration of the 23-lap race, affected by light rain on certain parts of the newly resurfaced circuit. Philipp Oettl (Interwetten Paddock Moto3) would fail to start due to engine problems and there were retirements for Francesco Bagnaia (San Carlo Team Italia) and Hyuga Watanabe (La Fonte Tascaracing), but no less than 30 riders managed the testing conditions to finish.

A titanic battle at the forefront saw a selection of riders enjoying time in the lead, whereas Salom ran as low as seventh but looked to be making his customary climb to the very sharp end in the closing minutes of the race. However it was Mapfre Aspar Team Moto3’s Jonas Folger who stole the limelight as the final lap began, shooting into the lead at Doohan curve, only to run wide and drop to sixth three corners later.

The run to line resulted in the closest finish so far this year in the World Championship, with Rins (Estrella Galicia 0,0) pipping Viñales (Team Calvo) after having both started on the second row of the grid. The winner now moves to within just five points of championship leader Salom (Red Bull KTM Ajo) with a pair of races remaining in Japan and Valencia, whereas Viñales is also in contention and 22 in arrears of the overall leader.

Rins’ teammate Alex Marquez finished fourth, with the first group completed by local favourite Jack Miller (Caretta Technology – RTG), Folger, front-row starter Efren Vazquez (Mahindra Racing) and Antonelli (GO&FUN Gresini Moto3). Avant Tecno’s Niklas Ajo was a further 12.8 seconds behind and headed the second group, with Alexis Masbou rounding out the top ten for Ongetta-Rivacold. Mahindra’s Miguel Oliveira recovered to 26th spot and was fortunate to avoid injury after flying over his handlebars at the MG hairpin on the opening lap.

Moto3™ Race Classification
1 / Alex RINS / SPA / Estrella Galicia 0,0 / KTM / 37’40.375 / 162.9 /
2 / Maverick VIÑALES / SPA / Team Calvo / KTM / 37’40.378 / 162.9 / 0.003
3 / Luis SALOM / SPA / Red Bull KTM Ajo / KTM / 37’40.553 / 162.9 / 0.178
4 / Alex MARQUEZ / SPA / Estrella Galicia 0,0 / KTM / 37’40.877 / 162.8 / 0.502
5 / Jack MILLER / AUS / Caretta Technology – RTG / FTR HONDA / 37’40.976 / 162.8 / 0.601
6 / Jonas FOLGER / GER / Mapfre Aspar Team Moto3 / KALEX KTM / 37’41.452 / 162.8 / 1.077
7 / Efren VAZQUEZ / SPA / Mahindra Racing / MAHINDRA / 37’41.479 / 162.8 / 1.104
8 / Niccolò ANTONELLI / ITA / GO&FUN Gresini Moto3 / FTR HONDA / 37’42.642 / 162.7 / 2.267
9 / Niklas AJO / FIN / Avant Tecno / KTM / 37’55.449 / 161.8 / 15.074
10 / Alexis MASBOU / FRA / Ongetta-Rivacold / FTR HONDA / 37’56.335 / 161.7 / 15.96
11 / Zulfahmi KHAIRUDDIN / MAL / Red Bull KTM Ajo / KTM / 37’56.349 / 161.7 / 15.974
12 / Jakub KORNFEIL / CZE / Redox RW Racing GP / KALEX KTM / 37’56.480 / 161.7 / 16.105
13 / Isaac VIÑALES / SPA / Ongetta-Centro Seta / FTR HONDA / 37’56.686 / 161.7 / 16.311
14 / Romano FENATI / ITA / San Carlo Team Italia / FTR HONDA / 37’56.907 / 161.7 / 16.532
15 / Brad BINDER / RSA / Ambrogio Racing / MAHINDRA / 37’57.004 / 161.7 / 16.629

CHAMPIONSHIP POSITIONS TILL DATE:
1 SALOM 300, 2 RINS 295, 3 VIÑALES 278, 4 MARQUEZ 175, 5 FOLGER 147, 6 OLIVEIRA 131, 7 MILLER 100, 8 MASBOU 84, 9 VAZQUEZ 71, 10 KHAIRUDDIN 65, 11 KORNFEIL 63, 12 SISSIS 59, 13 FENATI 57, 14 BINDER 56, 15 AJO 54.

– Yamaha Report

Defending world champion Jorge Lorenzo delivered a stunning ride today to win the Australian Grand Prix in a thrilling spectacle filled with drama. Teammate Valentino Rossi delivered another exciting performance, fighting to take third on the podium.

Following concerns over the safety of the Bridgestone tyres to last full race distance the race was changed to incorporate a bike change at the ten-lap mark, with the total laps reduced to 19.

The start saw Lorenzo take the hole-shot from his pole position with riders Marc Marquez and Dani Pedrosa in hot pursuit. The reigning champion gave no quarter but was unable to pull away, the rivals staying within 0.5 of a second as they counted down to the pit stop. This itself turned into a bizarre event with potential consequences for the championship. Pedrosa pitted a lap early, Lorenzo pitted at the ten-lap mark and Marquez pitted a lap too late. As a result Marquez was given a black flag and disqualified and Pedrosa was forced to drop a position after crossing the white line on his pit lane exit.

Further disaster was also narrowly avoided when Marquez exited the pits just as Lorenzo passed down the straight at high speed, the two making contact into turn one. Luckily both were able to stay upright and continue. Lorenzo kept the pressure on and held the top spot for the remaining nine laps to claim the race win.

Rossi enjoyed yet another intense race long battle with rivals Cal Crutchlow and Alvaro Bautista. The three swapping positions in the fight for the last podium spot throughout the first ten laps and again in the following nine. Rossi completed a super fast pit stop, beating both out to gain two positions. As one of the most successful MotoGP riders of the modern era in Phillip Island it was never going to be easy for them to beat him, and they couldn’t. The Italian claimed third at the line to make it another double Yamaha podium.

The result leaves Lorenzo now on 280 points, 18 behind Marquez as they head to Motegi for the final of the triple-headers. Rossi stays secure in fourth position on 214 points, 35 ahead of Crutchlow in fifth.

Jorge Lorenzo – 1st | 29’07.155 | 19 Laps – “I’m really happy with this win, we’ve also been lucky because Marc made this mistake. Without that he would have been second or first because he was really fast today. So we’ve been lucky but we were unlucky in the middle of the championship so today is a balance. When I was entering the first corner Marc was exiting the pit at exactly the same time, the situation was almost impossible to avoid. I was braking a little later to open the line and I don’t think he was looking so much entering the corner so it was both our fault. Now we have options, if Marc keeps constant on the podium then it is impossible to win the championship but there are a lot of laps to go so anything could happen.

“It’s unbelievable to have 50 Grand Prix victories at 26years old. It seems like only yesterday when I won in Brazil in 2003 but it’s been ten years. I’m very proud of it and hope to win some more in the future!”

Valentino Rossi – 3rd | +12.344 | 19 Laps – “At the end the result was good, I’m so happy to be on the podium here at Phillip Island because it’s always a great pleasure and a great atmosphere. I tried to give the maximum, the race was very thrilling and I enjoyed it very much, especially because with the team we were able to do a very good job in the pit and gain two positions. I had a great battle with Cal, when I understood it was for the podium I tried to give the maximum. In the last half of the lap it started to rain which was very scary but at the end it was ok and a good result. We still need to work and improve to be faster for the next race.”

Wilco Zeelenberg – Yamaha Factory Racing Team Manager – “A perfect result, winning here is a dream for us after two tough races. With Marc making the mistake it opens the championship a little more as well. 18 points is a completely different story to nearly 40. We are very pleased with that.”

Massimo Meregalli – Yamaha Factory Racing Team Director – “It has been an incredible race, Jorge didn’t make any mistakes and led from the first to the last lap, always pushing hard. It was also nice to have the flag to flag in dry conditions and we got a lot of points to close the gap. There is only 18 points between them now so the championship is more open. We are looking to Motegi now to keep going and close it more. Vale did another great race, another double podium which is a great result for Yamaha. We had some doubts before the start of the race on grip but we got a great result.”

Double top six for Crutchlow and Smith in Phillip Island thriller

The Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Team celebrated a fantastic double top six finish for Cal Crutchlow and Bradley Smith in an action-packed and unique flag-to-flag MotoGP race at Phillip Island this afternoon.

Concerns about excessive tyre wear on a new track surface meant the race was reduced to 19-laps on safety grounds, which included a mandatory pit stop for fresh Bridgestone rubber at the end of lap nine or 10. There was incredible drama and tension from start to finish and Crutchlow put up a tremendous fight to score his fifth rostrum of the campaign and second in succession at the super-fast Phillip Island track. The 27-year-old pulled into the pits to switch bikes at the end of the 10th lap and in a tense tussle with Valentino Rossi and Alvaro Bautista, the British rider fought for the podium right down to the final corner. As rain spots started to fall on the Phillip Island track on the final lap, Crutchlow missed out on his first podium since his second place in Germany by just over 0.1s, with Rossi claiming the final podium spot in front of a crowd of 31,500 enthralled fans.

Teammate Bradley Smith stormed back into the top six for the first time since the German round after he made a sensational start to round 16. The 22-year-old got a stunning launch off the line and on the first lap he’d surged into fourth and was right on the back of leading Spanish trio Jorge Lorenzo, Marc Marquez and Dani Pedrosa. Smith gained precious experience after dicing it out with Rossi, Crutchlow and Bautista in the early stages and he employed a different strategy by opting to enter the pit lane at the end of lap nine. He was able to comfortably clinch a richly deserved top six finish and today’s performance gave a significant boost to his hopes of securing a top 10 World Championship finish, with his lead over Aleix Espargaro now 11-points with two races remaining.

Crutchlow and Smith’s excellent display also moved the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Team a step closer to clinching third in the Team World Championship standings.

Cal Crutchlow – 4th – 179 points – “It was a bit of shame that I couldn’t finish on the podium today but to be honest I’d have only been there because of what happened to Marc. But I am happy because I rode really well. The problem once again was my start. I have got to work on that because once again today it wasn’t acceptable. The positive point is I had good consistency in the race and I was a lot faster than I expected to be given what had happened with the tyres over the weekend. It was good to race so close to Valentino on the factory Yamaha and I enjoyed it. It was a very hard but fair battle with him and Alvaro. I actually thought there was one more lap, but because I’d been so close to Valentino on the straight I’d not seen my pit board. I’d have liked to be on the podium but fourth is my best result for a few races and hopefully we can be strong in Japan next weekend.”

Bradley Smith – 6th – 99 points – “Sixth position is a very good result and I got another really fast start. It was great to be right up there on the first lap and I could learn a lot in the early stages from the guys with much more experience. The setting we ran wasn’t ready to fight for the top six but I gave it my best shot. We damaged the rear tyre in the first run, so I tried to take it a bit steady in the second one. It has not been an easy weekend with a lot of drama and confusion surrounding the tyres, but my Monster Yamaha Tech 3 crew remained calm and concentrated throughout and it was good to pay them back with my first top six for a while.”

– HRC Report

Repsol Honda RC213V rider Dani Pedrosa kept his head in an extraordinary Australian grand prix today to claim a valuable second place in a race that was shortened twice and run in a flurry of rule changes, black flags, penalties, and pit-lane mayhem in the first-ever grand prix with a compulsory mid-race change of motorcycle.

Unfortunately for second Repsol Honda RC213V rider Marc Marquez, he was one of three riders to suffer the black flag penalty, after missing the brief window for his compulsory pit stop.

Alvaro Bautista (GO&FUN Gresini Honda RC213V) was fifth, and with Stefan Bradl (LCR Honda) ruled out by injury and Bryan Staring (GO&FUN Honda Gresini FTR Honda) also black-flagged, he was the only other Honda finisher in the premier class.

The “flag-to-flag” race rule was designed to allow bike changes if weather conditions should change mid-race. After high-level meetings by the controlling Grand Prix Commission followed by drastic revisions to the rule book, it was invoked as a compulsory measure at this race in response to a crisis in tyre safety.

The 4.448-km track had been fully resurfaced, while conditions were unexpectedly warm. A combination of faster lap times and corner speeds, higher grip levels and higher temperatures than anticipated proved disastrous for the control tyres in both the MotoGP and Moto2 classes. Suppliers Bridgestone (MotoGP) and Dunlop (Moto2) both informed Race Direction that due to severe overheating issues they could not guarantee the safety of their tyres over full race distance. Surprisingly neither tyre provider had tested at the circuit in preparation for racing on the relaid surface.

While the Moto2 race was all but halved, from 25 laps to 13, MotoGP elected to apply flag-to-flag rules to MotoGP, along with other strictures including compulsory use of the hardest tyre option. Race distance cut from 27 laps to 22. Bridgestone had put their safety margin at 14 laps. Then after further issues in race-morning warm-up they cut it back still further to ten laps. Race distance was reduced once more, to 19 laps.

Pedrosa’s tactics were perfect. Running a very close third to Lorenzo and Marquez from the start, he decided to pit one lap earlier than the others, to take advantage of a clear pit lane. Unfortunately he too suffered a penalty, being later obliged to drop one position on track after he was judged to have run over the pit-lane limit. He served this without losing much time, dropping behind Marquez.

After the change, his clear hopes of a second successive race win faded when his second bike lacked the extreme handling finesse of his first, and he was unable to push as hard as before.

He gained another 20 points as he demonstrates his return to top form and full strength, and regained a mathematical chance of winning the title.

Marquez was well-placed in the race, but for leaving his pit stop one lap too late, and looked certain of his 15th rostrum finish of the year as he ran with the leading pair … until the penalty was applied. It was the result of a team misunderstanding of the hastily rewritten rules, altered on race eve then again on race morning, over the method of counting the laps.

Disqualification meant a zero points score at a race where the 20-year-old Spaniard had a mathematical chance of securing the World Championship at his first attempt, and cut his lead over race winner Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha) from 43 to 18 points. With two rounds remaining, he will have to be sure of strong results in Motegi and Valencia if he is to succeed in what, before this misfortune, seemed almost a certainty – becoming the youngest premier-class World Champion in history.

Bautista had another strong race, jousting throughout with the Yamahas of Valentino Rossi and Cal Crutchlow. The three riders were changing places right up until the last lap, and the Spanish former 125cc World Champion’s fifth place missed a top-three rostrum by less than two tenths of a second, as they flashed across the line all but line abreast.

Bautista is the only rider to use Showa suspension and Nissin brakes, in his role as race-developer for the Japanese companies, closely associated with Honda. This position continues a strong run in the latter part of the season: this was his fourth time in fifth place in the last six races.

The all-Honda-powered Moto2 class, also run in dry conditions, was a frantic 13-lap sprint, with no room for tactics. This made for an even more hectic battle than usual, in a class where close and reliable racing is ensured, with all competitors furnished with identical race-tuned Honda CBR600 engines by the organisers, fitted into full-race prototype chassis.

Crucially for the championship, pre-race points leader Scott Redding was absent. The British Marc VDS Racing Team Kalex rider was eliminated after a heavy crash in qualifying yesterday. He broke his wrist and underwent immediate corrective surgery, but is a doubtful starter also for next weekend’s Japanese GP.

Spanish star Pol Espargaro (Tuenti HP 40 Pons Kalex) had closed to within nine points of Redding in the title charts, and now took over the championship lead with a determined start-to-finish victory. He now leads the championship with 240 points to Redding’s 224, with his Tuenti HP 40 Pons Kalex team-mate Esteve Rabat still in with a mathematical chance on 204.

Espargaro was obliged to fend off a strong early attack from Alex De Angelis (NGM Mobile Forward Racing Speed Up), who later set a new lap record. In the closing laps came another fierce attack from Thomas Luthi (Interwetten Paddock Moto2 Suter).

Luthi crossed the line just over half-a-second adrift for his best result of the year, himself fending off a last-lap attack from German GP winner Jordi Torres (Aspar Team Moto2 Suter), less than a tenth behind. Simone Corsi (NGM Mobile Racing Speed Up) was almost as close to him, with De Angelis on his back wheel, and the top five covered by 1.1 seconds.

Dominique Aegerter (Technomag carXpert Suter) lost touch in the final stages in sixth while battling with Mika Kallio (Marc VDS Racing Team Kalex), who finished less than two-tenths behind.

Rabat came back to eighth, after running off the track and dropping out of the leading group, while holding third place, putting two-race winner Nico Terol (Aspar Team Moto2 Suter) ninth.

Australian rider Anthony West (QMMF Racing Team Speed Up) fought through to tenth in a crowd-pleasing ride after finishing the first lap in 20th. Moto3 champion Sandro Cortese (Dynavolt Intact GP Kalex) Ricard Cardus (NGM Mobile Forward Racing Speed Up). Danny Kent (Tech 3), Gino Rea (Argiñano & Gines Racing Speed Up) and Doni Tata Pradita (Federal Oil Gresini Moto2 Suter) claimed the remaining points.

The Moto3 race was the only one of the day to run to full scheduled distance, set at 23 laps. In a class where Honda-powered machines are up against rival factories in a variety of prototype chassis, the top Honda rider Jack Miller came heartbreakingly close to a first rostrum finish. The Australian finished fifth in a tight pack, but less than three-quarters of a second off third place, and only six tenths behind the winner. The top seven places were covered by just 1.1 seconds.

Miller (Caretta Technology-RTG FTR Honda) had played a popular role in a lead group that was eight-strong for much of the race, moving up to third in the closing stages. He was still pushing out of the last corner, but lost out in the run to the finish line.

The usual gang of Spanish KTM riders dominated the rostrum, with Alex Rins winning by inches from Maverick Vinales and Luis Salom. Rins closed to within five points of long-time title leader Salom, with Vinales another 17 behind, ensuring an exciting championship finale.

Niccolo Antonelli (GO&FUN Gresini Moto3 FTR Honda) narrowly lost touch with the leading group to finish eighth.

Honda riders played a strong role in a fearsome battle for the next title points, the gap from ninth to 18th place only just over two-and-a-quarter seconds, with places changing corner by corner. Alexis Masbou (Ongetta-Rivacold FTR Honda) was tenth; Isaac Vinales (Ongetta-Centro Seta FTR Honda) 13th, Romano Fenati (San Carlo Team Italia FTR Honda) 14th, and John McPhee (Caretta Technology-RTG FTR Honda) just out of the points in 17th.

The next race is the Japanese GP at the Honda-owned Twin Ring Motegi circuit, in one week, with the season finale a fortnight later at Valencia in Spain.

Dani Pedrosa, Repsol Honda: 2nd – “Today’s race was very stressful -above all before the start, as the rules were being changed every five minutes. Everything was turned on its head and it was very difficult to adapt first time, without making any mistakes. Marc made mistakes and I did too. Everything was going so fast and it was confusing for both the riders and the mechanics. We had to be clear about which lap to enter the pits, as it wasn’t obvious which was lap nine and which was lap ten. The two bikes needed to be prepared and the tyres as well, the pit lane was much longer than normal… it was all so strange today. The exit line from the pits wasn’t clear, and neither could you see the entry line very well, so it was all a bit improvised. In my case I was able to rectify my mistake on the track and, although the second bike wasn’t the same for me as the first, I managed to take second in the race and be very competitive.”

Alvaro Bautista, GO&FUN Honda Gresini, 5th – “We have managed to salvage a race that we knew was going to be difficult for us because of the enforced tyre choice. We knew it didn’t work with our bike but we fought hard and thanks to the exceptional work of the team we have come away with a result we didn’t expect. I gave my best, did everything I could on the bike and I have to be happy because I was fighting for a podium finish until the very end. Unfortunately on the last lap I just felt that I couldn’t push the tyre any harder and it’s a shame because I know that on the soft option we would have been able to get on the podium and achieve the objective we have set ourselves for before the end of the season.”

Marc Marquez, Repsol Honda, DNF – “Today was our first experience of a Flag-to-Flag race, and suffice to say it wasn’t a good one. My team and I had set out a strategy and we thought that we could come in after lap 10, but in reality this counts as an extra lap. We hadn’t had that in mind and this was a huge mistake. We had everything well planned and I followed the instructions on my pit board. You learn from these things though, so now we have to move on and focus on the race in Japan”

Bryan Staring, GO&FUN Honda Gresini, DNF – “Today couldn’t have gone worse. I was hoping for a good race in front of my home crowd and instead it has ended prematurely with a black flag.”

Honda Moto2 rider quotes

Pol Espargaro, Tuenti HP 40 Pons, 1st – “All my life I had a dream – to be World Champion, sooner or later. It is not done, yet, but it is close … I can’t believe where we are and what we did. I’m not 100 percent happy because while I have overtaken Redding in the championship points, he was not on track, and this is not good. But this is racing, where every lap and corner can be dangerous. Anyway, we are not still champion. For sure we are going to work hard as we did all season”

Thomas Luthi, Interwetten Paddock Moto2, 2nd – “With just 13 laps there was just one strategy: full throttle from the go. Such a short race… actually, too short for me, because I had quite a good set-up and was not scared at all by a full length. Due to safety reasons we had to do this short race, so I had to change the strategy. The target was to get a good start and push straight from the beginning. After one lap Pol opened a gap, then he made a small mistake, and I was there immediately, but afterwards I made a mistake, and at the end it was not possible to catch up and fight for a victory. I had to battle to keep the other guys behind me, not easy, but at the end second is great. I didn’t struggle at all with the tyres during all the weekend with lost rubber or anything like that.”

Jordi Torres, Aspar Moto2, 3rd – “We had a good weekend. In the race we tried to push hard to stay at the top, but midway through the race I lost the rear wheel of Luthi and had to fight with de Angelis. But my bike worked well with used tyres. I’m happy. We are going to do our best to replicate the result in the next two races, but it’s going to be pretty difficult, in a class where the difference between riders is so small.”

Honda Moto3 rider quotes

Jack Miller, Caretta Technology RTG, 5th – “Missed it by a whisker, but it was a good race even if I didn’t get on the podium. I had to fight back from the start. I could stay there in the group, and also make the passes to get to the front, so that was quite good. In the same point, the bike on the straight was not what we needed. We missed just a little bit of speed. I knew it was going to be difficult to make the podium.”

Niccolo Antonelli, GO&FUN Gresini Moto3, 8th – “A great week-end, except for what happened this morning, when I crashed in fifth gear at more or less 200 km/h. I am a bit bruised, but the bike is great, the team did a great job. We were able to fight with the top riders all the race. Maybe I could have risked something more, but I had problems with the tyres at the end and already crashed out at Sepang, so I told to myself: ‘Let’s bring home some points.’ Our results have been improving, and I hope to be able to continue like that.”

Alexis Masbou, Ongetta-Rivacold, 10th – “A tough race, at the end of a tough week-end. The first day we were far from the best riders, while in the race my fastest lap was not very distant from the fastest race lap. So, mixed feelings: from one side, I’m happy for the result, from the other I wonder what it could have been with a better qualifying, and a better place on grid.”

– Ducati Report

In a dramatic Australian Grand Prix that featured a “flag-to-flag” format in the dry, with obligatory pit stops, Nicky Hayden and Andrea Dovizioso maintained their cool in challenging circumstances, riding to seventh and ninth place finishes, respectively. The unusual format, which had riders switching bikes at the midway point of the shortened 19-lap race, was implemented by Race Direction in response to tyre wear being much higher than anticipated over the course of the weekend.

In the race’s first half, the two Ducati Team colleagues battled with one another and fellow Ducati rider Andrea Iannone. Hayden used good pit strategy to get away from the other two Ducati riders and make a run at sixth-place Bradley Smith that ultimately fell just short. Similarly, Dovizioso was unsuccessful in his late bid to overtake Iannone and ultimately had to accept ninth place.

With the first two legs of this overseas tripleheader now complete, the MotoGP teams now return to Asia for next weekend’s Japanese Grand Prix at Motegi.

Nicky Hayden – Ducati Team, 7th – “If I’m honest, I hoped to be more competitive, but it went better than some of our recent races. My first tyre didn’t feel as grippy as I expected. I was racing with Iannone and Dovi, but I knew I was faster than those guys and didn’t want to tow them. I waited to do the opposite of them, so when I saw them go in the pits, I put my head down and did a good in-lap, then did a good lap leaving the pits and was able to put a couple of seconds onto them. I got to the back of Smith at the end, but I was struggling in the last corner, and there were some spots of rain. As for the pit stop, it was easy. I’ve been with my team for five years, and we practice it sometimes. Yes, this pit is tight, but we’re used to doing 340 Km/h, so if you use your head, I don’t think coming in at 60 is so dangerous.”

Andrea Dovizioso – Ducati Team, 9th – “The race was more enjoyable than usual because of the changes they made, as well as the strategies. I had a pretty tough battle with Nicky and Iannone but it was all a bit difficult for me, also because my two GP13s didn’t have the same feeling. The second bike wasn’t as good as the first. Anyway, I don’t have any excuses; I’m just not happy with the result. I had another battle with Iannone and came close to him at the very end, but I didn’t manage to beat him. Nicky did a good job and had a really fast in-lap; he caught Smith and managed to have a good pace from the start of the race.”

Paolo Ciabatti – Ducati MotoGP Project Director – “Today’s race was really strange, exciting with many twists. The ‘flag-to-flag’ format in the dry with a maximum of 10 laps per tyre and an obligatory pit stop put more pressure on our team. Still, I must say everything went smoothly, and I’d like to complement our boys, who didn’t make any mistakes. The final result of the race definitely isn’t very satisfying for us, but Nicky and Dovi tried their hardest, as always.”

– Bridgestone Report

Bridgestone slick compounds available: Front: Extra-soft & Soft. Rear: Medium & Hard (Asymmetric)
Bridgestone wet tyre compounds available: Soft (Main) & Hard (Alternative)
Weather: Dry. Ambient 26-27°C; Track 30-32°C (Bridgestone measurement)

Yamaha Factory Racing’s Jorge Lorenzo won a dramatic flag-to-flag Australian Grand Prix at Phillip Island to breathe life back into his championship challenge.

With the race reduced to nineteen laps with a mandatory stop where riders were required to change bikes, Lorenzo led the opening stint before making a flawless pit stop on lap nine to put himself in a strong position for the second half of the race. Once on his second bike Lorenzo pulled away from the chasing pack to take the chequered flag by 6.936 seconds ahead of second-place getter, Repsol Honda’s Dani Pedrosa. Rounding out the rostrum was Yamaha Factory Racing’s Valentino Rossi who claimed his sixth podium of the season in Australia. Having shown great pace throughout the race weekend, the top CRT rider in Australia was Power Electronics Aspar’s Randy de Puniet who placed tenth in Australia. Amid the excitement of today’s race, a new Circuit Record Lap of 1’28.108 was set on the thirteenth lap of the race by Repsol Honda’s Marc Marquez.

Conditions today were dry but cooler than yesterday, with the peak track temperature of 32°C recorded at the start of the race. With the harder of the two rear slick options – the medium compound for CRT riders and the hard compound for works riders – being made mandatory for the race, the only variation in tyre choice came from the front slicks. Eleven of the twenty-three starters chose the softer front option, the extra-soft front slick, with the other twelve riders opting for the harder option, soft compound front.

With two rounds remaining, Repsol Honda’s Marc Marquez still leads the championship standings by eighteen points – despite being black flagged for not pitting in the mandatory stop window in today’s race – over Lorenzo. Pedrosa remains in third place in the championship, sixteen points adrift of Lorenzo.

Shinji Aoki – Manager, Bridgestone Motorsport Tyre Development Department
“Today was quite an exciting contest that passed without incident and I would like to congratulate all the teams and riders for working so hard to adapt what was a unique race situation. After warm-up, we analysed the tyres of the riders to see how they fared during the long runs they did this morning and it was evident that we had to reduce the maximum running time of the rear slicks to ten laps. Considering this new information, we had discussions with the FIM, Dorna and IRTA regarding the situation, after which race direction decided a flag-to-flag race with a nineteen lap duration was the best option. We have arranged for the used tyres from this weekend to be transported immediately to our technical centre in Japan for detailed analysis which will be the first step in developing new tyres for future MotoGP races at Phillip Island.”

Jorge Lorenzo, Yamaha Factory Racing – Race Winner
“Today was a crazy race with us having to the change of bikes in the middle of the contest. We practiced a lot before the race to find the best way to swap between bikes and this helped me a lot in the race. Twenty-five points is the best result possible and is good for the championship and I hope we can still be challenging for the title at the last race in Valencia.”

– Lorenzo Flies to Record Breaking Phillip Island Pole
– Lorenzo on Phillip Island pole as mandatory pit-stops announced

Jorge Lorenzo has clinched pole position for the Tissot Australian Grand Prix, beating Marc Marquez and Valentino Rossi to the top spot in a highly dramatic shootout at Phillip Island.

With only three rounds remaining in the 2013 MotoGP™ season and Marquez able to clinch an historic premier class title win this weekend, the qualifying session at Phillip Island would prove to be one of the most incident-packed of the year. Ultimately, Lorenzo clinched his third pole of the campaign – his first since Jerez in May – courtesy of a best lap of 1’27.899, but this was only after the reigning World Champion’s Yamaha Factory Racing bike clipped a seagull. The margin at the front would be two tenths of a second, with Marquez able to secure the world crown on Sunday if he ends the race with a points-advantage of 51 or more.

In third place, Rossi – who on only three occasions in his career has failed to finish on the podium at Phillip Island – will start on the front row for the second consecutive race, ahead of GO&FUN Honda Gresini’s Alvaro Bautista who qualified fourth but went off-track at the end of qualifying. Fifth will be Sepang winner Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda Team) – who is the only rider other than Marquez and Lorenzo who retains a mathematical possibility of winning the championship – from Monster Yamaha Tech3’s Cal Crutchlow, who will start sixth. Row 3 will be occupied by Tech3’s Bradley Smith plus Ducati Team pairing Nicky Hayden and Andrea Dovizioso.

Tenth on the grid will be Energy T.I. Pramac Racing’s Andrea Iannone, who entered the Q2 shootout from Q1, as was also the case with Dovizioso. It was towards the end of Q1 when Iannone was involved in an on-track disagreement with Power Electronics Aspar’s Aleix Espargaro, who failed to feature in Q2 for only the fourth time this in 2013. In the meantime, Colin Edwards set the CRT pace as he qualified 11th for NGM Mobile Forward Racing, one position in front of Randy de Puniet while the Frenchman’s teammate Espargaro will be 13th on the grid; both de Puniet and Edwards suffered incidents in the Q2 shootout.

LCR Honda MotoGP’s Stefan Bradl has taken no further part in the weekend since attempting to ride in opening practice, having fractured his right ankle at Sepang one week ago; the German hopes to return at Motegi next weekend. Australian Bryan Staring will start his home race 21st on the Gresini CRT bike, with fellow countryman Damian Cudlin having qualified 23rd for PBM on his 31st birthday.

In a separate twist, Bridgestone have announced that they are unable to guarantee safety of their rear slick tyres beyond 14 laps, and it has therefore been decided that every rider will be required to enter the pits and change to his second machine with fresh tyres at least once during the race. No rider is permitted to make more than 14 laps on any one slick rear tyre. This means that a bike/tyre change before lap 12 will require a second bike/tyre change to finish the race. Prototypes will have to use the hard-, and CRTs the medium spec tyre.

And to mark the occasion of the Australian race, it was fitting that Casey Stoner was inducted as a MotoGP™ Legend at Phillip Island on Saturday. The World Champion of 2007 and 2011 becomes the 20th MotoGP™ Legend, joining riders such as compatriots Wayne Gardner and Mick Doohan.

– Compulsory Pit Stops for MotoGP