Andrea Dovizioso and Marc Marquez put it all on the line in Japan
Ducati man comes out on top after nail biting final laps
MotoGP 2017 – Round 15 – Motegi
In pouring rain at the Twin Ring Motegi, Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team) and Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) staged one of the greatest MotoGP duels of all time, putting everything on the line down to the final lap, and the final corner. And despite the best efforts of the reigning Champion, it was Andrea Dovizioso who emerged victorious from ‘Victory’ corner in Japan – taking his fifth win of the season, the seventh of his career, and one of the most spectacular in history. Marquez was an incredibly close second, with Danilo Petrucci (Octo Pramac Racing) completing the podium.
It was Marquez took the lead off the front row, with Jorge Lorenzo (Ducati Team) soon pouncing on the first lap to take second and then take over in the lead.
Marquez was followed by Petrucci and Johann Zarco (Monster Yamaha Tech 3), with Dovizioso staging a stunning start to tag on the back. Marquez then fought back as Lorenzo moved back slightly, before Petrucci struck at the front and the trio who would head the remaining laps was decided: Petrucci, Marquez, and Dovizioso.
As the laps ticked down, the two title contenders remained locked together and Petrucci found some clear air in the lead. But with 12 laps to go Marquez made his first move to take over, with ‘DesmoDovi’ then through on his compatriot to keep close company with the Championship leader. They pulled away, and the stage was set.
With six laps to go, Dovizioso attacked at Turn 6, and the cat and mouse continued. Marquez then hit back with a brutal pass in Turn 3 with three laps to go, and the fuse was lit. Dueling it out with some of the most spectacular racing of the season – and in the pouring rain – it seemed Marquez was holding the cards as the final lap approached.
Pushing hard to catch the race and Championship leader, the gap was hovering just over half a second for Dovizioso, until Marquez suddenly suffered a moment at Turn 8 and the Ducati was back on him. The Italian struck to take the lead soon after and prepared himself for the aptly-named victory corner – knowing the number 93 was close behind and undoubtedly with Austria on his mind.
The door didn’t prove closed for Marquez as he shot up the inside, but Dovizioso was prepared for the move and kept it together as the Repsol Honda headed wide. Almost neck and neck over the line, it was ‘DesmoDovi’ who took the victory in a duel that will go down in history – and he cuts the gap to 11 points at the top.
Behind the trio on the rostrum it was a stunning ride for Andrea Iannone (Team Suzuki Ecstar) into fourth, as the Italian picked his way through from P12 on the grid as was able to close in on his teammate Alex Rins, then getting past him in the latter stages. Rins was top rookie after his own display of brilliance, however, earlier shadowing Zarco and then moving through as the Frenchman faded.
After dropping back after a stunning start, Jorge Lorenzo was able to move back past those ahead of him to cross the line in sixth for another good haul of points – getting back Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini) as his final victim, with the Spaniard coming seventh. Zarco faded in the latter stages to head home in P8, ahead of a difficult day for Maverick Viñales (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP). Viñales is now 41 points off Marquez at the top of the table.
Loris Baz (Reale Avintia Racing) completed the top ten as he sliced through in the rain, with Pol Espargaro (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) taking another top result for the Austrian factory in P11. In twelfth, it was wildcard Yamalube Factory Racing rider Katsuyuki Nakasuga – 2017 Suzuka 8H winner and former MotoGP podium finisher – as the Japanese veteran impressed as ever.
Sam Lowes (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini) took his best ever result and some good points in P13, with the points scorers completed by Hector Barbera (Reale Avintia Racing) and Tito Rabat (EG 0,0 Marc VDS). Valentino Rossi (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP) crashed out of contention, but rider ok.
Now the Championship heads for the legendary Phillip Island, with the gap at the top now cut down to 11 points and three rounds remaining. Motegi was a duel that will go down in history, as will 2017. But with whose name engraved on the trophy?
MotoGP 2017 – Round 15 – Motegi Race Results
- DOVIZIOSO Andrea 4 ITA 25 Ducati Team 47’14.236
- MARQUEZ Marc 93 SPA 20 Repsol Honda Team 0.249
- PETRUCCI Danilo 9 ITA 16 Octo Pramac Racing 10.557
- IANNONE Andrea 29 ITA 13 Team Suzuki Ecstar 18.845
- RINS Alex 42 SPA 11 Team Suzuki Ecstar 22.982
- LORENZO Jorge 99 SPA 10 Ducati Team 24.464
- ESPARGARO Aleix 41 SPA 9 Aprilia Racing Team Gresini 28.010
- ZARCO Johann 5 FRA 8 Monster Yamaha Tech 3 29.475
- VINALES Maverick 25 SPA 7 Movistar Yamaha MotoGP 36.575
- BAZ Loris 76 FRA 6 Reale Avintia Racing 48.506
- ESPARGARO Pol 44 SPA 5 Red Bull KTM Factory Racing 56.3571
- NAKASUGA Katsuyuki 21 JPN 4 Yamalube Yamaha Factory Racing 1’00.1811
- LOWES Sam 22 GBR 3 Aprilia Racing Team Gresini 1’00.980
- BARBERA Hector 8 SPA 2 Reale Avintia Racing 1’03.118
- RABAT Tito 53 SPA 1 EG 0,0 Marc VDS 1’03.514
- REDDING Scott 45 GBR 0 Octo Pramac Racing 1’04.162
- SMITH Bradley 38 GBR 0 Red Bull KTM Factory Racing 1’06.271
- AOYAMA Hiroshi 7 JPN 0 EG 0,0 Marc VDS 1’13.250
- BAUTISTA Alvaro 19 SPA 0 Pull&Bear Aspar Team 3 laps
- PEDROSA Dani 26 SPA 0 Repsol Honda Team 4 laps
- ABRAHAM Karel 17 CZE 0 Pull&Bear Aspar Team 5 laps
- CRUTCHLOW Cal 35 GBR 0 LCR Honda 10 laps
- ROSSI Valentino 46 ITA 0 Movistar Yamaha MotoGP 19 laps
- NOZANE Kohta 31 JPN 0 Monster Yamaha Tech 3 21 laps
MotoGP Championship Standings
- MARQUEZ Marc 93 SPA 244 Repsol Honda Team
- DOVIZIOSO Andrea 4 ITA 233 Ducati Team
- VINALES Maverick 25 SPA 203 Movistar Yamaha MotoGP
- PEDROSA Dani 26 SPA 170 Repsol Honda Team
- ROSSI Valentino 46 ITA 168 Movistar Yamaha MotoGP
- ZARCO Johann 5 FRA 125 Monster Yamaha Tech 3
- LORENZO Jorge 99 SPA 116 Ducati Team
- PETRUCCI Danilo 9 ITA 111 Octo Pramac Racing
- CRUTCHLOW Cal 35 GBR 92 LCR Honda
- FOLGER Jonas 94 GER 84 Monster Yamaha Tech 3
- BAUTISTA Alvaro 19 SPA 70 Pull&Bear Aspar Team
- ESPARGARO Aleix 41 SPA 62 Aprilia Racing Team Gresini
- MILLER Jack 43 AUS 56 EG 0,0 Marc VDS
- REDDING Scott 45 GBR 56 Octo Pramac Racing
- IANNONE Andrea 29 ITA 50 Team Suzuki Ecstar
- BAZ Loris 76 FRA 45 Reale Avintia Racing
- ESPARGARO Pol 44 SPA 42 Red Bull KTM Factory Racing
- RINS Alex 42 SPA 38 Team Suzuki Ecstar
- RABAT Tito 53 SPA 29 EG 0,0 Marc VDS
- ABRAHAM Karel 17 CZE 28 Pull&Bear Aspar Team
- BARBERA Hector 8 SPA 25 Reale Avintia Racing
- PIRRO Michele 51 ITA 18 Ducati Test Team
- SMITH Bradley 38 GBR 14 Red Bull KTM Factory Racing
- KALLIO Mika 36 FIN 11 Red Bull KTM Factory Racing
- LOWES Sam 22 GBR 5 Aprilia Racing Team Gresini
- NAKASUGA Katsuyuki 21 JPN 4 Yamalube Yamaha Factory Racing
- GUINTOLI Sylvain 50 FRA 1 Team Suzuki Ecstar