Motegi MotoGP Race Report, Quotes and Images
Images by AJRN
One crash for Rossi then another for Lorenzo leaves MM93 to take a stunning win and premier class title number three
Repsol Honda Team’s Marc Marquez has taken the 2016 MotoGP World Championship at the home of Honda – with the hand dealt by the Japanese venue seeing the cards fall perfectly for the Spaniard as Movistar Yamaha teammates Valentino Rossi and Jorge Lorenzo crashed out of contention. First was Rossi, into the gravel early – before Lorenzo’s ride through the pain barrier after a highside on Saturday was cut short; sliding out of P2 in the last few laps. Marquez, clear at the front, kept it on the road to take his third premier class title in four years, and his fifth victory of the year.
With a slow start for polesitter Rossi, it was Championship leader Marquez who got the holeshot into Turn 1 – before reigning Champion Lorenzo quickly took the lead at Turn 2. With Rossi getting past Marquez soon after, Aleix Espargaro (Team Suzuki Ecstar) then took advantage to take the Italian legend. The rider from Tavullia fought back, before a duel between the Movistar Yamaha of Rossi and the Repsol Honda of Marquez saw the two switching positions in an early battle for honour.
A crash for Eugene Laverty (Pull&Bear Aspar Team) then saw the Irishman out the race early on, as the top three of Lorenzo, Marquez and Rossi held station at the front and Motegi prepared the coming twists in the tale.
Rossi was first to fold, as the 9-time World Champion made a mistake and lost the front end of his Yamaha – leaving teammate Lorenzo as the last man standing in between Marquez and the crown. The status quo between the two remained, with Marquez in a clear lead, as battle raged behind.
Maverick Viñales (Team Suzuki Ecstar) broke away from an early fight with LCR Honda’s Cal Crutchlow to get on the hunt back towards the podium, with teammate Espargaro falling back into his clutches as Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team) began to hunt down Lorenzo.
‘DesmoDovi’ made some inroads, with Lorenzo getting closer and closer, before an uncharacteristic error from the reigning World Champion saw him follow teammate Rossi in crashing out – a painful trip through the gravel after a highside in FP3 had left the Mallorcan bruised and riding through the pain barrier. Marquez’ pit board informed the number 93 of the unbelievable situation he now found himself in: a handful of laps, a third crown, and glory once again at the home of Honda.
Dovizioso followed the new Champion over the line for a P2 finish, with Viñales completing the podium in another impressive ride – just pipping teammate Espargaro after winning the inter-team Suzuki battle.
Cal Crutchlow came home in fifth as top Independent Team rider once again, with rival for that title, Monster Tech 3’s Pol Espargaro, just behind in sixth. Alvaro Bautista (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini) impressed with seventh for another great result for the Noale factory, with teammate Stefan Bradl compounding the joy for Aprilia as he completed a double top ten finish in P10. Octo Pramac Yakhnich pairing Danilo Petrucci and Scott Redding were the remaining puzzle pieces in that top ten, in P8 and P9 and only three tenths apart over the line.
Marquez’ third MotoGP title is his third in four years in the premier class, and his fifth World Championship after becoming 125 World Champion in 2010 and Moto2 World Champion in 2012. The plan from the start of the season remained the same until it proved its worth: control, calm and consistency – a new MO that has seen the mistakes of the past craft the success of the present, and a new MotoGP World Champion emerge from the ashes of a tough 2015.
Next up, MotoGP returns to Phillip Island.
Marc Marquez – P1
“It’s incredible! Before the race I didn’t expect to be Champion, and I said that here it would be impossible. However, when I saw that Rossi was out of the race, I decided to push hard for the victory. I was riding my hardest, and when there were three laps to go, I read on my pit board that Lorenzo was also out; on that same lap, I made mistakes in four or five corners, as it was difficult to stay focused! I’m very happy because this title is very special considering some of the crashes I had last year, and also because it came at Motegi, Honda’s home. Honda has worked so hard this year, and you could see the fruits of that effort also at this track, where we’ve struggled in the past. I myself also improved during the season; for instance, I learned how to better use the front Michelin tyre. It has been a demanding year, but a fantastic one. It’s great for my team, and of course I don’t want to forget my grandmother, who passed away this year and would be very happy with this World Championship. Now we can just enjoy it and go into the last three races with maybe a more ‘Marc Marquez’ style.”
Andrea Dovizioso – P2
“Today’s race was really very difficult. I started quite well but was boxed in by Valentino at the first corner and lost several positions and above all contact with the leading trio. I remained calm however and began to get closer to Lorenzo lap after lap: I didn’t want to take too many risks, but I had almost caught him when he made a small error and crashed out. I am very pleased with the feeling I had with the bike and with how I managed the situation: I couldn’t take too many risks because it was very easy to crash, but I was able to be constant throughout the race and with a good pace, and get an important result for both me and Ducati. This weekend we worked well, and confirmed that we have a good base on which to continue to work to improve several aspects of the bike.”
Maverick Viñales – P3
“I’m very happy for this podium because it’s the result of two main points; first of all, the team managed to make good improvements since yesterday, delivering me a machine with which I felt more comfortable than yesterday. This means we have a lot of potential to express, still. Second thing, is that I managed to make a very wise race; the jump was not as good as I wanted, but then I decided to stay calm and not to waste the tyre in order to keep some performance for the end of the race. This allowed me to be consistent and keep my performance until the end and getting third. It was also a nice battle with Aleix, when finally I managed to overtake him it was too late to go and catch up for the second place, but this podium is very emotional, being here in front of all our fans and colleagues from the Suzuki factory.”
Aleix Espargaró – P4
“I’m disappointed for the final result because I was expecting a little more, but at the end of the day the whole weekend has been very positive. We did a great job, and finally we are seeing the improvements I was waiting for. It was the first time in the season I managed to stay very close to the head of the race and fight for the podium, so it’s a pity I couldn’t get up there, I tried all I could but finally I had to settle in fourth. It is my best result of the season and I’m proud of it. I’m happy that the next race will be immediately next weekend, we keep the focus and we’ll try to continue this positive period we’re having.”
Cal Crutchlow – P5
“Today was a good finishing position for me and the team, but I made a mistake in the middle of the race. I ran the hard front tyre, which I believe was the correct choice, but it was really difficult to go fast at the start of the race. So I waited and looked to do a good job towards the end, which was always going to be the plan. I believe I could have done that, but I ran off the track which complicated things for me. I lost eight or nine seconds on that lap. It was my own fault, but I managed to stay on the bike as I went through the gravel, which was the main thing. We still managed to finish in a strong position, but evidently we are a bit disappointed as we could have battled for the podium today. The Team did a great job, though, and another top-five result is important for the second half of the season.”
Pol Espargaro – P6
“It has been a tough day and it is important that we could take 10 points from this race, especially as it was a tricky GP but I am still a bit disappointed because we were not as competitive as we possibly could have been this weekend. I didn’t feel really comfortable in any of the practice sessions so I always knew it was going to be a long event. However, my start was good and I was able to stay in front of the Ducatis which I think was the key to our result. After the beginning, I couldn’t stay with the group who were ahead of me and I ran almost the entire Grand Prix on my own. Yet, with the crashes in front, we managed to finish in 6th, so we have to be happy about leaving Motegi with some crucial points for the independent rider fight in the Championship standings. Now, I’m really looking forward to Australia as the Phillip Island track is one that I really enjoy riding at and I have a lot of good memories there.”
Alvaro Bautista – P7
“A good race, the best result so far with Aprilia. Of course, the crashes gave us a couple of positions, but that is all part of racing. I am especially satisfied with the work done this weekend. After not having good sensations on Friday, we were able to recover, going through to Q2. We showed that we can be fast on tracks with very different characteristics: from Misano, twisting, to Motegi with a lot of hard braking and acceleration sections. This is important as it shows that we have taken a step forward on all fronts. We will try to confirm this in the coming races. I want to finish the season in the best possible way”.
Danilo Petrucci – P8
“It is a good result although frankly I expected to do better in the race because during the weekend the pace was better. I had problems with the front, I could not brake how I wanted. At first I tried to stay with Barbera and Espargaro but I was not fast enough. Now we move to Australia and there is no time to think. Phillip Island is a totally different track we will have to work a lot to change the set up. I can not wait to get back on track.”
Scott Redding – P9
“Unfortunately my race pace was not so good at the beginning and this has a little penalized me. Then I found a good rhythm and I started to reduce the gap. I had some problems especially in braking and I was not able to get close enough to groped an attack to Danilo. But I’m happy because I made a lot of experience after the last difficult races, working on maps, improving the feeling with the tires. In the end it was a good weekend.”
Stefan Bradl – P10
“I am not fully satisfied with the race today. We had the potential to aim for a better result. Unfortunately, I lost a few positions straight away at the start, whereas during the race I could not find the same feeling braking that I had yesterday in practice. Because of that, I made a few mistakes that certainly cost us a few positions. In any case, being in the top-10 is important to continue our positive trend. We worked well throughout the weekend and we want to do the same at Phillip Island as well”.
Yonny Hernández – P12
“It was a good race, we have been able to finish and pick up four more points. At the beginning I was really struggling to get the bike stopped and I lost a lot of ground to the others. We had to use the hard rear but lots of guys went with the soft, which limited us a little, because with my style on the soft we wouldn’t have made it to the end of the race. I have gained more experience and improved my pace here this weekend, which is positive.”
Bradley Smith – P13
“No doubt, today has been a very hard day for me but it is definitely nice to get some points as a reward for the effort. In the last seven weeks I’ve had to watch the rest of the MotoGP world go racing, whilst I’ve been at home, so it is a good feeling to be back on the grid and getting myself involved, therefore I can’t be disappointed about a 13th place finish as I didn’t even know if I was going to be able to complete the GP a few days ago. To be honest, I forgot how long the races are in terms of distance, but riding out there for 24 laps at the absolute maximum was really demanding today and doing it without making any mistakes is probably the hardest challenge for me at the moment. I want to say a big thank you to the whole team because they have done a fantastic job over the weekend in preparing a great bike, as well as taking a lot of care, even if I wasn’t able to work as closely as usual with them, because the physiotherapy took a lot of time away. Moreover, I also want to thank Yamaha for all their assistance during my stay in Japan. Being away from home meant that I truly needed a helping hand and they have been very supportive so I’m really grateful for that.”
Tito Rabat – P14
“I am very happy for this 14th position after scoring zero points at the past two races. I was very focussed this weekend on understanding my limit and finishing the race to learn more about MotoGP and I did this. Two points at Motegi, which is not an easy track for me, is great for the team and now I want to take this feeling to Australia next week and continue to improve.”
Hiroshi Aoyama – P15
“It was quite a long and tough race for me, as it had been a long time since I last raced. Anyway, this was my home Grand Prix, and I had a lot of fans and friends here. That gave me a lot of positive energy and I was able to push until the end of the race. I fell yesterday, but today crashing wasn’t an option. I tried to stay on the bike and do my best. In the end I was able to finish in the points, even if it was just one. Today Marc won the title, and it was really a great day for HRC and Honda—congratulations to him! I’m happy that Dani’s surgery went well and I hope to see him back on his bike soon.”
Loris Baz – P16
“I got my confidence back during the first ten laps. But when I’m riding the bike I feel that I’m on the limit, and then I see the lap times and I’m far away from the pace. One positive thing from today is that I gained a better feeling and my race pace was better than ever this weekend. Negative is that we are still far from where we should be. I also realized that my physical condition is not at 100%, because when I caught Aoyama, I had no more energy left. Now we go to Phillip Island, a track I love and where I was fast during the winter test. I’ll have some days to relax and train before the race, so I hope to improve and to be competitive again.”
Hector Barbera – P17
“For me it was a fantastic opportunity to ride the 2016 Desmosedici GP and race for a factory squad like the Ducati Team and so I want to thank both Ducati and Avintia Racing for giving me this opportunity. For me it was all new: in fact, I didn’t know either the bike or the guys in the team, but after every session the situation improved a lot. Unfortunately in the race I was not able to get a good start, especially because the clutch is very different to the one I normally use, and I immediately lost two positions. I took a bit of time to pass Petrucci and then I caught Pol Espargarò, who I tried to overtake several times, until I tried with even more decision and unfortunately I crashed. I feel bad about it because I think that today I could have finished in fifth or sixth place. In any case I picked the bike up to finish the race, but in the crash the two wings had broken off and I was no longer able to ride it well. However it was a great experience and I am very happy that I have been given another chance next week at Phillip Island.”
Mike Jones – P18
“I’m very happy and I can’t believe the experience of finishing my first ever MotoGP race. It was fantastic to be part of the Avintia Racing Ducati team this weekend. They worked so hard to help me learn so much, but definitely I gained more experience through the race. My start wasn’t very good. We tried a practice start in the warm-up this morning and I felt really, really good, but we changed the clutch for the race and when I went to do the race start it felt different, so I really struggled with the start. Once I got going, I tried to follow the guys in front of me, but I had a few small problems and I couldn’t get the bike stopped like in qualifying. But I just wanted to finish the race, no matter how, and I did it. I really want to thank Avintia Racing and Ducati for this opportunity and I hope to do it better at Phillip Island.”
Jack Miller – DNF
“I just made a small mistake and braked a little too late and lost the front-end in turn one. I tried to stay on the racing line but I was a little too fast and just tucked the front. I was pushing hard to stay in the group with Scott, Petrucci, Bautista and Bradl and it was shaping up as a nice little battle until I made the mistake and it was all over.”
Jorge Lorenzo – DNF
“I’m very disappointed, because I made a mistake. I tried to push too much when the bike was not working well with the tyres. In Aragón we made a good decision with the tyres and this time it was the opposite. We chose the wrong front tyre, with the soft I think I would have made a better race, because my front tyre on the first laps was vibrating and closing. I didn’t have a good feeling, that’s why I couldn’t keep up with the pace of Marquez. Finally, because Dovizioso was coming, I pushed more than before in that corner and the front tyre didn’t give me any support or feedback and I crashed. It’s a pity, because I think we had the potential to fight for the victory with the right front tyre, but it was impossible today and we lost a great opportunity to be second in the championship. I want to congratulate Marquez because he didn’t have an advantage from his bike this year and he was the most consistent rider, so he deserves this championship.”
Valentino Rossi – DNF
“First of all, I would like to say that I’m OK, fortunately no problems. On the other hand it’s a shame because I was quite strong and I had a good pace. Unfortunately my start was not fantastic and I lost a position to Marquez and Lorenzo. After that, Marquez was a bit faster than me to overtake Lorenzo, I lost a bit more time behind him, but the pace was good. I was able to push a lot to try and catch Marquez but unfortunately I lost the front. Sincerely, I felt nothing like going into the corner too wide or too deep, but I lost the front and logically I made a mistake.”
Massimo Meregalli – Movistar Yamaha MotoGP Team Director
“It is a disappointing end to an otherwise strong weekend from our team. After yesterday’s qualifying results we were really confident that we would be able to get a good result, but unfortunately this was a race day to forget. Jorge and Valentino gave a solid performance today, especially since both were not feeling a 100% after Jorge’s extreme highside yesterday and with Vale suffering a severe cold. Nevertheless, they fought their way to the front in the early laps and they definitely didn’t make it easy for Marquez in the first stage of the race. It was unfortunate that Valentino’s and Jorge’s crash ended our race early. Congratulations to Marc for securing the Riders Title.”
Eugene Laverty – DNF
“The crash was my mistake. I was overtaking Nakasuga in turn nine, the first gear left corner. I I tried to turn too tight when I overtook him and lost the front at the apex. The third lap of the race is too early to make a mistake like that so I am upset because after everything that has happened this weekend the main thing today was to try and get a result but I made a silly mistake on lap three, so that’s why I am disappointed. It has been a strange weekend for sure, maybe it wasn’t to be. We started the weekend so strong until the crash. Now we will try to regroup and start again in Australia.”
Yoshishige Nomura – HRC President
“The regulation changes posed a big challenge for Marc and the team this year. To be able to win such a season is the culmination of a lot of talent and a lot of hard work. I’m thankful for the hard work the team put in and all the support we have had from our sponsors and our fans worldwide”.
Nicolas Goubert – Deputy Director, Technical Director and Supervisor of the MotoGP Programme
“Firstly I want to give my congratulations to Marc Marquez and the Repsol Honda Team on winning the rider’s championship today. Marc has ridden very intelligently this season, he has shown a great maturity and adapted to the Michelin tyres in many different conditions very well. So well done to all involved on behalf of everyone at Michelin. This weekend has been another learning curve for us and we will take away a lot of important lessons that we know we can act upon and rectify for the future. We were quite surprised by the cold track and the time it took our tyres to heat up during the practice sessions in Motegi, but we spoke with all riders and teams to explain the situation and this is something we will work on for here in 2017. We now head to Australia, which everyone knows is a real inspection of the performance of the tyres. We are up to the challenge as we had a positive test there earlier in the year and have produced a tyre especially for the circuit. It will also be great to be involved in the event because it is the Michelin® Australian Motorcycle Grand Prix and it will be important for us to give a good account at our own GP!”
MotoGP Race Results
- Marc Márquez (SPA) HONDA 42’34.610
- Andrea Dovizioso (ITA) DUCATI +2.992
- Maverick Viñales (SPA) SUZUKI +4.104
Lüthi supreme as Motegi rocks the title fight
Stunning victory for the Swiss veteran as Rins crashes, Lowes crashes – and Zarco takes a podium
Tom Lüthi (Garage Plus Interwetten) took an impressive lights-to-flag win at the Twin Ring Motegi, taking the holeshot off the line from the middle of the front row and unleashing his ominous race pace – just as the former 125 World Champion did in 2014. Reigning Champion Johann Zarco (Ajo Motorsport) took an important second place after holding station on a tempting charge over the limit to chase down his Swiss rival, and Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS rider Franco Morbidelli converted his P3 start into an impressive third on race day after an incredible duel with home hero Takaaki Nakagami (Idemitsu Honda Team Asia) to just stay on the rostrum. Further back, the Moto2 race in Motegi shook the title fight.
The drama was quick to begin, as title contender Alex Rins (Paginas Amarillas HP 40) crashed on Lap 1 when trying to make up places from P22 on the grid. The Spaniard, who had closed in on title leader Zarco and trailed by only one point ahead of the weekend, had a crash on Friday that left him riding through the pain barrier once again. P14 in Warm Up was an improvement, before disaster saw him slide out early. Rins remounted, but failed to score.
It wasn’t long before another title contender took a tumble – Sam Lowes (Federal Oil Gresini Moto2) – who lost the front end and slid into the gravel. 40 points adrift of P1 before the Japanese GP, the Brit’s title hopes took a serious dent as he slipped down to fourth in the standings with another DNF, after his stunning win in Aragon. Second in Aragon, Alex Marquez (Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS), was another crasher at the same corner just after the incident.
Lüthi was away at the front, with Morbidelli on his tail until the Italian began to suffer grip isssues. As the EG 0,0 Marc VDS rider slipped back into the clutches of Takaaki Nakagami (Idemitsu Honda Team Asia) and Zarco, the Frenchman took advantage of the Japanese rider running wide and begin his hunt for Lüthi – cutting the gap little by little until a four tenth advantage kept breath held in the Garage Plus Interwetten box on the final lap. The Swiss rider held firm however, taking a victory that seemed to have his name penciled next to it since the Moto2™ field showed their hand in race pace in practice.
The last lap battle wasn’t over as the win was decided, as Morbidelli and Nakagami staged a battle royale over the final few kilometres; the Japanese rider desperate to get past. Trying a number of moves but with Morbidelli hitting back, the Italian just held on to take another podium finish as he enjoys a run of impressive form.
Sandro Cortese (Dynavolt Intact GP) had a solid ride to a good top five finish in his 200th GP start, with Italtrans Racing Team’s Mattia Pasini taking sixth ahead of compatriot Simone Corsi (Speed Up Racing). Julian Simon (QMMF Racing Team) had an impressive ride to P8 after good pace in Warm Up, with AGR Team’s Marcel Schrotter dropping back slightly by the end of the race to end the Japanese GP in ninth. Xavier Simeon completed a double top ten finish for the QMMF squad in P10.
Moto2 heads for Australia with the title chase completely shaken, Zarco now with a 21 point lead ahead of Rins, and Tom Lüthi’s 25 point haul from victory in Motegi sees him take over in P3 in the standings 43 points behind, with 75 on the table in the final three races.
Moto2 Race Results
- Thomas Lüthi (SWI) KALEX 42’45.854
- Johan Zarco (FRA) KALEX +0.386
- Franco Morbidelli (ITA) KALEX + 5.863
The ‘Beast’ is back: Bastianini vs Binder hots up in Japan
Stunning photo finish for the victory sees Bastianini strike back, with home rider Hiroki Ono disqualified and Bulega promoted to the podium
Enea Bastianini (Gresini Racing Moto3) has taken an incredible photo-finish victory at the Twin Ring Motegi, with a last lap move on newly crowned Moto3™ World Champion Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Ajo) that saw the two then cross the line almost neck and neck. The Italian also takes back second in the Championship standings with the 25 point haul, as EG 0,0 rider Jorge Navarro failed to score. Hiroki Ono (Honda Team Asia) seemed to take his first career podium and Japan’s first rostrum finish at Motegi since Hiroshi Aoyama in 2009 with a controlled ride to P3 as he fought off Italian duo Andrea Migno and Nicolo Bulega (Sky Racing Team VR46) – but was later disqualified for being above the minimum weight for bike and rider. Bulega therefore was promoted to third.
Despite a wheelie off the line, Migno managed to stay ahead from pole position as the lights went out – with new World Champion Binder and the South African’s key 2016 rival Bastianini on the chase behind. An incident through Turn 1 then saw Jorge Navarro clip Leopard Racing’s Joan Mir and lose control, with Gabriel Rodrigo (RBA Racing) and John McPhee (Peugeot MC Saxoprint) caught in the crossfire as Navarro slid out. With the three in the gravel trap, the Valencian’s push to secure second in the Championship took a serious hit as key rival Bastianini disappeared in the front group and went on to take the win.
Attrition rates were high in the early stages of the race, with front end washouts causing some casualties. After the Turn 1 drama, one incident saw second EG 0,0 bike Aron Canet also slide out with 15 laps to go at Turn 9 – with Leopard Racing’s Andrea Locatelli crashing just behind the Spaniard in a separate but simultaneous incident.
Binder was the leader of the front freight train, with Bastianini, Migno, Francesco Bagnaia (Pull&Bear Aspar Mahindra), Bulega and home hero Ono for company as the six riders made a break for it. After some more difficult races, Bagnaia was the superstar of Lap 1 as the Italian Mahindra rider moved up nine places from his starting position, putting himself right in contention.
Fabio Di Giannantonio (Gresini Racing Moto3) was the man on the chase at the head of the second group, with key rivals for the title Rookie of the Year Bulega ahead, and Joan Mir further back in P12. As the laps began to count down, Bagnaia ahead began to lose traction and move back slightly into the second group, as Bulega started to struggle keeping the pace of the frontrunners. Philipp Oettl (Schedl GP Racing) emerged from the mid pack to eventually lead that second group, as Bulega found some pace again to close back in and get out of the clutches of the German rider.
Binder seemed to have escaped at the front before Bastianini started to fight back with only a handful of laps to go, the two clear at the head of the race as Ono and Migno squabbled over the final spot on the podium. The pressure was on for the South African, with the Gresini machine behind getting closer and closer until the two were locked together on the final lap.
Drama on that final lap saw Migno attack Ono for the last place on the podium as the Japanese rider fought to stay ahead – and the Italian clipped the rear of the Honda Team Asia machine, then getting flipped over the highside. Ono escaped to take the P3 finish at home, with Bulega crossing the line fourth but then promoted to third. Migno was able to restart and crossed the line P25.
Ahead on track, a patient and measured Bastianini waited for Turn 11 to make a move on Binder and made it stick, just keeping it on the track through the tunnel – the final drag to the line seeing both bikes on the limit. Side-by-side, the Italian took the victory by millimetres, denying the South African his sixth win of the year and taking his second career victory, after Misano 2015.
Phillip Oettl took P5 over the line to head the second group, with Di Giannantonio in sixth to score good Championship points once again. Bagnaia, after his early race heroics, held on the take P7 – ahead of RW Racing GP BV rider Livio Loi, who had also been third fastest on Friday in a good weekend for the Belgian. Frenchman Fabio Quartararo (Leopard Racing) took a solid top ten finish in P9, ahead of teammate and rookie Mir.
Moto3 Race Results
- Enea Bastianini (ITA) HONDA 39’24.273
- Brad Binder (RSA) KTM + 0.017
- Nicolo Bulega (ITA) KTM +4.002