— MotoGP 2012 – Round 15 – Motegi
— Pedrosa keeps title race alive with enthralling victory in Motegi
In an enthralling MotoGP™ race at the AirAsia Grand Prix of Japan in Motegi it was Repsol Honda Team’s Dani Pedrosa who closed the gap in the title fight further with a strong win ahead of Jorge Lorenzo and Álvaro Bautista.
It was Yamaha Factory Racing’s Lorenzo who got away best, yet had to be bold in turn one to hold off Pedrosa. Power Electronics Aspar’s Randy de Puniet crashed on the first lap but re-joined, while Yamaha’s Ben Spies crashed out going into lap two, citing afterwards that he suffered a brake failure. It was a crash-laden early stage as Avintia Blusens’ Yonny Hernandez also dropped his bike in the gravel, suffering a left top-shoulder-joint dislocation and a contusion to the left foot.
Repsol Honda’s Casey Stoner had made a good start running fourth behind Monster Yamaha Tech 3’s Cal Crutchlow in third. Yet three laps in Stoner was taken by San Carlo Honda Gresini’s Álvaro Bautista. LCR Honda MotoGP’s Stefan Bradl was stalking Stoner closely, whilst fending off Tech 3’s Andrea Dovizioso in seventh.
With 17 laps remaining Lorenzo and Pedrosa had pulled out a lead at the front with Crutchlow running a lonely third. Stoner was desperately looking for a way past Bautista, yet the Spaniard was battling hard to keep the Australian at bay. Meanwhile Ducati Team’s Valentino Rossi was in eighth struggling to keep up with Dovizioso’s pace in front. It was then two laps later that Dovizioso forced his way past Bradl, who was suffering with arm-pump, to hunt down Stoner in fifth.
With 13 laps remaining Pedrosa got better drive out of turn four and made his way past Lorenzo on the straight into the lead, looking instantly quicker on the Honda. As Lorenzo tried to keep up, it was Bautista who was slowly closing in on Crutchlow, who did well to save a near fall. Five laps on, De Puniet was forced to retire, as was Hernandez’s teammate Iván Silva. The same lap also saw Dovizioso make his way past Stoner into fifth.
With six laps left Pedrosa had built up a commanding lead over Lorenzo, whilst as a lap later Bautista muscled his way past Crutchlow into the final podium spot, and the pair provided a thrilling battle on track. The Brit fought almost straight back with a move up the inside, yet Bautista retook him in the next turn where the two touched. And it was heartbreak for Crutchlow on the last lap as he pulled over having run out of fuel, whilst looking to fight to the line.
It was ultimately Pedrosa who kept his nerve to take the chequered flag, with Lorenzo and Bautista completing the rostrum, making it the second ever premier-class podium for the San Carlo rider. This now cuts Pedrosa’s deficit to Lorenzo to 28 points with three races remaining. The first non-podium finisher in fourth was Dovizioso followed by Stoner, Bradl, Rossi, Ducati’s Nicky Hayden, Yamaha YSP Racing Team’s wildcard Katsuyuki Nakasuga and Pramac Racing Team’s Héctor Barberá. Top CRT spot went to De Puniet’s teammate Aleix Espargaró, whilst Came IodaRacing Project’s Danilo Petrucci had to retire on the last lap.
Race Result – Round 15
1 Dani Pedrosa 42’31.569 SPA HONDA Repsol Honda Team
2 Jorge Lorenzo +4.275 SPA YAMAHA Yamaha Factory Racing Team
3 Alvaro Bautista +6.752 SPA HONDA San Carlo Honda Gresini
4 Andrea Dovizioso +16.397 ITA YAMAHA Monster Yamaha Tech 3
5 Casey Stoner +20.566 AUS HONDA Repsol Honda Team
6 Stefan Bradl +24.567 GER HONDA LCR Honda MotoGP
7 Valentino Rossi +26.072 ITA DUCATI Ducati Team
8 Nicky Hayden +36.724 USA DUCATI Ducati Team
9 Katsuyuki Nakasuga +36.794 JAP YAMAHA Yamaha Factory Racing Team
10 Hector Barbera +1’10.729 SPA DUCATI Pramac Racing
11 Karel Abraham +1’15.658 CZE DUCATI Cardion AB Motoracing
12 Aleix Espargaro +1’22.769 ESP ART Aspar Team MotoGP
13 Colin Edwards +1’24.968 USA SUTER NGM Mobile Forward Racing
14 James Ellison +1’29.388 GBR ART Paul Bird Racing
15 Michele Pirro 1’34.612 ITA HONDA San Carlo Honda Gresini
16 Roberto Rolfo 1’50.853 ITA ART Speed Master
17 Cal Crutchlow DNF GBR YAMAHA Monster Yamaha Tech 3
18 Danilo Petrucci DNF ITA IODA Ioda Racing Project
19 Ivan Silva DNF SPA BQR-FTR BQR
20 Randy De Puniet DNF FRA ART Aspar Team MotoGP
21 Ben Spies DNF USA YAMAHA Yamaha Factory Racing Team
22 Yonny Hernandez DNF COL BQR-FTR BQR
1 Jorge Lorenzo 310 pts SPA YAMAHA Yamaha Factory Racing Team
2 Dani Pedrosa 282 pts SPA HONDA Repsol Honda Team
3 Casey Stoner 197 pts AUS HONDA Repsol Honda Team
4 Andrea Dovizioso 192 pts ITA YAMAHA Monster Yamaha Tech 3
5 Alvaro Bautista 144 pts SPA HONDA San Carlo Honda Gresini
6 Valentino Rossi 137 pts ITA DUCATI Ducati Team
7 Cal Crutchlow 135 pts GBR YAMAHA Monster Yamaha Tech 3
8 Stefan Bradl 125 pts GER HONDA LCR Honda MotoGP
9 Nicky Hayden 101 pts USA DUCATI Ducati Team
10 Ben Spies 88 pts USA YAMAHA Yamaha Factory Racing Team
11 Hector Barbera 70 pts SPA DUCATI Pramac Racing
12 Aleix Espargaro 55 pts ESP ART Aspar Team MotoGP
13 Randy De Puniet 53 pts FRA ART Aspar Team MotoGP
14 Karel Abraham 37 pts CZE DUCATI Cardion AB Motoracing
15 Yonny Hernandez 28 pts COL BQR-FTR BQR
It was Team CatalunyaCaixa Repsol’s Marc Márquez who staged a stunning comeback to win in an eventful and thrilling Moto2™ race at the AirAsia Grand Prix of Japan in Motegi in front of Pol Espargaró and Esteve Rabat.
The start proved eventful, as Márquez’s bike wasn’t in gear, causing him to head into the first corner almost last, as much of the grid passed him whilst he put it in gear. Yet as Marc VDS Racing Team’s Scott Redding led the early stages ahead of Tuenti Movil HP 40’s Pol Espargaró, Márquez impressively fought his way up to 7th within two laps. In frantic opening laps, the lead soon went to Espargaró’s teammate Esteve Rabat, whilst Italtrans Racing Team’s Toni Elías made his way into third.
With 19 laps to go Márquez had fought his way into fifth, while it was disappointing news for Tech 3 Racing’s Bradley Smith, who had to retire with a mechanical issue after looking strong all weekend. Two laps on it was almost over for Espargaró as he nearly lost control of his bike at full lean, yet put in an incredible save. Márquez also did well to avoid him as he nipped into second. It was then up to Rabat to hold off the change from the championship leader, who was all over his rear wheel with 14 laps left.
A lap later Márquez made use of the slipstream to go into the lead, whilst Espargaró had closed up in third. In the meantime, SAG Team’s wildcard Kohta Nozane was black-flagged after returning to the track after having previously retired. Redding’s teammate Mika Kallio ran wide with 11 laps to go, dropping him back down the order, whilst Espargaró went past Rabat to chase down Márquez. A few laps later, Mapfre Aspar Team Moto2’s Nico Terol copied Kallio and also ran wide at turn one on to the gravel. As the pack settled down, Espargaró caught up to Márquez with six laps to go as the pair rode a lonely race at the front. Three laps on and it was over for Elías as he crashed out of fifth place.
Espargaró tried to make his move half way through the penultimate lap, but nearly went into the back of Márquez. Rabat was holding strong in third, whilst Redding was trying to hold of Interwetten-Paddock’s Tom Lüthi. Espargaró kept pushing, though it was to no avail, as Márquez crossed the finish line first, with Rabat recording his first podium this season. This now puts Márquez 53 points clear at the top of the championship standings making him the clear favourite for the title. Redding held on for fourth, ahead of Lüthi, Came IodaRacing Project’s Simone Corsi, Elías teammate Takaaki Nakagami, JiR Moto2’s Johann Zarco, Espargaró’s teammate Axel Pons and Technomag-CIP’s Dominique Aegerter.
At the AirAsia Grand Prix of Japan in Motegi it was Red Bull KTM Ajo’s Danny Kent who took his maiden victory in an extremely dramatic Moto3™ race ahead of Maverick Viñales and Alessandro Tonucci.
Whilst Kent got away from the line best, it was RW Racing GP’s Luis Salom who got past to lead the first few corners. Technomag-CIP’s Alan Techer was given a ride through penalty because of a jump-start, as the leading group with Mapfre Aspar Team Moto3’s Jonas Folger, Salom, Kent and AirAsia-SIC-Ajo’s Zulfahmi Khairuddin started to pull out a gap. Meanwhile, Mahindra Racing’s Alessandro Moretti was forced to retire with a mechanical issue, while Racing Team Germany’s Toni Finsterbusch also had a problem with his bike on the home straight.
With 13 laps remaining the top four were being closed down by a pursuing group of three led by Team Italia FMI’s Alessandro Tonucci, with Cortese and Blusens Avintia’s Maverick Viñales in tow. Cortese, who had looked to be cruising, moved past his teammate Kent into third with six laps remaining, as Viñales also started to gather momentum. Three laps before the end Salom’s teammate Brad Binder was forced to retire, as the battle at the front truly commenced with the top six going fairing to fairing.
The last lap could not have been any more dramatic, as Salom pushed for the lead into turn one and took out leader Folger and himself. With Cortese in the lead and Viñales in fourth, the title was set to be the German’s, however Kent and Tonucci pushed their way past Cortese, with the German touching Tonucci’s wheels and dropping his bike, lucky to escape injury as the Italian hit him. Cortese was able to remount, yet could only cross the line in sixth.
In the end it was Kent who came out best to take the chequered flag to record his first ever win, ahead of Viñales and Tonucci, who recorded his first ever podium. This now moves Viñales into second in the championship, 56 points behind Cortese. Behind the trio in fourth was Estrella Galicia 0,0’s Alex Rins, followed by Khairuddin, Cortese, Rins’ teammate Miguel Oliveira, Racing Team Germany’s Louis Rossi, JHK t-shirt Laglisse’s Efrén Vázquez and Tonucci’s teammate Romano Fenati.
Salom was subsequently penalised for the incident with Folger, with the Spaniard deemed as “riding in an irresponsible manner during the Moto3 race, causing danger to rider Jonas Folger, which is an infringement to the article 1.21.2 of the 2012 FIM Road Racing World Championship Grand Prix regulations”, meaning he has a five place grid penalty in Sepang next weekend. No appeal was lodged by his team.
— Yamaha Report
Yamaha Factory Racing rider Jorge Lorenzo took his eighth second place finish of the season today in the Grand Prix of Japan at the Twin Ring Motegi circuit. Having started from pole, Lorenzo took the hole shot and led rival Dani Pedrosa until lap 11 when he was passed. Unable to better his rival’s pace, Lorenzo settled in behind and secured second place at the line to take 20 valuable Championship points. The result brings his total to 310, 28 ahead of Pedrosa with three races remaining.
Team mate Ben Spies had his Motegi race brought to a premature halt on the second lap of the race. The Texan’s brakes over heated going into turn one, leaving him no option but to run straight off the track for safety. The DNF means Spies remains in 10th place on 88 points.
Jorge Lorenzo / Position 2nd – Time: +4.275
“I was completely at the maximum trying to stay with Dani but today we had such different performance on the straights and he was also riding really well. I tried to stay with him but it was impossible, maybe next time it will be different. For sure the Championship is closer now, but we are still very competitive and have the chance to win.”
Ben Spies / DNF
“I’m incredibly frustrated with today’s result. We’ve known all weekend that the brakes could be an issue due to the tough nature of the track but I did not expect to have trouble on the second lap. The team has worked really hard all weekend and we’ve delivered podium pace with the bike so it’s not the result we deserve. We’ll go to Sepang now and try to put this behind us and hopefully have a trouble-free weekend.”
Wilco Zeelenberg – Yamaha Factory Racing Team Manager
“An important second place of course but a little disappointing to lose the win to Dani. You have to keep in mind that we have a lot to lose at the moment. We know how Jorge is, he would like to win each one but also in his mind is the Championship and you can see that during the race.”
Massimo Meregalli – Yamaha Factory Racing Team Director
“Ben had an issue with the brakes on the second lap of the race. This circuit is very demanding for the braking system and most of the riders highlighted the same problems, although Ben suffered more than anybody else. The warm-up lap and lap one of the race went relatively smoothly but then on the second lap he was not able to stop the bike. Data does not show anything different on that corner compared with previous practices. Jorge once again showed his talent and cleverness. He tried at the beginning to stay in front but then used his experience to maintain second position and look forward to bigger results. We are going to Sepang not aiming for another second but for the win.”
Dovizioso fourth, Crutchlow frustrated in Japan
The Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Team experienced mixed emotions in today’s Grand Prix of Japan after Andrea Dovizioso took a hard fought fourth position, but Cal Crutchlow was forced to retire out of podium contention on the final lap.
Crutchlow produced an outstanding performance to engage in a titanic battle for third position with Spanish rider Alvaro Bautista that went right down to the last lap in front of a crowd of over 37,000 appreciative fans.
Determined to score his second rostrum finish of the 2012 World Championship campaign, Crutchlow was just preparing his attack on the final lap when his YZR-M1 machine ran out of fuel as he entered Turn 3.
Crutchlow’s cruel misfortune moved Dovizioso into fourth position after he had fought his way through from outside of the top six in the early stages. The Italian moved into the top six on lap 10 when he powered his YZR-M1 by Stefan Bradl and he seized fifth on lap 17 from reigning World Champion Casey Stoner.
Dovizioso maintained a constant rhythm and he was satisfied to end a difficult weekend with a top five finish when Crutchlow’s unfortunate retirement moved him to fourth. He now trails Stoner by just five points in the battle for third position in the overall standings heading to the next phase of the flyaway triple-header at the Sepang track in Malaysia.
Andrea Dovizioso / Position 4th – Time: +16.397
“It’s hard to be satisfied with this fourth place and there is a few reasons why. First of all I was not as fast as I believe I should be. It was actually a strange weekend because of the problems with the brakes. This track is so hard for braking that we worked a lot and tried many things to solve that problem. But at the beginning of the race the brakes did not work properly and I did not understand why and I had to keep some margin in the corners, as I could not stop as I normally do. After a few laps it started to get better and I could push more and more but I had already lost a lot of time. I did not ride as smooth as I wanted as well, so I could not catch up to Alvaro and Cal. It’s a pity because I expected more from this weekend, so I suppose fourth is not so bad. Now I’m looking forward to going to Sepang next week where I am confident I will be battling for the podium again.”
Cal Crutchlow / DNF
“All I can do after the way the race finished is take the positives from this weekend and there are a lot. This isn’t a good track for me and I was struggling on Friday, yet I managed to get on the front row of the grid again and for the whole race I was fighting for the podium. The improvements we made from Friday were massive and I am proud of the job that my crew and myself did this weekend. But there is no denying that I am disappointed as well because I was confident I could have passed Alvaro on the last lap. It wouldn’t have been easy because he was riding very well and it was a very enjoyable battle with him. I had a lot of fun and I’m sure he did too and it is just unfortunate that we couldn’t take the fight right to the very end. Even fourth would have been good for my hopes of finishing fifth in the Championship but I lost a lot of points today. We knew fuel consumption was going to be critical. I was very fast and for almost the whole race I was on my own with no slipstream, so I used more fuel. I’ve proven again though that I can fight with the best in the world and now I’m looking forward to Sepang. I had two good tests there earlier this year and I’m excited to go back and try to battle for the top three again.”
Hervé Poncharal – Monster Yamaha Tech3 Team Manager
“It is a pity that we were not able to enjoy our normal strong showing in Yamaha’s home race but Cal could not have done anything more to score a podium. He was giving his maximum right from the first lap to the last and it was a pity that he had to retire when he was so close to third. We knew this track was going to be critical for fuel consumption. It is all hard braking and hard acceleration and Cal’s pace was incredibly fast. The temperature was cooler too and we knew it would be on the limit. When we saw Cal slowing and then stopping on the last lap we were pretty sure he had run out of fuel. It is a shame but we have to look at the positives and once again he started on the front row and put up another fantastic battle for the podium. Cal is certainly giving the fans some entertainment this year because he always seems to be in a big fight. He deserved to finish but once again he has proved to be fast enough to fight for the top three. It was a steady race from Andrea and he was able to score some very important Championship points. He never gave up despite not feeling totally comfortable and confident with the bike and I know he was expecting more. He is very fast at Sepang, so hopefully next weekend he will be closer to the fight at the front.”
In the Yamaha YSP Racing Team’s first-ever MotoGP race, rider Katsuyuki Nakasuga finished the race in 9th place, scoring 7 points. Starting from 11th position on the fourth row of the starting grid on the YZR-M1, Nakasuga moved up one position to 10th place in the first lap. On the second lap, however, he was passed by Nicky Hayden to fall back to 11th place once again, but when Ben Spies ran off the track while in 3rd position, Nakasuga again found himself in 10th position. Down to the last lap Nakasuga continued to chase Hayden closely with the gap varying from 0.3 and 0.5 seconds, at times running faster lap times than his rival. Coming out of the final corner and onto the finish straight Nakasuga used the slipstream to move alongside Hayden as they crossed the finish line, but fell just 0.07 seconds short of passing him. With Cal Clutchrow dropping out of the race in the final lap, Nakasuga managed to score a solid a 9th place finish.
Katsuyuki Nakasuga – Position 9th – Time: +36.794
“I really appreciated this opportunity to compete for the YSP team in MotoGP, the pinnacle of road racing and the competition that all riders dream of racing in. My entry this time was partly as a test rider, so I was glad to get through race weekend without any falls and, although I wasn’t able to pass him, I felt fortunate to complete the race running close behind Nicky Hayden and seeing the performance of one of the top riders in the world. I feel this experience has improved me as a racer. I wasn’t able to reach my goal of finishing 6th or better, but I was able to score a top-ten finish and to run in the 1’47 lap range as I had planned. Now I want to apply the experience I gained here to my racing in Japan’s JSB1000 class series. I am truly grateful for this opportunity to race in such an intense, highly competitive race and for the support I have received from the fans, the YSP team and staff and everyone involved.”
Koji Tsuya, Yamaha YSP Racing Team Supervisor
“During the race some minor machine trouble developed that required some adjustment in Nakasuga’s pace, but he was still able to defend his position in a field of MotoGP regulars, so I’m sure this has been a big confidence boost for him. As a test rider he also gave us some precious data during the race week, and along with his performance in the race, I feel he did a fine job for us. I want to express our thanks to everyone who supported the Yamaha YSP Racing Team and Nakasuga. Thank you all.”
Kazuo Itabashi, Yamaha YSP Racing Team Manager (YSP Members Club Chairman/YSP Narimasu)
“I want to say how grateful we are to have had this opportunity to compete in such a great race as the MotoGP Grand Prix of Japan with Katsuyuki Nakasuga as rider and with the support of Yamaha Motor and Yamaha Motor Marketing, despite the tough conditions in the Japanese motorcycle market these days. This has given us a needed shot of new energy in the midst of a depressed market. And I feel this has been a good stimulus not only for YSP but also for the entire industry. At the same time, having the YSP logo put so prominently on the MotoGP machine that competes at the very highest level of the sport, and to have the team crew on the MotoGP tarmac wearing the same YSP uniforms we use in our daily business, has surely boosted the YSP brand image in front of an international audience. Also, as representative of the YSP Members Club, I want to express our gratitude to all the spectators in the stands today wearing headbands and waving the big YSP flag, and to all Yamaha fans around Japan, to the sponsors and the many other people that have supported us in our race activities. This time, Nakasuga had important responsibilities as a machine development rider, and in a couple of weeks time he will be competing for the title in Japan’s JSB1000 championship, which meant he was in a position where he couldn’t afford any falls or injuries. Nonetheless he was able to deliver a fantastic performance in the world’s pinnacle race arena. I want to thank him for the great job of getting 9th place and seven series points. I was truly grateful seeing the way he performed. And, I think this must have been a big boost for his confidence as well. I hope he will go on to win the JSB1000 championship and the entire team staff will be able to celebrate with him.”
— HRC Report
Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda RC213V) stormed to a personal best fifth MotoGP win of the season at Twin Ring Motegi, the circuit owned by Honda and with Honda Motor Company President Takanobu Ito cheering him on.
Adding to the celebration was that Pedrosa was joined on the podium by San Carlo Honda Gresini rider Alvaro Bautista, who earned his second MotoGP podium a day after it was announced he had re-signed with the Gresini Honda team. And in his return to racing after a two month injury lay-off, world champion Casey Stoner (Repsol Honda RC213V) finished fifth as he prepares to be as race fit as possible for his home grand prix at Phillip Island in two weeks’ time.
Starting from the middle of the front row, Pedrosa stalked early leader Jorge Lorenzo
(Yamaha) until the 12th of 24 laps, when he made a clean pass in the right hand turn five. Pedrosa controlled the pace for the duration, opening up a second gap on the 14th lap and pushing it up to 1.6s a lap later. The gap remained constant until there were four laps to go when he put it near two seconds and over on lap
By winning for the second year in a row at Motegi, Pedrosa closed the championship points gap on Lorenzo to 28, 310 to 282,with three races remaining. Stoner sits third in the championship with 197 points.
The victory was also a celebration of Twin Ring Motegi, the circuit which signed on to host the Japanese Grand Prix through 2018.
Bautista caught up to Cal Crutchlow (Yamaha) on the 14th lap and the fight for third was on. The Spaniard patiently waited until the 20th lap before making his move. Crutchlow tried to strike back, but Bautista had the counter-measure.
The race for the final podium spot went down to the final lap but ended prematurely when Crutchlow ran out of gas. That gave Bautista a clean path to his second MotoGP podium. (He was also third in the San Marino Grand Prix.) And the podium moved him to a career high fifth in the championship.
Stoner was not sure what to expect when the race started. His surgically repaired right ankle gave him limited mobility and denied him the lean angle needed to get around the track’s many slow corners. He was also on a race bike for the first time in two months, using muscles that had mostly lain dormant since the accident in Indianapolis.
Stoner was up as high as fourth before being passed by Andrea Dovizioso (Yamaha) seven laps from the finish. By then he was physically exhausted, both from having to compensate for his injured ankle and the demands of racing, which he had not experienced for months.
Still, it was an important first step on his return to the race track. Now he has a few days off before the steamy heat of Malaysia, then his home grand prix at his beloved Phillip Island, where he will be looking to win for the sixth time in succession.
Stefan Bradl (LCR Honda MotoGP) finished four seconds behind Stoner while battling a pair of issues. The first was mechanical. Damage from a crash in qualifying prevented him from steering his LCR Honda MotoGP RC213V properly. The carry-on effect was that he had to ride the motorcycle differently and after 10 laps began to feel the onset of arm pump.
Michele Pirro (San Carlo Honda Gresini FTR) scored the final point in 15th place. The MotoGP rookie did not feel that the stop-start circuit suited his machine, though he was able to finish in the points, an important consideration for the first year CRT team. Now he was looking forward to the next few tracks which he believes will better suit the characteristics of the Honda CNR1000RR-powered machine.
Team CatalunyaCaixa Repsol – Suter Marc Marquez recovered from a disastrous start to win his eighth race of the season and stand on the cusp of the 2012 Moto2 World Championship.
Second on the grid, the championship leader failed to put his Honda-powered machine in gear-a “rookie mistake,” he called it-as the pack sped by on both sides, miraculously avoiding him. He was fifth from the end into the first corner, after which his serious work began.
The championship leader gobbled up riders in bunches. He was ninth at the end of the first lap, seventh a lap later, and sixth on lap three.
He stalled in fourth for two laps before continuing his charge up the order. By lap six he was third, second a lap later, and on the tenth lap he passed Tito Rabat (Tuenti Movil HP 40 – Kalex) for the lead.
Pol Espargaro, Rabat’s team-mate, took over second on the 13th of 23 laps and the battle was on.
Espargaro seemed content to sit in second, waiting, watching and stalking. On the penultimate lap he made his move going into the turn five right, but nearly clipped Marquez’s rear wheel. That dropped him back and it appeared Marquez had a clear pass to the finish. But on the final lap Espargaro was right back on him. His best chance would come in the hard braking downhill turn 11 90 Degree Corner. Marquez protected the corner, then held off his fellow Spaniard and championship rival to win by .415 sec.
Marquez now leads Espargaro 283 to 230 with three races remaining. If he finishes 50 points or more in front of Espargaro following next weekend’s Malaysian Grand Prix, he will conclude his Moto2 career as the world champion. Marquez will join Dani Pedrosa on the Repsol Honda MotoGP team in 2013.
Rabat earned his fifth career podium and first of the season. He was nine seconds behind Espargaro. Rabat led from the second to then ninth lap before being passed by Marquez on lap ten. Three laps later Espargaro made his way past.
Rabat began riding differently, losing grip and control of his motorcycle. Then he calmed down and raced to his secure third place finish.
The battle for fourth went to Scott Redding (Marc VDS Racing Team – Kalex) in a battle with Thomas Luthi (Interwetten-Paddock Suter). Toni Elias was part of the fight until he crashed four laps from the end in his debut as the replacement for Claudio Corti with the Italtrans Racing Team.
Maverick Vinales (Blusens Avintia – FTR Honda) moved back into second in the Moto3 World Championship by avoiding the carnage that consumed a number of riders on the race’s final lap to finish second.
Vinales rode a brilliant tactical race, not showing his hand too early as the lead pack went from four to eight to six to five, and finally to four. Vinales was sixth on the final lap when the fireworks began. First leader Jonas Folger was taken out in the first turn by Luis Salom. That reduced the lead pack to four with Vinales at the end of it.
Then, in the 90 degree corner at the end of the back straight, the order changed, and championship leader Sandro Cortese tried to forge his way past Alessandro Tonucci (Team Italian FMI – FTR Honda). Cortese went down, Tonucci did well to stay upright, and Vinales sped through to finish second by .260s to first time winner Danny Kent of Great Britain.
Vinales moved back in front of Salom in the championship. Now he is second to Cortese, who remounted to finish sixth. The gap is 56 points.
Tonucci was jubilant with his first podium on a track where he had his best race of 2011. His previous best was tenth in this year’s Czech Grand Prix and also in last year’s Japanese Grand Prix.
Alex Rins (Estrella Galicia 0,0 – Suter Honda) made it three Hondas in a row by winning the battle for fourth. Rins had to work his way back towards the front after running off track on the first lap. That dropped him to 14th from where he would begin his resurgence.
Rins began the final lap in eighth place, and moved up two spots after two Luis Salom crashed into race leader Jonas Folger in the first turn. A second two-rider incident involving Tonucci and Cortese moved Rins up two more spots to fourth.
The MotoGP paddock is busy packing up for the trip to the Malaysian Grand Prix where practice starts in less than five days’ time.
MotoGP Rider Quotes:
Dani Pedrosa, Repsol Honda: Race winner
“ It was a hard race because the pace was very fast from the beginning. I tried to understand the bike, as yesterday we had a lot of chatter so I didn’t know how it would be today. In the beginning it wasn’t too bad, but then it got a little worse during the race. I managed it as best I could and I stayed with Jorge [Lorenzo], I was able to get a better line out of the corner and pass him and then I put in some good laps and controlled the gap. Jorge tried to stay with me, but then decided to settle for the second place.
We did what we needed to do and it’s just a pity that there is no one else who can stay with us because every race I win, he’s been second. But anyway, it’s a great feeling to win races and we are doing it now. Thanks to Honda and the whole team, I’m really happy to win again here in Motegi!”
Alvaro Bautista, San Carlo Honda Gresini: 3rd “A beautiful great weekend with the signing of the contract for next season with Gresini Racing.
I am very happy today. I knew we could do well and fight for the podium, because yesterday we had been shown to have a good race pace. I tried and I did it. I did not start very well, I lost some positions, but I quickly recovered. Then when I caught (Cal) Crutchlow I saw that we were riding at the same rate, and so I tried to keep a safe distance so as not to overheat the brakes For five laps I pushed more and I attacked and I have to say that the battle with him was beautiful and I enjoyed it. I am very happy for the guys in the team who have always worked a lot with the Showa to give me a good performance, for the sponsors and the HRC that is giving us all the support and I hope to continue like this for the next races.”
Casey Stoner: Repsol Honda: 5th
“ I’m a little disappointed to be honest. We slowly improved over the weekend and got the bike to a point we were pretty happy with in warm up.
At the start of the race I felt had the pace to stay with Dani [Pedrosa] and Jorge [Lorenzo] and the bike was feeling pretty good. Then as the race progressed my body started to suffer and ache in ways I didn’t expect. We had the pace to run a lot higher and be on the podium but unfortunately I couldn’t manage it physically today. A big thanks to my team, they gave me a fantastic bike today, but I couldn’t do anymore in my condition.”
Stefan Bradl, LCR Honda MotoGP: 6th
“We had a little problem today due to yesterday’s crash: Unfortunately I was not really able to steer the bike and after 10 laps I was struggling a lot and I have never had such a big problem with the arm pump. At the beginning I could easily follow the group in the front of me with Stoner and Dovizioso, but the problem with my breaking hand got worse and worse lap by lap and I could not go any faster. I had to slow down and managed to finish the race 6th. It’s a bit frustrating and this was surely not a perfect weekend for us but I aim to bounce back in Malaysia next weekend.”
Michele Pirro, San Carlo Honda Gresini: 15th “I was hoping to get a better result, but in the end I must say that the result that we brought home that’s fine. We managed to finish the race and for us this is already an important goal. We still have to work and do it in the next races on tracks that perhaps may better suit the characteristics of our bike.”
Marc Marquez, Team CatalunyaCaixa Repsol – Suter: Race winner “I made a huge mistake on the start it was a rookie mistake. When I engaged first gear I noticed something strange, but at that moment I was only focusing on the lights and on making a good start. I didn’t think to check that the gear had slotted in correctly. When the lights went out I found I was still in neutral and the first thing to cross my mind was to hope that nobody hit me from behind. I wasn’t just because I didn’t want to miss the race, but rather that the other rider and myself could have been very badly hurt. I had a lot of luck in that respect, but on the opening corner I was very far back and had to give 100% on the early laps. When I saw that I wasn’t with the lead group, my aim was to take as many points as possible. However, I surprised myself with how I moved up places and reached the frontrunners. From then on, I took things much
more calmly when it came to overtaking. From the midway point through to the end we had a better pace than in qualifying, which is very positive as Motegi is a track where the Kalexes go very well. To take 25 points here is important.”
Pol Espargaro, Pons 40 HP Tuenti – Kalex: 2nd “I’ve had enough trouble in the first laps on the new tyres and I had a couple of scares that almost led me to the ground. After I began to move up, I met Tito (Rabat) and then I started the pursuit of (Marc) Marquez. As before I could ride a little faster, as the final lap of 1.51.0, but I have less acceleration and good braking is not enough to overtake. We will work to have a little more acceleration in Malaysia and try to not let Marc become champion. I will keep fighting as long as a one percent chance, but this time the distance has increased and is a race less. I took ten podiums all season long, but we lack a little to win more races.”
Tito Rabat, Pons 40 HP Tuenti – Kalex: 3rd “It was a very difficult race and I’m happy, because I worked very hard and I deserved it. I want to dedicate this to my mother, who since early this year is not with us, and I hope in the future to devote a further step of the podium. I started well and felt comfortable, but when I have gone into the lead, first Marc (Marquez) and Pol (Espargaro) went past. I attacked a bit, I lost concentration and I lost them. When I was behind them, instinctively I changed my riding, I start to lose grip and wasn’t controlling the bike. After I calmed down, I came back to ride with ease and have had no trouble keeping the distance with those ahead of me and ensured the podium. I think it was a great weekend and we have learned that we are able to go fast in some circuits. It would be a dream to fight to win before the year-end.”
— Ducati Report
Valentino Rossi and Nicky Hayden finished the Japanese Grand Prix in seventh and eighth places, respectively. The Italian rode at a consistent pace from start to finish, without suffering an excessive drop in performance near the end, but the gap to the leaders’ lap times was enough to prevent him from fighting for a better position.
Over the course of the weekend, Hayden never managed to find a satisfactory setup, and as a result he struggled to maintain a good rhythm in today’s race.
The Ducati Team now moves on to Malaysia, where next weekend will find them taking part in the second of three consecutive overseas races.
Valentino Rossi (Ducati Team) 7th
“I think we did the best that we could over the whole weekend. We worked well on the bike, and I had a good setting for the race today. Unfortunately, this is our potential at the moment, and our pace still isn’t at the same level as the others, especially in the early laps. Today I rode at the maximum for the whole race, I tried to catch Bradl, and I got closer near the end. I think we’ve found consistency since we’ve had the new frame and swingarm, but there’s still work to do. We still lose a lot on acceleration, where we’re not able to put all the horsepower to the ground because the tyre spins too much, especially exiting the slower corners. Anyway, we’ll try our best until the end and see how it goes.”
Nicky Hayden (Ducati Team) 8th
“It wasn’t a great race for me. We were a little bit behind all weekend, but then this morning we thought we had made up some ground. In the race, though, I was having troubles getting the bike stopped, especially in the early laps. I lacked front feeling and was running wide, and although that improved as the race went on, I also had problems with vibration from the rear and didn’t have a very good pace. Normally our bike is really good in straight-line braking, so it’s a shame Vale and I struggled here, but anyway, it’s good to finish a race and have something to build on. Thanks to the team for their work and to my physiotherapist, Freddie Dente, for helping me to manage the race with a fracture in my wrist. We’ll try to regroup and look forward to Sepang.”
Vittoriano Guareschi, Team Manager
“We certainly can’t be satisfied with the seventh and eighth places that we had today, but I still think that the team worked well over the course of the weekend, enabling Valentino to have a steady race. Now we must focus our efforts on improving the bike’s behaviour under acceleration, which is the area where we still have a big margin for improvement. Nicky had difficulties all weekend and never did find a setup that was well-suited for this track, which requires very good feeling on braking.”
— Bridgestone Report
Bridgestone slick compounds available: Front: Soft, Medium, Hard. Rear: Soft, Medium (Asymmetric)
Bridgestone wet tyre compounds available: Soft (Main), Hard (Alternative)
Weather: Dry. Ambient 19-19°C; Track 29-27°C (Bridgestone measurement)
Repsol Honda’s Dani Pedrosa continued his imperious form in the MotoGP™ World Championship by setting a new circuit lap record on course to claiming his fifth victory of the season.
Pedrosa’s main challenger once again was Yamaha Factory Racing’s Jorge Lorenzo with the two riders closely matched for the first half of the race before Pedrosa passed his rival on lap eleven and went on to win by 4.275 seconds. Lorenzo’s second place secures a valuable twenty points for his championship challenge while San Carlo Honda Gresini’s Alvaro Bautista took third place to ensure an all-Spanish MotoGP™ podium.
Tyre choice for the race was the same for every rider with the combination of the harder front and softer asymmetric rear slick best suiting the numerous acceleration and braking zones at Motegi. Weather conditions today were dry yet slightly cooler than yesterday due to some cloud cover in the afternoon with a peak track temperature of 29°C recorded during the race.
Pedrosa’s win at Motegi means he closes the gap to Lorenzo in the championship table to twenty-eight points with three rounds remaining. On the other Repsol Honda, Casey Stoner remains third overall in the riders classification after a valiant fifth place in his comeback race following an ankle injury.
Yuichiro Takenami – Vice President and Senior Officer, Corporate Communications and Motorsport
“My warmest congratulations to Dani and Repsol Honda for their victory at Motegi today. This was a very enjoyable weekend for the fans with the nice weather, various paddock activities and an exciting race combining to create a pleasant atmosphere, and I am pleased that Bridgestone is able to take part in such a wonderful activity. We are proud of our partnership with MotoGP as it provides the best possible environment for us to develop motorcycle tyre technology for the racetrack and road, and we are committed to continuing our fair and equal support of every rider and team in the paddock with the highest level of service.”
Shinichi Yamashita – General Manager, Bridgestone Motorsport Tyre Development Department
“Today’s race was held under cooler conditions than those experienced on Friday and Saturday, though this didn’t have any effect on tyre choice. All riders selected the same tyre combination of the harder front and softer rear slick as high levels of rear grip and front-end stability are important at Motegi due to its stop-and-go layout. The tyres performed well during the race with a new circuit lap record being set and the top three riders completing the race faster than last year’s total race time. Overall, it was a positive showing for our 2012 specification MotoGP tyres at Bridgestone’s home Grand Prix.”
Dani Pedrosa, Repsol Honda – Race Winner
“It was a hard race because from the beginning the pace was very fast. I tried to get a feeling for the bike in the early laps and it wasn’t too bad, and there was a moment where I got good drive out of a corner which allowed me to pass Jorge and then I just tried to build a gap. I suffered a bit of chatter towards the end of the race but I was able to manage it, and it’s great to get another win for my team and Honda here at Motegi, so I am happy.”