Motegi Moto3: Fenati dominates, Mir fails to score
Romano Fenati took his second Moto3 victory in the space of three races in torrential conditions at Motegi, keeping the title race open as points leader Joan Mir struggled to 17th.
With an advantage of 80 points at the head of the standings, Leopard rider Mir had his first chance to close out the championship in Japan, with a victory or second place enough to guarantee him the crown.
However, the Spaniard could do no more than P14 in a wet qualifying session, which combined with his six-place grid penalty for "irresponsible riding" in Aragon meant he would start down in P20.
Things failed to improve for Mir in the race, as he dropped two places on the opening lap, seemingly lacking the confidence to push in the tricky conditions.
Meanwhile, from sixth on the grid, Fenati - who simply rode away from the pack in similar weather at Misano - was up to second by the end of the opening lap, and passed Niccolo Antonelli for the lead after a brief duel between the pair on the third lap.
By the end of the following tour, Snipers rider Fenati was 1.4s to the good, and two laps later he had extended the gap to more than two seconds.
In the end, Fenati cruised unchallenged to a third win of the season and the 10th of his career by a margin of 4.146s from Ajo KTM man Antonelli, who scored his first podium of the year in second.
Mir on the other hand finished out the points for the first time this season in P17, 23.8s down on nearest championship rival Fenati at the chequered flag.
It means his lead in the standings is slashed to 55 points with three races remaining.
Completing the podium was an unfamiliar face in the form of 18-year-old CIP Mahindra rookie Marco Bezzecchi, whose best result prior to this weekend was 14th.
Local hero Tatsuki Suzuki (SIC58) likewise scored a career-best result in fourth place, ahead of Aron Canet (Estrella Galicia), whose theoretical title hopes were ended with a run to fifth.
Poleman Nicolo Bulega (Sky Racing VR46) dropped from first to 15th with a dire opening lap, and could only recover to 12th place by the finish, 18s down on Fenati.
|7||21||Fabio Di Giannantonio||Honda||15.482|
|Ret||58||Juan Francisco Guevara||KTM||2 laps|
|Ret||19||Gabriel Rodrigo||KTM||4 laps|
|Ret||71||Ayumu Sasaki||Honda||4 laps|
|Ret||7||Adam Norrodin||Honda||7 laps|
|Ret||96||Manuel Pagliani||Mahindra||12 laps|
|Ret||48||Lorenzo Dalla Porta||Mahindra||-|
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