Motegi MotoGP: Marquez crowned champion as Rossi and Lorenzo crash

Marc Marquez was crowned a three-time MotoGP champion by claiming his first-ever win at Honda’s home track Motegi on Sunday, as Yamaha rivals Valentino Rossi and Jorge Lorenzo crashed out.

Motegi MotoGP: Marquez crowned champion as Rossi and Lorenzo crash
Jorge Lorenzo, Yamaha Factory Racing
Andrea Dovizioso, Ducati Team
Maverick Viñales, Team Suzuki Ecstar MotoGP
Aleix Espargaro, Team Suzuki Ecstar MotoGP
Cal Crutchlow, Team LCR Honda
Alvaro Bautista, Aprilia Gresini Racing Team
Scott Redding, Octo Pramac Racing
Scott Redding, Octo Pramac Racing
Scott Redding, Octo Pramac Racing

Rossi – who qualified on pole despite suffering an illness – fell in the early stages while in pursuit of Marquez, losing the front end of his Yamaha as he turned in to Turn 10.

Lorenzo – who was carrying leg and elbow injuries from his vicious practice crash – had to finish on the podium to stop Marquez sealing the title here, and looked set to do so until he too fell with a handful of laps remaining.

Marquez made no mistakes, however, and once he’d dispatched Lorenzo in the opening laps, he pulled away to record a dominant fifth victory of the season. 

Story of the race

Rossi suffered a poor start from pole, allowing Marquez to lead the charge to the first corner, but Lorenzo passed him on the inside of the exit of Turn 1 – bringing Rossi with him. Marquez fought back, grabbing second again.

Suzuki’s quick-starting Aleix Espargaro briefly passed Rossi for third, but the Italian got him back swiftly.

Despite torn ligaments in his calf, and a painful elbow, Lorenzo led Marquez, Rossi, Espargaro, Andrea Dovizioso and Cal Crutchlow. Maverick Vinales passed Crutchlow on lap two for sixth.

Rossi grabbed second from Marquez again on lap two, but Marquez repassed him immediately.

Marquez scythed past Lorenzo after a couple of laps stalking him, and then pulled clear as Rossi initially toiled to find a way past his teammate. He got the job done two laps later.

Rossi was almost a second in arrears of Marquez at this point, and fell at Turn 10 as he attempted to close the gap to the leader. He needed marshals to lift the bike off him, as it was pinning him to the ground by his leg, but managed to restart. This was to no avail, however, as he pulled in to the pits to retire.

Dovizioso passed Espargaro for fourth, which became third due to Rossi’s exit. The Italian’s fall also promoted his teammate Lorenzo back to second in the points table – but the reigning champion still had to finish on the podium to stop Marquez being crowned today.

That became irrelevant when Lorenzo dropped his Yamaha in left-handed Turn 9, crashing out.

Vinales outbraked Espargaro for fourth at Turn 1 with seven laps to go, only to run wide and hand the place back to his teammate, but he made the move stick a lap later.

With the Yamaha duo’s exit, Dovizioso cruised to the runner-up spot, 3sec behind Marquez, with Vinales and Espargaro next up.

Crutchlow finished fifth, well clear of Tech 3’s Pol Espargaro and Aprilia’s Alvaro Bautista. Pramac Ducati pair Danilo Petrucci and Scott Redding were eighth and ninth respectively, with Stefan Bradl making it two Aprilias in the top 10.

Aspar’s Eugene Laverty crashed his Ducati early at Turn 9. Jack Miller crashed his Marc VDS Honda at Turn 1, as did Hector Barbera – who was riding Andrea Iannone’s works Ducati.

Japanese GP results

PosRiderBikeTime
1   Marc Marquez  Honda 42'34.610
2   Andrea Dovizioso  Ducati 42'37.602
3   Maverick Viñales  Suzuki 42'38.714
4   Aleix Espargaro  Suzuki 42'39.336
5   Cal Crutchlow  Honda 42'49.659
6   Pol Espargaro  Yamaha 42'54.264
7   Alvaro Bautista  Aprilia 42'57.642
8   Danilo Petrucci  Ducati 43'03.165
9   Scott Redding  Ducati 43'03.412
10   Stefan Bradl  Aprilia 43'06.940
11   Katsuyuki Nakasuga  Yamaha 43'17.455
12   Yonny Hernandez  Ducati 43'26.829
13   Bradley Smith  Yamaha 43'28.393
14   Tito Rabat  Honda 43'29.370
15   Hiroshi Aoyama  Honda 43'34.765
16   Loris Baz  Ducati 43'39.050
17   Hector Barbera  Ducati 44'17.576
18   Mike Jones  Ducati 42'51.865
DNF    Jorge Lorenzo  Yamaha 33'43.286
DNF    Valentino Rossi  Yamaha 10'42.812
DNF    Jack Miller  Honda 10'53.385
DNF    Eugene Laverty  Ducati 3'45.477
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