News 15 Oct 2017

Dovizioso edges Marquez in wet Motegi MotoGP thriller

Marquez conquers Moto2, Fenati keeps Moto3 hopes alive and Toparis finishes.

Source: Supplied.

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 for his 100th-career podium, 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 six and the cat and mouse continued. Marquez then hit back with a brutal pass in turn three with three laps to go, and the fuse was lit. Duelling 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 eight 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 Dovizioso 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, 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 10 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 12th it was wildcard Yamalube Factory Racing rider Katsuyuki Nakasuga 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 okay.

Alex Marquez (EG 0,0 Marc VDS) put in a wet weather masterclass at the Twin Ring Motegi, taking his third Moto2 win. Pulling away over the latter laps, Marquez was followed home by Xavi Vierge (Tech 3 Racing), who took his first podium, and Hafizh Syahrin (Petronas Raceline Malaysia) as the Malaysian took his second podium in three races. Remy Gardner (Tech3 Racing) crossed the line 12th.

Romano Fenati (Marinelli Rivacold Snipers) is now the Moto3 rider with the most wins since the class was introduced in 2012, taking his perfect 10th victory in incredible style at the Twin Ring Motegi. With wet weather all weekend, the race was no exception and Fenati once again showed his supremacy in the rain.

Niccolo Antonelli (Red Bull KTM Ajo) converted solid pace and a front row start into his first podium since the beginning of 2016 after an impressive ride to second, with Marco Bezzecchi (CIP) taking his first rostrum finish in third and making it three manufacturers on the podium with Honda, KTM and Mahindra. Australian Tom Toparis rode his Cube Racing KTM to 24th at race’s end, gaining critical milage in the lead-up to Phillip Island.