Jorge Lorenzo kept his championship chances alive after winning the Japanese Grand Prix at Motegi. The Yamaha rider took full advantage of his pole position and led the race from start to finish.
Lorenzo, who is looking to pick up his third title in the Moto GP format, finished ahead of championship leader Marc Marquez and his Honda teammate Dani Pedrosa. Subsequently, Marquez now finds himself 13 points clear atop of the overall standings, with 25 points on offer once again in the last round at Valencia.
World Championship Standings:
|Marc Marquez (SPA)||318|
|Jorge Lorenzo (SPA)||305|
|Dani Pedrosa (SPA)||280|
|Valentino Rossi (ITA)||224|
|Cal Crutchlow (GB)||188|
Today’s result means the title fight will be a straight shoot-out between Lorenzo and Marquez, with Pedrosa’s third place finish here seeing him out of the picture. He was many pundits’ tip here after winning in Japan the previous two seasons.
Pedrosa and his Honda teammate did make an excellent fist of things here, though. Whilst Lorenzo sprinted off the line into what looked like an initial unassailable lead, Marquez and Pedrosa rallied. They cut the gap to within one second of the Yamaha rider at one stage, and put Lorenzo under immense pressure with the laps remaining ticking into single figures.
But Lorenzo kept his head, remained calm and saw off the challenge (from BBC Sport):
This track is normally better for them so winning here in Honda's home race is a pleasure. It's been a really hard, physical race but I really kept my concentration and I really wanted this victory.
Marquez is still the favourite to claim the title, but he is now facing the very real possibility of blowing what looked to be an insurmountable championship lead. The 20-year-old has lost to Lorenzo twice in the last three outings, and found himself disqualified in Australia last time out.
A superb finale in Valencia now awaits.
Further down the field, Alvaro Bautista and Stefan Bradl gave the top five a Honda-ish dominance, as they finished fourth and fifth respectively.
Lorenzo’s veteran teammate Valentino Rossi ended up in sixth place, that despite finding himself in second position after the first lap. The Yamaha rider ran wide into turn 11 soon after, though. And quite remarkably, he repeated the error the very next lap. Rossi found himself down in 11th place after his trip to the gravel and in the end did well to recover into sixth position.
Elsewhere, Cal Crutchlow finished in a respectable seventh position, a result he will be pleased with after a dismal qualifying session saw him start out of the top 10.
Here’s your classified top 10 from today’s race:
1. Jorge Lorenzo (Spa) Yamaha 42'34.291
2. Marc Marquez (Spa) Repsol Honda 42'37.479
3. Dani Pedrosa (Spa) Repsol, Honda 42'38.883
4. Alvaro Bautista (Spa) Gresini Honda 42'54.046
5. Stefan Bradl (Ger) LCR Honda 42'57.101
6. Valentino Rossi (Ita) Yamaha 42'58.928
7. Cal Crutchlow (Gbr) Tech 3 Yamaha 43'01.787
8. Bradley Smith (Gbr) Tech 3 Yamaha 43'05.260
9. Nicky Hayden (Usa) Ducati 43'11.301
10. Andrea Dovizioso (Ita) Ducati 43'17.235