Today’s Grand Prix of Japan started with an incredible fight for the lead involving Jorge Lorenzo and Valentino Rossi, but came to an abrupt end for the Movistar Yamaha MotoGP team with a double DNF at the Twin Ring Motegi circuit.
The Movistar Yamaha MotoGP team were unlucky to see both riders crash out of a promising second place at the Twin Ring Motegi track after heroic efforts of the two teammates. Jorge Lorenzo was riding impressively at the start of the 24-lap sprint and was defending his position until a crash at turn nine meant the end of his challenge. Earlier on in the race, pole-setter Rossi also suffered an unfortunate premature halt to his strong pursuit of the lead in turn ten.
Lorenzo had a good start to the 24-lap race when he launched from third on the grid to arrive at the first corner in second place, passing his teammate. He immediately also overtook Marc Marquez in turn two, who had snatched the holeshot into turn one, to take over the lead.
With a feisty fight ensuing between Rossi and Marquez, Lorenzo put his head down to increase his advantage to over 0.6s, but the two chasing riders were not out of the race yet. The first attack came from Marquez on lap three. Lorenzo spurred on his Yamaha to prevent his compatriot from clearing off at the front and was followed closely by the Doctor. Lorenzo had to let his teammate pass on lap six but regained the position when Rossi crashed out of the race.
With Marquez too far ahead, Lorenzo focused his attention on defending his second place from Andrea Dovizioso, who arrived at the back of his Yamaha with five laps to go, but the Mallorcan’s quest for a podium ended when he crashed out of the race in turn nine.
Rossi had a good start from pole, but had to let Marquez and Lorenzo pass going into turn one. What followed was a flurry of activity on the first lap as the Italian scrapped with Marquez and Aleix Espargaró. Completing the first lap in third place, Rossi refused to give up and cleverly bided his time whilst following Lorenzo and Marquez, to take second from his teammate five laps later. He was chasing the victory and kicked up the pace a nudge until he lost the front end in turn ten on lap seven, ending his race prematurely.
Yamalube Yamaha Factory Racing Team wildcard rider Katsuyuki Nakasuga made his experience count and rode a confident race, securing a strong eleventh place aboard the YZR-M1, earning himself five championship points.
After today’s unexpected race results, Rossi and Lorenzo hold second and third place respectively in the championship with 196 and 182 points. Yamaha holds second place with 288 points in the Constructors’ classification, 28 points from first, and Movistar Yamaha MotoGP is also chasing the Teams’ title in second place with 378 points in the rankings.
Jorge LorenzoMovistar Yamaha MotoGP Rider
I’m very disappointed, because I made a mistake. I tried to push too much when the bike was not working well with the tyres. In Aragón we made a good decision with the tyres and this time it was the opposite. We chose the wrong front tyre, with the soft I think I would have made a better race, because my front tyre on the first laps was vibrating and closing. I didn’t have a good feeling, that’s why I couldn’t keep up with the pace of Marquez. Finally, because Dovizioso was coming, I pushed more than before in that corner and the front tyre didn’t give me any support or feedback and I crashed. It’s a pity, because I think we had the potential to fight for the victory with the right front tyre, but it was impossible today and we lost a great opportunity to be second in the championship. I want to congratulate Marquez because he didn’t have an advantage from his bike this year and he was the most consistent rider, so he deserves this championship.
Valentino RossiMovistar Yamaha MotoGP Rider
First of all, I would like to say that I’m OK, fortunately no problems. On the other hand it’s a shame because I was quite strong and I had a good pace. Unfortunately my start was not fantastic and I lost a position to Marquez and Lorenzo. After that, Marquez was a bit faster than me to overtake Lorenzo, I lost a bit more time behind him, but the pace was good. I was able to push a lot to try and catch Marquez but unfortunately I lost the front. Sincerely, I felt nothing like going into the corner too wide or too deep, but I lost the front and logically I made a mistake.