Movistar Yamaha MotoGP Encounters Dramatic End to Motegi Race
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.
Massimo Meregalli - Movistar Yamaha MotoGP Team Director
"It is a disappointing end to an otherwise strong weekend from our team. After yesterday's qualifying results we were really confident that we would be able to get a good result, but unfortunately this was a race day to forget. Jorge and Valentino gave a solid performance today, especially since both were not feeling a 100% after Jorge's extreme highside yesterday and with Vale suffering a severe cold. Nevertheless, they fought their way to the front in the early laps and they definitely didn't make it easy for Marquez in the first stage of the race. It was unfortunate that Valentino's and Jorge's crash ended our race early. Congratulations to Marc for securing the Riders Title."
DNF / -5 laps. Championship: 3rd / 182 points
"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."
DNF / -18 laps. Championship: 2nd / 196 points
"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."
Espargaro finishes as leading Yamaha in Motegi - Heroic Smith seizes points
Pol Espargaro delivered a strong performance in front of 52,000 passionate fans at the Twin Ring Motegi circuit to seize 6th in his 50th MotoGP race with the Monster Yamaha Tech3 Team. The Spaniard sped away from the rear of the third row of the grid when the event began and after navigating his way around the stop and go track on the first lap, he crossed the line in 8th, having improved on his qualifying position by one place. From here, the 25-year-old quickly set into a strong rhythm, which saw him open up a gap to the pursuing riders as he tried to hunt down Cal Crutchlow in front of him. At the midpoint of the 24 lap sprint, the 2013 Moto2 World Champion was up to 7th as he maintained his consistency whilst he pushed on as the distance counted down. After producing a tireless effort right until the end of the demanding race, Espargaro met the chequered flag in 6th which marks a solid conclusion to the round 15 battle.
On the other side of the Monster Yamaha Tech3 Team pit box, Bradley Smith bravely rode to 13th at the Japanese Grand Prix, despite not having full race fitness due to his injured right knee. The young Briton, who was making his first MotoGP appearance since damaging his knee in August, began the 24 lap contest from the fifth row of the grid. When the lights went out, he lunged forward but was shuffled back to 18th by the close of the opening lap. However, Smith focused and quickly set into a consistent rhythm, which saw him move back into the points with a third of the total distance having been completed. He dug deep and at the half way point, he was running in 14th as he continued to lap at a notable pace. Eventually, the 25-year-old crossed the finish line in 13th, which marks an impressive result when considering his condition, at Yamaha's Home Grand Prix. Now, Smith confidently eyes up the Australian Grand Prix, which will take place in a week's time.
6th / +19.654 / 24 laps. Championship: 8th / 106 points
"It has been a tough day and it is important that we could take 10 points from this race, especially as it was a tricky GP but I am still a bit disappointed because we were not as competitive as we possibly could have been this weekend. I didn't feel really comfortable in any of the practice sessions so I always knew it was going to be a long event. However, my start was good and I was able to stay in front of the Ducatis which I think was the key to our result. After the beginning, I couldn't stay with the group who were ahead of me and I ran almost the entire Grand Prix on my own. Yet, with the crashes in front, we managed to finish in 6th, so we have to be happy about leaving Motegi with some crucial points for the independent rider fight in the Championship standings. Now, I'm really looking forward to Australia as the Phillip Island track is one that I really enjoy riding at and I have a lot of good memories there."
13th / +53.783 / 24 laps. Championship: 17th / 45 points
"No doubt, today has been a very hard day for me but it is definitely nice to get some points as a reward for the effort. In the last seven weeks I've had to watch the rest of the MotoGP world go racing, whilst I've been at home, so it is a good feeling to be back on the grid and getting myself involved, therefore I can't be disappointed about a 13th place finish as I didn't even know if I was going to be able to complete the GP a few days ago. To be honest, I forgot how long the races are in terms of distance, but riding out there for 24 laps at the absolute maximum was really demanding today and doing it without making any mistakes is probably the hardest challenge for me at the moment. I want to say a big thank you to the whole team because they have done a fantastic job over the weekend in preparing a great bike, as well as taking a lot of care, even if I wasn't able to work as closely as usual with them, because the physiotherapy took a lot of time away. Moreover, I also want to thank Yamaha for all their assistance during my stay in Japan. Being away from home meant that I truly needed a helping hand and they have been very supportive so I'm really grateful for that."