Photography by Gold & Goose
For the second straight race, Marc Marquez could have won the World Championship, but for the second straight race Jorge Lorenzo would have none of it, the Spaniard again riding an immaculate 24 laps today to win the Japanese Grand Prix at the Twin-Ring Motegi Circuit and keep his slim championship hopes alive.
Now the Yamaha factory man trails Marquez, who suffered a high-speed crash in morning practice, by 13 points with just the championship finale left to run at Valencia in Spain on November 10.
Again, this one was in doubt for the majority of the 24 laps. Lorenzo got his normal flying start from pole position and was protected from behind by his teammate Valentino Rossi. Rossi, however, would run wide on the second lap, allowing both Marquez and his Repsol Honda teammate Dani Pedrosa to pass. The Italian legend would run into problems again a lap later, running well off the track and dropping all the way back to 11th.
That left the three at the front to clear off, with Lorenzo and his soft-compound Bridgestones leading Marquez and Pedrosa, the two Honda riders opting for the harder compound tires and running in. Two laps later and Lorenzo led Marquez by just .28 of a second and Pedrosa by .46 of a second.
Marquez made his first error on the 15th lap when he ran wide, but he was still within striking distance as Pedrosa, who had won the last two MotoGPs at Motegi, started to fall off the back of the lead duo.
When Marquez ran wide again on the 18th lap, Lorenzo took full advantage and put his head down to lead by 1.2 seconds at the end of the lap. From there he would stretch the advantage slightly every lap with Marquez finally throwing in the towel and settling for the 20 points he’d get for second place. At the checkered flag he was 3.1 seconds behind his rival.
Pedrosa ended up third – 4.5 seconds behind Lorenzo.
Go & Fun Honda’s Alvaro Bautista ended up fourth, some three seconds clear of LCR Honda’s Stefan Bradl, the German back on form in his comeback ride from his broken ankle.
Next came Rossi, the Italian fighting his way back through the pack after his off-track excursion. He ended up some three seconds ahead of Monster Tech 3 Yamaha’s Cal Crutchlow.
Crutchlow’s teammate Bradley Smith, meanwhile, was eighth and well clear of Marlboro Ducati’s Nicky Hayden, the former World Champion again getting the better of his teammate Andrea Dovizioso on the final lap. Dovizioso rounded out the top 10 finishers.
For Lorenzo it was his seventh win of the year and it gave Yamaha its 200th win – and at Honda’s own circuit to boot.
“This track is normally better for them so to win here in the Honda home race and winning the 200 victories for Yamaha and winning after taking so many risks with the tire, the soft one, it’s a pleasure,” Lorenzo said. “It was really a physically hard race and I keep my concentration and I really wanted this victory.”
Marquez was all smiles as always. Even in defeat.
“In the beginning of the race, I struggled a little bit,” Marquez said. “It was a difficult race for me because already this morning I was struggling a lot with a big crash, but especially because it was my first time in this track. I struggled quiet a lot with the braking points, but in the race I try to follow Jorge. I did a very good job because we were there in the middle of the race and we looked like we were stronger, but in the end I saw that Jorge started to push a little bit more. I thought that I was too much on the limit and I say, ‘Okay, 20 points for the championship.’ Valencia will be another race and very interesting for sure.”
Results: October 26, 2013
1. Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha)
2. Marc Marquez (Honda)
3. Dani Pedrosa (Honda)
4. Alvaro Bautista (Honda)
5. Stefan Bradl (Honda)
6. Valentino Rossi (Yamaha)
7. Cal Crutchlow (Yamaha)
8. Bradley Smith (Yamaha)
9. Nicky Hayden (Ducati)
10. Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati)