MotoGP > MotoGP 2007 Round 15: Japan GP > Race Results
MotoGPJapanSeptember 23, 2007
MotoGP World Championship Grand Prix Round 15
Japan Grand Prix at Motegi

Elias On Podium As Rain Throws Race Into Chaos

Qualifying >>

This was the MotoGP contest that defined the season with Casey Stoner securing his World MotoGP Championship title as Loris Capirossi (both Ducati) won from Kawasaki’s Randy de Puniet with Toni Elias (Gresini Honda RC212V) third in Japan.

Toni Elias

Marco Melandri

In damp conditions after rain throughout the morning with an ambient temperature of 21-degrees, a track at 24-degrees, and perhaps most significantly 90% humidity reducing any likelihood of the track drying quickly, this 24-lap race got underway.

It was poleman Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda RC212V) who rocketed into an early lead with a fast-starting Elias taking the fight to his fellow Spaniard leading the chasers with Nicky Hayden (Repsol Honda RC212V) third early on and Stoner fifth.

Dani led lap two and Anthony West (Kawasaki), who revels in wet conditions, had now jumped up to second in the early order. The Aussie would later be penalized for a jump-start with a ride-through penalty that would wreck his chances of what looked like a possible shock win.

By lap four the order was West, Stoner, the rapid Marco Melandri (Gresini Honda RC212V) now in third, Pedrosa, de Puniet and then Valentino Rossi (Yamaha). But all was to change as the rain held off and a dry line began to appear.

As West entered pitlane to serve his penalty, the rest of the runners began to plan when – not if – they would have to do likewise to change to spare bikes shod with different rubber; either cut slick tyres (for the majority of riders) or full slick tyres for those gambling on the track to dry fully and quickly.

Melandri now led the race as Carlos Checa (LCR Honda RC212V) pitted first to swap bikes. Rossi lay third 3.7 seconds behind Stoner in second and as the former World Champion set an early fastest lap of the race, Hayden and Elias pitted while the rest of the field circulated.

The risk of full-wet rubber deteriorating or disintegrating under the drying conditions was now high but by lap ten neither Melandri, Stoner nor Rossi had taken the plunge and sacrificed those podium places for a bike change. Indeed, Rossi took Stoner for second and then Melandri for the lead on lap 15.

Marco then pitted and so did Stoner as Dani Pedrosa crashed out of the race while on wet tyres. Capirossi who had taken the gamble of pitting early for slicks now led and the Italian man would lead all the way to the flag now.

Rossi was in trouble with his brakes and pitted again before emerging once more only to experience difficulties and drop way out of contention for the podium. Capirossi would win this exciting race from De Puniet and Elias while Sylvain Guintoli (Yamaha) narrowly missed a podium in fourth as Melandri made fifth, 28 seconds off the leader.

Hayden managed ninth place in the turmoil while Shinya Nakano (Konica Minolta Honda RC212V) couldn’t capitalise on the chaos and fared no better than 16th. Checa ended up 18th and Kurtis Roberts (Roberts KR212V) failed to finish, pitting permanently in the early laps.

The destiny of the World Championship was concluded here in Stoner’s favour. The Aussie now has an unassailable points lead of 297 points. Dani now faces an uphill struggle to steal second overall from Rossi. Dani has 188 points to Rossi’s 214.

Mika Kallio (KTM) won his first 250cc race in his rookie season ahead of second-placed man Andrea Dovizioso (Scot Honda RS250RW) and Hector Barbera (Aprilia) in third. Perhaps of equal importance runaway series points leader Jorge Lorenzo (Aprilia) could only manage 11th.

Poleman Shuhei Aoyama (Repsol Honda RS250RW) led into turn one, but Dovi soon took the initiative at the front of the pack in the dripping wet conditions with Hiroshi Aoyama (KTM), Kallio, Yuki Takahashi (Scot Honda RS250RW) and Julian Simon (Repsol Honda RS250RW) in close pursuit.

But the field would soon spread itself out and by lap eight Dovi led Takahashi with Barbera third, with the KTM duo fourth and fifth. But not all of them would make it to the flag. The unfortunate Hiro Aoyama falling on the penultimate lap.

On the final lap backmarkers marginally held up the progress of Dovizioso as he tried vainly to make up ground on the rapid Kallio. The Italian lost a third of a second on that last of 23-laps but Kallio was unlikely to be troubled by the man who knows a points finish might yet prove invaluable in his quest to catch Lorenzo for the title.

Lorenzo still leads with 262 points to Dovi’s 226, but with 75 points still available in the next three rounds, Dovi has everything to ride for still, having caught Lorenzo and narrowly lost out to him in last season’s series.

Dovi said: “That was a very difficult race, but at least the possibility of a World Championship is still alive. I’m happy enough now but on that last lap I really had to slow down and not risk crashing because Kallio was so fast. It seems there’s always someone in front of me at the moment but we’ll keep trying and see what happens.”

Mattia Pasini won the 125cc Grand Prix in wet conditions from series points leader Gabor Talmacsi and Talmacsi’s World Championship rival Hector Faubel (all Aprilia). Honda rider Mike di Meglio (Scot Honda RS125R) was a fighting fourth having fallen and remounted while threatening to relieve Pasini of first place on lap 15.

Pasini led from the off and never looked like relinquishing his lead until the flying Di Meglio began to gain on him towards the end of this 21-lap race run in soaking rain today after the searing heat of yesterday. Di Meglio was one of many fallers including the Repsol duo of Bradley Smith (Repsol Honda RS125R) and Esteve Rabat (Repsol Honda RS125R).

Danny Webb (Arie Molenaar Racing Honda RS125R) scored his first ever World Championship point here after a mature ride to 13th place. Talmacsi heads the points standings still with 229 points to Faubel’s 220 with three rounds now remaining.

Nicky Hayden

Andrea Dovizioso

Toni Elias, Gresini Honda: 3rd.
"I’m really happy to be back on the podium. This is an incredible result after the accident at Assen. It’s been a tough couple of months for me and this was a nice reward. I got a good start but I lost a few positions and found myself some way back. I didn’t have anything to lose so I came in early to change bikes. It proved to be the perfect time and the perfect strategy. In general it has been a perfect day, following on from a difficult weekend and a particularly tough race.”

Marco Melandri, Gresini Honda: 5th.
“I was having a good race in the wet, my feeling with the bike was really good and I was able to take over from Stoner and build a bit of a lead. When the track started to dry it was really difficult for me because I was leading the race and it was hard to judge the right moment to come and change the bike because there were still some wet patches. When they told me from pit wall to come in I did so but it was a few laps too late to come in. It took me a couple of laps to get used to the bike with the dry setting and I made a mistake that cost me a few places. I’m disappointed because I could have fought for the win today. Unfortunately the flag to flag rule puts the race leaders at a disadvantage. The positive thing is that I’ve closed the gap to fifth and fourth in the championship, with Vermeulen now four points ahead of me and Hopkins eight.”

Nicky Hayden, Repsol Honda: 9th.
“After the weekend we were having and how we felt after qualifying yesterday, it was a shame to see it rain this morning, but the weather is what it is. I went out in the warm-up this morning and it didn’t feel too bad – I was fifth fastest in really wet conditions. But as soon as we started the race, basically after one lap we’re not sure what happened – whether it was the tyre or something electronic – but the bike became very difficult to ride and I just went backwards. I think I was the first one to come in and the track was still pretty wet but I needed to come in and switch bikes. Luckily for me the track started to dry pretty fast and after a few slow laps I was able to get rolling. Really I think we’re lucky to salvage some kind of result out of the day – if it had stayed wet we could have been in even more trouble. But ninth position for Honda’s home race is not the result we’d hoped for. It’s the first time in my life I’ve ever been on cut slicks – I’ve been in rain tyres or intermediates before – so I did get some useful experience. We’ve still got three more races and we’ll keep fighting. Lastly, congratulations to Casey. There’s a new World Champion today and so congratulations to him and his whole team – they truly deserve it.”

Shinya Nakano, Konica Minolta Honda: 16th.
“I am disappointed that my home Grand Prix has ended this way. The race started full wet, but it was soon beginning to dry and I saw some riders pitting. I was going to pit, but the Michelin wet tyres were working well in the drying conditions. I maybe could have pitted a couple of laps earlier, but when I eventually changed bikes there were still some damp parts of the track and I couldn’t push hard. I found it hard to get feedback from the harder compound slick tyres, which made it a difficult race for me. It’s hard to accept a result like this at my home GP, but I now have to look forward to the final three races.”

Carlos Checa, LCR Honda: 18th.
“At the start I had some doubts about using wet tyres or slicks, but it was too risky not to start on wet weather tyres. When the rear began to slide too much so I stopped on lap five to change bikes. But we lost some seconds as the Team was still working on a different setting because of the rapid change in track conditions. We had planned a front treaded tyre on the grid for the spare bike, and there hadn’t been time to change it. Unfortunately it was impossible to go any faster than this on a drying track in the second part of the race.”

Kurtis Roberts, KR212V: dnf – handling problems.
“I just got around about five guys in the first lap and then about four corners from the end of the lap all of a sudden the thing started coming around really badly. I could tell the thing was just skip-sliding across the asphalt. And it started doing it coming in and going out, like there was oil or something getting on the tire. I wanted to stay on the bike, but I didn't know what was wrong. We were on the hard rear rain tire and it didn't work at all. It looked like it was the soft. I just pulled in, because I didn't know what was going on. We tried the bike with cut slicks and there was no way it was it going to work that early in the race. I almost crashed every corner on the thing. It was just too wet to give the cut slicks a chance to work. It's unfortunate, because we could have had a good race I think. Typical luck this year.”

Chuck Aksland – Team Manager Team Roberts.
“He got a good start, he was aggressive, he got by a couple of guys. Then he said that four or five corners in a row the thing was completely sideways. Bad enough to where he suspected an oil leak and pulled in. The other bike we had set up for cut slicks anticipating it would dry out. He went out on that; he just said he couldn't even lean it over. It was scary. It's a shame, because somebody missed the boat on that one. There were no mechanical problems with the first bike. We've been to Phillip Island down on horsepower before and still been able to achieve good lap times. The bike seems to be handling OK. I think every race we go to is down to what tires we get, really, what the choices will be, and what the conditions are.”

Dani Pedrosa, Repsol Honda: dnf – crash.
“Well this is obviously a very disappointing finish to what had been a promising weekend until this morning. In the dry we seemed to have a very good package, but the drying track for the race turned things into a bit of a lottery. Still, I made a good start and felt reasonably comfortable in the early laps of the race. I was able to catch back up to the leaders but then fell in the last chicane. I don’t really know what happened, the back just snapped around even before I had given any throttle. With hindsight, perhaps I should have come into the pits a little earlier, but that’s an easier call to make now than at the time. We can certainly take some positives from this race even though the result is disappointing for me and the team. I think we had a good chance of winning if it had stayed dry so we must just continue trying for the final races. The more worrying thing for me right now is that it feels like I have broken a bone in my left foot. I will have more x-rays and really hope I’m fit for the next race in Australia. Congratulations to Casey on the championship. He has been very strong all season and really deserves the title today.”

Andrea Dovizioso, Scot Honda: 2nd.
“Today I hoped to race on dry conditions even if, for sure in these conditions, it is easer to make up for points on Lorenzo for us. Anyway, yesterday we had a really good set up and we were really fast that’s why I’d prefer the sunshine for today rather than the rain.
Unfortunately these are the situations in which we can recuperate more points. Today we gained a lot of points and I’m really happy because this will help us a lot and if until now we didn’t lose hopes this will give us even more confidence.”

Yuki Takahashi, Scot Honda: 4th.
“I made a good start but at the beginning the rear of the bike was sliding a little. I waited a bit before pushing hard because I wanted to understand the behavior of my opponents. As soon as I saw that the pace wasn’t really fast I tried to go to the head of the group. I pushed hard until the front end of the bike started to close on me. At first I risked a fall and then I mistake at one corner and I lost some positions. I’m sorry about that, because I wanted to get on the podium at my home GP. Anyway I’m happy because it is the first time this year in which I raced always in the top positions which means, even if slowly, that I’m getting back in the same shape as last year. Now I want to round off the Championship.”

Julian Simon, Repsol Honda: 6th.
“The weekend in Japan has gone well. I think we worked very well, with a lot of determination, step by step. Thanks to this we managed to finish that wet race, because it is important to work with determination and method. I think that the team worked very well, we only had the warm up to set up the bike for the wet. Perhaps with more training it would have been better, obviously. The truth is that the leaders were way ahead of me but I have to be pleased with having finished the race, and for what it is worth on the first few laps I lost my pace. I think that if on the first few laps I had risked a little more, overtaking more riders and caught up with the leaders, at least I would have reduced the gap by a few seconds. In general I am pleased and I wish to thank the whole team.”

Shuhei Aoyama, Repsol Honda: 8th.
“From the warm up this morning I had a good feel for the bike. We had changed the suspension to soften the front and rear and also made the gearbox ratios a little longer. But from the start of the race Ii did not have the same feeling from the front tyre that I had in the warm up I could not hold my line and was running wide at many turns. I got a god start but at T1 I ran wised and Dovizioso passed me on the inside easily. It was so bad the moment I tried to go into the corner the front end felt like it was turning in I just could not adjust my riding style to handle it.”

Eugene Laverty, LCR Honda: 19th.
“The opening laps were great, I thought I had a chance to score points but after seven laps I couldn’t stay on the pace of the other riders. The track was really slippery and the rear grip just dropped down after seven laps, I struggled towards the end.”

Ratthapark Wilairot, Thai Honda PTT-SAG: dnf – crash.
"I'm really angry because once again I had a poor start and I did my best to come back as soon as possible but I crashed again. I wanted to get into the top 10 in the early laps, but my plan was shattered by that crash. Today I could have managed a great result, especially for all the Thai people who came here to support me. I'm sorry about it, but it's a hard learnt lesson and now I have to look ahead."

Mike di Meglio, Scot Honda:4th.
“I got a good start and decided to take it step by step in the opening laps, stay quiet until I was sure of the conditions. I had a small problem with the front end and couldn’t hold my line and was drifting wide at some corners. When I passed Talmacsi for second place I was riding calmly. The crash was strange because I didn’t enter the corner too late or too deep. I lost the front but I managed to hold the bike to save it from serious damage but I broke the rear brake lever and from then on I had to brake early. In the circumstances I am happy with the result.”

Danny Webb, Molenaar Honda: 13th.
“That was much better than anything I have done up until now – my first world championship points! We were good in the warm up and carried that over into the race. I got a good start and as the race went on I passed riders and some crashed. Then I caught Koyama san and was in 16th place and I knew I would score points I was 12th at one point but when Pesek came passed his bike was so fast that I decided not to try to stay with him and crash.”

Kazuma Watanabe, Dydo Miu Honda: 18th.
“If I give marks for my race, I can say 75% today. Suddenly we had rain this morning so we couldn't prepare the bike with the right set up and I was not ready to change my riding style to suit the wet conditions. However, I could move up during the race and I could finish without a crash. I'm happy about that. I think it's very important to get out from the confusing fight at the first stage of the race but I have to think and improve my riding. I'll sort out fruits which I learned during this GP and I want to add something to the Japanese road race championship in the future.”

Alexis Masbou, FFM Honda: 21st.
“I lost the front in the first left hand corner and there was nothing I could do to avoid crashing. And yet I didn’t enter that corner very fast, but the soaked racetrack was a real booby-trap. I had to take my spare machine but didn't have the right pace. I tried to improve on my lap times but riding on a soaked racetrack isn’t what I'm best at. I just need to forget about this race. We must now think about the next race in Australia. I appreciate Phillip Island where I rode two years ago and I hope the week-end will be better than the one we've just experienced.”

Bradley Smith, Repsol Honda: dnf – crash.
“I’m obviously so disappointed to crash out of fifth place. But on the other hand it wasn’t a bad race up until then. I have to look at the positives – in previous wet races I might have been running around inside the top 20. We improved the bike in the warm for the conditions and softened up the suspension and it worked really well. I was getting signals that told m2 the two riders behind were closing slightly and I was just pushing a little to hard but I didn’t want to finish seventh when I felt I was OK with fifth. I hurt my knee in the crash but only scraped the skin off it.”

Tito Rabat, Repsol Honda: dnf – crash.
“I made a good start and for the first three – four laps I had good grip and my confidence was high. But after that I the engine began to give me problems, it would rev to 12,000 then stop – then go again. It made things difficult and it was hard to keep my position. I was pushing too hard when I crashed. I was 100% prepared for this race but I did not bring that into the race. This weekend it was the rider who was not so good.”

Joey Litjens, Molenaar Honda:
Non-starter due to concussion sustained during practice for the Portuguese GP last weekend.

MotoGP World Championship Grand Prix Round 15
Japan Grand Prix at Motegi

1 Loris CAPIROSSI (Ducati Marlboro Team)
2 Randy DE PUNIET (Kawasaki Racing Team)
3 Toni ELIAS (Honda Gresini)
4 Sylvain GUINTOLI (Dunlop Yamaha Tech 3)
5 Marco MELANDRI (Honda Gresini)
6 Casey STONER (Ducati Marlboro Team)
7 Anthony WEST (Kawasaki Racing Team)
8 Alex BARROS (Pramac d'Antin)
9 Nicky HAYDEN (Repsol Honda Team)
10 John HOPKINS (Rizla Suzuki MotoGP)
11 Chris VERMEULEN (Rizla Suzuki MotoGP)
12 Makoto TAMADA (Dunlop Yamaha Tech 3)
13 Valentino ROSSI (Fiat Yamaha Team)
14 Colin EDWARDS (Fiat Yamaha Team)
15 Shinichi ITO (Pramac d'Antin)

Toni Elias
1 Mika KALLIO (Red Bull KTM 250)
2 Andrea DOVIZIOSO (Kopron Team Scot)
3 Hector BARBERA (Team Toth Aprilia)
4 Yuki TAKAHASHI (Kopron Team Scot)
5 Alex DE ANGELIS (Master - Mapfre Aspar)
6 Julian SIMON (Repsol Honda 250cc)
7 Marco SIMONCELLI (Metis Gilera)
8 Hiroshi AOYAMA (Red Bull KTM 250)
9 Shuhei AOYAMA (Repsol Honda 250cc)
10 Thomas LUTHI (Emmi - Caffe Latte Aprilia)
11 Jorge LORENZO (Fortuna Aprilia)
12 Seijin OIKAWA (Will Access With Plus Myu)
13 Jules CLUZEL (Angaia Racing)
14 Youichi UI (Malossi & Spruce & Pro-Tec)
15 Alvaro BAUTISTA (Master - Mapfre Aspar)
1 Mattia PASINI (Polaris World)
2 Gabor TALMACSI (Bancaja Aspar)
3 Hector FAUBEL (Bancaja Aspar)
4 Mike DI MEGLIO (Kopron Team Scot)
5 Joan OLIVE (Polaris World)
6 Simone CORSI (Skilled Racing Team)
7 Pablo NIETO (Blusens Aprilia)
8 Sergio GADEA (Bancaja Aspar)
9 Michael RANSEDER (Ajo Motorsport)
10 Andrea IANNONE (WTR No Alcol Team)
11 Dominique AEGERTER (Multimedia Racing)
12 Lukas PESEK (Valsir Seedorf Derbi)
13 Danny WEBB (De Graaf Grand Prix)
14 Tomoyoshi KOYAMA (Red Bull KTM 125)
15 Stefan BRADL (Blusens Aprilia)

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