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MotoGP World Championship Grand Prix 2013

Round 17: Japan

  • Overview
  • Race Results
  • Qualifying
  • Photo
October 27, 2013

Double Rostrum for Honda, Championship to the Wire

Repsol Honda RC213V rider Marc Marquez rode to a strategic second place at today's Japanese Grand Prix, preferring not to risk his world championship lead in pitched battle, with just one round remaining for a tense final decider.

Marc MARQUEZ (Repsol Honda Team), Dani PEDROSA (Repsol Honda Team)zoom
Marc MARQUEZ (Repsol Honda Team),
Dani PEDROSA (Repsol Honda Team)
Marc MARQUEZ (Repsol Honda Team)zoom
Marc MARQUEZ (Repsol Honda Team)

Second Repsol Honda RC213V rider Dani Pedrosa was third, making it a double rostrum for Honda – with two more Hondas taking the next two places to make four out of the top five.

The double podium secured the Teams Championship for Repsol Honda, with one race to spare. Honda also leads the Constructors Championship by 13 points from Yamaha, with a maximum of 25 available.

Today's race was won by Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha) adding momentum to his late-season challenge to regain the title lead at the final race. The Spanish defending champion's chances were revived last weekend in Australia, where Marquez was disqualified for an error in interpreting special one-race pit-stop rules.

It means the World Championship battle will be decided at the final race for the first time since Repsol Honda rider Nicky Hayden defeated Valentino Rossi at Valencia in 2006.

A separate battle for fourth was won by Alvaro Bautista (GO & FUN Gresini Honda RC213V) from Stefan Bradl (LCR Honda); while CRT-category competitor Bryan Staring (GO & FUN Honda Gresini FTR Honda) finished 22nd on his first visit to the Twin Ring Motegi circuit.

The penultimate round of the World Championship was dogged by bad weather – the legacy of fading Typhoon Francisco – with no practice possible all Friday and on Saturday morning. Each class ran one extended session to determine qualifying positions, and then extended race-day morning sessions – by when the weather had cleared and the track was dry for the first time.

It posed an extra challenge for former 125 and Moto2 World Champion Marquez, whose blazing rookie season in the premier class has brought him tantalisingly close to a maiden MotoGP World Championship. With no previous experience of the class-leading Honda RC213V at the Honda-owned circuit, the severe lack of dry practice cost him vital set-up time.

Even so he challenged for the lead mid-race, before deciding that a safe 20 points would be the wiser choice. His lead now stands at 13 points: should Lorenzo win at the final round in two weeks, Marquez must be no lower than third if he is to win the crown at his first attempt.

The 20-year-old from Catalunya in Spain has made a blazing impact on the top class. Aside from the Australian mishap, he has been on the rostrum at every race bar one, and amassed a total of six race wins, including four in a row. All year he has been breaking “youngest-ever" records … but even if it all goes wrong at Valencia and he has to wait one more year, he will still be in line to be youngest-ever premier-class world champion, provided he ties it up before the end of October. The previous youngest champion was Honda rider Freddie Spencer, in 1983.

Pedrosa has also had a season of consistent strength, but for a mid-year interruption with an injury that ultimately cost him his own championship chances. Aside from that two-race spell, the former 125 and double 250 champion has won three races and stood on the podium 12 times altogether.

The experienced 28-year-old's third victory came three races ago in Malaysia, as his improving physical condition was matched by an important step in finding machine settings more suited to his style.

Third in today's race was a disappointment after winning the previous two events at the circuit in the hills to the north of Tokyo, and meant an end to his hopes of finishing higher than third overall in the final standings.

Fourth place for Bautista equalled his best results of the year and continued a strong late-season run for the former 125 World Champion. The Spanish rider has an extra role for Honda: the only rider race-developing Showa suspension and Nissin brakes, made by Japanese associates of Honda. This position further improved his chances of retaining sixth overall.

His nearest rival is LCR Honda RC213V rider Stefan Bradl, for him this was a comeback ride after missing the last two races with a fractured ankle. The race was just over two weeks after surgery in Malaysia, and to finish fifth proved the determination of the German former Moto2 champion.

While the title stays alive in the premier class, a new champion was crowned in the all-Honda powered Moto2 class, as Pol Espargaro (Tuenti HP 40 Pons Kalex) gained an unassailable advantage with his sixth victory of the season.

His last rival, Englishman Scott Redding (Marc VDS Racing Team Kalex) was absent from a race cut from 23 to 15 laps – one of the victims of a first-corner crash that brought out the red flags at the first attempt. Redding had led on points from round four until last weekend in Australia, when he broke his wrist and missed the race. His return a week later in Japan was a brave but ultimately unsuccessful last-ditch effort.

The organiser supply identical sealed race-tuned Honda CBR600 engines to all competitors to guarantee reliable and usually close racing, but Espargaro's pace in the second shortened race in a row stretched out the pursuit.

First-time pole qualifier Mika Kallio (Marc VDS Racing Team Kalex) was second after a race-long chase, three seconds down at the flag. Swiss former 125 World Champion Thomas Luthi (Interwetten Paddock Moto2 Suter) a slightly lesser distance behind for third. It was Brno winner Kallio's third visit to the rostrum; and a sixth for Luthi.

Xavier Simeon (Maptaq SAG Zelos Team Kalex) eventually escaped from a race-long battle with Julian Simon (Italtrans Racing Team Kalex) for fifth; double race winner Nico Terol (Aspar Team Moto2 Suter) closed to within a second of his Spanish compatriot by the finish.

Dominique Aegerter (Technomag carXpert Suter) was eighth. Takaaki Nakagami (Italtrans Racing Team Kalex) had a strong ride through from 22nd on the grid to ninth, finally outpacing Mattia Pasini (NGM Mobile Racing Speed Up). Ten seconds away, Anthony West (QMMF Racing Team Speed Up) forced his way to the front of a quartet disputing 11th, taking the place narrowly from Marcel Schrotter (Maptaq SAG Zelos Team Kalex), Axel Pons (Tuenti HP 40 Pons Kalex), Gino Rea (Arginano & Gines Racing Speed Up) and Sandro Cortese (Dynavolt Intact GP Kalex). Eleventh to 15th and last point were covered by just over one second.

The costly first-corner crash was triggered when three-race winner Esteve Rabat (Tuenti HP 40 Pons Kalex) fell near the front of the pack. Redding, who had qualified 15th, was unable to avoid his bike, and also fell heavily, while Blusens Avintia Kalex replacement rider Alex Marinelarena also crashed and was stretchered away. None made the restart.

Espargaro now the new World Champion with hi unassailable lead on points, but Rabat still has the chance to claim second from Redding, who is 20 points clear.

An exciting Moto3 race threw the championship wide open and yielded a best result of the year for the Honda riders, with the top trio in a close fight to the end over fifth place, and a fourth in ninth place. Until the last corner there had been five Hondas in the top ten … but Alexis Masbou (Ongetta-Rivacold FTR Honda) crashed out of a potential fifth almost within sight of the chequered flag.

While Alex Marquez won his first grand prix after title leaders Luis Salom and Alex Rins crashed out (all KTM), four Honda riders were in the big battle not far behind the remaining leading quartet. Masbou, Romano Fenati (San Carlo Team Italian FTR Honda), John McPhee (Caretta Technology-RTG FTR Honda) had caught fast-starting Jack Miller (Caretta Technology-RTG FTR Honda). The quartet changed places repeatedly, then crossed the line Fenati, Miller and McPhee after Masbou went missing, all over the line within 0.12 seconds.

Isaac Vinales (Ongetta-Centro Seta FTR Honda) had been with the leaders when he crashed on the first lap, taking down points leader Alex Salom. Later in the race fellow KTM rider Alex Rins also crashed, handing a slender points lead to Maverick Vinales (KTM), a narrow second in today's race.

Dani PEDROSA (Repsol Honda Team)zoom
Dani PEDROSA (Repsol Honda Team)
Stefan Bradl(LCR Honda MotoGP), Alvaro Bautista(GO & FUN Honda Gresini)zoom
Stefan Bradl(LCR Honda MotoGP),
Alvaro Bautista(GO & FUN Honda Gresini)


Marc Marquez, Repsol Honda Team, 2nd
“Second place today is a very good result. After my crash in warm-up, I knew that it would be difficult to be consistent - because in the morning I hadn't managed that either. This was my first time at this track with a MotoGP bike and in practice I was unable to get any references in the dry, leaving me with only the warm-up and the race in which to find my way. I saw that Jorge was a little stronger than us here and I had a couple of scary moments, making me decide that 20 points and the gap being reduced by only five points would be a decent result. There is only one race remaining – the most important of the year – so we shall try to be more focused than ever at Valencia.”
Dani Pedrosa, Repsol Honda Team: 3rd
“It was a bit of a boring race for me, because I tried to give everything but I had a lot of problems exiting the corners; I was unable to get on the gas fully and I lost a lot of time to Marc and Jorge. I was third for the entire race, trying to hold onto them. However, at the midway point of the race my pace started to become slower than theirs. Now we have to focus on the next race, in Valencia, where we shall try to do as well as possible.”
Alvaro Bautista, GO & FUN Honda Gresini, 4th
“After such a strange weekend with everything that has happened and the two crashes – one yesterday and one this morning – the race was more than positive. I felt comfortable with the bike this morning but the crash definitely didn't help and the start wasn't perfect either. I hadn't done a single lap with the front tyre so I wasn't sure how it would feel or how hard I could push it but I built my rhythm up, made some passes and picked up a solid fourth place that could perhaps have been something more if we'd had a better start. Anyway, it is a good finish to a chaotic weekend and that is the most important thing. We have consolidated sixth place in the championship and now we need to keep working to take the next step with Showa, Nissin and Honda. We owe it to everybody that supports us, but especially GO & FUN.”
Stefan Bradl, LCR Honda MotoGP, 5th
“It has been a crazy weekend for everybody but in the end we had a dry race and I am happy about my result. I was more cautious compared to the other guys but I took a good start from the third row. At some point during the race Bautista caught me but I could feel some pain in my ankle due to the movement of the bike. Actually my ankle is at 85 percent, and for me it was a long and tough race so we must be pleased with this fifth place.”
Bryan Staring, GO & FUN Honda Gresini, 22nd
“I don't have much to say today, I think the result says it all. It has been a weekend to forget and we need to turn the page quickly and start thinking about Valencia. At a circuit I know we should have better fortunes than here at Motegi.”


Pol Espargaro, Tuenti HP 40, 1st
“I can't explain my feelings in words – I feel like I am flying. Later we have to think about what we did, and to enjoy the championship when we get home. It was a title of a group, of the big family that is my team. I want to congratulate them. It was a difficult year for us, my team-mate Rabat and Scott were so fast, until unfortunately Scott crashed in Australia. I did some mistakes at the start, but we kept on fighting. Now I can enjoy Valencia with my people without thinking about the championship.”
Mika Kallio, Marc VDS Racing Team, 2nd
“I'm happy with the 20 points for second, but disappointed not to have won here at Motegi today. The feeling was good, the pace was good and this track has always been a little bit special for me in the past, but Pol was just too fast for me. I made a couple of small mistakes early on that allowed him to pull enough of a gap that it was impossible to catch him. Normally I'd be satisfied to be on the podium, but I've won many times before at this track and, today, I was expecting more.”
Thomas Luthi, Interwetten Paddock Moto2, 3rd
“It has been a good three races for me, on the podium at each race. In the championship I am now up to sixth, which I did not expect after the bad start to my season with injury. For everyone, it was not an easy weekend. There was no chance to find the set-up for the dry. My team did a good job, and found quite a good bike for me. The race was not easy either, with the red flag. I was already up I think to sixth, but I said okay, I hope it is possible to push again. I am happy with the podium.”


Romano Fenati, San Carlo Team Italia, 5th
“A good race, as far as I am concerned, especially if you think about what happened on Friday and Saturday. We have been able to set-up the bike only this morning – as everybody, on the other hand. On the last laps my bike was sliding very much, but it was expected.”
Jack Miller, Caretta Technology RTG, 6th
“We can be a lot better. With the lack of practice time we didn't have the gearbox correct – first gear was very short. The first laps were okay but when the tyres went down a bit I was getting big long slides every time I got first gear and I couldn't carry the corner speed. I was losing a lot in the back part of the circuit.”
John McPhee, Caretta Technology RTG, 7th
“It's a personal best for my career, and I'm really happy with the result. We got a good base set-up this morning, and didn't make many changes – just a bit harder front and rear. We've struggled with braking stability all season, and now it was really good. The bike was turning well, I felt really comfortable from the first laps, and I could run with these guys quite happily. Really pleased.”
Pol ESPARGARO (Tuenti HP 40)zoom
Pol ESPARGARO (Tuenti HP 40)

MotoGP World Championship Grand Prix
Round 17: Japan

Rank Rider (Team)
1Jorge LORENZO (Yamaha Factory Racing)
2Marc MARQUEZ (Repsol Honda Team)
3Dani PEDROSA (Repsol Honda Team)
4Alvaro BAUTISTA (GO & FUN Honda Gresini)
5Stefan BRADL (LCR Honda MotoGP)
6Valentino ROSSI (Yamaha Factory Racing)
7Cal CRUTCHLOW (Monster Yamaha Tech 3)
8Bradley SMITH (Monster Yamaha Tech 3)
9Nicky HAYDEN (Ducati Team)
10Andrea DOVIZIOSO (Ducati Team)
11Katsuyuki NAKASUGA (Yamaha YSP Racing Team)
12Colin EDWARDS (NGM Mobile Forward Racing)
13Randy DE PUNIET (Power Electronics Aspar)
14Andrea IANNONE (Energy T.I. Pramac Racing)
15Yonny HERNANDEZ (Ignite Pramac Racing)
Rank Rider (Team)
1Pol ESPARGARO (Tuenti HP 40)
2Mika KALLIO (Marc VDS Racing Team)
3Thomas LUTHI (Interwetten Paddock Moto2 Racing)
4Xavier SIMEON (Maptaq SAG Zelos Team)
5Julian SIMON (Italtrans Racing Team)
6Nicolas TEROL (Aspar Team Moto2)
7Alex DE ANGELIS (NGM Mobile Forward Racing)
8Dominique AEGERTER (Technomag carXpert)
9Takaaki NAKAGAMI (Italtrans Racing Team)
10Mattia PASINI (NGM Mobile Racing)
11Anthony WEST (QMMF Racing Team)
12Marcel SCHROTTER (Maptaq SAG Zelos Team)
13Axel PONS (Tuenti HP 40)
14Gino REA (Argiñano & Gines Racing)
15Sandro CORTESE (Dynavolt Intact GP)
Rank Rider (Team)
1Alex MARQUEZ (Estrella Galicia 0,0)
2Maverick VIÑALES (Team Calvo)
3Jonas FOLGER (Mapfre Aspar Team Moto3)
4Miguel OLIVEIRA (Mahindra Racing)
5Romano FENATI (San Carlo Team Italia)
6Jack MILLER (Caretta Technology - RTG)
7John MCPHEE (Caretta Technology - RTG)
8Niklas AJO (Avant Tecno)
9Niccolò ANTONELLI (GO & FUN Gresini Moto3)
10Brad BINDER (Ambrogio Racing)
11Jakub KORNFEIL (Redox RW Racing GP)
12Livio LOI (Marc VDS Racing Team)
13Philipp OETTL (Interwetten Moto3 Racing)
14Alan TECHER (CIP Moto3)

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