MotoGP Motegi: Dovizioso wins last-lap thriller
Ducati’s Andrea Dovizioso got the better of reigning MotoGP world champion Marc Marquez on the final lap of today’s Motegi race to take victory and 25 points and cuts the Spaniard’s advantage to 11 points with three races left to run.
The pair had fenced for 11 laps after passing and dropping Danilo Petrucci but the race caught fire despite the rain on the last lap when an error from Marquez at turn eight allowed Dovizioso to close on to the RC213V’s rear wheel.
Dovizioso rode through some serious aquaplaning along the back straight to mug Marquez into the 90° corner and, as in Austria, Marquez tried to ram it up the inside of the GP17 into the final turn but ran wide which allowed the Italian to bag his fifth win of the season while Marquez becomes the youngest rider to take 100 GP podiums.
Parc ferme hugs
Petrucci opted to the extra-soft Michelin wet and carved his way into the lead early doors but as the race went on, he began to lose grip in the centre of the tyre, so the Pramac Ducati man decided discretion was the better part of valour and opted for a podium spot, ten seconds off the lead.
While Dovizioso and Marquez hugged in parc ferme, the works Yamaha team had to acknowledge their championship challenge is now over. Valentino Rossi crashed unhurt at turn eight – where he went down yesterday – while Maverick Vinales struggled to ninth place as the M1 again failed to work effectively in the rain.
Rossi crashes out
It was also championship game over for Marquez’ team-mate Dani Pedrosa. The little Spaniard again struggled with getting heat into the tyres and was running around outside the top ten but retired with three laps left to run meaning the title chase is now a two-horse race.
In an event of surprises, the Ecstar Suzuki team came good with Andrea Iannone just getting the better of rookie team-mate Alex Rins for fourth place. Rins made a whole lot of running mid-race, passing Iannone and Monster Yamaha’s Johann Zarco to get closer to the podium than he has ever been.
As Zarco began to struggle, Iannone followed Rins through and then passed him and pulled a gap for his best finish of the season which will feel like two podiums for Davide Brivio’s mob who have collectively struggled this year.
Jorge Lorenzo again made an initial charge to the front on his works Ducati but didn’t have the pace and was quickly scythed backwards, dropping into the 2’00-lap bracket before sorting himself out and recovering to finish in sixth place but some 24s behind team-mate Andrea Dovizioso.
Aprilia’s Aleix Espargaro had a fairly lonely race but caught and passed Zarco for seventh in the closing laps. Vinales’ wet weather nightmare continued as ninth place means his gap to Marquez at the top of the table is now 41 points.
Loris Baz completed the top ten with Pol Espargaro in 11th. Sam Lowes had a ding-doing with Yamaha test rider and brother Alex’s Suzuka Eight-Hours team-mate Kats Nakasuga, eventually losing out to the Japanese for 12th after running low on fuel but picking up his second points score of the season. Hector Barbera and Tito Rabat rounded out the top 15 with Scott Redding 16th and Bradley Smith 17th.
Cal Crutchlow managed to crash twice in the race. He initially went down at turn seven on lap five and then again at turn 11 with nine left to run.
1 Marc MARQUEZ Honda SPA 244
2 Andrea DOVIZIOSO Ducati ITA 233
3 Maverick VIÑALES Yamaha SPA 203
4 Dani PEDROSA Honda SPA 170
5 Valentino ROSSI Yamaha ITA 168