Hooray for Motegi! Those long breaks are tough on a Moto GP fan. We waited three long weeks for this race and we were rewarded with some exciting material. Again and as always, for all you official facts and figures you know where to go. This is just one woman’s observations.
Rain, rain, rain and more rain in Motegi. It looked so miserable out there it was almost painful to watch but we couldn’t look away. I really only have a few notes about free practice and qualifying for Moto 2. I might have been too focused watching to write many notes. It was nice to see Alex Marquez back to his usual physical condition and giving it his all again. He did spend some time in the garage with a throttle problem in qualifying but he more than made up for it landing the second place spot on the grid. Only outpaced by the hometown favorite Takaaki Nakagami who landed pole position. Hafizh Syahrin is such a pleasure to watch in these conditions – each lap seems faster than the previous and it’s nice to have a different rider in the mix. He was smooth, focused and in control over the weekend. The championship front runners, Franco Morbidelliand Thomas Luthi, had a super tough time of it ending up starting WAY back on the grid. Luthi started at the 13th spot and Morbedelli at the 15th. Ouch. The top three were Nakagami in pole, Marquez in second, Xavi Vierge in third, which is really a great spot for him.
A few notes about Moto GP free and qualifying, too. I simply must mention the Cal Cruthlow crash that took down Jorge Lorenzo. An out of nowhere take-down for poor old Lorenzo. This season has been Lorenzo eating humble pie. I don’t know if he actually feels this way but I certainly feel this way for him. He just can’t catch a break. Danilo Petrucci was beyond solid this weekend and it was a complete pleasure and joy to see. Additionally, let’s just give a big hats off to Johann Zarco for achieving a rookie year pole position – a job very well done for him. Oh, Rossi. That’s all I can say about that. Not his best weekend but we all know better things are coming. He will surprise us yet. Unfortunately though, his starting place was set at 12th on the grid. The grid ending up like this: Johann Zarco in pole, Danilo Petrucci second and Marc Marquez rounded out the front row in third. It’s worth noting that Andrea Dovizioso was only able to manage starting in 9th place which in no way dictated his race day performance.
Moto2 Race Day-
I actually only have a few things about Moto 2 race day in Motegi, too. First, Alex Marquez really rocked this race. A great win for him. Hafizh Syahrin again proves he is the master of rain. His anthem could be “I am the rain king” circa 1990’s Counting Crows. And Vierge had a superb race, too. Similar to the starting grid was the finishing grid (is that a thing?). I just have to put it out there – good luck in Moto GP, Takaaki Nakagami. This will be an interesting show to watch unfold next year. This short race ending in disappointment for our Championship leaders ending in 8th for Morbidelli and 11th for Luthi but this just keeps the races fun and the championship interesting. On to Moto GP which was a completely epic show!
MotoGP Race Day-
You couldn’t take your eyes off this race even for a nanosecond. It was an action packed, nail-biter for sure. Lorenzo started out hot but fizzled out a few laps in – humble pie again?! It was a remarkable race for the Suzuki team in Motegi - Andrea Iannone and Alex Rins were looking better, stronger and fasterthan ever in this race. It must feel like a huge weight lifted off of Andrea Iannone shoulders after a season full of struggles. So, congratulations to him and to team Suzuki Ecstar. My main Boss, Valentino Rossi crashed out. Boo! At least he didn’t re-injury his leg and will be ready to go for Phillip Island which will be upon us shortly. Fingers crossed for a good outcome for the Boss. Let’s just move right on to the most exciting, riveting part of this race - the final fight to the finish with our championship leaders Andrea Dovizioso and Marc Marquez. I think I didn’t breathe for the entirety of the last lap it so intense and so aggressive. In my notes I summed it up with this statement “That was the craziest lap EVER”. In the end Marc just made one small mis-step leading to a wobble which opened the door for Dovi to take the top step on the podium and an epic celebration for the Ducati garage. I can honestly say I have never seen that type of energy from Luigi Dall’Igna, Ducati Manager. This race made the championship so close and extremely captivating. I literally cannot wait for Phillip Island.
Hodge Podge observations-
Dovi and Marquez are the true definition of sportsmanship. They are handling the pressure of this championship with such grace. I am looking forward to the continuation of this battle.