Circuit: Twin Ring Motegi
Journey of the Jackass, Chapter 16: Samurai Jackass
The Riders’ title had been secured thanks to Marc Marquez, they were a win away from the Constructors’ title- Everything was coming up Honda ahead of their home race in Motegi!
Then again, it was also the home race for Suzuki and Yamaha, who were keen to extract one on the emperors of Japanese machinery on their very own track.
Even a week on from the Super Typhoon, conditions were pretty terrible through most of the practice sessions on Friday and Saturday, but conditions were good enough by Saturday afternoon, and most of the top riders, Jack among them, went straight through to Q2.
The weather cleared up and the track dried out by qualifying, and shock horror- MARC MARQUEZ claimed yet another pole position, and shock horror, the French sensation that is Fabio Quartararo was on the front row as well, while Jack put in another solid performance to be the leading Ducati in 6th!
As a result of his 64th premier class pole, Marquez has now achieved the rare feat of claiming a pole position at every track on the MotoGP calendar.
And yet, the only race he’s still never won is the Austrian GP… thanks mainly to various Ductais always nailing him on the last corner.
Race (24 laps)
Oddly enough, Jack had never finished a MotoGP race at Motegi- In 2015 he slid out, in 2016 he slid out, He missed out in 2017 because of an injury, and slid out again in 2018.
At the start, Marquez jumped cleanly, Quartararo out-dragged Morbidelli into Turn 1, while Jack made a slick move up the inside, jumping from 6th to 3rd!
Quartararo made a move on Marquez, who retook the lead later into the lap at Turn 10, during which Quartararo had a sudden wobble, and Miller, who was trying to make an opportunistic late pass, had to suddenly correct, screwing up his exit onto the back straight, allowing Morbidelli to eventually claim him for 3rd.
Marquez established a 1 second lead on El Diablo, while the Jackass staged a good battle for the final podium position with Morbidelli, as Dovi worked his way into the race against Maverick Vinales in 5th and 6th.
Morbidelli eventually passed Miller on Lap 9, and truth be told, Jack didn’t really bother to fight back, and next thing you knew, Dovi had claimed him for 4th, followed by Vinales, who moved up to 5th.
Unfortunately that was really it for Jack, as he slowly went backwards for the rest of the race, having pretty much fried his pair of soft tyres (Compared to everyone running either a Medium x2 or Medium-Soft) just to keep pace with the leaders.
He would eventually slip back into the clutches of Alex Rins and Cal Crutchlow for 6th and 7th, followed by Joan Mir on a Sunday ride, and then ended the race being passed by Danilo Petrucci in the other Bologna Bullet for 9th.
There was also major disappointment for the Vale Yellow, as Valentino Rossi crashed out from 10th with only 4 laps running, as his pretty miserable beginning to life in his 40s continues.
That was pretty much it really- The race never reached any lofty heights, Quartararo never got close enough to the Honda to truly make it an exciting contest, and most of the real action was that early midfield battle between Dovi, Vinales and Morbidelli, and the fight for 6th and 7th between Alex Rins and Cal Crutchlow, with Crutchlow on the satellite Honda winning that fight, and then going on to claim a fading Morbidelli to finish in 5th.
After many laps of struggle, Dovi got past Morbidelli, beat off Vinales, and closed right up to Quartararo on the last lap, but there was no stopping Marquez, who scored another dominant win from pole, his 10th of the season, and his 54th win in the premier class, moving alongside Mick ‘The Dick’ Doohan…
It was fortunate Marquez got across the line, because he ran out of fuel on the cooldown lap!
Quartararo’s latest podium finish secured him the Rookie of the Year award, which had been coming since the best part of April, and Desmo Dovi’s 3rd placing secured him another career milestone- His 100th career podium- 59 in MotoGP, 26 in 250cc, and 15 in 125cc!
As for Jack, it appears that as has been the case in a few races this year, he was just too aggressive on his tyres in those opening laps trying to keep pace with the factory bikes- but still, that’s the first time he’s actually finished in Motegi since 2014… his last season in Moto3!
As mentioned previously, Marquez’ victory secured the Constructors’ title for Honda, their 25th in all, which he’s pretty much delivered to them single-handidly (Given the points are given to the first bike home)…. given he’s the only Honda in the Top 10 of the Drivers’ championship.
I’m not kidding- The only other rider who’s contributed to Honda’s tally is Takaaki Nakagami, who finished 10th in America following Marc’s only DNF so far this year.
Bloody hell, Jorge really is just an injured shell thanks to all those falls.
Moto2: The Remy Rollercoaster
The rain persisted during the Moto3 and Moto2 sessions on Saturday, and in the treacherous conditions, the true highlight once again came from a championship-leading Marquez- This time, Alex suffered a monster highside coming out of the final turn….
Only to somehow maintain control of the bike, come to a stop on the pit straight, and remount and continue.
That was just about the highlight of the weekend through all 3 classes- Incredible control… but then again, we’d expect nothing less from a Marquez.
Eventually, Qualifying went ahead in very wet conditions, and it was the younger brother of another legend on two wheels who would claim pole position- Luca Marini, Valentino Rossi’s younger brother, belted everyone with a superb lap to claim pole by 1.2 seconds, with Marquez starting 4th, while Remy Gardner qualified in P10, missing out on a Top 6 start by just 2 tenths, with the weather playing a big part in evening up the field.
Another noteworthy qualifying performance- the Thai cult hero Somikat Chantra in 6th!
Race (22 laps)
The race was another non-event for Remy, who simply didn’t have the pace to go with the Top 10, and then on Lap 8, crashed out at Turn 9 from 13th, which wasn’t even picked up by the cameras- Such was his irrelevance to the race.
It only flashed up when Marquez was too busy bowling past Augusto Fernandez for 5th.
Apparently Remy turned down a KTM MotoGP ride because he wanted to stay in Moto2 for another season, and that liked fighting at the front…
Bit hard to do that, when you can’t even keep your arse on the machine.
Other than that, Brad Binder, who qualified in a lowly 18th, had to pull his usual Springbok charge through the field, which almost ended prematurely, when he had this monster wobble out of Turn 2.
Other than that, all eyes turned to the action up the front, because Thomas Luthi and Marini were engaged in a major fight for the victory, as the pole-sitter applied the blowtorch to the rear end of the Swiss, and with two laps to go, Marini reclaimed the lead with a slick inside pass at Turn 4, and he would survive the next lap and a half to claim back to back victories for the first time in his career, with Luthi’s 2nd place finish moving up to 2nd in the Moto2 championship, 36 points behind Marquez, who finished in 6th.
UP NEXT: The Australian Grand Prix, this weekend!