Dovizioso beats Marquez in Japan thriller
Andrea Dovizioso has chipped away at Marc Marquez’s MotoGP world championship lead after winning in a stunning head-to-head battle in the rain in Japan.
Dovizioso appeared to be consigned to runner-up until a moment for Marquez with six corners to go gave the factory Ducati rider the incentive to make the move.
As was the case in Austria, Marquez threw his Repsol Honda back down the inside at the very last corner but couldn’t stick the move and Dovizioso instead won for the fifth time this year.
Marquez had got the holeshot and led the field through the opening corners.
However, Jorge Lorenzo (Ducati Team) gained one position at the start, two more at Turn 3 to take second position, and then passed Marquez before the end of Lap 1.
Danilo Petrucci was another who was strong in the early stages and passed Lorenzo for the lead at Turn 7 on Lap 2.
The Pramac Ducati rider stayed in front until just beyond half race distance, by which time he, Marquez, and Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team) had formed a three-bike breakaway from the field.
Marquez, perhaps wary of the proximity of Dovizioso behind, outbraked Petrucci at the 90 Degree Corner on Lap 13 of 24, and Dovizioso also got by at the start of the next lap.
With top two in the championship by that time top two in the race, Marquez and Dovizioso began to drop Petrucci.
Marquez’s margin fluctuated but remained within a second until Dovizioso got underneath #93 at Turn 5 on Lap 19 to lead for the first time.
By the end of that lap, he had already amassed a lead of 0.855s, but Marquez recovered.
The Spaniard made a forceful move at Turn 3 on Lap 22, prompting Dovizioso to put his Ducati up the inside at the fast 130 R corner, but Marquez re-passed at the V Corner to regain first position.
He looked to have enough in reserve starting the final lap but nearly crashed at the S Curve, allowing Dovizioso to get close enough to pass at the 90 Degree Corner.
Marquez got down the inside at the very last corner but couldn’t pull up and followed #04 across the finish line.
The gap between the two in the championship has come down to 11 points as a result.
Petrucci ultimately had a lonely final 11 laps on his way to the bottom step of the podium.
The two factory Suzukis of Andrea Iannone and Alex Rins followed in fourth and fifth.
Rins made good early progress to fifth but then got held up by Johann Zarco (Tech 3 Yamaha) for 10 laps.
He an Iannone got past within a matter of corners on Lap 20, then #29 overtook #42 on Lap 21.
Jorge Lorenzo ran out of pace completely shortly after losing the lead but ultimately finished sixth.
Aleix Espargaro (Gresini Aprilia) finished seventh, one position ahead of pole-sitter Zarco.
Maverick Viñales was not a factor at any stage as the Movistar Yamaha rider laboured to ninth, with Loris Baz (Avintia Ducati) rounding out the top 10.
Jack Miller’s injury replacement Hiroshi Aoyama (Marc VDS Honda) was last of the finishers in 18th.
Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda) retired late in the race and Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda) crashed twice before relenting.
Valentino Rossi (Movistar Yamaha), still recovering from a broken leg, also crashed out but stood up under his own power.
In Moto2, Remy Gardner finished 12th as Alex Marquez took victory.
In Moto3, debutant Tom Toparis managed to make the chequered flag in tricky conditions, last across the line of the 24 finishers in a race won by Romano Fenati.
Franco Morbidelli and Joan Mir still hold sizeable points leads in Moto2 and Moto3 respectively.
MotoGP will this week venture down to Phillip Island for the Michelin Australian Motorcycle Grand Prix on October 20-22.
Race results: Japanese Grand Prix
|1||04||Andrea DOVIZIOSO||ITA||Ducati Team||Ducati||47’14.236|
|2||93||Marc MARQUEZ||SPA||Repsol Honda Team||Honda||+0.249|
|3||9||Danilo PETRUCCI||ITA||OCTO Pramac Racing||Ducati||+10.557|
|4||29||Andrea IANNONE||ITA||Team SUZUKI ECSTAR||Suzuki||+18.845|
|5||42||Alex RINS||SPA||Team SUZUKI ECSTAR||Suzuki||+22.982|
|6||99||Jorge LORENZO||SPA||Ducati Team||Ducati||+24.464|
|7||41||Aleix ESPARGARO||SPA||Aprilia Racing Team Gresini||Aprilia||+28.010|
|8||5||Johann ZARCO||FRA||Monster Yamaha Tech 3||Yamaha||+29.475|
|9||25||Maverick VIÑALES||SPA||Movistar Yamaha MotoGP||Yamaha||+36.575|
|10||76||Loris BAZ||FRA||Reale Avintia Racing||Ducati||+48.506|
|11||44||Pol ESPARGARO||SPA||Red Bull KTM Factory Racing||KTM||+56.357|
|12||21||Katsuyuki NAKASUGA||JPN||Yamalube Yamaha Factory Racing||Yamaha||+1’00.181|
|13||22||Sam LOWES||GBR||Aprilia Racing Team Gresini||Aprilia||+1’00.980|
|14||8||Hector BARBERA||SPA||Reale Avintia Racing||Ducati||+1’03.118|
|15||53||Tito RABAT||SPA||EG 0,0 Marc VDS||Honda||+1’03.514|
|16||45||Scott REDDING||GBR||OCTO Pramac Racing||Ducati||+1’04.162|
|17||38||Bradley SMITH||GBR||Red Bull KTM Factory Racing||KTM||+1’06.271|
|18||7||Hiroshi AOYAMA||JPN||EG 0,0 Marc VDS||Honda||+1’13.250|
|DNF||19||Alvaro BAUTISTA||SPA||Pull&Bear Aspar Team||Ducati||3 Laps|
|DNF||26||Dani PEDROSA||SPA||Repsol Honda Team||Honda||4 Laps|
|DNF||17||Karel ABRAHAM||CZE||Pull&Bear Aspar Team||Ducati||5 Laps|
|DNF||35||Cal CRUTCHLOW||GBR||LCR Honda||Honda||10 Laps|
|DNF||46||Valentino ROSSI||ITA||Movistar Yamaha MotoGP||Yamaha||19 Laps|
|DNF||31||Kohta NOZANE||JPN||Monster Yamaha Tech 3||Yamaha||21 Laps|
Championship points: After Round 15