Miller dominates the Japanese MotoGP as Bagnaia crashes

Jack Miller. Picture: MotoGP.com

Jack Miller has dominated the Japanese Grand Prix while Fabio Quartararo extended his MotoGP championship lead despite finishing eighth.

Despite qualifying seventh, the Ducati Lenovo Team’s Miller led by more than five seconds until he eased off on the final lap to seal a fourth premier class victory of his career with Brad Binder, his future team-mate at Red Bull KTM, second and Prima Pramac Ducati rider Jorge martin third.

Pole-sitter Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda) took fourth at a sunny Motegi and Quartararo (Monster Energy Yamaha) could barely advance from his qualifying position of ninth.

However, Francesco Bagnaia (Ducati Lenovo), his nearest rival for the title, crashed while stalking the Frenchman on the 24th and final lap, and Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing) also failed to score points when he could only get back to 16th from a pit lane start.

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Binder had qualified on the front row for the first time in MotoGP and took the lead courtesy of the inside line into the first corner, with Martin passing Marquez for second through Turn 3.

Miller effectively inherited one position when Espargaro, who qualified sixth, pitted at the end of the warm up lap and swapped from one bike to another due to a technical problem, before passing the other Aprilia of Maverick Viñales at Turn 5.

The Queenslander got by both Miguel Oliveira (Red Bull KTM) and Marquez when they braked for the 90 Degree Corner (Turn 11) to take up third position, while Martin led as a result of a move on Binder at Turn 7.

Miller also outbraked Binder at the 90 Degree Corner on Lap 2, then did the same to Martin on Lap 3 to take over first position.

From there, he cleared out, leading by more than three seconds when Suzuki Ecstar’s Takuya Tsuda pulled off due to a fire on his GSX-RR on Lap 12.

There would be no red flag and #43 continued to disappear up the road, his advantage more than five seconds at the start of the final lap and officially 3.409 seconds at the chequers.

Binder was as low as fourth at one point but re-passed team-mate Oliveira and then caught back up to Martin, overtaking the #89 Desmoedici for second at the start of the final lap.

Marquez took fourth when he too got back ahead of Oliveira, getting under the #88 RC16 as they negotiated the V Corner (Turn 9) on Lap 22, leaving the Portuguese rider to finish fifth.

Luca Marini (Mooney VR46 Ducati) had an early stoush with Quartararo on his way to sixth, one position ahead of Viñales.

Unusually, Quartararo and the two form riders in the championship, Baganaia and Enea Bastianini (Gresini Ducati), were locked in battle for eighth in the closing stages after qualifying ninth, 12th, and 15th respectively.

There certainly appeared to be no team/manufacturer orders between the Ducati riders given the manner in which they were carving each other up, but Bagnaia was the cause of his own downfall when he clamped the stoppers too hard while perhaps looking for a move on Quartararo at Turn 3 on Lap 24.

‘El Diablo’ therefore held on to eighth, Bastianini moved up to ninth, and Marco Bezzecchi (Mooney VR46 Ducati) rounded out the top 10, while Johann Zarco (Prima Pramac Ducati) slipped from the front row to seventh on the opening lap and 11th by the finish.

In the championship, Quartararo’s lead is back up to 18 points over Bagnaia and 25, or the equivalent of a full race, over Espargaro.

Remy Gardner finished 19th, one position and 0.095 seconds behind Tech3 KTM team-mate Raul Fernandez.

Round 17, the Thailand Grand Prix, is next weekend at Buriram.

Race results: Japanese MotoGP

Pos Num Rider Nat Team Bike Time/Gap
1 43 Jack MILLER AUS Ducati Lenovo Team Ducati 42:29.174
2 33 Brad BINDER RSA Red Bull KTM Factory Racing KTM +3.409
3 89 Jorge MARTIN ESP Prima Pramac Racing Ducati +4.136
4 93 Marc MARQUEZ ESP Repsol Honda Team Honda +7.784
5 88 Miguel OLIVEIRA POR Red Bull KTM Factory Racing KTM +8.185
6 10 Luca MARINI ITA Mooney VR46 Racing Team Ducati +8.348
7 12 Maverick VIÑALES ESP Aprilia Racing Aprilia +9.879
8 20 Fabio QUARTARARO FRA Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP Yamaha +10.193
9 23 Enea BASTIANINI ITA Gresini Racing MotoGP Ducati +10.318
10 72 Marco BEZZECCHI ITA Mooney VR46 Racing Team Ducati +16.419
11 5 Johann ZARCO FRA Prima Pramac Racing Ducati +16.586
12 44 Pol ESPARGARO ESP Repsol Honda Team Honda +17.456
13 73 Alex MARQUEZ ESP LCR Honda CASTROL Honda +18.219
14 21 Franco MORBIDELLI ITA Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP Yamaha +19.012
15 35 Cal CRUTCHLOW GBR WithU Yamaha RNF MotoGP Team Yamaha +19.201
16 41 Aleix ESPARGARO ESP Aprilia Racing Aprilia +25.473
17 49 Fabio DI GIANNANTONIO ITA Gresini Racing MotoGP Ducati +27.006
18 25 Raul FERNANDEZ ESP Tech3 KTM Factory Racing KTM +29.374
19 87 Remy GARDNER AUS Tech3 KTM Factory Racing KTM +29.469
20 30 Takaaki NAKAGAMI JPN LCR Honda IDEMITSU Honda +43.294
DNF 63 Francesco BAGNAIA ITA Ducati Lenovo Team Ducati +1 lap
DNF 42 Alex RINS ESP Team SUZUKI ECSTAR Suzuki +10 laps
DNF 40 Darryn BINDER RSA WithU Yamaha RNF MotoGP Team Yamaha +10 laps
DNF 85 Takuya TSUDA JPN Team SUZUKI ECSTAR Suzuki +13 laps
DNF 45 Tetsuta NAGASHIMA JPN HRC Team Honda +15 laps

Race winner: 24 laps

Riders’ championship

Pos Rider Nat Pts
1 Fabio QUARTARARO FRA 219
2 Francesco BAGNAIA ITA 201
3 Aleix ESPARGARO ESP 194
4 Enea BASTIANINI ITA 170
5 Jack MILLER AUS 159
6 Brad BINDER RSA 148
7 Johann ZARCO FRA 138
8 Jorge MARTIN ESP 120
9 Maverick VIÑALES ESP 113
10 Alex RINS ESP 108
11 Miguel OLIVEIRA POR 106
12 Luca MARINI ITA 101
13 Marco BEZZECCHI ITA 80
14 Joan MIR ESP 77
15 Marc MARQUEZ ESP 73
16 Pol ESPARGARO ESP 47
17 Takaaki NAKAGAMI JPN 46
18 Alex MARQUEZ ESP 42
19 Franco MORBIDELLI ITA 28
20 Fabio DI GIANNANTONIO ITA 23
21 Andrea DOVIZIOSO ITA 15
22 Darryn BINDER RSA 10
23 Remy GARDNER AUS 9
24 Raul FERNANDEZ ESP 8
25 Cal CRUTCHLOW GBR 3
26 Stefan BRADL GER 2
27 Michele PIRRO ITA 0
28 Lorenzo SAVADORI ITA 0
29 Kazuki WATANABE JPN 0
30 Takuya TSUDA JPN 0
31 Tetsuta NAGASHIMA JPN 0

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