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Lorenzo Claims Motegi for Yamaha with Stunning Home Victory
Motegi (Japan), 27th October 2013
Defending world champion Jorge Lorenzo delivered an incredible performance today to take victory in the Grand Prix of Japan, claiming the Motegi circuit for Yamaha. A dramatic weekend dominated by complicated weather conditions meant the only dry set up time for today's race was this morning in the final warm up session.
Lorenzo rose to the occasion, firing off the start line like a bullet in front of Yamaha's home crowd to lead the race into the first laps. The Mallorcan was able to build a gap of nearly two seconds in the first three laps then saw it cut as championship rival Marc Marquez closed in. Marquez and Dani Pedrosa were able to get onto the heels of Lorenzo but unable to pass. The defending champion held on to the line to score his 51st Grand Prix victory, crossing the line just over three seconds clear of Marquez.
Teammate Valentino Rossi made a great start to the race from the second row and tucked in behind Lorenzo in second position as the Japanese Grand prix got underway. Unfortunately a lack of braking power on turn 11 of the second lap caused him to run wide, allowing Marquez and Pedrosa past. He then got back on track but suffered the same issue the following lap, dropping down to 11th in the process. In typical Rossi fashion he then put his head down and made several passes as he fought back up the field to finish in sixth position.
The stunning victory by Lorenzo brings him five points closer to Marquez. 13 points separate them now as they head to the final round in Valencia. Rossi increases his point score to 224 and remains in fourth place in the standings.
99 Jorge Lorenzo
1st / 42'34.291 / 24 laps
"We chose the soft tyre and the others chose the hard tyre, we knew that at the end of the race we might have problems but finally I could push even more the lap times. The strategy could have been different but to take this win at the home of Honda makes me very happy."
99 Valentino Rossi
6th / +24.637 / 24 laps
"I made a great start but on the second lap when I arrived at turn 11 I had not enough power on the brakes and I went too deep and lost two positions. On the next lap it was the same. It was my mistake then because I should have remembered from the lap before that I didn't have enough on the brakes. I couldn't stay on the track and lost a lot of positions. After that I tried to do the maximum. My pace was quite good and think I could have been in fourth place but it wasn't enough to get on the podium."
Yamaha Celebrates Incredible 200 Premier Class Grand Prix Wins
As the flag dropped at the finish line in Motegi this afternoon it signaled not just an incredible victory for Jorge Lorenzo but also a defining moment for Yamaha. The race win is the 200th Grand Prix victory for Yamaha in the premier class of Grand Prix racing.
Both Jorge and his teammate Valentino have made an incredible contribution to this score, adding the last 49 of the 50 race wins taken since 2007 with Ben Spies the only other Yamaha Factory Racing rider to claim a single race win in that time.
This incredible success story goes back to 1973, when British rider Chas Mortimer took the first ever 500cc victory in the class that would become the modern day MotoGP Championship. Yamaha is still only the second manufacturer to achieve this milestone.
The greatest MotoGP legend of all-time, Giacomo Agostini played a key part in writing Yamaha's story of race success, taking six 500cc wins in the 1970s to add to the score. Later on in the story it was the Americans who wrote their piece of Yamaha history with three in particular, Kenny Roberts, Eddie Lawson and Wayne Rainey racking up the victories.
Roberts was the first, the pioneer of knee dragging wild riding, taking three back-to-back 500cc championships from 1978 to 1980. Eddie Lawson followed, adding 26 wins to the total and claiming three titles for Yamaha in 1984, 1986 and 1988.
The last of the three, Wayne Rainey, then took up the challenge, scoring an impressive 24 race victories on his way to taking the world title in 1990, 1991 and 1992. A tragic accident in 1992 brought an end to Rainey's racing career, and the focus returned to Europe with riders Luca Cadalora and then Max Biaggi taking up the charge. Biaggi ironically was challenging against the then rival Rossi for the eight victories he scored.
It was in 2004 that Valentino Rossi arrived in the Yamaha garage, forming a love affair with the YZR-M1 that has endured to this day, creating an almost impossible to believe success that has won the hearts of fans worldwide. By 2007 Rossi had made it 150 wins for Yamaha at the historic Assen TT races, his own 28th MotoGP win.
2008 saw the arrival of another remarkable talent in the Yamaha garage. Stepping up to join Valentino on the YZR-M1 was hotheaded Mallorcan Jorge Lorenzo. The pairing proved unbeatable, adding two further world titles with Yamaha and an amazing 30 race wins to Rossi's haul.
YMC Motorsport Development Division, General Manager
"We can be very proud and happy to witness this incredible achievement today here in Motegi. Jorge delivered a perfect performance to give us our 200th Grand Prix victory, continuing in the long tradition of success that we have enjoyed now since 1972. For Yamaha it is also very special to be able to enjoy this victory here in Japan for our home Grand Prix."
Yamaha Motor Racing, Managing Director
"It's absolutely fantastic to be able to celebrate our 200th Grand Prix victory here in Japan at our home race with such an incredible performance from Jorge Lorenzo. He totally dominated, not just the weekend, but also the race today under extreme pressure from his rivals. I'd like to say thanks to all of the riders and teams and all of the sponsors and partners and everyone involved in bringing us these memorable victories over the years. May we go on to 201 in Valencia!"
"It's a very special day, to be the rider to get the 200 wins is a great honour. To win at Honda's home race is even more special! It was a very difficult race today, they were very close but I never gave up and tried to be even faster, brake harder and open the gap more. Finally I was able to make a little gap. We are very proud of this victory, for the result, for the circumstances and for the championship, it couldn't be better."
Double podium in Japan seals 2013 Team Championship for Repsol Honda Team
It has been another dramatic weekend with schedule changes and extreme weather conditions disturbing proceedings. However, this morning the MotoGP paddock woke up to sunshine for the first time this weekend. Once the early mist burned off, the morning Free Practice session was extended to 45 minutes as this was the only dry track time the teams had seen all weekend. Marc suffered a high speed crash in the session on a cold front tyre and was fortunate to avoid serious injury - he received an injection before the race to numb the pain.
Starting from 2nd (Marc) and 4th (Dani) on the grid, it was a fast dash into the first turn with Marc losing a place and Dani slipping back to 5th briefly. On lap two, Rossi made a mistake and both riders took advantage, closing in on pole man Lorenzo - leading the race. They rode in perfect formation with milliseconds separati ng them for the entire first half of the race. Dani started to lose touch with Lorenzo and Marc as they opened up a small gap. Having only experienced 45 minutes on a dry track at Motegi on the MotoGP machine, Marc was starting to have some issues. He attempted a few moves on Lorenzo but was unable to complete a pass and finally stopped pushing and settled for second place and important Championship points.
Behind the podium finishers, Gresini's Alvaro Bautista and LCR's Stefan Bradl took 4th and 5th, delivering Honda four bikes in the top five.
Dani's 3rd position now mathematically rules him out of the Championship chase, but Marc's 20 points leaves him 13 ahead of title rival Jorge Lorenzo with just one round remaining of the 2013 season. The Valencia GP in two weeks time will be the title decider - the first time the title has gone down to the last race since Nicky Hayden in 2006, when he won the title for Honda.
With the 2nd and 3rd places in today's Japanese GP the Repsol Honda Team have clinched the 2013 Teams Championship. Scoring a total of 598 points, the team are now 69 points ahead of their nearest rivals with only 45 to play for in Valencia. In total this season to date, Marc has scored a total of six x 1st's, six x 2nd's, 3 x 3rd's and 2 x DNF's. Dani has scored 3 x 1st's, 6 x 2nd's, 3 x 3rd's, 2 x 4th's, 1 x 5th and 2 x DNF's. The team has celebrated 5 x 1-2 finishes and 10 x double podiums.
Marc Marquez 2nd Championship Standing: 1st - 318 points
"Second place today is a very good result. After my crash in warmup, I knew that it would be difficult to be consistent - because in the morning I hadn't managed that either. This was my first time at this track with a MotoGP bike and in practice I was unable to get any references in the dry, leaving me with only the warmup and the race in which to find my way. I saw that Jorge was a little stronger than us here and I had a couple of scary moments, making me decide that twenty points and the gap being reduced by only five points would be a decent result. There is only one race remaining - the most important of the year - so we shall try to be more focused than ever at Valencia"
Dani Pedrosa 3rd Championship Standing: 3rd - 280 points
"It was a bit of a boring race for me, because I tried to give everything but I had a lot of problems exiting the corners; I was unable to get on the gas fully and I lost a lot of time to Marc and Jorge. I was third for the entire race, trying to hold onto them. However, at the midway point of the race my pace started to become slower than theirs. Now we have to focus on the next race, in Valencia, where we shall try to do as well as possible"
AIRASIA GRAND PRIX OF JAPAN 21°c sunny
Crutchlow prevails in exciting Tech 3 battle in Japan
Cal Crutchlow triumphed in an exciting duel with Monster Yamaha Tech 3 teammate Bradley Smith in today's Japanese Grand Prix to claim a hard fought seventh position that secured the British rider the honour of finishing leading non-factory rider in 2013.
With only 45 minutes of dry track time available on a weather-hit weekend at the Twin Ring Motegi ahead of this afternoon's 24-lap race, Crutchlow and Smith engaged in a thrilling battle in the first half of the race.
In easily the best conditions of the weekend, it was Smith who led the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 charge after he made another one of his super fast reactions off the line to rocket from 13th on the grid into the top six.
Smith opted to race the extra soft compound Bridgestone rear tyre to boost his speed in the early laps and it was a strategy the paid off handsomely, as he hunted down Stefan Bradl for a place in the top five.
A mistake by Valentino Rossi in the hard braking zone for Turn 11 on lap three elevated Smith into the top five and he then rode magnificently to keep hard charging Crutchlow at bay until lap nine.
Crutchlow went for a different tyre selection strategy and the harder option rear tyre kept him firmly in contention for the top six until the final stages when he was unable to maintain a challenge to Rossi.
Crutchlow's seventh position moved him to 188-points in the Championship rankings and with just one race remaining, Alvaro Bautista can no longer catch him to claim the accolade of being the top non-factory rider this season.
Smith's brilliant ride to eighth saw him take a giant leap towards securing 10th in the overall World Championship standings, now he is 19-points clear of Aleix Espargaro.
Smith's impressive rookie season is certainly finishing strongly, with the 22-year-old claiming six top 10 finishes in the last seven races and he finished just over three seconds behind Crutchlow this afternoon.
After a gruelling three-week world tour to Malaysia, Australia and Japan, the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Team now heads back to Europe for a well-deserved rest ahead of the final race in Valencia on November 10.
Cal Crutchlow - 7th - 188 points :Cal Crutchlow
"It was a very difficult race because from the first lap I realised I was having an issue with the front brake overheating and choosing the harder rear tyre was not the best choice. Bradley used the softer tyre and in the first few laps, the problem with the brake meant I was having to focus on not running into is the back. My tyre was good for the second half of the race and I could pass Bradley but when Valentino came through he was a bit faster. We were just missing a few things to be more competitive but even with the soft tyre like Lorenzo, I wasn't going to be racing at his pace. He really did a great job. The positive is with today's result assured the fifth position in the Championship, and my target before the first race was to finish best non-factory rider. Now we can go home and get some rest after a tough period before trying to end the season strongly in Valencia."
Bradley Smith - 8th - 107 pointsBradley Smith :
"I'm pleased with the eighth position. I knew it would be been a tricky race starting from 13th, but fortunately I made a good start and I was trying to push at my maximum right from the off so that I was able to follow Bradl during the first laps. We definitely made some improvements on a full fuel load during this weekend and it helped me a lot to find a good rhythm. I saw Valentino making a mistake at the beginning of the race, so I knew he might come back and I just tried to follow him when he passed me. Today was probably the smallest gap to the other satellite riders so far and that makes me happy, especially considering that we had just one dry session this morning to set the bike up. I'm pleased with the progress we made during the season and this 10th place seems to be safe and now I'm just looking forward to make a good race in Valencia to end the Championship on a high."
Herve Poncharal - Team Manager :
"We knew from the beginning that today was going to be a tough race because our grid positions were far from ideal. So to finish seventh and eighth is still a satisfying result and shows once again the determination and the passion our guys put into this sport. Both Cal and Bradley started well, Bradley was slightly better as he managed to pass Cal as well and their pace was fast and consistent, even if we had to admit that the top three guys were riding on other level today. I believe the soft rear tyre was the right choice today, also considering what Lorenzo did, and it was really hard for Cal to catch Bradley. I think he managed it more because of experience than for a faster speed. Both of them did a good job and we are already looking forward to the next round in Valencia. I must also congratulate Jorge on another fantastic victory, which keeps him firmly in contention for the Championship and it was also a memorable day for Yamaha with their 200th win in MotoGP. That is a stunning achievement and I am really proud to be part of the Yamaha family."
Japanese GP: Ninth and tenth for Hayden and Dovizioso at Motegi
At the end of a race weekend marked by challenges including thick fog, heavy rain and cancelled free-practice sessions that forced the riders do a single qualifying session, the Japanese Grand Prix finally took place in perfect weather conditions this afternoon. Unfortunately, the dry track wasn't helpful to the Ducati Team, with Nicky Hayden and Andrea Dovizioso unable to capitalize on their decent grid positions in the race.
The American had lined up on the front row, but he suffered a problem on the start and was quickly shuttled back through the pack, soon settling in behind Dovizioso, who had left from row 2. The teammates stayed in close formation for almost the entire race, and the Italian appeared to have ninth place sewn up until the final lap until he went long near the end of the last lap, enabling Hayden to slip by. Dovizioso recovered to round out the top ten.
This taxing overseas tripleheader now complete, the teams return home for a well-deserved weekend off before heading to Spain for the season finale, in Valencia on 10 November.
Nicky Hayden - Ducati Team, 9th
"We knew it would be a different story today in the dry, and already in the morning session, it was clear we were further back than yesterday. I don't know what happened on the start, but the bike didn't accelerate; it looks like it may have been something with the clutch. That's a shame because all the work from yesterday was gone by the time I got to Turn 1. The race was very difficult because we struggled a lot with edge grip, but I went faster as the race went on. I knew it would be a big job to beat Dovi here, because this is a great track for him. He was really strong in some places and made it tough, but I was barely able to beat him on the last lap."
Andrea Dovizioso - Ducati Team, 10th
"I had a good session this morning, and although I still didn't expect to be at the front, I at least thought I'd be able to ride pretty fast, but I couldn't manage it. Maybe I rode a bit better than at the other tracks, but anyway, we still have a big gap to the front. It's a shame about the last lap but I had some lappers in front of me that bothered me in the final braking zone. The brakes weren't right either, and I don't think I was the only one to have problems. Anyway, I went a bit long at the bottom of the hill, losing a position to Nicky. I'm disappointed because I had managed to stay ahead of him for the entire race."
Paolo Ciabatti - Ducati MotoGP Project Director
"After yesterday's strong qualifying session, we knew that it would probably be difficult to defend our grid positions today in the race. Unfortunately, our bike still seems to have some limits on a dry track, which makes it difficult for our riders to fight for good positions, despite their hard work. Motegi was an unusual weekend, also because Vittoriano Guareschi informed us of his desire to leave the team at season's end in order to take on a new professional challenge in this championship. Vittoriano was with us for 13 years and he helped Ducati with the entire development of the Desmosedici project, first as a test rider and then as our team manager, so he has represented an important part of Ducati's history in MotoGP. Obviously, we're disappointed, but from the bottom of our hearts, we wish him every success in his new adventure."
BRADL ENDS 5TH HIS COMEBACK RACE IN MOTEGI
Motegi, 27 October: in today's sunny and crowded Japanese Grand Prix, LCR Honda's Stefan Bradl managed to finish the 24-lap penultimate round of the season with a brave 5th place overcoming the pain of the recently fractured ankle. After the disruption of Friday and Saturday, the MotoGP paddock finally enjoyed dry conditions taking to the Japanese circuit for an extra 45-min morning free session which saw the German in first place. Bradl's determination and the intensive physiotherapy programme gave him the chance to race today scoring 11 points.
"It has been a "crazy" weekend for everybody but, at the end, we had a dry race and I am happy about my result. I was more cautious compared to the other guys but I took a good start from the third row. At some point during the race Bautista caught me but I could feel some pain in my ankle due to the movement of the bike. Actually my ankle is at 85% and for me it was a long and tough race so we must be pleased with this 5th place".