These just in:
A third time on pole at the Japanese venue puts the Italian in a perfect position for race day as the number 93 starts sixth
Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team) is doing everything he can to deny Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) the crown in the Motul Grand Prix of Japan, going fastest on Friday and following it up with pole position on Saturday – his third in the premier class at the track – as Marquez heads into the battle for his seventh title from sixth. ‘DesmoDovi’ won’t go down without a fight and the news gets even worse for Marquez on the rest of the front row, with Johann Zarco (Monster Yamaha Tech 3) and Jack Miller (Alma Pramac Racing) taking second and third respectively – two men with no Championship pressure and everything to gain.
It was a quickfire end to Q2 qualifying at Motegi and ‘DesmoDovi’ avoided the drama to perfection. That wasn’t quite true of Zarco, who put in a spectacular last ditch all-or-nothing lap and only just missed pole, but it was even less for Miller as the Australian set a stunner and then ended the session in the gravel trap. No harm done and rider ok, his earlier exploits made sure he held on to his front row – and he’s optimistic ahead of race day.
The second row also has some big contenders for Marquez to pick his way past: fellow Honda rider Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda Castrol), who was on provisional pole until the last push, took fourth and Team Suzuki Ecstar’s Andrea Iannone was a man who, like Zarco, left it late to pounce but then pushed Marquez back down to sixth.
The threats could also come from behind for the reigning Champion, however. Maverick Viñales (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP) is in seventh and edged out Alex Rins (Team Suzuki Ecstar) by less than a tenth, with the gap even smaller back to the second Movistar Yamaha of Valentino Rossi. Rossi, a former premier class winner at the venue, left it late to move through to Q2 in the morning and wasn’t able to challenge ahead of Row 3 in qualifying, with the Italian now looking for gains on Sunday.
Alvaro Bautista (Angel Nieto Team) completes the top ten after he made it through Q1 – his final lap breaking Red Bull KTM Factory Racing hearts as he pushed out Bradley Smith – and three-time Motegi winner Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda Team) had a more difficult session in P11. Home hero Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda Idemitsu) was the other graduate from Q1 and he lines up in tweflth after getting through to Q2 for the fourth time this season.
Smith was pushed down to P13, with his teammate Pol Espargaro and Alma Pramac Racing’s Danilo Petrucci locking out the fastest fifteen on Saturday.
So the stage is set and it’s Dovizioso in the driving seat so far at the Twin Ring Motegi. Will that be true on Sunday? A win can stop Marquez taking the title but anything less would likely see the Spaniard crowned. Tune in for the all-or-nothing Motul Grand Prix of Japan at 14:00 (GMT +9)!
MotoGP™ Qualifying Results
1 – Andrea Dovizioso (ITA) DUCATI 1’44.590
First Independent Team Rider:
2 – Johann Zarco (FRA) YAMAHA +0.068
3 – Jack Miller (AUS) DUCATI +0.137
How Marquez could win the title at Motegi
Marquez has a big chance at the crown on Sunday but it’s not yet a done deal – especially at a track that’s such a good venue for Dovizioso and Ducati. Simply put, the number 93 is Champion if:
– He scores points finishing ahead of Andrea Dovizioso
– He doesn’t concede more than two points to Dovizioso and 24 to Valentino Rossi
So if Dovizioso can pull off the win, not even second would be quite enough for Marquez and the fight would roll on to Phillip Island.
Tomorrow to be Marc Marquez’s first chance to clinch 2018 MotoGP Title, at Japanese Grand Prix
Marc Marquez qualified on a very close second row for tomorrow’s Japanese Grand Prix, which will be his first opportunity to clinch the 2018 MotoGP Title.
On a sunny Saturday at Twin Ring Motegi, Marc was fourth in this morning’s FP3 session and first in FP4 before setting the sixth-fastest time in qualifying, less than three tenths of a second from pole position.
Dani Pedrosa will start the Grand Prix, which begins at 2 p.m. local time and 7 a.m. Central European time, from the fourth row of the grid.
“In FP4 I crashed on the bike that I was feeling very strong and constant with, while my second bike had quite a different setup that I didn’t like as much. We had no time to change it, so I started qualifying expecting to struggle a bit, although still with the aim of earning a start position on the front two rows. That said, we know that our race pace is good for tomorrow, and we’re happy with that. We’ll try to start well, and then we’ll see where we are at the end of the first lap; from then on we’ll try and manage the race well, with the target of getting on the podium and, if possible, of fighting for the victory.”
“This weekend we tried to improve in qualifying, but it didn’t work out, which is a pity because a good starting position is very important at this track. We’ll have to recover, even if it’s always tough to overtake in the first few laps. We have to make a good tyre choice and start well, and then we’ll see what options we have.”
Andrea Dovizioso takes a splendid pole position in the Japanese GP at Motegi
Ducati Team’s Andrea Dovizioso powered to a splendid pole position this afternoon in qualifying for the Japanese Grand Prix, which will be held tomorrow at the Twin Ring Motegi circuit. The Italian, who had also been quickest in the morning’s FP3 run, then went out in Q2, in which he set a time of 1’44.590 in his second exit. Today’s pole is the second of the season for Dovizioso, his seventh in MotoGP and also the seventh pole of the 2018 season for Ducati.
The Japanese GP will get underway tomorrow afternoon at 14.00 local time (07.00 CET) and will be held over a distance of 24 laps.
Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team #04) – 1st (1’44.590)
“My qualifying session went very well and I’m happy with the feeling I had during my pole run. We’ve got a good pace, but so has Marquez and not only him. I think we still have to improve something if we want to fight for the win tomorrow, so we’ll analyse the data to see what the tyre wear is like, because probably we’ll be able to adopt a different strategy than in the last two races, where we had to save the tyre for the final few laps. We went strongly both with the soft and the medium, and we haven’t decided yet which one to use. I want to thank my team for their great job, because with a few small modifications we were able to make a big improvement and in qualifying I did a really great lap. This morning my aim was to set a time of 1’44.6 and I ended up lapping in 1’44.5!”
CRUTCHLOW FASTEST HONDA RIDER IN MOTEGI QUALIFYING
LCR Honda CASTROL rider Cal Crutchlow will start Sunday’s Japanese Grand Prix from the second row of the grid. The Briton was impressive throughout Saturday’s sessions at the Twin Ring Motegi, but just failed to translate his pace into a place on the front row.
As he was in Friday’s FP1, Crutchlow was second fastest in both FP3 and FP4 as he laid down a marker ahead of qualifying at HRC’s home race. However, a small error on his final lap in Q2 saw him miss out on the top three by less than a tenth of a second, although the LCR man remains in confident mood.
Cal Crutchlow –4th
(1’44.820 – lap 6 of 7)
“We are happy about the pace for today, the Team have worked very hard over the weekend to improve our package and be competitive, and we are. But I’m disappointed about the qualifying position, I made a mistake in the last corner and I was unable to take advantage and go on the front row. It would have been very helpful for tomorrow’s race to be starting on the front row. I’ve had great pace all weekend and I feel comfortable and confident for tomorrow, I look forward to seeing what happens in the race.”
Stunning Qualifying performance by Zarco and Syahrin in Motegi
Monster Yamaha Tech3 star Johann Zarco missed out on the pole position for the Motul Grand Prix of Japan today by just 0.068 seconds in an incredible tight Q2. However, the Frenchman will start the 16th round of the MotoGP World Championship tomorrow from the second position on the grid, being confident of a consistent and strong race at 14.00 local time (7.00 CET) on Sunday, after he lowered his Friday’s best again by 0.346 seconds to defend his third spot in the Free Practice classification this morning.
Meanwhile, Hafizh Syahrin gained momentum in FP3 and improved his fastest lap time from Friday by impressive 1.147 seconds. In Qualifying 1 the Malaysian rookie came extremely close to his first Q2 entry as he did an amazing lap time of 1’45.767 minutes to miss out on P2 by just 0.019 seconds. Full of confidence, Monster Yamaha Tech3’s Syahrin aims to bring home as many points as possible in tomorrow’s 24 laps race, launching from the front of the sixth row.
Position: 2nd – Time: 1’44.590 – Laps: 7
“This has for sure been a great lap! I think I missed the pole position just in the last chicane as I struggled to shift down from third to second gear and I guess that’s where I probably lost a few thousands of a second. Anyway, I’m so happy with this Qualifying! I was fast here from FP1 onwards and proved my good feeling once again. I could show clearly, how much I like this track and that I can push. Overall, it’s working well. Tomorrow we need a good start, maybe try to lead the race and it will be very important to ride the Yamaha well from the first lap on.”
SEVENTH ROW FOR THE APRILIA MACHINES IN THE JAPAN GP
The qualifying session on the Japanese Motegi track placed both the Aprilia riders on the seventh row of the starting grid for the GP tomorrow.
Aleix Espargaró, despite demonstrating his potential for a much better position, stopped at the 19th best time at 1’46.183. After putting on the tyre for his flying lap toward the end of the first of the two sessions that decide the grid order, Aleix battled down to the last turn for one of the top two spots, a position that would have opened the doors to the next session. He recovered in the second and third sector, coming within just 22 thousandths of the first place position, but a mistake on the final corner cost him what he had recovered up to that point.
Scott Redding fell victim to a crash (without consequences for the rider), precisely during what would have been his best lap. His qualifiers finished there and the time of 1’46.571 that he had previously put on the boards earned him the 21st spot on the starting grid, also on the seventh row.
“In qualifying I was at the limit because I wanted to go through to Q2. I was doing a very good time, but a mistake on the final part of the lap cost me fundamental tenths. Unfortunately, that’s the way the qualifiers are. It only takes the smallest mistake and you lose positions. Today was a difficult day. We had grip problems at the rear that keep us from stopping the bike and accelerating quickly. I’ll give it my all in the race. Right now, our pace is not exceptional, but we should be able to battle in the points zone.”
“During practice I felt good. We still have a couple of problems that we were able to partially mitigate. There is still some chattering which was also what caused my crash in qualifying. It gives us trouble on a couple of turns, but it costs us a lot of time and, above all, it exposes us to the risk of making mistakes. I’m still not sure about the tyre choice. I used the soft on the front, but I have some doubts. We’ll evaluate it in the technical debriefing and see what the race conditions are.”
Motegi (Japan), 20th October 2018
Movistar Yamaha MotoGP’s Maverick Viñales and Valentino Rossi came out fighting in today‘s Q2, featuring at the top of the rankings at the start of the session. However, the teammates were unable to keep their challenge going during their second run. They secured seventh and ninth place respectively for tomorrow’s race at the Twin Ring Motegi circuit.
Viñales was quick to start the 15-minute shoot-out and left the pits making sure there was enough space between him and the rest of the field, before starting his first flyer. He immediately put his Yamaha in second place, just behind his teammate. The Spaniard was one of the many riders flashing red sectors on their second try and improved his time. Nevertheless, he found himself in seventh place as he entered pit lane with a little under seven minutes on the clock.
The youngster was soon back out on the track, eager to put the hammer down once more. Unable to further improve on the next attempt, he gritted his teeth and pushed even harder on his seventh and final lap. He dropped a 1’45.140s, 0.550s from pole, which briefly moved him up to sixth, but some last-gasp track activity after the chequered flag had come out pushed him back to seventh place again, on the third row of the grid.
Rossi was quick to start the qualifying session and left the pits shortly before his teammate, hoping to find some clear track. He immediately made his mark with his first flying lap securing provisional pole and bettered his time on his second effort. As the pace intensified he dropped to fifth position whilst making his way back to the box with slightly more than seven minutes to go.
A quick stop later, the nine-time World Champion was back in action. With just enough time for two more hot laps, he put his head down, yet he was unable to produce a faster lap than the 1’45.265s he set on lap 3, which was 0.675s from the session‘s fastest time. He will start tomorrow’s race from ninth position.
Yamalube Yamaha Factory Racing Team wild card rider Katsuyuki Nakasuga had a tough second day at the Motegi track, suffering a crash in FP4. Thankfully unharmed, he was able to still put in a solid performance in Q1, taking 20th place, on the seventh row of the grid. His fastest lap, a 1’46.441s, was 1.012s from pole.
It was fundamental that the FP3 and FP4 sessions were dry, so we were able to proceed with the work on the dry set-up, especially after losing dry track time in yesterday’s damp FP2. We had some solutions to try today, but in the morning practice session we found that not all of them worked, so we had to continue our work in FP4. Though we made progress in terms of getting more power on the ground, and both Maverick and Vale had a good start to Q2, we had expected to be more competitive. Unfortunately, Vale’s qualifying result was compromised. He actually felt good with the bike earlier, so it’s a pity it cost him a row. It will be a hard race for both riders, starting from the third row. We are preparing a different setting tweak for tomorrow’s warm-up with the aim to make a further step. We still have some small doubts about the decision on the race tyre, so we’ll see in the morning.
Taking seventh on the grid is not disappointing to me, because we are actually trying to learn some things for next year, but for sure it also wasn’t the result I wanted. After yesterday’s FP1 I thought I could be close to the top and that a front-row start was possible, but we got worse on the braking areas, so that’s what we need to work on tomorrow. Tonight we will have a look to see where we are losing in terms of braking power compared to yesterday, and we’ll see if we can improve it. I don’t know what to expect for tomorrow’s race. I hope to be at the front, which I should be able to fight for if we improve the braking. We have to keep focused tomorrow and try to make another step. I’m actually happy about the traction, I didn’t expect to have such good traction here, so that’s very positive.
Today was not fantastic, but it was also not so bad – it was a bit average. My pace improved compared to yesterday. It’s nothing great, but we’re with about five riders who have a similar pace, so the race will be very much open. Unfortunately, I could have done better in qualifying, but we made a mistake in the box with the rear tyre and I didn’t have any grip, so I didn’t try my fullest on the second run. If that hadn’t happened, I think I could have started from the second row. To me, that’s my potential. We’ll see tomorrow. We have to improve in some areas, because I’m not very happy about the setting. We have to try to do better.