MotoGP World Championship Grand Prix 2014 – Round 15: Japan – October 12, 2014
Marquez Conquers the World at Motegi
Repsol Honda RC213V rider Marc Marquez, already the youngest ever World Champion, claimed his second successive championship at Honda’s home circuit of Motegi at the Japanese Grand Prix. The defender rode to a secure second place in the race to make his points lead unassailable, with three races to spare. The 21-year-old from Cervera in Spain, already 125cc and Moto2 World Champion, won his second straight premier class to become the youngest ever winner of consecutive titles, beating the record of Mike Hailwood that had stood since 1963.
The prodigious talent of Marquez means that he has also claimed this title still at a younger age than the previous youngest-ever winner, Honda’s 1983 champion Freddie Spencer. The win, celebrated with the ceremonial release of a high-flying balloon cut free with a traditional Japanese samurai sword, comes after a near-perfect season, with 11 race wins out of 15 races, 11 pole-position starts and setting the fastest lap in 10 races.
It also took Honda a step closer to securing a fourth successive Constructors’ Championship with the class-leading V4 RC213V MotoGP prototype. Team-mate Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda RC213V) was fourth, just half-a-second away from his own tenth podium finish, in a race run in dry conditions in spite of the threat of an imminent typhoon, in front of a Sunday crowd of 42,856. The position kept alive his hopes of finishing second overall to give Honda a classic championship one-two. The race was won at lap-record speed by Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha), with his team-mate Valentino Rossi third.
Marquez overcame a second-row start, and fought his way to second place after finishing the first lap fifth. He claimed the position on the 16th of 24 laps of the 4.801 Honda-built Motegi circuit, in mountainous country north of Tokyo.
It was a fitting climax to a landmark season for the youthful superstar. Marquez won the first ten races without interruption, and added another victory in round 12. Each win was another chapter in the legend of a potential all-time giant of the sport.
Pedrosa started from the front row, but was shuffled back to sixth in the first-lap melee. Patiently he picked his way forward, and was closing on third place in the latter part of the race. The 29-year-old from outside Barcelona was the first rider other than Marquez to win a race this year, taking victory in the Czech Republic round. The experienced Honda rider has backed it up with eight more top-three finishes.
While Marquez’s championship position is unassailable, Pedrosa is in a close fight for the second spot. With three rounds remaining and a possible 75 points still available, he is now equal on points with Rossi, and Lorenzo is just three points behind. Pedrosa required corrective surgery for an arm-pump condition at the start of the European season, but recovered strongly.
Two more riders campaign the class-leading Honda V4 MotoGP prototypes. German former Moto2 champion Stefan Brad (LCR Honda RC213V) was seventh, up two places from his qualifying position, and holding off a fierce attack from satellite Yamaha riders Pol Espargaro and Bradley Smith.
Former 125cc champion Alvaro Bautista (GO&FUN Gresini Honda RC213V) finished tenth, also two better than his grid position. The Spaniard and his GO&FUN team-mate Scott Redding have a special role, race-testing Showa suspension and Nissin brakes, made by Japanese companies with close links to Honda. Redding is one of four riders campaigning the new-this-year production Honda MotoGP machine, a close replica of the factory machine. The best of them was Japan’s Hiro Aoyama (Drive M7 Aspar Honda RCV1000R). The former 250cc champion was a close 13th, narrowly failing to overtake compatriot Katsuyuki Nakasuga’s factory Yamaha.
Second Drive M7 Aspar Honda RCV1000R rider Nicky Hayden was five seconds behind and one place lower, after a brave race for Honda’s 2006 World Champion. The American has finished in the points in the last two races, after missing four rounds following radical surgery to his right wrist. The hard braking of Motegi was a severe test for the courageous Kentucky competitor.
Redding (GO&FUN Gresini Honda RCV1000R) just missed the points, losing 15th place on the final lap. The Briton, youngest-ever Grand Prix winner, is still the top-scoring production Honda rider, placed 13th overall. Czech law graduate Karel Abraham (Cardion AB Motoracing Honda RCV1000R) crashed out of the race, with ten laps remaining.
Honda is guaranteed to win in the intermediate Moto2 category, where the series organizers supply all competitors with identical race-tuned Honda CBR600 engines. This assures not only close competition, but also reliable racing.
A first win of the year went to front-row qualifier Thomas Luthi (Interwetten Sitag Suter), who led the 23-lap race from the first corner to the last. But the Swiss former 125cc champion had to work hard for it, as two-race winner Maverick Vinales (Paginas Amarillas HP 40 Pons Kalex) pushed through to second before the halfway point, and closed a lead that had been almost 2.5 seconds to less than a second as they started the final lap. Vinales secured a new lap record in the process.
Title leader Tito Rabat (Marc VDS Racing Team Kalex) was third after starting from his eighth pole position of the season, extending his points lead over team-mate Mika Kallio, who was fifth, just over half-a-second behind French star Johann Zarco (AirAsia Caterham Caterham-Suter). Sixth-placed former 125 champion Julian Simon (Italtrans Racing Team Kalex) was a similar distance behind, with rookie team-mate Franco Morbidelli challenging to the end.
Rising Malaysian star Hafizh Syahrin (Petronas Raceline Malaysia Kalex) came through for eighth, with Ricard Cardus (Tech 3 Tech 3) and Xavier Simeon (Federal Oil Gresini Moto2 Suter) rounding out the top ten.
Rabat now has an advantage of 38 points over Kallio, with reigning Moto3 champion Vinales a strong third, another 32 points behind. Fourth-placed Dominique Aegerter (Technomag carXpert Suter) failed to score after falling and remounting to finish 18th, and is now out of touch.
In Moto3, the closest battle of the series, Honda is up against machines from KTM and Mahindra, and with his third win of the year Alex Marquez (Estrella Galicia 0,0 Honda) extended the World Championship lead that he took for the first time at the last round at Aragon. The younger brother of MotoGP champion Marc is now 25 points clear of erstwhile leader Jack Miller (KTM). He also set a new lap record in the race.
With SaxoPrint-RTG Honda rider Efren Vazquez coming though from 14th on the grid to second place, it was a one-two finish for the upgraded Honda NSF250RW Moto3 bike; with yet another of the 250cc single-cylinder four-strokes taking a very close fourth. That was ridden by second SaxoPrint-RTG rider John McPhee, the 20-year-old Scotsman’s best result, in his second full Grand Prix season.
It was another hard-fought and exciting Moto3 race, with the first four over the line in less than seven tenths of a second, and the next pair half-a-second behind, after tangling in the third-last corner. Brad Binder (Mahindra) was third, erstwhile title leader Jack Miller (KTM) fifth.
Second Estrella Galicia 0.0 Honda rider Alex Rins, twice a race winner this year, was a disappointed tenth, after a collision on the first corner sent him off the track, finishing that lap in 20th place.
Zulfahmi Khairuddin (Ongetta-AirAsia Honda) finished 14th, in the points; but Brno Grand Prix winner Alexis Masbou (Ongetta-Rivacold Honda) was out of luck, crashing out of the 20 lap race.
MotoGP World Championship Grand Prix – Round 15: Japan
|1||Jorge LORENZO (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP)||F|
|2||Marc MARQUEZ (Repsol Honda Team)||F|
|3||Valentino ROSSI (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP)||F|
|4||Dani PEDROSA (Repsol Honda Team)||F|
|5||Andrea DOVIZIOSO (Ducati Team)||F|
|6||Andrea IANNONE (Pramac Racing)||F|
|7||Stefan BRADL (LCR Honda MotoGP)||F|
|8||Pol ESPARGARO (Monster Yamaha Tech 3)||F|
|9||Bradley SMITH (Monster Yamaha Tech 3)||F|
|10||Alvaro BAUTISTA (GO & FUN Honda Gresini)||F|
|11||Aleix ESPARGARO (NGM Forward Racing)||O|
|12||Katsuyuki NAKASUGA (YAMALUBE Racing Team with YSP)||F|
|13||Hiroshi AOYAMA (Drive M7 Aspar)||O|
|14||Nicky HAYDEN (Drive M7 Aspar)||O|
|15||Hector BARBERA (Avintia Racing)||O|
* F=Factory option, O=Open category
|1||Thomas LUTHI (Interwetten Sitag)|
|2||Maverick VIÑALES (Paginas Amarillas HP 40)|
|3||Esteve RABAT (Marc VDS Racing Team)|
|4||Johann ZARCO (AirAsia Caterham)|
|5||Mika KALLIO (Marc VDS Racing Team)|
|6||Julian SIMON (Italtrans Racing Team)|
|7||Franco MORBIDELLI (Italtrans Racing Team)|
|8||Hafizh SYAHRIN (Petronas Raceline Malaysia)|
|9||Ricard CARDUS (Tech 3)|
|10||Xavier SIMEON (Federal Oil Gresini Moto2)|
|11||Jordi TORRES (Mapfre Aspar Team Moto2)|
|12||Jonas FOLGER (AGR Team)|
|13||Takaaki NAKAGAMI (IDEMITSU Honda Team Asia)|
|14||Gino REA (AGT REA Racing)|
|15||Luis SALOM (Paginas Amarillas HP 40)|
|1||Alex MARQUEZ (Estrella Galicia 0,0)|
|2||Efren VAZQUEZ (SaxoPrint-RTG)|
|3||Brad BINDER (Ambrogio Racing)|
|4||John MCPHEE (SaxoPrint-RTG)|
|5||Jack MILLER (Red Bull KTM Ajo)|
|6||Danny KENT (Red Bull Husqvarna Ajo)|
|7||Romano FENATI (SKY Racing Team VR46)|
|8||Enea BASTIANINI (Junior Team GO & FUN Moto3)|
|9||Niccolò ANTONELLI (Junior Team GO & FUN Moto3)|
|10||Alex RINS (Estrella Galicia 0,0)|
|11||Isaac VIÑALES (Calvo Team)|
|12||Karel HANIKA (Red Bull KTM Ajo)|
|13||Francesco BAGNAIA (SKY Racing Team VR46)|
|14||Zulfahmi KHAIRUDDIN (Ongetta-AirAsia)|
|15||Alessandro TONUCCI (CIP)|