Jorge Lorenzo (99) claimed his seventh victory of the season to edge closer to MotoGP points leader Marc Marquez (93), while Dani Pedrosa (26) dropped from title contention. Jorge Lorenzo (99) claimed his seventh victory of the season to edge closer to MotoGP points leader Marc Marquez (93), while Dani Pedrosa (26) dropped from title contention. Photo courtesy motogp.com

Lorenzo takes title fight to the wire

Written by  on Monday, 28 October 2013 18:31

Jorge Lorenzo triumphed for the seventh time in 2013, winning Sunday’s AirAsia Grand Prix of Japan, the penultimate round of the MotoGP World Championship. The Yamaha Factory Racing rider fought off a stiff challenge from Repsol Honda Team’s Marc Marquez and Dani Pedrosa to ensure that the MotoGP™ title battle goes down to the wire for the first time since 2006.

Providing a truly unpredictable end to the late-season triple-header, the Motegi weekend was very much shaken up by inclement weather conditions; this led to the cancellation of all track action on Friday as well as heavy modifications to the Saturday agenda. Ironically, Sunday’s race took place under clear blue skies in Japan.

From his fourth pole position of the year, it would be a lights-to-flag victory for Lorenzo to move one win ahead of Marquez in the 2013 season. Teammate Valentino Rossi looked to be providing a buffer between the current title holder and the pair of factory Hondas, but made two mistakes at turn 11 and fell back down the order.

“Looking at the race classification all the top five after me were Honda riders and normally this track is better for them,” Lorenzo enthused. “So winning at Honda’s home track with Yamaha’s 200th victory in the MotoGP class, when we also took a risk with the soft tire, was a pleasure. It was a hard race physically but I kept my concentration and I really wanted this victory.”

The Yamaha Factory Racing rider and his crew made a last minute switch to an extra soft tire option and the gamble paid off.

“We made the decision late on because just before the race the temperature was 10 degrees warmer than in morning practice and I felt better on the softer tires,” Lorenzo explained. “I think it was the right choice for me on the Yamaha but maybe for the Hondas they were better on a different tire.”

Lorenzo’s 51st career victory means the gap between him and Marquez is reduced to 13 points in the standings with just one race remaining. 

Lorenzo’s stunning victory in Japan was his seventh in 2013 and marks the 111th time he has stood on the podium in Grand Prix racing. Meanwhile, Marquez has six wins to his name this year.

Lorenzo would come under severe pressure from Marquez at the mid-way point of the race, with Pedrosa in hot pursuit. However, the Mallorcan was spared some breathing space as Marquez made mistakes at both turn 11 and turn 1. The 20-year-old would never be as close to Lorenzo again, eventually ending the day 3.1 seconds in arrears.

Reflecting on a tough AirAsia Grand Prix of Japan weekend, Marquez stated, “At the beginning of the race I was struggling a little bit and it was actually quite a difficult race for me, because already in the morning practice I had a big crash. On the braking points, I was struggling quite a lot.

“In the race I tried to follow Jorge and we did a very good job because we were right there. In the middle of the race it even looked like we could be stronger, but in the end I saw that Jorge was pushing a bit more, I felt I was too much on the limit and I said ‘Ok, I’ll take 20 points for the championship.’ In Valencia it’s another race and it will be very interesting for sure.”

Pedrosa’s third place marked his 12th podium finish of the season, but the Sabadell rider was unable to complete a hat-trick of Motegi victories as his chances for the 2013 world title officially evaporated.

“Today was not the best race for me,” he admitted. “I tried to do my best all through the race but I struggled a lot to keep up with these two on the exit of the corners and finally couldn’t perform as I expected. Anyway, we have to keep up and try to improve.”

Alvaro Bautista and Stefan Bradl rounded out the top five, with the GO&FUN Honda Gresini rider having slipstreamed his way past the LCR Honda MotoGP bike at the start of the eighth lap.

Rossi fought back to sixth place after running as low as 11th, while Cal Crutchlow got the better of impressive Monster Yamaha Tech3 teammate Bradley Smith in seventh and eighth spots.

Ducati Team completed the top 10 with Nicky Hayden and Andrea Dovizioso, while 11th place was taken by wildcard Katsuyuki Nakasuga for Yamaha YSP Racing Team.

In 12th was lead CRT rider Colin Edwards (NGM Mobile Forward Racing).

Looking forward to the season finale in two weeks time Lorenzo knows he will still be in the hunt at the Gran Premio Generali de la Comunitat Valenciana. 

“When you look at the Moto3 and Moto2 races today you never know what can happen,” said the 26-year-old. “Until we finish racing we know the championship is not over. I’m not the leading rider so it’s not all up to me, so let’s see how our strategy is at Valencia. I am the rider with the most victories in 2013 and that’s very important.”

Pol Espargaro became Moto2™ World Champion of 2013, winning Sunday’s AirAsia Grand Prix of Japan in fine style. The Spaniard’s task was aided when chief rivals Scott Redding and Tito Rabat were both removed from the action in a multiple collision on the first lap. Mika Kallio and Tom Luthi completed the podium.

Under clear skies and with ambient temperatures of 20 degrees Celsius, it was a clean start to proceedings until a crash occurred on the exit of the second corner; Redding (Marc VDS Racing Team), Rabat (Tuenti HP 40) and Alex Mariñelarena (Blusens Avintia) were involved in a and none of the trio would restart.

On the first of 15 laps for the restarted race, Espargaro took the lead from Marc VDS’ Kallio and would not be headed for the rest of the afternoon. This left the Finn second from a pole position start, with Interwetten Paddock Moto2’s Luthi on the podium for the third race in a row and the sixth time this season.

Xavier Simeon (Maptaq SAG Zelos Team) and Julian Simon (Italtrans Racing Team) completed the top five from Aspar Team Moto2’s Nico Terol.

Alex Marquez claimed his first ever World Championship race victory in the Moto3™ AirAsia Grand Prix of Japan. In a race full of surprises, title contenders Luis Salom and Alex Rins both suffered crashes before Estrella Galicia 0,0’s Marquez beat Maverick Viñales by just two hundredths of a second.

Rins (Estrella Galicia 0,0) started from his seventh pole position of the season, whereas championship leader Salom (Red Bull KTM Ajo) was fourth on the grid and would claim the title if he won with Rins 11th or lower.

However, Salom was involved in V Corner collision with Ongetta-Centro Seta’s Isaac Viñales. The Mallorcan rejoined and proceeded to post lap records as he began a charge back up the order, only to highside out of contention at turn four on lap eight.

Knowing the championship leader was out, Rins was set to top the points table as he ran third behind Viñales (Team Calvo) and teammate Marquez on the 14th lap, following an entertaining scrap with both of the riders in front of him. Unbelievably, a mistake from Rins saw him lose control to throw the championship fight wide open once again. He rejoined the race but recovered only to 24th position, out of the points.

It was Viñales who led into the final tour, but an error at turn 10 was more than the invitation Marquez needed. The younger brother of MotoGP™ championship leader Marc would hold on for his first victory by the margin of 27 thousandths of a second. Viñales shot back up into title contention with second place, with the podium completed by Mapfre Aspar Team Moto3’s Jonas Folger.

The remarkable events of Motegi leave Moto3™ with a triangular final round shootout for the title. Salom will head into the Gran Premio Generali de la Comunitat Valenciana with a two-point lead over Viñales, with Rins only a further three in arrears.

MotoGP Race Results

1

25

99

Jorge LORENZO

SPA

Yamaha Factory Racing

Yamaha

162.3

42'34.291

2

20

93

Marc MARQUEZ

SPA

Repsol Honda Team

Honda

162.1

+3.188

3

16

26

Dani PEDROSA

SPA

Repsol Honda Team

Honda

162.1

+4.592

4

13

19

Alvaro BAUTISTA

SPA

GO&FUN Honda Gresini

Honda

161.1

+19.755

5

11

6

Stefan BRADL

GER

LCR Honda MotoGP

Honda

160.9

+22.810

6

10

46

Valentino ROSSI

ITA

Yamaha Factory Racing

Yamaha

160.8

+24.637

7

9

35

Cal CRUTCHLOW

GBR

Monster Yamaha Tech 3

Yamaha

160.6

+27.496

8

8

38

Bradley SMITH

GBR

Monster Yamaha Tech 3

Yamaha

160.4

+30.969

9

7

69

Nicky HAYDEN

USA

Ducati Team

Ducati

160.0

+37.010

10

6

4

Andrea DOVIZIOSO

ITA

Ducati Team

Ducati

159.7

+42.944

11

5

21

Katsuyuki NAKASUGA

JPN

Yamaha YSP Racing Team

Yamaha

159.0

+53.345

12

4

5

Colin EDWARDS

USA

NGM Mobile Forward Racing

FTR Kawasaki

158.4

+1'03.213

13

3

14

Randy DE PUNIET

FRA

Power Electronics Aspar

ART

158.2

+1'06.840

14

2

29

Andrea IANNONE

ITA

Energy T.I. Pramac Racing

Ducati

158.1

+1'08.218

15

1

68

Yonny HERNANDEZ

COL

Ignite Pramac Racing

Ducati

157.5

+1'18.240

16

8

Hector BARBERA

SPA

Avintia Blusens

FTR

157.5

+1'19.108

17

7

Hiroshi AOYAMA

JPN

Avintia Blusens

FTR

157.3

+1'21.174

18

9

Danilo PETRUCCI

ITA

Came IodaRacing Project

Ioda-Suter

156.8

+1'30.546

19

70

Michael LAVERTY

GBR

Paul Bird Motorsport

ART

153.7

+2'23.358

20

71

Claudio CORTI

ITA

NGM Mobile Forward Racing

FTR Kawasaki

154.4

1 Lap

21

50

Damian CUDLIN

AUS

Paul Bird Motorsport

PBM

153.4

1 Lap

22

67

Bryan STARING

AUS

GO&FUN Honda Gresini

FTR Honda

153.2

1 Lap

Not Classified

41

Aleix ESPARGARO

SPA

Power Electronics Aspar

ART

158.3

12 Laps

23

Luca SCASSA

ITA

Cardion AB Motoracing

ART

144.3

23 Laps

52

Lukas PESEK

CZE

Came IodaRacing Project

Ioda-Suter

139.3

23 Laps

MotoGP Standings

1

Marc MARQUEZ

Honda

SPA

318

2

Jorge LORENZO

Yamaha

SPA

305

3

Dani PEDROSA

Honda

SPA

280

4

Valentino ROSSI

Yamaha

ITA

224

5

Cal CRUTCHLOW

Yamaha

GBR

188

6

Alvaro BAUTISTA

Honda

SPA

160

7

Stefan BRADL

Honda

GER

146

8

Andrea DOVIZIOSO

Ducati

ITA

133

9

Nicky HAYDEN

Ducati

USA

118

10

Bradley SMITH

Yamaha

GBR

107

11

Aleix ESPARGARO

ART

SPA

88

12

Andrea IANNONE

Ducati

ITA

57

13

Michele PIRRO

Ducati

ITA

50

14

Colin EDWARDS

FTR Kawasaki

USA

40

15

Randy DE PUNIET

ART

FRA

36

16

Hector BARBERA

FTR

SPA

31

17

Danilo PETRUCCI

Ioda-Suter

ITA

24

18

Yonny HERNANDEZ

Ducati

COL

21

19

Hiroshi AOYAMA

FTR

JPN

13

20

Claudio CORTI

FTR Kawasaki

ITA

11

21

Ben SPIES

Ducati

USA

9

22

Katsuyuki NAKASUGA

Yamaha

JPN

5

23

Alex DE ANGELIS

Ducati

RSM

5

24

Karel ABRAHAM

ART

CZE

5

25

Michael LAVERTY

PBM

GBR

3

26

Bryan STARING

FTR Honda

AUS

2

27

Javier DEL AMOR

FTR

SPA

1

--From motogp.com

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