MotoGP Race Report: Grand Prix of Japan
INDIANAPOLIS, Monday, Oct. 15, 2012 – Dani Pedrosa shaved five points from Jorge Lorenzo’s lead in the MotoGP World Championship on October 14, reducing the gap to 28 points after winning the Grand Prix of Japan.
Lorenzo started the 24-lap race in the pole position with Pedrosa next to him on the grid as the second-fastest qualifier. Lorenzo and Pedrosa separated themselves from the rest of the field early in the race and Pedrosa stalked Lorenzo until he passed the series leader coming out of Turn 4 with 13 laps remaining.
Pedrosa gradually built a commanding lead on his Repsol Honda and took the checkered flag 4.275 seconds ahead of Lorenzo for his second consecutive win at Motegi, and a career-best fifth MotoGP win of the season. Pedrosa is the only rider to win at Motegi in all three classes of Grand Prix racing. He won in MotoGP in 2011 and 2012, in 250cc in 2004 and 125cc in 2002.
Lorenzo has finished second or better on his Yamaha Factory Racing machine in 14 of 15 races this season.
In riding his San Carlo Honda Gresini machine to a third-place finish, Alvaro Bautista joined with Pedrosa and Lorenzo in giving Spain a podium sweep at Motegi. Bautista was locked in a spirited battle for third place with Cal Crutchlow of Great Britain that ended when Crutchlow’s Monster Yamaha Tech 3 machine ran out of fuel on Turn 3 of the final lap.
In addition to his strong performance on the track at Motegi, it was announced over the weekend that Bautista and Gresini Racing have extended their contract for the 2013 season.
Crutchlow’s teammate Andrea Dovizioso finished in fourth place, with two-time World Champion Casey Stoner placing fifth in his first race back after being injured in a crash during qualifying on Aug. 18 at the Red Bull Indianapolis GP.
American Ben Spies started fourth on the grid and passed Crutchlow for third place shortly after the green flag dropped. On the first turn of the second lap, Spies’ brakes overheated and he slid off the course and into a barrier. Although Spies walked away from the incident, he and his Yamaha Factory Racing bike were finished for the day.
The top American finisher was 2006 World Champion Nicky Hayden, who rode his Ducati to an 8th place finish, while fellow American Colin Edwards finished 13th on his NGM Mobile Forward Racing Suter-BMW.
The next MotoGP race is the Malaysian Motorcycle Grand Prix in Sepang on Oct. 21.
PODIUM FINISHER QUOTES
DANI PEDROSA (Winner, Repsol Honda Team): “It was a hard race because the pace was very fast from the beginning. In the beginning it wasn’t too bad, but then it got a little worse during the race. I managed it as best I could and I stayed with Jorge. I was able to get a better line out of the corner and pass him, and then I put in some good laps and controlled the gap. Jorge tried to stay with me, but then decided to settle for the second place. We did what we needed to do and it’s just a pity that there is no one else who can stay with us because every race I win, he’s been second. But anyway, it’s a great feeling to win races and we are doing it now.”
JORGE LORENZO (Second, Yamaha Factory Racing): “I was completely at the maximum trying to stay with Dani, but today we had such different performance on the straights and he was also riding really well. I tried to stay with him but it was impossible, maybe next time it will be different. For sure the Championship is closer now, but we are still very competitive and have the chance to win.”
ALVARO BAUTISTA (Third, San Carlo Honda Gresini): “A beautiful, great weekend with the signing of the contract for next season with Gresini Racing. I am very happy today. I knew we could do well and fight for the podium, because yesterday we had been shown to have a good race pace. I tried and I did it. I did not start very well, I lost some positions, but I quickly recovered. Then when I caught Crutchlow, I saw that we were riding at the same rate, and so I tried to keep a safe distance so as not to overheat the brakes. For five laps I pushed more and I attacked and I have to say that the battle with him was beautiful and I enjoyed it.”
AMERICAN RIDER QUOTES
NICKY HAYDEN (8th, Ducati Team): “It wasn’t a great race for me. We were a little bit behind all weekend, but then this morning we thought we had made up some ground. In the race, though, I was having troubles getting the bike stopped, especially in the early laps. I lacked front feeling and was running wide, and although that improved as the race went on, I also had problems with vibration from the rear and didn’t have a very good pace. Normally our bike is really good in straight-line braking, so it’s a shame Vale and I struggled here, but anyway, it’s good to finish a race and have something to build on. We’ll try to regroup and look forward to Sepang.”
COLIN EDWARDS (13th, NGM Mobile Forward Racing): “The race started good and I saw Espargaro was right there I started pushing and felt good, four laps in, I went to put my knee down in the last corner and it nearly ripped me off the bike and I looked down on the straight and I saw I had no knee pad. It just fell off. I don’t remember hitting a curb or anything. Initially I was thinking I had to pull in because I ride like a tripod, put my knee down and let the bike work underneath me. Just thought about the Boot Camp, feet up, use your body, be smooth. We had a small issue with electronics during the race but overall the package is getting a little better.”
BEN SPIES (Not classified, Yamaha Factory Racing): “I’m incredibly frustrated with today’s result. We’ve known all weekend that the brakes could be an issue due to the tough nature of the track, but I did not expect to have trouble on the second lap. The team has worked really hard all weekend and we’ve delivered podium pace with the bike, so it’s not the result we deserve. We’ll go to Sepang now and try to put this behind us and hopefully have a trouble-free weekend.”
Riders: Jorge Lorenzo 310, Dani Pedrosa 282, Casey Stoner 197, Andrea Dovizioso 192, Alvaro Bautista 144, Valentino Rossi 137, Cal Crutchlow 135, Stefan Bradl 125, Nicky Hayden 101, Ben Spies 88, Hector Barbera 70, Aleix Espargaro 55, Randy de Puniet 53, Karel Abraham 37, Yonny Hernandez 28, Michele Pirro 26, Colin Edwards 25, James Ellison 21, Jonathan Rea 17, Mattia Pasini 13, Danilo Petrucci 11, Ivan Silva 11, Toni Elias 10, Katsuyuki Nakasuga 7, Steve Rapp 2, David Salom 1.
Manufacturers: Honda 337, Yamaha 326, Ducati 161, ART 79, BQR 31, FTR 26, Suter 25, Ioda 9, Ioda-Suter 2, APR 2, BQR-FTR 2.
MotoGP SUPPORT CLASS WINNERS
Moto2: Marc Marquez, Spain, Team Catalunya Caixa Repsol
Moto3: Danny Kent, Red Bull KTM Ajo