Imperial. Australian Jack Miller won the MotoGP Japanese Grand Prix on Sunday, a race in which Frenchman Fabio Quartararo, championship leader and 8th at the finish, gave himself a breath of fresh air against his Italian rival Bagnaia , victim of a fall.
“I felt strong all weekend”
“It went better than expected, I felt strong all weekend,” reacted for his first victory of the season the Ducati rider, who started 7th on the grid. On the Motegi track, South African Brad Binder, Miller’s future teammate at KTM next season, and Spaniard Jorge Martin (Ducati-Pramac) completed the podium.
Four races from the end of the season, if Quartararo (Yamaha) finishes far behind in Japan, the Yamaha rider is doing well in the championship. The Frenchman now has 219 points overall, 18 more than Bagnaia (201 points) and 25 more than the Spaniard Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia), who finished in 16th. Starting from a modest 9th place ahead of Bagnaia (Ducati), 12th on the grid, the Niçois took advantage of the setbacks of his opponents to increase his lead.
First for Espargaro, 17 points behind Quartararo before the Japanese round, who immediately buried his chances of taking the lead in the championship since during the warm-up lap, his poorly configured Aprilia forced him to go through the stands to change motorcycles at the start.
Later, Bagnaia, in the fight with Quartararo for 8th place, fell … on the very last lap, losing at least seven points which seemed to be his.
Marc Marquez, who started in the lead, finished in 4th place
Behind the leading trio, Enea Bastianini, 4th in the championship, finished 9th, behind Quartararo. The Italian, who started 15th on the grid, now points to 24 units from Espargaro (against 31 before the round in Japan).
Under a returning sun after the torrential rain fell the day before during qualifying, the six-time MotoGP world champion Marc Marquez, who started in the lead, finished in 4th place, losing the lead of the race from the first laps. The Honda driver, who returned to competition last weekend after a three-month absence due to an operation on his right arm (the fourth in two years), scored his first pole since 2019 on the sodden Motegi circuit on Saturday.
He also finished in Japan his first GP since his return to Aragon last weekend, where he had to retire after a collision with Quartararo.
Next race, the Thailand Grand Prix
For his 100th race in MotoGP, the other Frenchman on the grid Johann Zarco (Ducati-Pramac), who started second, finished in 11th place.
In Moto2, the Japanese Ai Ogura (Honda) pocketed his third victory of the season and is two points behind the leader of the general classification, the Spaniard Augusto Fernandez, second on Sunday.
In Moto3, the Spanish leader in the championship Izan Guevara (Gasgas) won with more than half a second ahead of the Italian Dennis Foggia (Leopard). Thanks to this second consecutive victory after the GP of Aragon, Guevara flies in the general, in front of his teammate Sergio Garcia, 4th in Japan.
The next race on the MotoGP calendar is the Thailand Grand Prix next weekend.