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Race report
MotoGP Japanese GP

MotoGP Japanese GP: Martin wins shortened race to narrow Bagnaia's points lead

Jorge Martin moved a step closer to the MotoGP points lead with victory in a rain-shortened Japanese Grand Prix ahead of Francesco Bagnaia.

Jorge Martin, Pramac Racing

Pramac Ducati rider Martin followed up his sprint win on Saturday with another virtuoso display to grab his second grand prix victory in three rounds, and his third of the season, albeit with just 12 of the scheduled 24 laps being completed.

With full points being awarded, Martin moves to within three points of championship leader Bagnaia with six weekends remaining.

Marc Marquez meanwhile was third, picking up a first podium finish in almost a year at Honda’s home race, while Marco Bezzecchi was fourth on the VR46 Ducati.

Although some spots of rain fell before the start, the entire field selected slick tyres for the warm-up lap, only for the heavens to open shortly after the race itself began.

KTM rider Jack Miller passed poleman Martin to lead a group of 16 riders that pitted at the end of the opening lap to change to their wet bikes, with the remaining five, led by Ducati tester Michele Pirro, bravely staying out on slicks.

It was Martin who led the wet-shod group after the stops, but he conceded the net lead to Aprilia’s Aleix Espargaro on the third lap when he ran wide at Turn 3.

Espargaro then took the lead proper when Pirro pitted at the end of lap four - the other slick-shod riders having by now changed to wets or been swallowed up by the pack in the worsening conditions - with Marquez his nearest pursuer.

But Martin was soon on the charge, passing Bezzecchi and then Marquez on the fifth lap to get back into third, with Bagnaia having taken second away from Marquez.

On lap six, Martin swept ahead of Bagnaia at Turn 9 for second, and two corners later he outbraked Espargaro to grab the lead.

Jorge Martin, Pramac Racing

Jorge Martin, Pramac Racing

Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

By the time of the red flags, Martin was 1.6 seconds clear of the field, with Espargaro dropping back behind Bagnaia, Marquez and Bezzecchi at the point the race was suspended.

After a delay of just over 20 minutes, race organisers attempted a restart but, with conditions still poor, the red flags were displayed again and the race was declared over.

Espargaro ended up fifth, while Johann Zarco was initially sixth but was removed from the classification (and the grid for the abandoned restart) as he crashed on the following lap at Turn 12 just prior to the red flags being shown.

Zarco had fought his way back after being pushed into the Turn 1 gravel on the opening lap along with Aprilia man Maverick Vinales, who was hit by the VR46 bike of Bezzecchi.

Miguel Oliveira was also on-course for a top-six finish aboard his RNF Aprilia before pulling into the pits.

All of that promoted Miller to sixth, while Augusto Fernandez scored his second-best result of his rookie MotoGP campaign in seventh on the Tech3 KTM.

Completing the top 10 were Fabio di Giannantonio (Gresini Ducati), Raul Fernandez (RNF Aprilia) after a long-lap penalty, and top Yamaha finisher Fabio Quartararo.

Quartararo was one of the five riders not to pit on the opening lap, along with Yamaha stablemates Franco Morbidelli and Cal Crutchlow and LCR Honda’s Stefan Bradl, but both he and Crutchlow were next into the pits on lap two.

Crutchlow came away with three points for 13th in his first grand prix since last year’s Valencia finale, while Bradl also picked up two points in 14th after being drafted in to replace the injured Alex Rins mid-weekend.

Race result:

 
 
         
Driver Info
 
 
 
   
Cla Rider # Bike Laps Time Interval km/h Retirement Points
1 Spain J. Martin Pramac Racing 89 Ducati 12 24'06.314   143.4   25
2 Italy F. Bagnaia Ducati Team 1 Ducati 12 +1.413 1.413 143.2   20
3 Spain M. Marquez Repsol Honda Team 93 Honda 12 +2.013 0.600 143.2   16
4 Italy M. Bezzecchi Team VR46 72 Ducati 12 +2.943 0.930 143.1   13
5 Spain A. Espargaro Aprilia Racing Team 41 Aprilia 12 +3.181 0.238 143.0   11
6 Australia J. Miller Red Bull KTM Factory Racing 43 KTM 12 +6.837 3.656 142.7   10
7 Spain A. Fernandez Tech 3 37 KTM 12 +7.587 0.750 142.6   9
8 Italy F. Di Giannantonio Gresini Racing 49 Ducati 12 +8.602 1.015 142.5   8
9 Spain R. Fernández RNF Racing 25 Aprilia 12 +11.229 2.627 142.2   7
10 France F. Quartararo Yamaha Factory Racing 20 Yamaha 12 +12.244 1.015 142.1   6
11 Japan T. Nakagami Team LCR 30 Honda 12 +14.714 2.470 141.9   5
12 Spain J. Mir Repsol Honda Team 36 Honda 12 +14.924 0.210 141.9   4
13 United Kingdom C. Crutchlow Yamaha Factory Racing 35 Yamaha 12 +16.057 1.133 141.8   3
14 Germany S. Bradl Team LCR 6 Honda 12 +17.253 1.196 141.7   2
15 Spain P. Espargaro Tech 3 44 KTM 12 +24.921 7.668 140.9   1
16 Italy M. Pirro Ducati Team 51 Ducati 12 +33.962 9.041 140.1    
17 Italy F. Morbidelli Yamaha Factory Racing 21 Yamaha 12 +1'14.934 40.972 136.3    
18 Portugal M. Oliveira RNF Racing 88 Aprilia 11 +1 Lap 1 Lap 132.1    
19 Spain M. Viñales Aprilia Racing Team 12 Aprilia 11 +1 Lap 1'54.585 122.3    
dnf France J. Zarco Pramac Racing 5 Ducati 12 +6.191   142.7 Accident  
dnf South Africa B. Binder Red Bull KTM Factory Racing 33 KTM 5 +7 Laps 7 Laps 136.9 Accident  

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