Motul Grand Prix of Japan 2016

Posted on Oct 10, 2016 by Nick Harris


Smith returns to the fray
Bradley Smith has defied medical predictions to race at the Motul Grand Prix of Japan at the Twin Ring Motegi circuit on Sunday. The 25 year old Monster Tech3 Yamaha rider has missed the last three grands prix with a serious knee injury sustained in a practice crash for the German round of the World Endurance Championship in August. There was concern he could have been out of action until the end of the season but after two operations and extensive physiotherapy he returns for round 15 of the 18 round championship around the 2.983 miles Twin Ring Motegi circuit situated 100 miles north east of Tokyo.
While Smith has been away Cal Crutchlow has continued his brilliant form that sees him both the top British and Independent Team rider. The Isle of Man based midlander riding the LCR Honda has jumped into sixth place in the championship just one point in front of his old Ducati team-mate Andrea Dovizioso. He finished a superb fifth in Aragon and last year was sixth in Japan.
Irishman Eugene Laverty has just four more MotoGP™ races before returning to the World Superbike Championship. He would love to bow out with a top ten championship finish on the Pull and Bear Aspar Ducati after a great season. The 30 year old has finished out of the points just once this season and is 13 points behind Hector Barbara in tenth and two in front of Aleix Espargaro in 12th.
Gloucestershire’s Scott Redding and his Octo Pramac Ducati team-mate Danilo Petrucci are involved in an explosive battle to see who will ride the 2017 Ducati next season. There will be only one of the latest Ducati’s available and the team will award the bike to the rider who finishes in front at the final races of the year. The pair clashed at the previous round in Aragon where Petrucci received a ride through penalty after clashing with his team-mate. The fight will continue in the 24 lap race on Sunday.
Sam Lowes kept his faint hopes of the Moto2™ World Championship alive with a superb victory in Aragon on the Federal Oil Gresini Honda. After a run of bad results Lowes dominated the race and trails championship leader Johann Zarco by 40 points with four rounds remaining. It is a very faint chance but with Zarco and Rins separated by just a single point at the top they may just take their eye off the ball to give Lowes a chance, although only race victories for the Lincolnshire rider will do.
Wiltshire’s Danny Kent returns to the scene of his first grand prix win hoping to rescue something from what has been a very difficult return to the Moto2 class. Four years ago Kent won the Moto3™ race at Motegi and returns having revealed he will be remaining with the Leopard Racing team next year but switching to a Suter frame.
Scotsman John McPhee has a decent record at Motegi in the Moto3 class. The Racing Steps Foundation supported rider finished fourth two years ago, seventh the year before and ninth last year. A top ten finish this time would be the ideal start for the Czech Republic Grand Prix winner as he fights to improve on his 19th place in the championship.

Did you know?
The Motegi circuit was first added to the grand prix schedule in 1999 and has hosted a GP event every year since
• This will be the 18th occasion that a grand prix event has been held at the Motegi circuit.
• Since the introduction of the four-stroke MotoGP formula in 2002, Honda have had six MotoGP victories at the Motegi circuit
• Yamaha have won the MotoGP race at Motegi on four occasions.
• Ducati have had four MotoGP wins at the Motegi circuit, the last of which was with Casey Stoner in 2010. The best result for Ducati at Motegi since 2010 is the fifth place finish for Andrea Dovizioso in both 2014 and 2015.
• Suzuki and Kenny Roberts Jnr won the first premier-class grand prix (then the 500cc class) held at Motegi in 1999 and repeated the win in 2000. Since the introduction of MotoGP as the premier-class of grand prix racing in 2002 the best result for Suzuki is fifth with John Hopkins in 2005.
• Dani Pedrosa is the rider with most GP wins at the Motegi circuit with five (3 x MotoGP, 1 x 250cc, 1 x 125cc).  Four other riders have had three GP victories at Motegi: Loris Capirossi (3 x MotoGP), Toni Elias (2 x 250cc, 1 x Moto2), Mika Kallio (2 x 125cc, 1 x 250cc) and Jorge Lorenzo (3 x MotoGP).
• Home riders have taken eight GP victories at the Motegi circuit: Masao Azuma – 125cc/1999, Shinya Nakano – 250cc/1999, Daijiro Kato – 250cc/2000, Youichi Ui – 125cc/2001, Tetsuya Harada – 250cc/2001, Makoto Tamada – MotoGP/2004 & Hiroshi Aoyama – 250cc in both 2005 and 2006.
• The last Japanese rider to finish on the podium at Motegi, in any of the three classes, is Hiroshi Aoyama – 2nd in the 250cc race in 2009.

FIM Grand Prix World Championship 2017 Provisional Calendar
26 March
Qatar* - Losail International Circuit
09 April
República Argentina - Termas de Río Hondo
23 April
Americas - Circuit of The Americas
07 May
Spain - Circuito de Jerez
21 May
France - Le Mans
04 June
Italy - Autodromo del Mugello
11 June
Catalunya - Barcelona – Catalunya
25 June
Netherlands - TT Circuit Assen
16 July
Germany - Sachsenring
06 August
Czech Republic - Automotodrom Brno
13 August
Austria - Red Bull Ring – Spielberg
27 August
Great Britain** - Silverstone Circuit
10 September
San Marino e della Riviera di Rimini - Misano World Circuit Marco Simoncelli
24 September
Aragón - MotorLand Aragón
15 October
Japan - Twin Ring Motegi
22 October
Australia - Phillip Island
29 October
Malaysia** - Sepang International Circuit
12 November
Comunitat Valenciana - Comunitat Valenciana - Ricardo Tormo
* Evening Race
** Subject to the contract

Marquez could clinch title on Sunday
It’s unlikely but Marc Marquez could clinch the MotoGP™ World title at the Motegi circuit where he has never won a race in the top class. The 23 year old Spanish Repsol Honda rider has a 52 point lead in the championship, following his victory in the previous Aragon round, over Valentino Rossi and a 66 point advantage over World Champion Jorge Lorenzo.
Marquez can clinch the title in Japan if he wins the race with Rossi finishing no higher than 15th and Lorenzo finishing no higher than fourth. It promises to be some 24 lap race round the 2.963 miles Twin Ring Motegi circuit. Marquez is chasing his very first MotoGP win at the circuit owned and built by Honda, against the Movistar Yamaha team-mates Rossi and Lorenzo who are engaged in their own bitter personal battle for second place. Throw Marquez’s team-mate Dani Pedrosa, Silverstone winner Maverick Vinales and the returning Ducati mounted Andrea Iannone into the mix and the fireworks will explode in this 15th round of the championship. Pedrosa has won five times in Motegi including three MotoGP wins while Lorenzo has also won three MotoGP races and Rossi two.
Pedrosa is fourth in the championship, just six points in front of Vinales who would love to sign off his Suzuki career with another win. Austrian winner Iannone returns to the fray on the factory Ducati after missing the last two races, as do Assen winner Jack Miller and Bradley Smith on the Monster Tech3 Yamaha.
The Moto2™ World Championship looks likely be decided at that final round in Valencia. Last year Frenchman Johann Zarco clinched the title in Motegi but it’s a much closer affair this time round. He leads Spanish rider Alex Rins by a single point and is in the middle of a big wobble after seemingly on course to retain his crown. Britain’s Sam Lowes still has a very slim chance but trails Zarco by 40 points after his very impressive Aragon win. Tom Luthi, who has won two grands prix this season, is eight points behind Lowes in fourth place.
South African Brad Binder arrives in Japan already the Moto3™ World Champion riding the Red Bull Ajo KTM. While Binder chases his sixth grand prix victory of the season there will be another frantic battle for second place in the championship. Jorge Navarro won his second grand prix of the season in Aragon to hold a slender four point lead over Italian Enea Bastianini who despite five podium finishes has not won a race this season. The battle for fourth is even closer with just seven points separating Joan Mir, Nicolo Bulega, Fabio Di Giannantonio and Francesco Bagnaia.

Television Times
BT Sport 2
Friday 14th October 1.30am – 08.15am (practice)
Saturday 15th October 1.00am – 08.15am (practice & qualifying)
Sunday 16th October 12.30am – 07.15am (warm-up and races)

ITV 4 Highlights
Monday 17th October 20.00pm –21.00pm

Sunday 16th October - TalkSPORT2 – races

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