In the final round of the triple-header at the AirAsia Grand Prix of Japan in Motegi, Repsol Honda Team’s Marc Marquez will get another shot at taking the title if he beats Yamaha Factory Racing’s Jorge Lorenzo by more than seven points.
Marquez, who in the previous round was disqualified due to a team error regarding the then-compulsory mid-way bike swap, will be looking to make amends at Honda’s home track. And with the stop-and-go nature of the Motegi circuit, both he and his teammate Dani Pedrosa will be two of the favourites for victory.
Yet Lorenzo will be buoyed by the fact that the championship is once again in his reach, and will no doubt be a force to be reckoned with after his convincing victory in Phillip Island last time out. The Yamaha man knows that nothing but a win will do, making the race with the Repsol Hondas yet another exciting prospect. His teammate Valentino Rossi will be looking to make further strides towards the three at the front, and once again challenge for a podium.
Monster Yamaha Tech3’s Cal Crutchlow, who only narrowly missed out on the podium in Australia to Rossi, will hope to overhaul the Italian this time out, whilst also keeping GO&FUN Honda Gresini’s Alvaro Bautista at bay. Bautista was a podium-sitter in Motegi last year after an entertaining battle with Crutchlow, and will be an outside favourite for yet more success at the track.
LCR Honda MotoGP’s Stefan Bradl, who fractured his right ankle in Malaysia and was unable to race in Australia, will be assessed by track doctors before the race weekend to check if he is fit enough to take part in FP1. Tech3’s Bradley Smith will aim to make further strides towards the front after an impressive outing in Phillip Island, whilst Ducati Team riders Nicky Hayden and Andrea Dovizioso will look to squeeze the most out of their Desmosedicis.
In the CRT class it will be Avintia Blusens’ Hiroshi Aoyama who will aim to put on a show for his home fans on his FTR-Kawasaki. He has been showing some good form recently, and will hope to make it into the top-CRT spot that so far has eluded him. He will however face the stiff challenge from the Power Electronics Aspar riders in the form of Aleix Espargaro and Randy de Puniet, as well as NGM Mobile Forward Racing’s Colin Edwards. There will be one wildcard taking part on a Yamaha M1 in the shape of Katsuyuki Nakasuga with the Yamaha YSP Racing Team.
Due to many riders suffering braking issues in last year’s race due to the hard-braking nature of the track, the technical rules for this weekend have been altered to allow the use of 340mm carbon brake discs – a 20mm increase from the regulation size. Some of the teams, including Ducati, have already carried out tests with the bigger brakes in the Misano test this year.