World champion Jorge Lorenzo won the Japanese Grand Prix ahead of championship leader Marc Marquez yesterday to ensure that the MotoGP title race goes down to the final round of the season at Valencia next month.
The Yamaha rider rode a brilliant race from pole position, holding off Marquez for 22 laps at the Motegi Twin Ring track to frustrate his fellow Spaniard’s championship ambitions for the second straight week.
However, Honda rider Marquez still leads the championship by 13 points and a fourth-place finish in Spain on Nov. 10 would guarantee that he becomes the youngest champion in the 64 years of the premier class of grand prix racing.
The 20-year-old’s teammate, Dani Pedrosa, came third, ending his slim hopes of winning the title, while Honda’s Alvaro Bautista ensured a Spanish sweep of the top four.
A first attempt to seal the title at Phillip Island in Australia on Oct. 20 ended with disqualification for Marquez after a mistake by his team and victory for Lorenzo.
Marquez’s incident-packed debut season continued yesterday morning when he slid off his bike and careered across the trackside gravel in the final practice session.
After fog and rain combined to wipe out the first day and a half of the weekend, the Honda-owned track was bone-dry at the start of the penultimate race of the season.
Lorenzo lined up with Marquez beside him, but by the first corner two Yamahas led the race, with Valentino Rossi’s excellent start putting him in second place.
However, any hopes that Rossi might obstruct the Honda charge were dashed on the second lap, when the seven-time world champion misjudged his braking, and Marquez and Pedrosa swept past.
They closed the one-second gap to Lorenzo, but the 26-year-old showed exactly why he has won two world titles with a near faultless ride to claim his seventh win of the season and the 30th of his career.
Marquez’s 17-year-old brother, Alex Marquz, earlier won the Moto3 race for his first grand prix victory to also keep that title race alive, while Pol Espargaro’s win in Moto2 sealed the championship for him.