MotoGP crews kick off Far East Rounds with Round 15’s Twin Ring Motegi

  MotoGP crews hit the South East Asian leg with the upcoming Japanese Grand Prix at the Twin Ring Motegi, round 15 of the Championship. The Japanese GP is the first of the triple-header Far East visits. This year marks the 20th Anniversary of the Japanese circuit.

It’s a home race for Repsol Honda’s Reigning Champion and current Riders standings leader Marc Marquez who has extended his standings lead by 16 points over nearest contender Andrea Dovizioso thanks to the brilliant win at Aragon GP, last time out. Team mate Dani Pedrosa who finished second for a 1 – 2 Repsol Honda finish at Aragon, sits on fourth place in the standings.

Both Repsol Honda guys have enjoyed pretty good results at the Twin Ring Motegi circuit and are the only riders on the current MotoGP grid that have managed to win at Motegi in all three classes. Marquez has also clinched two of his MotoGP World titles there, in 2014 and last year, when he also took his first MotoGP win at the circuit. With five victories across all classes, Pedrosa is the most successful rider at Twin Ring Motegi, despite having to retire from last year’s round after he was injured in a heavy crash during FP2. Honda, with 8 wins, is the constructor with the most wins at Motegi, followed by Yamaha and Ducati, with 3 wins, respectively.

Yamaha crews Maverick Vinales and Valentino Rossi are eager to pick up points at the Twin Ring to boost their standings. A fortnight ago, Viñales secured fourth place in Aragón. He currently holds third position in the championship standings and arrives in Japan ready for action at Yamaha’s home race. He received a very warm welcome in Tokyo at the KITTE event and aims to do the Japanese fans proud as he continues his MotoGP title quest.

Since the Spaniard began his Grand Prix racing career in 2011, he has visited the Motegi podium four times, securing two second places at the Japanese Grand Prix in Moto3 (2012 and 2013), a second place in Moto2 (2014) and a third place in the MotoGP class last year. This year he hopes to climb the top step of the rostrum to add 25 points his tally and close the 28-point gap to first place in the championship standings.

Rossi made a stunning comeback at the race weekend in Aragón, securing a brilliant fifth place, just 24 days after sustaining a leg injury. The nine-time champion used the last two weeks to further rehabilitate his right leg and expects he will be able to ride with more ease this weekend. In the past years, the Italian booked numerous successes at the Motegi track. Since the circuit was added to the MotoGP calendar in 1999, he secured two wins in the premier class (2001 and 2008), scored seven second places (2000, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2006, 2009 and 2015), and secured two third places (2010 and 2014). This weekend he aims to score solid points again and reclaim fourth in the overall standings, bridging the two-point gap to the rival ahead of him.

For Ducati, the Twin Ring has been a good one for the riders, who have scored some great results here, notably three successive wins for Loris Capirossi in 2005, 2006 and 2007 and a win in 2010 for Casey Stoner, who also took the title for Ducati at Motegi in 2007.

Dovizioso likes the Japanese track a lot, and the Italian has been on the Motegi podium in all three categories, winning the 125cc race in 2004, scoring two of his five MotoGP poles here and twice finishing runner-up in the top category. Last year Dovizioso, who started from row 2, managed to hold off a recovery from Viñales to finish with a well-deserved second place. Jorge Lorenzo is no stranger at the Twin Ring, having had four poles and three wins to his name during his Yamaha days. Last year the Spanish rider qualified on the front row, but then crashed out of the race and had to retire. The former champion will be aiming to run in the top fight right from the start.