Marc Marquez has been crowned the 2016 MotoGP World Champion at the Twin Ring Motegi Circuit in Japan after the Repsol Honda rider dominated the field to claim his maiden victory at Honda’s home track. Yamaha rivals Valentino Rossi and Jorge Lorenzo both dramatically crashed out contention, ultimately quashing their championship hopes.
A slow start from pole-sitter Rossi meant that it was Marquez who led the charge into Turn 1 but this lead was short lived as a determined Lorenzo passed him back on the exit of T][/urn 1 with teammate Rossi also following him past Marquez. Quick-starting Aleix Espargaro then made a audacious move past the Italian legend but the “Doctor” got him back instantly.
Lorenzo attempted to make a break at the front while the others tussled behind, however Marquez was having none of it and easily closed the distance to his compatriot. He immediately took back the lead of the race by the end of lap four and began stretching away from the “Spartan”. Instantly Rossi sensed the danger and he scythed his way past his teammate after initially toiling with him for two laps.
Disaster struck a lap later for the 9-time World Champion when he lost the front of his Movistar Yamaha, sliding out into retirement, his championship challenge over. With Lorenzo was the last man standing in between Marquez and the crown.
Behind Lorenzo, Andrea Dovizioso and the two Suzuki’s were closing in on him. It looked as if it was only the Ducati who was making inroads into the Spaniards gap whilst Maverick Vinales and his teammate locked horns over fourth position, but this all came irrelevant when an uncharacteristic error from the reigning World Champion saw him follow his teammate Rossi into retirement.
The unimaginable scenario was now becoming a reality. All the man from Cervera had to do was keep his RC213V upright until the chequered flag and he would be crowned World Champion. The Spaniard held his nerve to cruise to his maiden Japanese Grand Prix Victory and in the process became a 3-time MotoGP World Champion.
Dovizioso came home in second and claimed his fourth podium of the year with Vinales holding off gallant teammate Espargaro for the final position on the podium. Cal Crutchlow came home a distant fifth but also secured the top Independent Team rider once again which has become a bit of a regularity for the Brit. Monster Tech 3’s Pol Espargaro took advantage of his superiors misfortunes to come home sixth.
Alvaro Bautista rounded out what has been another fantastic weekend for the Aprilia Racing Team, finishing a career best seventh. Danilo Petrucci gained the advantage in his points battle with Pramac Ducati teammate Scott Redding as they compete against each other to see who will earn the GP17 ride for next year. Stefan Bradl compounded the joy for Aprilia as he completed the double top ten finish in tenth.
Yamaha test rider Katsuyuki Nakasuga finished a commendable P11 on the Factory Yamaha with Yonny Hernandez, Bradley Smith,Tito Rabat and Hiroshi Aoyama, who is replacing the injured Dani Pedorsa rounded out the rest of the point scorers in P14 and P15 respectively.
Aspar’s Eugene Laverty crashed his Ducati early at Turn 9. Jack Miller crashed his Marc VDS Honda at Turn 1, as did Hector Barbera – who was riding Andrea Iannone’s Ducati.
MotoGP returns next weekend at Phillip Island and with the Championship decided, the Yamaha duo of Valentino Rossi and Jorge Lorenzo will now look to finish the season on high which means we may be in for a cracker last three races.