The Motul Grand Prix of Japan, though marred by a premature end. Further, delivered a spectacular dose of adrenaline and excitement that could fuel an entire MotoGP™ season. This race, held at the iconic Motegi circuit, witnessed unpredictable weather conditions, breathtaking maneuvers, and unforeseen plot twists. That had fans on the edge of their seats.
Rain-Soaked Drama Unfolds
The Motegi circuit was drenched as rain relentlessly poured down, leading to a flag-to-flag race. Despite the challenging conditions, Jorge Martin (Prima Pramac Race) secured his second consecutive victory. Moreover, closely followed by Francesco Bagnaia (Ducati Lenovo Team), while the legendary Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) earned his 101st MotoGP™ podium finish.
Conditions deteriorated rapidly, forcing race officials to wave the red flags after just 13 laps due to the incessant rain. Although there were efforts to resume the race, it ultimately proved insurmountable, resulting in the allocation of full points. As a result, ‘The Martinator’ closed the gap to a mere three points behind Bagnaia in the Championship standings.
Drama Before the Motul Grand Prix of Japan
Even before the race began, drama unfolded as rain flags were waved during the sighting lap. Uncertain weather conditions had already posed a tire selection challenge for teams and riders. Just moments before the race start, rain began to fall, causing concern among riders and spectators alike.
As the race commenced, Martin, starting from pole position, got off to a dream start. Jack Miller (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) also made an impressive launch. However, reigning World Champion Bagnaia struggled, missing the start and finding himself in fourth place after Turn 1. The factory Ducati soon fought back, regaining positions in the race.
Maverick Viñales (Aprilia Racing) faced immediate disappointment. As he ended up in the gravel following contact with several riders at Turn 1, and Johann Zarco (Prima Pramac Racing) also encountered trouble, running wide alongside him.
Flag-to-Flag Madness at Motegi
Due to worsening weather conditions, the pit lane was opened immediately for riders to change bikes, a decision embraced by the majority. Martin led the group into the pits, closely followed by Bagnaia, Marco Bezzecchi (Mooney VR46 Racing Team), Marquez, and Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing). Surprisingly, five riders opted to stay out on the track, with Michele Pirro (Ducati Lenovo Team) taking the lead.
Among those who opted for bike changes, Martin led a substantial group back onto the track, with Espargaro, Marquez, Bagnaia, and Marquez in tow. An intense battle ensued, with Espargaro briefly challenging Martin for the lead at Turn 10. However, Martin managed to regain his position as the lap continued. Quartararo and Crutchlow also changed bikes later in the race, while Pirro, Bradl, and Morbidelli chose to stay out.
Drama Continues Unabated
The race’s dramatic start set the tone for what would be a relentless sequence of events. Martin faced a challenging moment, going wide under pressure from Espargaro and temporarily dropping to ninth. However, he quickly recovered, making a bold move around Turn 6 to reclaim his position.
By the end of Lap 3, riders on wet tires caught up to Morbidelli, and Marquez attempted to overtake Espargaro at Turn 11 but was unsuccessful, slipping back behind the Aprilia. Meanwhile, Martin was determined to make amends for his earlier error and successfully passed Miller at Turn 3. Further, setting his sights on his title rivals Bezzecchi and Bagnaia.
More Drama Unfolds
Despite Michele Pirro maintaining a surprising lead by 10 seconds, he eventually changed bikes. Further, leading to a new race leader in the form of Espargaro. Meanwhile, Bagnaia and Martin made impressive moves, overtaking Bezzecchi and setting their sights on the podium positions. With the Ducatis surpassing Marc Marquez by the end of the lap.
With just five laps completed, the race had already provided enough drama to last an entire season, and it showed no signs of slowing down.
Red Flag Waves
As conditions continued to worsen, bikes sprayed water from the soaked asphalt, but this did not deter Marc Marquez. The eight-time World Champion made bold moves, passing Bezzecchi and climbing onto the podium. It seemed like only a matter of time before he would catch Bagnaia, but then the red flag was waved.
With 13 of the 24 laps completed, a restart seemed possible if conditions improved, but uncertainty loomed. Eventually, it was determined that conditions had cleared just enough for a restart. But before the warm-up lap could conclude, the red flag waved once again, leading to a race result declaration. As over 50% of the race had been completed, full points were awarded.
Race Results and Implications at the Motul Grand Prix of Japan
Despite missing out on the podium, Bezzecchi earned valuable points, finishing ahead of Aleix Espargaro and Jack Miller in fifth and sixth place, respectively. Augusto Fernandez (GASGAS Factory Racing Tech3) secured seventh place, with Fabio Di Giannantonio closely behind. Raul Fernandez (CryptoDATA RNF MotoGP™ Team) and Fabio Quartararo completed the top 10. Local favorite Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda Idemitsu) finished 11th in his home Grand Prix. Along with Joan Mir, Cal Crutchlow, Stefan Bradl, and Pol Espargaro (GASGAS Factory Racing Tech3) completing the points-scoring positions.
In what was a breathtaking, sensational, and unforgettable race at the Japanese Grand Prix, Jorge Martin secured another win. Further, narrowing the Championship gap to just three points behind Bagnaia. As the MotoGP circus heads to Mandalika for the Pertamina Grand Prix of Indonesia in two weeks. The excitement continues, and fans eagerly anticipate more thrilling action on the track.