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 out-scores Yamaha Factory Racing’s Jorge Lorenzo by eight points or more while also seeing off the renewed challenge of his own teammate, Dani Pedrosa.
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. With the stop-and-go nature of the Motegi circuit, both he and Pedrosa will be two of the favorites for victory.
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 at Phillip Island last time out. The Yamaha man knows that nothing but a win will do, making the race with the Hondas yet another exciting prospect. His teammate, Valentino Rossi, will be looking to make further strides toward the three at the front and aiming to once again challenge for a podium.
Monster Yamaha Tech3’s Cal Crutchlow, who only narrowly missed out on the podium to Rossi in Australia, will hope to overhaul the Italian this time out, while also keeping GO&FUN Honda Gresini’s Alvaro Bautista at bay. Bautista was a podium finisher in Motegi last year after an entertaining battle with Crutchlow, and will be an outside favorite 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 see whether he is fit enough to take part in FP1. Tech3’s Bradley Smith will aim to make further strides toward the front after an impressive outing at Phillip Island, while Ducati Team riders Nicky Hayden and Andrea Dovizioso will look to squeeze the most out of their Desmosedicis.
In the CRT ranks, 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 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 wild card taking part on a Yamaha M1 in the shape of Katsuyuki Nakasuga with the Yamaha YSP Racing Team.
After many riders suffered 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 used in the Misano test earlier this year.