MotoGP Motegi Japan race results: Stoner wins, Lorenzo and Rossi battle

While Casey Stoner was winning his second GP in a row, Lorenzo and Rossi clash repeatedly

Stoner Motegi MotoGP Japan

MOTEGI, JAPAN, OCT 3 – Ducati Marlboro’s Casey Stoner held off Repsol Honda’s Andrea Dovizioso for 24 tense laps to win the Japanese Grand Prix at Motegi. But it was the battle for third that captivated the crowd of over 40,000.

The fact that Fiat Yamaha’s Jorge Lorenzo was on the verge of his first MotoGP World Championship, and Yamaha’s third in a row, didn’t mean a lot to teammate Valentino Rossi. The nine-time world champion battled Lorenzo hard over the final two laps, the pair making contact more than once before Rossi prevailed in the fight for third place.

Afterwards Rossi was all smiles, and congratulated Lorenzo on the battle, while insisting that the championship is over, a point Yamaha contested.

“Yeah, I think, you know, also Jorge is very determined and aggressive because he wants to beat me for the podium. I think is normal,” Rossi said. “I mean, everybody give the maximum, won’t give up. For that reason I make the congratulation also for him, because he come back, he never give up. He want to beat me 100%, so for that reason when you have two riders like this is something very funny.”

As to whether he was worried about how it might impact Lorenzo’s championship hopes, Rossi said, “so I say in Aragon that if Yamaha say to me on the last race help Jorge for the championship, I am ready. But like this, the championship is finished. Dani (Pedrosa) is in the hospital. So I think Jorge don’t need my help. Next race we will win the championship. We can make the race each other.”

Lorenzo, predictably, felt much different. The Spaniard was seething and lodged a complaint with Yamaha management, who then had a meeting with Rossi.

Asked when the passes weren’t clean, Lorenzo said, “Every time he passed me. We are not fighting for the world title. I am not fighting for the world title, we are partners in Yamaha. And it is not only the riders world title at stake, there is also the constructor world title that we are only 25 points in front of Honda, so we can easily lose that by a crash and he can put my world championship at risk.”

And as to whether Rossi should show him more respect, Lorenzo said, “I think he will not get any warning from the organization, so the only thing I can get to avoid that he goes crazy like now is not letting him pass me like he did today or act like him. It is not the best solution because the thing will increase, but I think it is the only solution to get some respect from him and try for him to be less dangerous.”

Yamaha race boss Lin Jarvis sided with Lorenzo. He explained that the team doesn’t issue orders, but expects the “riders to race with sufficient margin of safety amongst themselves. So in our opinion, Jorge’s complaint was justified. There were a lot of fair moves and there were a couple of moves that were perhaps too close. And so after that meeting, anyway, Mr. (Masao) Furusawa has since met with Valentino and explained Yamaha’s view point and we have, let’s say, we have requested Valentino to adopt a different attitude towards any Yamaha rider for the remainder of the season.”

The carry-on affect may be that Yamaha may be less likely to release Rossi to test the Ducati at the end of the season.

“Undecided,” Jarvis said, in a word, “but I think Furusawa said in Brno, from what I understand, that he was not intending. But I don’t know where that’s, let’s say, the latest situation.”

Lost in the family feud was that Stoner was back. Yes, he’d won in Aragon, but to win twice in a row after such a long drought, and on such dissimilar circuits, meant the Australian was ready to challenge everywhere. The last time he’d won two in a row was a year ago, when he won Australia and Malaysia in succession.

Stoner took the lead from Dovizioso in the second turn of the first lap and was never headed. Dovi kept the lead close, and under a second, for the first 16 laps. The lead stayed mostly constant until the 22nd lap when it went over two seconds. And when Dovi nearly high-sided on the penultimate lap the race was Stoner’s.

“It was awesome,” Stoner said. “This one of my most memorable wins. It is obvious that our bike is not perfect for this track and to be able to come out and still win is just awesome, for me and the team and everybody it was something that nobody expected.”

Stoner had worked through a variety of set-ups in practice and qualifying, finally setting for something similar to the geometry he’d used to win in Aragon two weeks ago.

"Closer to Aragon set-up here," he said. "We dropped the bike and then went back halfway and got some more pitching and then we had to try and fix the wheelie problem and we found little bit more in the race. We needed to get bit more pitch, but when you get more pitch under braking it goes up, and you get on the gas it goes up. There are lot of stop-start areas and hills, so it's a big issue. So we had to find a medium balance and put up with some negative points but we got the grip and it worked a lot better."

Stoner was noticeably faster in a few points on the track, Dovizioso said, so he couldn’t make up any ground gained when Stoner made the occasional mistake.

“I wasn’t precise 100% and I take a gap, but I believe I can catch him again because I thought, and I saw, he was on the limit like me. He made a small mistake like me, so I keep pushing 100% and the gap of the tires the last ten laps was difficult to keep that lap time. And the last two, three laps to the end I make a big high-side and I almost crash and I couldn’t fight for the victory. I’m not happy about that, but to come back on the podium is so important.”

With Pedrosa laid up in a Barcelona hospital, recovering from an operation to put a titanium plate and eight screws into this fractured left collarbone, Lorenzo was hopeful of getting enough points to breeze to the title in Malaysia next weekend. But he had to finish no worse than second in Japan. Fourth wouldn’t cut it. So he goes to Sepang with a 69 point lead on Pedrosa, who may or may not be there-it won’t be determined for a few days-and will need to finish the race with 75 points to take the title.

Behind Rossi and Lorenzo came Monster Yamaha Tech 3’s Colin Edwards, whose fifth place finish was his best of the year. Edwards got caught up with Marco Simoncelli (San Carlo Gresini Honda) and Loris Capirossi, the Rizla Suzuki rider who would be the only non-finisher. Edwards passed Simoncelli on the 18th lap as the Italian’s arms began to fatigue under the hard braking. Edwards easily gapped him. Capirossi found his motor slowing before finally stopping three laps from the end.

“In terms of the result I'm really happy because it is my first top six finish of the year and I think it was deserved after all the hard work the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Team and me have been putting in to improve our results,” Edwards said. “I rode good all weekend and was only four-tenths off pole, but what I'm a little disappointed about is that I'm 27 seconds behind the winner. That's a big chunk of time and I'm riding as hard as I can.”

Rizla Suzuki’s Alvaro Bautista finished seventh, one better than Spies, who had the more eventful ride. Spies was about to brake in Turn 5 on the second lap when, all of a sudden, the rider in front of him braked early. That sent Spies off the track and Nicky Hayden (Ducati Marlboro) also ran off. Both made it back on the track, but at the back of the grid. And Hayden lost even more time getting back to the tarmac.

Both immediately set out to claim back positions, with Spies getting away sooner and having more success. He made his way to eighth by the finish, while lapping with times that would’ve put him in the top five. Hayden finished twelfth.

“Considering everything that happened this weekend with me not being totally happy with the bike and then running off early on, I'm extremely happy to finish eighth, especially coming from 15th,” Spies said. “We made a big change to the bike before the race with the geometry in the front and I ran a rear shock that we hadn't run all weekend and it was a big step. It was a big gamble but it paid off. The front was a bit better in the turns and we definitely had better traction and it made the bike a bit easier to ride and more confidence inspiring.”

By the time Hayden got back on track, the field was so far ahead he couldn’t see the last place rider.

“First lap when you can’t see anybody in front of you it kind of takes the fun out of it,” he said. “But I did get into a bit of a rhythm and started catching those guys. (Mika) Kallio, it took me a few laps to get past him. I got up to twelfth and ninth, tenth, eleventh was really just in front of me, two seconds. Well, actually I think 11th was closer than that. Shame there weren’t a few more laps. I could’ve got a top ten. “So hasn’t been a good weekend. It’s unfortunate. It just shows last week I was on the podium, this week try to get in the top ten, which is, the level here at the moment, if you’re off a little bit, these guys will swallow you up.”

Motegi MotoGP Race Results:

1. Casey Stoner (AUS) Ducati

2. Andrea Dovizioso (ITA) Honda

3. Valentino Rossi (ITA) Yamaha

4. Jorge Lorenzo (SPA) Yamaha

5. Colin Edwards (USA) Yamaha

6. Marco Simoncelli (ITA) Honda

7. Alvaro Bautista (SPA) Suzuki

8. Ben Spies (USA) Yamaha

9. Marco Melandri (ITA) Honda

10. Randy de Puniet (FRA) Honda

12. Nicky Hayden (USA) Ducati