Jorge Lorenzo extended the 2013 MotoGP title fight to the Valencia finale, with the defending champion claiming a flag-to-flag victory at Motegi. The Factory Yamaha ace secured his seventh win of the year ahead of his Repsol Honda challengers, current points leader Marc Marquez and teammate Dani Pedrosa. Lorenzo’s victory cuts the points deficit to 13 going into the final round.
Sunday’s schedule was revised for the Japanese GP, as weather delays had canceled Friday’s practice sessions. A Sunday morning practice session allowed riders to setup for the dry conditions that would prevail during the race. Unlike most of his prototype competitors, including the Respol Hondas, Lorenzo would opt for the softer rear tire option from Bridgestone.
Lorenzo led from pole position in the opening laps, later challenged by Marquez and the Repsol duo. But the Honda’s could not make a pass on the Mallorcan, who motored on to the 30th MotoGP victory of his career and the 200th for Yamaha in the premier class.
“We chose the soft tire and the others chose the hard tire, we knew that at the end of the race we might have problems but finally I could push even more the lap times. The strategy could have been different but to take this win at the home of Honda makes me very happy,” said Lorenzo in a Yamaha press statement.
Marquez, who suffered a spill during the pre-race warmup, takes 20 points back to Valencia for the finale. Had the Spanish rookie managed to win at Motegi and Lorenzo finish third or worse, he would have been the youngest MotoGP champion in history.
Said Marquez of his Motegi result: “This was my first time at this track with a MotoGP bike and in practice I was unable to get any references in the dry, leaving me with only the warm up and the race in which to find my way. I saw that Jorge [Lorenzo] was a little stronger than us here and I had a couple of scary moments, making me decide that twenty points and the gap being reduced by only five points would be a decent result. There is only one race remaining - the most important of the year - so we shall try to be more focused than ever at Valencia.”
Alvaro Bautista and Stefan Bradl followed Pedrosa to the line, giving Honda four of the top five positions at Motegi. Lorenzo's teammate, Valentino Rossi, ran off track twice during the GP - the first time while running a top-four pace and the second time dropping out of the top 10 to work his way back to an eventual sixth-place finish.
Cal Crutchlow placed seventh on the Tech 3 Yamaha, his result securing fifth place overall in the 2013 championship - the highest placed satellite prototype rider in the paddock. Trailing Crutchlow at Motegi was his teammate and countryman Bradley Smith, with the factory Ducati duo of Nicky Hayden and Andrea Dovizioso rounding out the top 10.
Forward Racing's Colin Edwards was the top-finishing CRT mount in 12th, one position behind Factory Yamaha's development rider and Motegi wild card entry Katsuyuki Nakasuga.
The Grand Prix paddock now takes a week break before returning to Spain for the season-ending round at Valencia.
2013 MotoGP Motegi Results:
Jorge Lorenzo celebrates his 30th career MotoGP victory with a win at Motegi,
cutting the points lead to 13 on Marquez.
1. Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha)
2. Marc Marquez (Honda)
3. Daniel Pedrosa (Honda)
4. Alvaro Bautista (Honda)
5. Stefan Bradl (Honda)
6. Valentino Rossi (Yamaha)
7. Cal Crutchlow (Yamaha)
8. Bradley Smith (Yamaha)
9. Nicky Hayden (Ducati)
10. Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati)
11. Katsuyuki Nakasuga (Yamaha)
12. Colin Edwards (Forward)
13. Randy De Puniet (Aspar)
14. Andrea Iannone (Ducati)
15. Yonny Hernandez (Ducati)
16. Hector Barbera (Avintia Blusens)
17. Hiroshi Aoyama (Avintia Blusens)
18. Danilo Petrucci (Came IodaRacing)