The Japanese Grand Prix weekend took a while to get going with torrential rain and persistent fog keeping us waiting for a day and a half before seeing a wheel turned in anger. When the bikes finally roared into life, the riders in all three classes ensured the hours staring at puddles and grounded helicopters were worth it. Motegi played host to an historic afternoon’s racing and the TCF Power Five looks at the performances that will live long in the memory.
5. Maverick Vinales (Moto3)
In the pressure cooker situation of a Moto3 championship battle, you might expect the emotional, tempestuous Maverick Vinales to buckle but at Motegi, the 18 year old was the one who held it together. The first big test came in qualifying when the junior class riders had to go out in the worst of the conditions and Vinales, not renowned for his wet weather ability, stuck his KTM on the front row alongside Alex Rins and ahead of series leader Luis Salom.
Getting to the front of the field proved crucial as Salom was skittled out on the opening lap, ironically by Maverick’s cousin Isaac, and a further crash as he recovered through the field ruled Luis out once and for all. Vinales kept his composure to lead from the Estrella Galicia KTMs of Alex Marquez and Rins but the latter also slipped up, crashing out four laps from the finish.
Heading into the race twenty points behind Salom, victory would’ve sent Vinales to the top of the championship but in a final lap shootout, Marquez prevailed for his first career win but in the wider scheme of things, Maverick was the big winner and now knows that maximum points at the season finale in Valencia will earn him the ultimate prize.
(Photo Credit: MotoGP.com)