Thomas Luthi demonstrated his undoubted class once again to take his third victory of the 2016 Moto2 season while Johann Zarco took second to close in the world championship. Luthi held on despite intense pressure in the latter stages from the Frenchman but with nearest rival Alex Rins failing to score, Zarco now enjoys a 21 point lead with three races remaining.
Carrying a shoulder injury into the race, the odds were already stacked against Rins who lined up on the eighth row of the grid and in his haste to make progress, the Spaniard outbraked himself into turn three and slid off into the gravel. Rins remounted and continued in the race, perhaps more in hope than belief, but he would trail home in 20th spot.
Zarco wasn’t finding life too easy himself in the early stages either with Luthi, Franco Morbidelli and Sam Lowes relegating him to fourth. Home favourite Takaaki Nakagami relegated the series leader to fifth on lap two but almost simultaneously, Lowes crashed out at turn ten to promote Zarco back into the top four and end the Briton’s title challenge.
At the halfway stage, Zarco finally began to find his rhythm, taking advantage of an error from Nakagami to snatch third before outbraking Morbidelli for second on lap fourteen. Two seconds separated him from Luthi out in front and although Johann closed to within three tenths by the finish, the Swiss rider had judged it perfectly and was rewarded with the victory.
Nakagami looked to have secured a home rostrum after passing Morbidelli midway through the final lap but the Marc VDS rider outmuscled the Japanese rider through the final sequence of corners to take third, with Nakagami a frustrated fourth.
Sandro Cortese marked his 200th Grand Prix with a fine fifth ahead of Speed Up’s Simone Corsi while Mattia Pasini edged out Julian Simon for seventh. Marcel Schrotter was ninth while Xavier Simeon rounded out the top ten.
Moto2 Motul Grand Prix of Japan (Race Result)
|1||12. Thomas Luthi||Kalex||Garage Plus Interwetten||42:45.854||25|
|2||5. Johann Zarco||Kalex||Ajo Motorsport||+0.386||20|
|3||21. Franco Morbidelli||Kalex||EG 0,0 Marc VDS||+5.863||16|
|4||30. Takaaki Nakagami||Kalex||Idemitsu Honda Team Asia||+6.090||13|
|5||11. Sandro Cortese||Kalex||Dynavolt Intact GP||+16.246||11|
|6||24. Simone Corsi||Speed Up||Speed Up||+20.404||10|
|7||54. Mattia Pasini||Kalex||Italtrans Racing Team||+20.683||9|
|8||60. Julian Simon||Speed Up||QMMF Racing Team||+20.760||8|
|9||23. Marcel Schrotter||Kalex||AGR Team||+24.394||7|
|10||19. Xavier Simeon||Speed Up||QMMF Racing Team||+27.113||6|
|11||97. Xavi Vierge||Tech 3||Tech 3 Racing||+30.158||5|
|12||10. Luca Marini||Kalex||Forward Team||+32.283||4|
|13||55. Hafizh Syahrin||Kalex||Petronas Raceline Malaysia||+32.391||3|
|14||45. Tetsuta Nagashima||Kalex||Ajo Motorsport Academy||+35.348||2|
|15||32. Isaac Vinales||Tech 3||Tech 3 Racing||+35.486||1|
|16||57. Edgar Pons||Kalex||Paginas Amarillas HP 40||+39.558|
|17||2. Jesko Raffin||Kalex||sports-millions-EMWE-SAG||+39.690|
|18||14. Ratthapark Wilairot||Kalex||Idemitsu Honda Team Asia||+45.258|
|19||87. Remy Gardner||Kalex||Tasca Racing Scuderia Moto2||+47.910|
|20||40. Alex Rins||Kalex||Paginas Amarillas HP 40||+1:04.723|
|21||63. Naomichi Uramoto||Kalex||Japan-GP2||+1:05.916|
|22||84. Taro Sekiguchi||TSR||Team Taro Plus One||+1:26.636|
|NC||27. Iker Lecuona||Kalex||CarXpert Interwetten||+9 Laps|
|NC||49. Axel Pons||Kalex||AGR Team||+10 Laps|
|NC||7. Lorenzo Baldassarri||Kalex||Forward Team||+13 Laps|
|NC||73. Alex Marquez||Kalex||EG 0,0 Marc VDS||+16 Laps|
|NC||52. Danny Kent||Kalex||Leopard Racing||+16 Laps|
|NC||94. Jonas Folger||Kalex||Dynavolt Intact GP||+19 Laps|
|NC||22. Sam Lowes||Kalex||Federal Oil Gresini Moto2||+22 Laps|
|NC||70. Robin Mulhauser||Kalex||CarXpert Interwetten||+22 Laps|