Andrea Dovizioso closed to within eleven points of Marc Marquez in the fight for the MotoGP world championship after winning a thrilling duel between the two in atrocious conditions at Motegi. The pair swapped positions several times in a nail-biting finish with Dovizioso eventually prevailing at the very last corner.
Just as every session that had preceded it, the race took place in full-wet conditions which tilted the balance towards the Ducatis as Danilo Petrucci stormed to the front on lap two ahead of Jorge Lorenzo, Marquez and Dovizioso. The Pramac rider initially opened up a 2.4 second advantage but having chosen the extra-soft rear tyre, Petrucci was living on borrowed time as the championship contenders closed back in by half-distance.
Marquez hit the front for the first time on lap thirteen, outbraking Petrucci into turn eleven, and with Dovizioso following straight through into second, the stage was set for another head-to-head between the title protagonists. Andrea appeared to be biding his time in second, as he proved when he eased past Marc six laps from home, but the reigning champion struck back on lap 22, ensuring he would enter the final lap ahead.
In the end, an error at turn eight proved costly for Marquez, putting Dovizioso into position to outbrake him at turn eleven and although Marc responded into the very last corner, ‘Dovi’ ducked back underneath him in a repeat of their Austrian GP duel to claim his fifth win of the season. Petrucci cruised home a lonely third for his fourth podium of 2017.
With Lorenzo fading once again after a strong start, the Suzukis of Andrea Iannone and Alex Rins took a sensational fourth and fifth respectively, the team’s best result of the year, with Lorenzo holding onto sixth ahead of Aleix Espargaro and pole-man Johann Zarco. Maverick Vinales was an uncompetitive ninth as his title hopes faded still further while any lingering hopes for Valentino Rossi disappeared altogether with a crash on lap six.
2017 Motul Grand Prix of Japan – Race Result
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