Alex Marquez puts his recent injury troubles behind him with victory in a rain-affected Japanese Grand Prix at Motegi on Sunday. The Spaniard, who was forced to withdraw mid-race at Aragon due to a hip injury, claimed his third win of 2017 while the championship battle took a backseat, Franco Morbidelli and Thomas Luthi both struggling.
The hopes of the 52,000-strong crowd rested on home favourite Takaaki Nakagami and the Team Asia rider led a five-man leading group in the early stages as Marquez slotted into second. As the race passed half-distance though, a growing threat was emerging in the form of Hafizh Syahrin who powered past Mattia Pasini into fourth before setting his sights on third-placed Xavi Vierge.
Noticing the threat, Marquez made his move on eleven with Vierge following through into second and once the Marc VDS rider had smashed the fastest lap of the Grand Prix, victory was all-but assured. Vierge dealt with the danger of Syahrin to claim a career-best second, Tech 3’s first Moto2 rostrum for over six years, while Syahrin took his second podium of the season after overhauling Nakagami.
Francesco Bagnaia came on strong late in the race to grab fourth ahead of Pasini with Nakagami fading in the latter stages to sixth, just ahead of KTM’s Miguel Oliveira. Eighth would go to championship leader Franco Morbidelli after a last-lap battle with Dominique Aegerter and with Thomas Luthi only managing eleventh, the Italian looked to have strengthened his championship position.
However, news broke hours after the race that Aegerter had been disqualified from the victory at Misano last month due to an illegal oil sample, handing Luthi the San Marino GP win and five extra points as a result.
Moto2 Motul Grand Prix of Japan – Race Result
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