Marc Marquez won another gripping head-to-head battle with Andrea Dovizioso at Motegi to clinch his fifth MotoGP world championship and seventh in all classes. The two title rivals were inseparable throughout a tense race in Japan but Dovizioso’s gallant chase ended with a crash on the penultimate lap, leaving the path clear for Marquez to win the race, and the championship.
Following their thrilling tussle in Thailand, the stage was set for another Dovizioso-Marquez scrap and the Honda rider latched straight onto the back of the polesitter with some aggressive early overtakes. By the end of lap one, Marc had already carved his way through from sixth to second with Cal Crutchlow and the two Suzukis joining to form a five-rider breakaway.
While Andrea Iannone found the pace too hot, crashing out on lap 15, the front two began to edge away with some blistering laps in the 1:45s range. Marquez had remained patient though in his pursuit of the Ducati but with three laps to go, the 25-year-old hit the front with a late dive into turn nine, forcing Dovizioso to do the chasing.
Another grandstand finish loomed between the two with Dovizioso shadowing the no.93 but as the pair rounded turn 10 on the penultimate lap, the front end of the no.04 Ducati finally gave way, bringing Andrea’s title challenge to an end. With his immediate threat removed, Marquez was able to saviour the final lap as he clinched his seventh world championship to the delight of Honda’s top brass at the circuit owned by the Japanese manufacturer.
To complete a dream day for Honda, Crutchlow held off Alex Rins for second while Valentino Rossi took a distant fourth, boosting his hopes of finishing runner-up to Marquez in the 2018 championship. Alvaro Bautista was a fine fifth for the Angel Nieto Team ahead of Johann Zarco and Maverick Vinales while Dani Pedrosa, Danilo Petrucci and Hafizh Syahrin rounded out the top ten.
2018 Motul Grand Prix of Japan (Result)
|1||93. Marc Marquez||Honda||Repsol Honda Team||42:36.438||25|
|2||35. Cal Crutchlow||Honda||LCR Honda Castrol||+1.573||20|
|3||42. Alex Rins||Suzuki||Team Suzuki ECSTAR||+1.720||16|
|4||46. Valentino Rossi||Yamaha||Movistar Yamaha MotoGP||+6.413||13|
|5||19. Alvaro Bautista||Ducati||Angel Nieto Team||+6.919||11|
|6||5. Johann Zarco||Yamaha||Monster Yamaha Tech 3||+8.024||10|
|7||25. Maverick Vinales||Yamaha||Movistar Yamaha MotoGP||+13.330||9|
|8||26. Dani Pedrosa||Honda||Repsol Honda Team||+15.582||8|
|9||9. Danilo Petrucci||Ducati||Alma Pramac Racing||+20.584||7|
|10||55. Hafizh Syahrin||Yamaha||Monster Yamaha Tech 3||+24.985||6|
|11||21. Franco Morbidelli||Honda||EG 0,0 Marc VDS||+25.931||5|
|12||38. Bradley Smith||KTM||Red Bull KTM Factory Racing||+26.875||4|
|13||43. Pol Espargaro||KTM||Red Bull KTM Factory Racing||+27.069||3|
|14||89. Katsuyuki Nakasuga||Yamaha||Yamalube Yamaha Factory Racing||+32.550||2|
|15||30. Takaaki Nakagami||Honda||LCR Honda IDEMITSU||+37.718||1|
|16||10. Xavier Simeon||Ducati||Reale Avintia Racing||+39.583|
|17||81. Jordi Torres||Ducati||Reale Avintia Racing||+39.839|
|18||4. Andrea Dovizioso||Ducati||Ducati Team||+42.698|
|19||45. Scott Redding||Aprilia||Aprilia Racing Team Gresini||+49.943|
|20||12. Thomas Luthi||Honda||EG 0,0 Marc VDS||+52.707|
|21||50. Sylvain Guintoli||Suzuki||Team Suzuki ECSTAR||+1:01.848|
|NC||29. Andrea Iannone||Suzuki||Team Suzuki ECSTAR||+10 Laps|
|NC||17. Karel Abraham||Ducati||Angel Nieto Team||+12 Laps|
|NC||43. Jack Miller||Ducati||Alma Pramac Racing||+14 Laps|
|NC||41. Aleix Espargaro||Aprilia||Aprilia Racing Team Gresini||+18 Laps|