Dovi keeps title hopes alive in Motegi

Andrea Dovizioso blew the title race wide open as he snatched a thrilling win at a soaking wet Japanese Grand Prix. The Italian overturned a half-second gap from title rival Marc Marquez to take the win in dramatic fashion, closing the gap in the championship to just 11 points.

Dovi Motegi

Dovizioso now has five wins this season, after having just one victory in MotoGP before the start of this year. Image: dawn.com

Dovizioso had gone fairly under the radar, allowing teammates Jorge Lorenzo and Danilo Petrucci lead early on. As the laps progressed though, the Italian found himself as part of a break-away front three. As Marquez tangled with Petrucci, Dovizioso sat back, before eventually passing Petrucci, who looked to have just run out of steam.

For Dovizioso though, his race was just beginning. After passing his fellow Ducati rider, he was straight on to the back of Marquez.

With three laps to go, Dovizioso made his move, hitting the front and looking the more comfortable in the wet conditions. But in true Marquez fashion he fought his way back past the Ducati. Marquez extended his lead to just under half a second going into the last lap, but a mistake by the world champion allowed Dovizioso to catch him in the final sector.

As in Austria, Marquez went for broke, diving down the inside of Dovizioso on the final corner. It was almost as if Dovi knew that he was coming, however, allowing the Honda to dart through on the inside and run wide before the Ducati was able to power back past on the drag to the line.

Danilo Petrucci completed the podium, whilst Suzuki riders Andrea Iannone and Alex Rins finished fourth and fifth.

After initially leading the race, Jorge Lorenzo fell back into the middle of the pack, but rallied late on to rise to sixth. He overtook Aleix Espargaro in the final few laps, who had previously had a quiet race before falling to seventh.

Johann Zarco, who had also started brightly, dropped down to eighth, whilst Maverick Vinales and Loris Baz completed the top ten.

Valentino Rossi compounded his misery after a poor weekend all round, crashing out of the race early on.

It was a poor weekend for the British riders on the whole, except for Sam Lowes. Lowes just missed out on twelfth, running out of fuel on the last corner and just being overtaken by wildcard Katsuyuki Nakasuga. Scott Redding finished just outside the points in sixteenth, whilst Bradley Smith was unable to capitalise on his impressive qualifying performance, finishing eighteenth. Cal Crutchlow crashed out early on, and although he did re-enter the race, he crashed again later on.

In Moto2, it was a better afternoon for the Marquez family, as Alex Marquez took the victory by over a second. Championship leader Franco Morbedelli finished eighth, but still managed to extend his lead over Thomas Luthi to 24 points, after the Swiss rider finished 11th.

Romano Fenati managed to keep the Moto3 title race alive as he took the chequered flag. Championship leader Joan Mir, by contrast, failed to finish in the points after starting from 20th after a grid penalty. The result leaves Mir 56 points ahead of Fenati with three rounds remaining. John McPhee finished tenth, leaving him sixth in the championship.

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Rossi takes victory in thrilling Dutch TT

Valentino Rossi secured his first MotoGP victory in over a year as he took the chequered flag in Assen. The Italian fought of stiff competition for Ducati’s Danilo Petrucci to take the win, whilst Marc Marquez rounded off the podium.

Rossi Assen

Image: BT Sport (@btsportmotogp)

It was fellow Yamaha rider Johann Zarco who made the strongest start, converting his pole position in to an early lead. The Frenchman led a breakout group, with Marquez, Rossi and Petrucci moving well clear of the pack.

With 15 laps to go, Rossi made his move, hitting the front ahead of Zarco, There was a bit of contact as Zarco tried to snap straight back at the Doctor, but this didn’t affect Rossi, and allowed Marquez to pass Zarco.

Shortly afterwards, Petrucci muscled his way past Marc Marquez in to second, but the real excitement started when, with 8 laps remaining, the white flags came out, indicating that there was rain and that riders were allowed to come in and change bikes.

Andrea Dovizioso, who had been having a quiet race by his recent standards, pushed past both Zarco and Marquez on the same lap to put himself in to podium contention, before hunting down Petrucci on the following lap.

During this time, Johann Zarco, who had been on the softer option tyre, decided to swap bikes to a wet race set-up, a gamble that proved unsuccessful as he would be unable to make up the lost time, and even suffered a penalty for speeding in pit lane. Only Hector Barbera, Alex Rins and Jorge Lorenzo followed Zarco in changing to wets.

Rossi looked to be getting clear as the two Ducatis battled amongst themselves, but Petrucci was able to break clear and catch the leader. The two Italians battled it out for the final few laps for first, with Rossi leading in to the final lap. The Pramac Ducati rider looked to have the pace to take his first MotoGP victory going in to the final sector, but lost time lapping Alex Rins, who Rossi had passed smoothly. This enabled the 38 year old to take his tenth win at Assen across all classes, finishing 0.063 seconds clear of Petrucci.

Cal Crutchlow appeared from nowhere to join the race for the final podium position in the final stages of the race. The Brit passed Dovizioso and Marquez with ease, but the factory Honda rider fought back. Marquez just managed to better Crutchlow, holding him off by 0.042 seconds.

Last year’s race winner Jack Miller finished sixth, ahead of Karel Abraham in seventh. Loris Baz, Andrea Iannone and Aleix Espargaro rounded off the top ten.

It was a miserable day for the Brits, apart from Cal Crutchlow of course. Sam Lowes crashed early on, and was soon followed in to the gravel by SBradley Smith. With two laps remaining, Scott Redding completed the hat-trick of British riders crashing out.

Dovizioso’s fifth place sees him move to the top of the championship, after previous series leader Maverick Vinales crashed out having fought back to fifth place after a start to forget. Dovizioso leads the championship now by four points, with Rossi a further three points behind Vinales, and Marc Marquez only eleven points off of the lead.

In Moto3, Aron Canet secured his second win of the season, preventing a fantastic comeback from Britain’s John McPhee, who ended up third after making up sixteen places to catch the leaders. Franco Morbidelli celebrated securing a MotoGP ride in 2018 with another Moto2 victory. The Italian has now won five of the opening eight races.

The next race is the German Grand Prix at Sachsenring on the 2 July.

Marquez Continues American Dominance

Marc Marquez extended his winning run on American soil to nine races after securing a comfortable victory at the Grand Prix of the Americas in Texas. The world champion saw off early pressure from his team-mate, Dani Pedrosa, who ended the race in third, with Valentino Rossi splitting the two Repsol Hondas.

Marquez Texas

Image: Crash.net

After qualifying on the second row, it was Dani Pedrosa who made the strongest start, with pole sitter Marquez following him closely. It wasn’t long before the first incident of note, as the so far infallible Maverick Vinales slipped off of his Yamaha on a long right hander.

Controversy followed on lap seven, as rookie Johann Zarco tussled with Valentino Rossi. The Frenchman punted Rossi off the track through the chicanes, but it ultimately caused Rossi to actually gain ground on the leading Hondas. Race direction, perhaps harshly, awarded Rossi with a 0.3 second penalty for the incident, even though the Italian did everything in his power to avoid coming together with Zarco.

Marquez first hit the front on lap eight, but was pegged back immediately as Pedrosa blasted past him on the back straight. But Marquez had learnt his lesson, passing Pedrosa a few corners earlier on the next lap to ensure that his team-mate could not catch him on the straight.

From that point onward Marquez looked in complete control of the race. Pedrosa fell back, and Rossi was able to pass him on the final bend with two laps to go. With the 0.3 second penalty hanging over his head, Rossi continued relentlessly, opening up a two second gap in the final two laps.

The win is Marquez’s fifth consecutive victory in Texas, whilst Rossi’s second place takes him to the top of the championship, six points clear of Maverick Vinales.

Cal Crutchlow followed up his podium in Argentina with a fourth place, edging out Johann Zarco with a lap to go. Andrea Dovizioso finished as the top Ducati in sixth, whilst Andrea Iannone and Danilo Petrucci managed to finish ahead of Jorge Lorenzo. Jack Miller rounded up the top ten.

Scott Redding finished in twelfth, whilst Bradley Smith finished just outside the points in sixteenth. The last of the British riders, Sam Lowes, crashed out on his Aprilia.

After the initial Moto3 race was red flagged, Romano Fenati took the chequered flag. John McPhee’s seventh place sees him slip to third in the championship. Franco Morbidelli continued his dominance in Moto2, finishing over two seconds clear of the rest of the field to take his third win from three races.

The next race is at Jerez on 7 May.