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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Marquez makes it eight in a row in Germany

Marc Marquez’s impressive record in Germany continues as the Spaniard has now won eight consecutive races at the Sachsenring across all classes. He fought off a strong challenge from Jonas Folger, who secured his first MotoGP podium at his home Grand Prix.

Marquez Germany

Image: BT Sport (@btsportmotogp)

Marquez started on pole and took the lead early on, but he was soon challenged by teammate Dani Pedrosa and home favourite Folger, who had started back on the second row. Folger passed Pedrosa and the front two soon moved clear.

The home crowd erupted as Folger took the lead on the penultimate corner on lap six. The German looked comfortable as he held off Marquez, but ran wide at turn one on lap eleven, allowing the world champion back in to the lead.

The front two were now well clear of Dani Pedrosa in third. Marquez never really looked in too much danger, as Folger again ran wide trying to make up for his earlier mistake. In the final few laps Marquez extended his lead to just over 3 seconds as he looked more comfortable on wearing tyres. Pedrosa completed the podium after a lonely ride in third, a further 7 seconds back.

Maverick Vinales recovered from his fall in Assen and eleventh place on the grid to pick his way past Aleix Espargaro and Danilo Petrucci in quick succession. It then took the Spaniard five laps to catch and pass Andrea Dovizioso, before passing Valentino Rossi just one lap later. Vinales saw out the race in fourth, one place ahead of his teammate.

Alvaro Bautista completed a fantastic ride by clawing his way up to sixth, ahead of Espargaro and Dovizioso, who dropped to eighth. Johann Zarco passed Cal Crutchlow late on to take ninth, with the Brit rounding off the top ten.

Ducati riders Jorge Lorenzo and Danilo Petrucci slipped back from their sixth and second places in qualifying to eleventh and twelfth respectively.

The British riders did not fare particularly well, despite Bradley Smith’s fourteenth place. Scott Redding finished back in twentieth, whilst Sam Lowes crashed out.

The win takes Marquez clear at the top of the championship over the summer, five points clear of Maverick Vinales. The top four riders are covered by just ten points, with Andrea Dovizioso just a further point behind Vinales, and Valentino Rossi in fourth.

Franco Morbidelli rescued his sixth win of the season in Moto2 after appearing to blow his lead over Miguel Oliveira going in to the last lap. Joan Mir confirmed that he will be leading the championship over the summer break after passing Romano Fenati on the last lap to take the win.

 

Vinales Takes Win In France After Bumper Last Lap

Maverick Vinales took advantage of a disastrous last lap for Valentino Rossi to win the French GP. The Spaniard moves to the top of the championship standings with the win, whilst Dani Pedrosa moves up to second after his third place finish. Johann Zarco secured his first MotoGP podium at his home Grand Prix with his second place finish.

Vinales Le Mans

Image: Crash.net

After Zarco’s strong start from the front row, Maverick Vinales soon took over the lead and looked in control of the race. Vinales led the group of Yamahas who broke free, with Johann Zarco and Valentino Rossi following.

Marc Marquez managed to catch up with the leading group, but crashed out with 11 laps remaining. That left the top three well clear of the rest of the field, with Rossi and Zarco trailing Vinales. But with six laps remaining, Rossi slipped underneath Zarco at turn 2 and began to hunt down Vinales.

Rossi recorded consecutive lap records as he chased down his team-mate, and then passed him in a repeat of his pass of Zarco. But it was a disaster of a final lap for the Italian, who first ran wide, allowing Vinales to retake the lead, and then lost the front as he attempted to regain top spot.

This left the door open for Zarco to secure a second place at his home Grand Prix, whilst Dani Pedrosa picked up third after a lonely ride.

Andrea Dovizioso managed to edge out Cal Crutchlow in the latter stages, whilst Jorge Lorenzo finished sixth, ten seconds back. Jonas Folger overcame the challenge of Jack Miller, whilst Loris Baz finished ninth in his home Grand Prix. Andrea Iannone rounded off the top ten.

Among the British riders, Bradley Smith and Sam Lowes both picked up points, finishing thirteenth and fourteenth respectively. Scott Redding was forced to retire early on.

Joan Mir took the win in a shortened Moto3 race, after an oil spill caused half the field to crash out on lap two. Danny Kent secured tenth on his return to Moto3 after his split with Kiefer Racing in Moto2. John McPhee came just behind Kent in twelfth place. Franco Morbidelli continued his run of winning every race that he has finished this season, securing his fourth win of the season in Moto2.

Vinales Takes Season Opener

Maverick Vinales followed up his pre-season form with victory in the opening race of the season. The Spaniard was making his Yamaha debut in Qatar after his switch from Suzuki, and held off the Ducati of Andrea Dovizioso and his team-mate Valentino Rossi.

Vinales Qatar

Image: BT Sport MotoGP Twitter (@btsportmotogp)

The race was reduced to 20 laps due to a 40 minute delay caused by rain whilst the bikes came on to the grid. This came after qualifying had been washed out, meaning that the grid was based on the combined times from free practice.

But the inconvience of the rain was soon forgotten, as rookie Johann Zarco made a flying start and hit the front. The Frenchman looked comfortable as he led his more experienced competitors, but he crashed out on lap 7.

Andrea Dovizioso seized the opportunity to hit the front, leading world champion Marc Marquez and former team-mate Andrea Iannone. As Dovizioso controlled the race, Marquez and Iannone battled for second position, before Iannone slipped out on lap 11.

It was then when Maverick Vinales, who suffered from a poor start, and Valentino Rossi, who started back on the fourth row, made their way past Marquez and started hunting down Dovizioso.

Vinales managed to catch Dovizioso, but kept being frustrated as he was unable to escape from the Ducati’s superior horsepower down the front straight. But with only a few laps remaining Vinales was finally able to gain enough of a lead to consolidate his position and take the win by 0.461 seconds. Dovizioso took second, whilst Rossi crossed the line 1.467 seconds later.

Marc Marquez, who switched to a softer front tyre during the delays at the start of the race, slipped back, but was able to hold off his team-mate Dani Pedrosa, whilst Aleix Espargaro took sixth on his Aprilia debut.

Scott Redding finished as the top Brit, finishing in a lonely seventh place, two seconds behind Espargaro and five seconds clear of Jack Miller. None of the other Brits scored points, with Bradley Smith finishing seventeenth on his KTM debut, and Sam Lowes a further place back on his first appearance in MotoGP. Cal Crutchlow suffered a race to forget, falling twice early on.

Alex Rins finished as the top rookie in ninth, just beating Jonas Folger to that accolade. Both, however, finished ahead of Jorge Lorenzo, who looked uncertain on his Ducati debut, finishing eleventh.

Joan Mir took the opening race of the day, as the Spaniard held off a group of four riders, headed by Britain’s John McPhee, that finished within half a second of the Moto3 winner.

Franco Morbidelli secured a dominant win in Moto2. The Italian took his first Grand Prix victory, 2.681 seconds clear of Thomas Luthi. Britain’s Danny Kent finished thirteenth.

The next race is in Argentina, taking place on April 9.