Welcome to NOT The MotoGP News – our blog by Guy Anderson. Oh – and when you’re done, make sure to go follow Guy on Twitter – @SirGuyGuisborne
Japan has a culture that is just about furthest away from the Latin madness of the Mediterranean. Polite and deferential on the surface, but with a propensity to get a bit kamikaze when pushed.
And part of corporate Japan is Honda. The biggest and best. Except when making engines for F1. Suzuka; owned by Honda. Motegi; owned by Honda. The bay in Tokyo Harbour; full of lost souls and any number of failed projects lost by Honda
But hats off to the inscrutable bunch of engineers. They know how to invest money in a circuit or two. Hello Circuit de la Whales. Nearly extinct, see?
Personally we’re not sure anyone would want to race there if they weren’t dragged over to Japan by the 3 manufacturers Honda, Yamaha and Suzuki. No motor-homes, no massive team hospitality set-up, just boring flat-roofed portable cabins. Still, it is better than Cadwell Park for facilities.
Suzuka was a dream circuit, designed by Honda to replicate all the best of the old European circuit in the sixties so Honda could develop racing machines to beat the old guard in Europe. Motegi isn’t. And that’s the nicest thing we can say about the track. Stop, start, stop again, start some more. You get the idea we hope.
Onto Moto3 which is logical, as it is the first race of the day. Huzzah and hurrah we say. Well not if you’re Nanny McPhee, Navaho Navarro or Rodney Rodrigo. Lap 1, turn 1. Goodnight Vienna. That’s got to be a bummer after flying for hours, suffering jet-lag and being in the middle of nowhere. Not even got to Turn2!
It was all a bit of a come down, if not a let down, after Brad Binned-her wrapped up the Championship at Aragon. Brad had said he didn’t feel good, had no feeling for the bike or the circuit. Really?
Bo’selecta and Maria Harrera conspired to jump the start so had a ride through. Next up Canet and Locatelli decided to have an early bath and fell off on the same lap.
By now we had had enough of the race. A snooze-fest isn’t what we ordered to keep us awake at stupid o’clock in the morning. Speed humps halfway down the straight would have helped liven things up. We woke to see Binned-her had broken free. This interested us enough to stay awake a bit longer. And to be fair the front two, Bastardsurnametospell and Binned-her, made a proper Moto3 race of it over the last 3 laps at least. This was better. A smidge further behind, third to fifth also had a go at keeping us awake. Migno tried the hardest to keep us from slipping into narcolepsy by clipping the rear of Ono and falling off and then re-joining to finish 14th.
Bastianni from Binder by the width of a gnat’s pube. Awake now!
(yeah metaphorically or even literally, we did fall asleep at some point. We missed Ono getting disqualified for having an underweight bike. Barrrrap! as they say. Thanks to @matoxley and @sarah_46 for helping us over here, under the duvet!)
Yeah, we all may have been awake, but we all knew next up was Moto2.
Toblerone-smooth Swiss rider Tom Luthi was on pole and looked good for it. However, more funny was the whereabouts of his teammate, Dominic Egg-shitter. In a massively successful attempt to not have to travel to the land of the rising bun, possibly-allergic-to-sake Dominic got fired for talking to his new team for 2017, the hapless Leo-pard not-Racing much. All a bit daft really, and no way to end a contract eh Jorge?
Keeping us awake was Rins, who fell off on lap 1 at turn 3. Davide Brivio might be getting a bit nervous around about now. Its fine having one feckless hoon in your team (useless car-breaker Iannone), but having a lost-somewhere-over-the-rainbow painter and decorator in your smart and professional team as well is taking gambling to a new extreme.
Lowes looked a bit over ambitious early doors and paid the price of a front end wash-out at Turn 10. By now turn 10 had a great reputation for catching riders and wasn’t about to let Lowes past without his scalp.
Meanwhile Tobleone Luthi and Slash from Guns’n’Roses lookalike Frankie Morbidelli both looked racy in a bike kind of way, not a “we like to look at them naked” kind of way.
Alex Marquez possibly getting a little twitch somewhere at the thought of his brother maybe winning a WC in the next race reverted to type and fell off at Turn 10. Danny Kent had a hair gel issue and retired. That doesn’t look good and maybe, just maybe he is thinking of next season. Who could blame him?
With 12 laps to go Lorenzo Badass did like so many other at Turn 10 and fell off. Two laps later Alex Pons was either bored or just a copy cat. Yep he too fell at Turn 10.
In the end Zarco fought all the way up to second as Slash faded a smidge whilst re-tuning his Les Paul. By less than half a second from Toblerone, Zarco clawed back points and now has 21 over Rins. The French fella maybe the first Moto2 rider to defend the indefensible.
Turn 10 eh? Looking for a bit of fame and glory? Well the big boys came out next and we all did sit up. Really.
With Dani Pedrosa out for the race suffering a collarbone snap that just isn’t fair, there was a good chance we’d get a bit more of other folk up front. Fat chance at first. Lorenzo, Rossi and Marquez made the break and boy did they give it some.
Norge Laverty lost his luck on Lap 1 at Turn 10 (see?) and utterly surprisingly Rossi did too with 18 laps to go from third place. Miller was off on that lap too. Like ten pin bowling some of this. Lorenzo went one better and fell a corner earlier at 9. You do wonder if his internal monologue goes something like this, “See? I can fall at a corner you cant!”
This left Marc Marquez way out in front like a rejected ant from the ant hill. All alone and no one to talk to. Like he cared.
Hector Barbera and his Loony Tunes on the factory Ducati fell off at Turn 1 to be different. He really did make a good effort of his chance and jumped back on to finish. Was he on a bonus to finish?
The other factory Ducati actually did even better. Fuel worries? Nah – they’re up two litres this year don’t ya know. Dovi was never going to make it nine winners this race, but second place was spot on for him. Mav looked out-classed by his not-as-good teammate for the first half o of the race, but class rises to the top and Viñales got his feet on the podium.
With 5 laps to go Lorenzo didn’t really hand Marquez his third senior World Championship, but by falling off, that was it.
It looks like Sam Lowes may have a good chance for regular top 10 finishes next year if the performance of Alvaro Bautista is anything to go by – he finished seventh..!
Oh, and a small thing about Iannone. He’s looking a bit fey and uninterested in the Ducati now. He claiming he still hasn’t recovered. Ahem – smashing that car window must have taken more out of him that you could imagine. Can you imagine how funny it would be if Ducati returned the pettiness by not letting him test the Suzuki after the final race?
- Albert Arenas picks up hard earned point in Texas April 22, 2018
- Arón Canet finishes eighth in Austin April 22, 2018
- Superb races by Alex Márquez and Joan Mir in Texas April 22, 2018
- WorldSBK Assen, Sunday roundup: World Superbike, World Supersport, WorldSSP300 April 22, 2018
- Alex Márquez qualifies on pole position in Texas, Joan Mir starts from 5th April 22, 2018
- Marc Marquez takes pole at Austin but will start from 4th on the grid, Dani Pedrosa grabs 3rd row start April 22, 2018
- Viñales on Yamaha: “We’re coming” April 22, 2018
- Through the pain barrier: Pedrosa's superhuman performance April 22, 2018
- Bagnaia vs Marquez: a battle royal in Austin April 22, 2018
- Closing in at COTA: Marquez takes Texas, Dovi takes the lead April 22, 2018
- Martin pulls the pin to perfection in a classic Texan tangle April 22, 2018
- Viñales on Marquez' tail in Texas Warm Up April 22, 2018