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Last time out Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) won the race and Championship, and the celebrations have doubtless been continuing for the now eight-time World Champion since the paddock packed up and left Buriram. But despite that title fight being over, the season is far from it and the first of the four remaining races of the year sees us head for the hard-braking home race for so many manufacturers in the paddock – with plenty of pride on the line.
For Marquez, it’s a chance to race without his mind set quite so much on the maths – and he’ll also surely be chasing pole as Motegi is the last venue on the calendar at which he’s never achieved the feat in the premier class. He’s won though – twice in MotoGP, once in Moto2 and once in the 125 World Championship – so his record says it’s a surprise he’s not yet started from the front. With no Championship pressure, will he be the man to beat? Likely. But there are the team and manufacturer standings to consider, and it’s Honda’s 60th anniversary year of racing in the World Championship as well…so it won’t be quiet weekend. It will be a milestone for teammate Jorge Lorenzo too, as he celebrates 200 premier class Grands Prix.
Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team), meanwhile, will be hoping to make more of a fight of it at Motegi. The venue has been a good one for the Italian and he is a man who’s been on pole before: the track was where Dovizioso took his first pole in the premier class in 2010, and he did it again in 2014 and 2018. He also won the 2017 showdown with Marquez in the rain – one of the most stunning duels of recent years, and there have been a few – and he’s been on the podium in the dry, so it makes for good reading. And there’s no home race pressure for the number 04, although the team and constructor standings add some back in. On that count, however, there could be more for teammate Danilo Petrucci, as the Italian is now fifth overall – although only a handful of points off Alex Rins (Team Suzuki Ecstar) in third and one point behind Maverick Viñales (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP). He’ll want more from Motegi and the final four rounds overall.
That tight fight will certainly be one to keep an eye on. Rins will be pushing to the max to try and get the most from the home weekend for Hamamatsu factory Suzuki, as will rookie teammate Joan Mir, but Viñales is closing fast on third overall – so gaining back some consistency is also key for Rins. Suzuki will also have another machine on track too in Japan in the form of a wildcard for test rider Sylvain Guintoli, so that could aid them in their search for more speed.
Yamaha, meanwhile, have been seriously gaining traction as the latter half of the season goes on, especially Viñales as he chases down a place in the top three overall, and limelight-stealer Fabio Quartararo’s (Petronas Yamaha SRT) shining performances speak for themselves. The French rookie is now only two points off Valentino Rossi (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) overall and could conceivably still catch Viñales for top Yamaha. More pressing, though, is Rookie of the Year – with Quartararo 85 points ahead of Mir as it stands. If he leaves Japan 75 points ahead of the Spaniard, he’s taken the first of what could be a few accolades in 2019.
The Independent Team rider standings are another key battlefield. Quartararo has now got a nice buffer back to Jack Miller (Pramac Racing) in the fight for top Independent Team rider, but Miller will be pushing and so will Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda Castrol). Crutchlow is on Honda turf and will want to bounce back after an issue in Thailand…although the pressure will likely more be on the other side of the garage and home hero Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda Idemitsu). What can the Japanese rider do? Rumour has it he’ll be undergoing surgery in the near future on his shoulder, but not before Motegi – so it’ll be a big push on home turf, with lots of home support.
So many narratives make up a MotoGP season and we may well be reading the first epilogue of the riders’ Championship but we’re far from the end of the story overall. Teams, constructors, rookies, Independent Team riders; milestones, records and more remain just around the corner in the final four rounds of the season, so tune in for the Motul Grand Prix of Japan on Sunday 20th October at 15:00 local time (GMT +9) to see another spectacular chapter.
Alex Marquez (EG 0,0 Marc VDS) says there isn’t anything particular about the Twin Ring Motegi that has made his record at the track such a good one, but he’ll feel pretty good about it heading into the Motul Grand Prix of Japan this year. The number 73 has a chance at a fourth win at the circuit, and he’s already 40 points clear…so is he sitting pretty? Almost, so now is the time for key rivals Augusto Fernandez (Flexbox HP 40) and Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Ajo) to stage somewhat of a final stand.
Fernandez, certainly, took the gloves off last time out and showed he’s more than willing to fight for this Championship; aggressive and leaving everything on the track. He remains consistently impressive but now he has to remain consistently ahead of Marquez by some margin, as does Binder, who is 44 points off the leader. The South African seems to have more been sneaking his way up the table as he’s gained some serious traction in the latter half of the season, and if 40 points doesn’t put Fernandez out of contention, a few more doesn’t do the same for Binder. Will Marquez crack? Does he need to? A maximum 100 points remain on the table…
Jorge Navarro (Beta Tools Speed Up), meanwhile, will be looking to get up in that fight in Japan too. The Spaniard had a tough time at Buriram and didn’t score, meaning he’s been leapfrogged in the standings by a few riders – including Swiss veteran Tom Lüthi (Dynavolt Intact GP). It’s a tight top five with a lot on the line for everyone though, and Lüthi could be one to watch. He’s another who has a great record at Motegi.
Then there’s Luca Marini (Sky Racing Team VR46), who is in sixth overall. Although he’s in danger of becoming the first near the top to be out of the fight mathematically, the turn of pace he had at Buriram was stunning – and if he keeps anything like that going in Japan, he could be a serious extra cat amongst the pigeons.
As with every class on the grid though, there’s a home hero to consider too: Tetsuta Nagashima (ONEXOX TKKR SAG Team). He’s had some impressive showings this season and could prove an extra complication for a few people at the Twin Ring Motegi.
With his demolition job at MotorLand Aragon, Aron Canet (Sterilgarda Max Racing Team) pulled the gap to Championship leader Lorenzo Dalla Porta (Leopard Racing) back to just two points – but then came a little more bad luck for the Spaniard at Buriram. Heading away from Thailand with another zero as Dalla Porta took second, it’s back to 22 points and another uphill battle on the road to Japan.
The bad news for Canet is that Dalla Porta was only hundredths off the win at the Twin Ring Motegi last year, but the good news is that he himself has some top five experience at the venue, although a couple of years ago. He also knows he has to push and can’t get trapped into playing it safe, and with higher stakes can come higher rewards. Is four rounds enough to get back on terms with the Italian? Given the see-saw of the year so far, it can still happen.
Tony Arbolino (VNE Snipers), meanwhile, needs even more. After suffering from an issue with his arm in Thailand and, like Canet, losing ground, it’s fast approaching crunch time for the Italian if he’s to stay in with a shout. Arbolino needs to start winning races and could need the likes of Albert Arenas (Gaviota Angel Nieto Team), Marcos Ramirez (Leopard Racing) and John McPhee (Petronas Yamaha SRT) to come into play…
Racing in Japan, however, lends a little extra motivation to the home heroes and they could well have a big say in the weekend. Tatsuki Suzuki (SIC58 Squadra Corse) is the most recent Japanese winner in the class and was also caught in the drama at Buriram so he’ll be full gas to get more from Motegi, and Kaito Toba (Honda Team Asia) will want to win his second Grand Prix of the season. Ayumu Sasaki (Petronas Sprinta Racing) could be another to watch and needs to bounce back, and they should keep an eye on impressive rookie Ai Ogura (Honda Team Asia) too – he’s had some impressive results so far this year, and a first podium already. And can Kazuki Masaki (BOE Skull Rider Mugen Race) turn his form around?
The Motul Grand Prix of Japan is a vital stage of the Championship battle this season, but there’s also a lot on the line for the home heroes. Who will come out on top? Find out on Sunday 20th August at 12:00 local time (GMT +9).
The post #JapaneseGP Motegi, weekend preview: MotoGP, Moto2, Moto3 appeared first on MotoGP Brits.
Michelin is ready for the busiest three-weeks of the MotoGP season as the championship begins a trio of races starting with the Motul Grand Prix of Japan at Twin Ring Motegi before heading to Australia and Malaysia respectively on the Pacific Rim tour.
The next three weekends will see Michelin face a triumvirate of racetracks all with very different demands and the first stop-off at Motegi in Japan is a track that has hard braking areas and big acceleration zones, all on an above average abrasive surface. The layout of the 4,801m circuit features four distinctive straights meaning a lot of usage is placed on the centre of the tyre, but due to a lower amount of fast, flowing corners there is not as much stress placed on the rear tyres than there is at other tracks. The configuration with its six left- and eight right-hand turns, places specific demands on the front tyre, with good braking stability and warm-up performance being two important requirements. With these factors to consider, the range of MICHELIN Power Slicks has been chosen to give the optimum performance, durability and consistency for all riders throughout the 24-lap race. The front tyres in the soft, medium and hard compounds will all be symmetric, with the rears having a harder right-hand shoulder to give an asymmetric finish.
Situated between the towns of Mito and Utsunomiya in the northern Kantō region of the Haga District within the Tochigi Prefecture, the Twin Ring Motegi circuit is a purpose-built motorsport venue featuring the road circuit, an oval track, safety and riding school, dirt track, go-karts and the impressive Honda Collection Hall, which is a museum that has a huge collection of motorcycles, cars and racing machines from many disciplines throughout the years. The circuit’s position in this area is surrounded by dense woodland and its location can mean it is susceptible to fog, mist and wet weather and if track conditions require it, then the range of MICHELIN Power Rain tyres will be available. These will be in a soft and medium compound for both the front and the rear, the front will be symmetrical, whilst the rear will have a harder right-hand-side to give them an asymmetric design like their slick equivalents.
Michelin’s first action on the three-week back-to-back tour will be on Friday 18th October when the riders will take to the track for two Free Practice sessions. Saturday will witness more practice and then the Qualifying to decide grid positions. Round 16 of the 2019 MotoGP World Championship is scheduled to get underway at 15.00hrs local time (08.00 CEST, 07.00 BST, 06.00 GMT/UTC).
Piero Taramasso – Michelin Motorsport Two-Wheel Manager:
“This is the second of the four flyaway races and the first of the three-week tour around the Pacific Ocean. This is always a demanding time for logistics and for the different circuits we face. Motegi is a track that demands stability from the front as the riders brake hard into many turns, especially ones such as ’90-degree Corner’, but then they also need the grip from the rear to get the power down to accelerate from these slower corners. We select compounds which we know will meet these requirements and give all the riders the confidence they need to push hard into these corners, while still having total control of their machines. Motegi can also be wet, but after what happened there in 2017, we know how well the rain tyres work, so have no worries about those giving top performance for all.”
The final race of the weekend at the Motul Argentinean Round was a thrilling spectacle, with plenty of hard action and big moves all the way through the pack. Despite making his own mistakes and needing to fight in the early stages, Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) romped to win number two of the weekend, holding off the opposition.
Off the start and into Turn 1, Jonathan Rea held on to his first position, whilst Alvaro Bautista (ARUBA.IT Racing – Ducati) and Toprak Razgatlioglu (Turkish Puccetti Racing) battled behind. Sandro Cortese (GRT Yamaha WorldSBK) was a fast starter and into fourth, whilst Alex Lowes (Pata Yamaha WorldSBK Team) and his teammate Michael van der Mark were fifth and sixth. Chaz Davies (ARUBA.IT Racing – Ducati) had dropped to seventh.
With the race beginning to take shape, Rea pulled away from Bautista, whilst Toprak Razgatliolgu was as relentless as ever, chasing down Bautista. Bautista and Rea in-turn were trading fastest lap times. Chaz Davies had picked off the Yamahas ahead of him one by one, using the top speed advantage of the Ducati Panigale V4 R down the long straights of San Juan to good effect. The next target for the Welshman was Razgatlioglu, who was going to need to fight hard to resist the former WorldSBK runner-up.
There was drama up front for Rea, who made a big mistake at Turn 8 and ran completely off the circuit, allowing Bautista to take the lead for the first time. However, Rea wouldn’t give in and a lap later, on Lap 8, Rea fought back and pushed his way back to the front at Turn 7, shoving Bautista wide. The squabble between the two heavyweights allowed Razgatlioglu and Davies to close up.
With 13 laps left to go, Davies took third from Razgatlioglu with a strong move at Turn 10 on the Turkish rider. The former WorldSSP Champion from 2011 was now a move on a mission and soon, caught his teammate. Bautista tried to fight but Davies powered ahead of his teammate two laps later to take second. 2.6s to close down on the race leader, Davies had plenty of work to keep him occupied for the remainder of the race.
Bautista however was in more problems and with 9 laps to go, as Toprak Razgatlioglu had regrouped and was immediately able to get ahead of the Spaniard, sweeping around the outside at Turn 2 to take third from the Race 1 winner. Bautista was losing time to Michael van der Mark hand over fist and needed to get to the end of the 26-year-old Dutchman got him.
Further down the field, Leandro Mercado (Orelac Racing VerdNatura) was having an incredible race, climbing all the way up to the fringes of the top ten. The home hero picked off Jordi Torres (Team Pedercini Racing) and at Turn 10 with eight laps left, dived up the inside of factory Kawasaki rider Leon Haslam to take eighth place. A lap later, and Eugene Laverty (Team Goeleven) was up ahead of Haslam and Torres. Ahead of all of them, Michael Ruben Rinaldi (BARNI Racing Team) was a sitting duck.
With four laps to go, Mercado got ahead of Rinaldi at Turn 15, sparking a massive roar from the partisan crown trackside. However, Laverty got ahead of the pair of them on the front straight, pushing Mercado back to eighth whilst the Irishman went in pursuit of his best result since Aragon. In terms of Mercado, he had come from 19th to eighth; an astonishing comeback.
Out front on the final lap, Jonathan Rea was uncatchable and took victory for a fourth time in Argentina and now, extended his consecutive point-scoring finishes run to 45 – the first time a rider has ever achieved this. Chaz Davies was up into second whilst Toprak Razgatlioglu completed a stellar weekend with another podium, his sixth in seven races. Fourth belonged to Michael van der Mark whilst Alvaro Bautista limped home to complete the top five. Alex Lowes was up to sixth.
Eugene Laverty put in a strong ride up to seventh, but ride of the day went to home-hero Mercado, who stormed from last on the grid to eighth, much to the delight of the crowd. Jordi Torres (Team Pedercini Racing) was ninth ahead of Leon Haslam in 10th. Sandro Cortese slipped to 15th, having run as high as fourth in the early stages.
The title was on the line ahead of the World Supersport race in San Juan, Argentina, making the duel one of the most important in 2019. In a thrilling race where plenty of mistakes and hard moves were seen, it was Jules Cluzel (GMT94 YAMAHA) who delivered the goods to take victory and keep his title hopes alive, whilst for a second round on the trot, there were no BARDAHL Evan Bros. WorldSSP Team Yamaha riders on the podium.
Down into the first turn for the first time of asking and it was pole-sitter Corentin Perolari (GMT94 YAMAHA) who had the advantage, whilst Team Pedercini Racing Kawasaki duo Kyle Smith and Ayrton Badovini collided, sending the Italian down to seventh. Jules Cluzel was up to second place whilst Lucas Mahias (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing) was in third. Federico Caricasulo (BARDAHL Evan Bros. WorldSSP Team) had got the better of his teammate Randy Krummenacher, with the two title contenders fifth and sixth respectively.
The opening laps were crucial for the leading group, with Jules Cluzel hitting the front ahead of teammate Perolari before drilling in three brand new lap records, pulling clear of his teammate. Further back, Caricasulo was making headway and got ahead of Kyle Smith, before pinching third place a lap later from Corentin Perolari – the Frenchman fading, having lost second position to Lucas Mahias.
Randy Krummenacher made his first move on Lap 6, capitalising on the slipstream down the back straight and pushing Kyle Smith wide at Turn 8. Isaac Viñales (Kallio Racing) followed the Swiss rider through and took sixth. However, at the front, Cluzel was streaking clear and eight laps in, was nearly three seconds ahead of the big battle for second, which now had five riders closely matched. Caricasulo made his way into second place at Turn 10, pushing ahead of Lucas Mahias. From eighth to second, the Italian was flying.
Cluzel was still out front and lapping consistently, seeking to keep his championship hopes alive. However, having set the fastest lap, Lucas Mahias was not done for and attempted an ambitious pass at Turn 8 to get ahead of Caricasulo, only for Caricasulo to fight back. The two swapping paint brought Krummenacher into play.
Mistakes were soon occurring in the race, as Isaac Viñales almost wiped out Randy Krummenacher at Turn 1. Then, at Turn 10, Corentin Perolari got it all wrong and narrowly avoided taking down Caricasulo and Mahias. Half a lap later, Caricasulo himself got himself in a pickle at Turn 1, running wide and losing places to Mahias and teammate Krummenacher.
Krummenacher was now in third, whilst Perolari was fourth ahead of Caricasulo. The leading positions had swapped frantically, with Caricasulo now the rider who was needing to push hard. Amidst all the mistakes and changes, Raffaele De Rosa was up to seventh and the faster than those ahead of him.
Three laps remained and Corentin Perolari bundled down the inside of Randy Krummenacher at Turn 1 and took the pair wide, allowing Isaac Viñales to burst through and putting Krummenacher just one place ahead of his teammate and title rival. However, it would be fireworks a lap later at Turn 7, as Caricasulo clashed with Krummenacher and pushed his way through. De Rosa followed ahead and now, Krummenacher found himself back in seventh.
The final lap was now upon the field, with Cluzel and Mahias way out front and rooted to their positions. However, Caricasulo went ahead of Perolari for fourth, but ran wide, allowing the pole-sitter to come back ahead. Krummenacher was out of the fight and down in seventh, so Caricasulo knew he needed to take advantage.
Cluzel stormed to victory ahead of Mahias, whilst Isaac Viñales held on to third. In the battle for fourth, Perolari held off Caricasulo, whilst De Rosa and Krummenacher were in behind – Caricasulo making up two points in the Championship standings on his teammate. Thomas Gradinger (Kallio Racing) was up to eighth after a lonely race, whilst Kyle Smith and Ayrton Badovini completed the top ten.
The Championship race now goes to Qatar and the Losail International Circuit, with Krummenacher, Caricasulo and Cluzel ready to fight it out for the title.
The post #ARGWorldSBK – Day 3 roundup: World Superbike, World Supersport appeared first on MotoGP Brits.
The Circuito de Albacete today was the scene of the seventh round of the FIM CEV Repsol season, with Edgar Pons (Baiko Racing Team) claiming the Moto2 European Championship title and Jeremy Alcoba (Laglisse Academy) getting within a whisker of the FIM Moto3 Junior World Championship title. Moto3 leader Alcoba took a crucial victory while in Moto2 Pons won the first race of the day and Héctor Garzó the second. In the European Talent Cup, José Antonio Rueda (Junior Team Estrella Galicia 0.0) earned his first victory of the season and was joined on the podium by his two teammates.
FIM Moto3 JWCh leader Jeremy Alcoba took his second victory of the season in a hotly disputed race. The Laglisse Academy rider had his first shot at the title and initially led the race closely trailed by a large group which included Barry Baltus (Ángel Nieto Junior Team), Carlos Tatay (Fundación Andreas Pérez 77), Ryusei Yamanaka (Junior Team Estrella Galicia 0.0), Deniz Öncü (KTM Red Bull Ajo) and Daniel Holgado (Junior Team Estrella Galicia 0.0), among others. Carlos Tatay, Jeremy Alcoba and Ryusei Yamanaka took turns at the head of the race. Behind, Xavier Artigas (Leopard Impala Junior) made a superb comeback, starting off second to last and somehow getting in touch with the chasing group.
On the last lap, Carlos Tatay overshot trying to take the lead from Jeremy Alcoba; in doing so he put himself out of the running and left Daniel Holgado to finish second ahead of Barry Baltus. However, Carlos Tatay was finally judged third after a one-position penalty against Barry Baltus. Ryusei Yamanaka came in fifth and Xavier Artigas sixth, followed by Deniz Öncü. Jeremy Alcoba will go to the final round of the season in Valencia 46 points ahead of Carlos Tatay with 50 points at stake; in other words, 5 points is all he needs to take the title. The race winner was awarded the Repsol free fuel cheque.
Edgar Pons took advantage of his first opportunity and lifted the Moto2 European Championship title in the first race of the day – and he did it like a champion, winning from pole position. The Baiko Racing Team rider headed the race from the off followed by Héctor Garzó, Marcel Brenner (Kiefer Racing) and Anupab Sarmoon (VR46 Master Camp), who all took advantage of a good start to place themselves at the head of the race. Gradually Edgar Pons and Héctor Garzó pulled clear together while behind Yari Montella (Team Ciatti-Speed Up) went down taking with him a frustrated Marcel Brenner. Miquel Pons (H43 Nobby Talasur Blumaq) started out ninth but reached the chasing group formed by Alessandro Zaccone (Promoracing), Tommaso Marcon (Team Ciatti-Speed Up) and Anupab Sarmoon. He passed them one by one to cross the finish line in third position and join Edgar Pons and Héctor Garzó on the podium. In Superstock 600, Joan Díaz (DCR Racing Team) took the victory in the category. Héctor Garzó won the Repsol free fuel cheque.
In the second Moto2 European Champions race of the day Héctor Garzó earned his second victory of the season in a race reduced to 10 laps after it was stopped by a red flag for the fall of Ramdan Rosli (Onexox TKKR SAG) and Matthias Meggle (Dynavolt Intact SIC). For the restart, the new grid was based on the positions at the red flag, with Héctor Garzó as poleman followed by Edgar Pons and Alessandro Zaccone. Garzó led from the start and gradually pulled away from Zaccone. Behind, Miquel Pons ended up being passed by Yari Montella. On the last lap, the new champion of the category went down so in the end it was Alessandro Zaconne and Tommaso Marcon who took the podium with race winner Héctor Garzó, who received the Repsol free fuel cheque and the runner-up slot in the final championship standings. In Superstock 600 Peetu Paavilainen (Redding-Pinamoto RS) was the best finisher.
In the ETC, Junior Team Estrella Galicia 0.0 teammates José Antonio Rueda, Diogo Moreira and Adrián Cruces took the podium together after a race which was interrupted on the first lap by a multiple fall. In the new race, set at 12 laps, José Antonio Rueda and Diogo Moreira placed themselves in front of poleman Izan Guevara, who was riding injured after suffering a fall in the qualifying session on Saturday. The new champion began to fall back while Fermín Aldeguer (Bester Capital Dubai), despite also riding with an injury, moved up to the Junior Team Estrella Galicia 0.0 riders. Behind, Daijiro Sako (Cuna de Campeones) reeled in the chasing group which included Adrián Cruces (Junior Team Estrella Galicia 0.0) – and it was Cruces who ended up taking third place after Fermín Aldeguer and Daijiro Sako were penalised. The winner of the race, José Antonio Rueda, taking his first win of the season, received the Repsol free fuel cheque. Second place went to Diogo Moreira. Finally, the injured Izan Guevara, champion and winner of six races this year, crossed the finish line in ninth position.
The eighth and final round of the FIM CEV Repsol season will take place at the Ricardo Tormo Circuit in Valencia on November 10.
The opening race of the Motul Argentinean Round at the Circuito San Juan Villicum would see a frantic race for WorldSBK’s second visit to South America. It was a thrilling duel at the front between four race winners in 2019, with an enthralling battle making it one not to miss. Coming out on top and returning to the forefront of the battle for wins, Alvaro Bautista (ARUBA.IT Racing – Ducati) stormed to success in San Juan.
With the race getting underway, it was Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) who got the launch and barged his way ahead of Alvaro Bautista at Turn 1, but Michael van der Mark (Pata Yamaha WorldSBK Team) capitalised on the two ahead of him nearly colliding to take the lead. Toprak Razgatlioglu (Turkish Puccetti Racing) was right in contention and nearly clashed with 2020 teammate van der Mark. Alex Lowes (Pata Yamaha WorldSBK Team) was a strong fifth place whilst Tom Sykes (BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team) had risen to sixth early on.
The race settled down, and the leading four began to battle with each other. Bautista set a strong pace out front, but Jonathan Rea’s relentless pace meant that a battle soon ensued out front. Swapping and changing between the top two in the Championship. A pattern began to form, with Bautista’s Ducati strong in a straight line but Rea’s Kawasaki able to be all over the Spaniard in the corners. Waiting to pick up the pieces were Razgatlioglu and van der Mark, whilst Leon Haslam (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) began to pick his way through the field.
With 16 laps left to complete, Michael van der Marks started to drop back from the leading three, as the pace increased. Bautista began to slam in fastest lap after fastest lap and two laps later, Razgatlioglu was the next to be jettisoned from the leading group. Jonathan Rea valiantly remained with the Spaniard, getting ahead briefly at Turn 6, only for Ducati power to prevail. Rea would stay on the back of Bautista for a few lap laps, but the five-time Champion couldn’t live with the pace of Bautista.
Meanwhile, Tom Sykes had dropped back, as had eighth-place starter Alessandro Delbianco (Althea Mie Racing Team), down in tenth and battling hard with home-favourite, Leandro Mercado (Orelac Racing VerdNatura), both having superb races inside the top ten. Behind them, Michael Ruben Rinaldi (BARNI Racing Team) had suffered badly and pulled into the pits, although he returned to the track later on.
Further ahead of the battle for the lower positions in the top ten, Alex Lowes was being reeled in by Leon Haslam. The battle between the two was now turning from contract signatures to on-track positions, although the ‘Pocket Rocket’ looked like he would have more pace than Lowes in the closing stages. However, it wouldn’t be the case and Lowes would eventually hold on to fifth position.
With Bautista clearing off at the front, the battle for second ignited, as Razgatlioglu closed in on Jonathan Rea. The Northern Irishman was making mistakes, particularly at Turn 6, allowing the Turkish star to get on terms. But neither would be able to challenge an incredible Bautista, who returned to winning ways after taking a round off at Magny-Cours. Jonathan Rea took second and resisted Razgatlioglu’s onslaught. The Turk wrapped up the accolade of Best Independent Rider in 2019. Fourth went to a determined Michael van der Mark whilst teammate Alex Lowes completed the top five.
Sixth position was Leon Haslam, who faded in the closing laps, whilst Tom Sykes was seventh and top BMW. Eighth place went to Jordi Torres (Team Pedercini Racing), as the second Independent rider home. Leandro Mercado made it to ninth position to the delight of the home crowd, making up for missing FP3 and the Tissot Superpole session. It was a second top ten of the season for a sensational Alessandro Delbianco, with the Honda rider making it all five manufacturers inside the top ten.
Before the race began, there was a division about riders racing due to the dusty track conditions. The following riders elected not to race, meaning 12 riders took to the track for Race 1: Chaz Davies (ARUBA.IT Racing – Ducati), Sandro Cortese (GRT Yamaha WorldSBK), Marco Melandri (GRT Yamaha WorldSBK), Leon Camier (Moriwaki Althea Honda Team), Ryuichi Kiyonari (Moriwaki Althea Honda Team) and Eugene Laverty (Team Goeleven).
The World Supersport grid took to the San Juan circuit for their Tissot Superpole session in Argentina, more important than ever before at it is match-point for the title this weekend. As the track temperature increased, it became increasingly harder to set a competitive lap time. However, remaining in fine form from topping FP2 on Friday, Corentin Perolari (GMT94 YAMAHA) mastered the hot conditions and the heated battle for pole, taking his first ever World Supersport pole.
The 25-minute session got underway in a bad way for Loris Cresson (Kallio Racing), as the Belgian rider crashed at Turn 1, meaning he had a mountain to climb. It was looking like it would also be a tricky weekend for the BARDAHL Evan Bros. WorldSSP Team duo of Randy Krummenacher and Federico Caricasulo, as the top two in the Championship were languishing outside the top five.
Unlike in the WorldSBK, lap times came on stronger throughout the session and with just three minutes to go, it was looking like a French 1-2-3 on the grid for Sunday’s race. However, it would all be spoilt as the times tumbled in the closing stages, with a variety of riders firing shots at the front row.
In the end however, it was Corentin Perolari who remained at the top of the timesheets and took a career-first pole position in World Supersport. The young Frenchman – who is the seventh youngest WorldSSP pole-sitter in the class’ history – had never achieved a front row until now, proved that his Friday pace was no fluke and he took the pole position by just under a tenth of a second from Italian sensation, Ayrton Badovini (Team Pedercini Racing). The veteran was back on the front row for a second successive round. Completing the front row and eager to keep his title aspirations alive, Jules Cluzel (GMT94 YAMAHA) will be eager to capitalise on his front row advantage.
Heading up the second row, Magny-Cours pole-sitter Kyle Smith (Team Pedercini Racing) made it two Kawasaki’s in the top four. The British rider, who was a constant front row threat, is seeking a first podium of the year in WorldSSP. Fifth place belonged to another Kawasaki rider, as 2017 World Supersport Champion Lucas Mahias secured a second row start, making it three French riders in the top five. Championship leader Randy Krummenacher will start this title quest from sixth place, as he is off the front row for a second round in succession.
Row three features more big names, with Isaac Viñales (Kallio Racing) looking for a second consecutive podium in World Supersport from seventh on the grid. He was able to pip Federico Caricasulo, as the rider second in the standings was only able to finish eighth. One place behind, it was a career-best starting position for Christian Stange (GEMAR Ciociaria Corse WorldSSP Team), who was top Honda. Completing the top ten was Hungary’s Peter Sebestyen (CIA Landlord Insurance Honda).
There’s plenty of work to be completed for plenty of riders outside the top ten, as Hikari Okubo (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing) was 11th, ahead of Raffaele De Rosa (MV AGUSTA Reparto Corse) in 12th and Thomas Gradinger (Kallio Racing) in 13th.
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The FIM CEV Repsol 2019 season is on its last lap. This Sunday in Albacete the penultimate round of the season (the final round is in Valencia in November) is taking place – and the title of both the FIM Moto3 Junior World Championship and the Moto2 European Championship are up for grabs. Jeremy Alcoba (Laglisse Academy) and Edgar Pons (Baiko Racing Team) will both have their first shot at the title from pole positions in their respective categories, while champion Izan Guevara (Cuna de Campeones) will head the European Talent Cup starting grid.
In the FIM Moto3 JWCh, leader Jeremy Alcoba’s Q1 time of 1:34.156 earned him his third pole of the season, beating Deniz Öncü (Red Bull KTM Ajo) by just 0.049 and Barry Baltus (Ángel Nieto Junior Team) by 0.160. These three form the front row of the grid. Carlos Tatay (Fundación Andreas Pérez 77), who arrived in Albacete after achieving a double in Jerez and holding second place in the classification, will head the second line of the starting grid alongside Ryusei Yamanaka (Junior Team Estrella Galicia 0.0) and Davide Pizzoli (Leopard Impala Junior Team). Poleman Jeremy Alcoba has his first opportunity to become champion.
The Moto2 ECh qualifying session was just as close. Edgar Pons took his fifth pole of the season out of six, posting a best time of 1:32.074 set in the morning session. Once again Héctor Garzó (CNS Motorsport) is the Baiko Racing Team rider’s main rival after finishing only 0.035 behind the leader in the absence of Niki Rikhard Tuuli (Team Stylobike). Alongside on the grid will be Yari Montella (Team Ciatti-Speed Up), and the second row will be made up by Alessandro Zaccone (Promoracing), Tommaso Marcon (Team Ciatti-Speed Up) and Marcel Brenner (Kiefer Racing), all of whom classified within 0.10 of the poleman. Edgar Pons will have his first shot at the title in the first of the two Moto2 races in Albacete. Joan Díaz (DCR Racing Team) was the fastest in the Superstock 600 category.
In the ETC, although already crowned champion in the last FIM CEV Repsol round at the Circuito de Jerez Ángel Nieto, Izan Guevara kept the pressure on and will head the starting grid for the fourth time this season. The Cuna de Campeones rider took the pole in a time of 1:36.764, achieved in Q1 of Group A, while Diogo Moreira (Talent Team Estrella Galicia 0.0) will be second as the fastest in Group B. Daijiro Sako (Cuna de Campeones) closes out the front row as the second fastest of the two groups.
The schedule for next Sunday’s races is as follows:
Moto2 Race 1 (20 laps) 11.00
ETC (18 laps) 12.00
Moto3 (19 laps) 13.00
Moto2 Race 2 (20 laps) 14.00
ETC Series 2 (18 laps) 15.00
Cuna de Campeones (11 laps) 16.00
Dani Rivas Cup (8 laps) 16.50
As usual, the entrance to the paddock will be free over the weekend. In addition, FIM CEV Repsol fans who go to the main access to the paddock of the Circuito de Albacete after 9.00 on Sunday morning can take part in the Pit Lane Walk. Only firstcomers will get a pass for the Pit Lane Walk with a maximum of two passes per person. The Pit Lane Walk will take place at 10.15 am and start from the control tower.
Television networks and new media platforms in Europe and many countries are showing increasing interest in live broadcasts or on-demand videos of FIM CEV Repsol events. In Spain, DAZN will include the FIM Moto3 JWCh, Moto2 ECh and ETC in its programming, showing each of the scheduled races – as will BT Sports in both in the United Kingdom and Ireland, with live broadcasts of all races in each category. Also new is that Canal Plus in France will broadcast all the races live on Canal+ Sport. In Italy, Sky will broadcast live the FIM Moto3 JWCh and Moto2 ECh races.
In Belgium, GP Inside will offer live broadcasts of all the Championship races. Through Eurosportplayer (Holland and Romania) Eurosport will also offer live coverage of the FIM Moto3 JWCh and Moto2 ECh and ETC. In Portugal, Sport TV consolidates its commitment to motorcycling with live or recorded broadcasts of all the races scheduled throughout the season. Hungarian fans will be able to follow the young hopefuls of the European Talent Cup thanks to the recorded broadcast of ETC races by the Spiler TV channel.
By means of its digital platform the Motorsport group will broadcast live all the FIM Moto3 JWCh, Moto2 ECh and ETC races, with worldwide coverage except in the United Kingdom, Spain and Italy which will offer the same content through other media partners. The Edgesport Channel will show live all the FIM Moto3 JWCh, Moto2 ECh and ETC races, which will be available 24/7 on various platforms with coverage in Abu Dhabi, Belgium, Cambodia , China, Hong Kong, India, Mongolia, Myanmar, Netherlands, Papua New Guinea, Pacific Islands, Slovakia, Czech Republic, Solomon Islands, Thailand and Vietnam.
In addition, in those countries without television coverage, all races will be broadcast live on the championship’s YouTube channel.
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Dorna Sports has announced that MotoGP will be returning to Brazil from 2022, with a five-year contract with Rio Motorsports (RMS) securing the sport’s return to Rio de Janeiro until 2026. The all-new Rio Motorpark, set for construction in Deodoro, will host the Grand Prix, which is back in Rio after 15 years.
Brazil, and Rio de Janeiro, have already staged some incredible chapters in the history of the sport, most recently in 2004 at Jacarepaguá, which had hosted MotoGP since 1995. The development of a new venue to replace Jacarepaguá, which was repurposed as an Olympic Park, makes for an exciting prospect for both the sport and the city.
Rio Motorpark is forecast for completion in 2021 and features a 4.5km layout of seven left- and six right-handed corners, with an approximate MotoGP laptime of 1 minute 38 seconds.
Marcelo Crivella, Mayor of Rio de Janeiro:
“The news that we already have a first competition for Rio’s new racetrack, MotoGP, confirmed for 2022, represents a great advance for our city. The construction of the Deodoro racetrack is a spectacular project, with an extraordinary investment that will generate 7,000 jobs and make Rio regain the leading role in major competitions. We will take development to a region of the city with many needs, which is the West Zone, and stimulate tourism. All this without the City putting a penny into the project, since the whole investment will be the responsibility of the concessionaire.”
JR Pereira, CEO of Rio Motorsports:
“Dorna was an extremely loyal partner in every conversation we had. Now that we have completed the local environmental impact studies and the commission that will look into the matter is in place, following the regulatory policies of INEA (Rio de Janeiro State Environment Agency), it has been possible to formalize an agreement that has been built for over two years. We are very grateful to Carmelo and his team that we can realize the dream of bringing MotoGP back to Rio.”
Carmelo Ezpeleta, CEO of Dorna Sports:
“I’m very proud to announce that MotoGP will be returning to race in Rio de Janeiro, one of the world’s truly iconic cities and in such an amazing country. Brazil is an important market for motorcycles, motorcycle racing and motorsport, with a history to be proud of – and a future that I’m excited to see MotoGP play such a vital part as we return in 2022.”
Jake Dixon will join PETRONAS Sprinta Racing for the 2020 Moto2 World Championship, lining-up as part of the newly-expanded two-rider team alongside Xavi Vierge as the team enters its third season in Grand Prix racing’s middleweight class.
23-year old Dixon, from Kent in England, joined the Moto2 class this season fresh from finishing runner-up in the 2018 British Superbike championship. He is expected to take to the PETRONAS Sprinta Racing Kalex for the first time at an end-of-year test in November at Jerez, after the conclusion of the 2019 season.
The 2020 Moto2 season is scheduled to begin in March next year, with the opening round at the Qatar Grand Prix taking place on March 8th.
“I’m super excited to be joining PETRONAS Sprinta Racing and I can’t wait to jump on the bike. It’s clearly a great team – you only have to look at the success they’re having this year in MotoGP and Moto3 to see that. It’s a massive opportunity for me, and I’m definitely going to be giving it my all to do my very best. 2019 hasn’t been the easiest of years for me, but I’ve learned a lot and it gives me a good base for 2020. The Kalex is a well-proven bike, and it’ll be nice to jump onto one of them too. I don’t know what the targets will be until I try out the bike, and I’ll start the season just taking it race by race. I’ll know what’s possible after testing, but now that I’ve got an amazing team behind me I want to be fighting for podiums by the end of the season.”
Razlan Razali – Team Principal
“Jake Dixon is a highly rated fine addition to the PETRONAS Sprinta Racing team and we’re expecting good things from him and Xavi Vierge in Moto2 next season. The British Superbike Championship is extremely competitive, so for him to win races in his first full season and finish second the following year there shows his potential. We’ve been taken by Jake’s talent and application in his first year of Moto2. Jake represents the final piece in the puzzle for our 2020 rider line-up across MotoGP, Moto3 and Moto2 and we’re all excited to have two bikes in Moto2 for the first time in 2020.”
Johan Stigefelt – Team Director
“It’s going to be an interesting season with Jake because we know that he’s got quality and talent. It’s his first year in Moto2 and he’s still learning a new bike and many new tracks, but when you look at his record from the past in British Superbikes he’s very fast. We’ve been following him for a while and we think he’ll be a really good option for our team, especially alongside Xavi; it’ll be a very strong line-up. For sure, Jake needs to find some improvement for next year, but we’ll set up a good team around him and start testing before 2019 even ends to help him to learn and improve. He’s still got a long way to go but we believe that with us, he can develop himself and the team to another level.”
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After a ferocious debut in South America last season in Argentina, the 2019 MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship goes back for more as the Circuito San Juan Villicum awaits. The tight and technical layout offers close racing for the huge Argentine audience, whilst also bringing exciting action. As Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) is already crowned champion and Alvaro Bautista (ARUBA.IT Racing – Ducati) is secure in second, the fierce battle is over third.
Jonathan Rea stormed to a double in Argentina last year, becoming the first WorldSBK rider to win on the continent of South America. Just finishing Race 1 in the points will put Rea equal to Sylvain Guintoli’s record number of consecutive point-scoring finishes, at 43. He is also looking to win more races, to cement his position as the best WorldSBK rider ever. The 32-year-old Northern Irishman has been in rampant form and could be set to break more records in 2019.
The ARUBA.IT Racing – Ducati outfit suffered much ill-fortune at Magny-Cours and saw the final chances of winning a riders’ title slip away when Alvaro Bautista crashed with Razgatlioglu. However, pride and honour are at stake and the Italian team returns to Argentina and a track that saw them take the first ever pole position in Argentina last season. Chaz Davies was denied a podium there in 2018 and will be eager to return to the rostrum in 2019 for the first time since Race 1 in Portugal. For Bautista, he’s never been to the San Juan venue.
Momentum and confidence are firmly with Toprak Razgatliolgu (Turkish Puccetti Racing), who romped to two wins at Magny-Cours to bring Turkey to the top of the WorldSBK field. He was on the podium at Circuito San Juan Villicum last year too, something he will now seek to better. With a new contract in his pocket and the switch to the Pata Yamaha WorldSBK Team confirmed, Razgatlioglu’s confidence is sky-high and the 22-year-old could be the man to beat. Add in the determination to finish third in the championship, Toprak could be on top. Again.
The battle for third is hotly contested between six WorldSBK race winners, and leading the scrap is Alex Lowes (Pata Yamaha WorldSBK Team). Lowes, who leaves the team at the conclusion of 2019, will want to prove his worth and value by securing third in the world, although teammate Michael van der Mark seeks to pinch that position away from him. Both Yamaha riders struggled in Argentina last season, with Lowes bringing home the only top six in Race 2. In 2019 however, the Yamaha has been competitive at almost every track and with just five points separating the pair, it could be an explosive round for their rivalry.
Whilst still in with a mathematic chance of third overall, Leon Haslam (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) couldn’t have suffered a difficult round in France at a worst time. Haslam has never raced at San Juan either, meaning that his hopes for third could mathematically be over as he learns the track, whilst everyone else picks up from where they left off in 2018. However, he has got a 16-point advantage over Chaz Davies. He in-turn is 14 points clear of Tom Sykes (BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team) – neither of which achieved a podium at the circuit last year.
A pole position and double podium for Marco Melandri (GRT Yamaha WorldSBK) last year in Argentina proves that he could be a star of the show in South America. Entering his own penultimate tango, Melandri will look to waltz up the order and dance to the podium once more, but there’s plenty of other Independent riders who will look to be the obstacle in that process. Loris Baz (Ten Kate Racing – Yamaha) is in good form, as is Leon Camier (Moriwaki Althea Honda Team) who will look to consolidate his top ten pace from France. Eager to be back in the top ten is Eugene Laverty (Team Goeleven), who achieved his first top ten since returning from injury in Race 1 at Magny-Cours in ninth.
Argentina’s home-hero is Leandro Mercado (Orelac Racing VerdNatura), who was cruelly denied a top ten last season after a stone went through his radiator in Race 1. This time, he will be chasing his fifth top-ten of the season, where his best result has been sixth in the torrential rain of Donington Park.
There’s a whole host of riders who are making their debuts in Argentina that have not been mentioned, starting with Michael Ruben Rinaldi (BARNI Racing Team), who secured a career-best Superpole result of fourth last time out. Ryuichi Kiyonari (Moriwaki Althea Honda Team) has never raced in Argentina at any circuit, so the whole experience will be new for him. Markus Reiterberger (BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team), who is fighting for a place on the 2020 gird, is also making his first appearance at San Juan, along with WorldSBK rookie, Alessandro Delbianco (Althea Mie Racing Team).
The 2019 FIM Supersport World Championship has already seen twists and turns at every opportunity. The Motul Argentinean Round hosts the penultimate round of the season, and the World Supersport title contenders look set to sparkle in South America. Mathematically, the championship can be decided this weekend; if Randy Krummenacher (BARDAHL Evan Bros. WorldSSP Team) scores 16 points more than teammate Federico Caricasulo, he’s done it. Can he do it?
198 points coming into France, and on 198 points heading to Argentina, Randy Krummenacher suffered his first DNF in the WorldSSP category for three years, and it couldn’t have come at a worse time. The Swiss rider may have ended the Pirelli French Round early but, for the time being, he is still in control at the head of the pack. A sixth in Argentina last year was solid, but he will almost certainly need to improve on that this season. Pressure builds, although the ball is still in his court.
On the other side of the garage, teammate Federico Caricasulo will be desperate to make up on his lost opportunity at Magny-Cours, crashing out of the lead when he looked certain to leave France with the championship advantage. Nevertheless, the Italian is still just 10 points behind his teammate, but now has one less race to reduce that gap. Having been on the podium in every race apart from the last one, Caricasulo heads to Argentina and a track that he failed to finish at in 2018…
The final contender for the championship is Jules Cluzel (GMT94 YAMAHA), who, despite not crashing at Magny-Cours, failed to make big gains on the leading duo. A sixth was all the Frenchman had, although he is now 38 points back of the championship lead. Sheer consistency and the occasional win has seen Cluzel remain in the title race but now, he needs some luck. In short, Cluzel must be on the podium at the very least and hope Krummenacher and Caricasulo finish down the order.
Whilst one Frenchman couldn’t achieve home success, another one excelled in front of a huge partisan audience. Lucas Mahias (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing) notched up his first win of the season and Kawasaki’s first since 2017, and heads to the Motul Argentinean Round with great confidence. Two races remain in 2019 and he has a mathematical chance of finishing third, although not in the overall title fight. Still yet to DNF in a race since Misano last year, can Mahias make it back-to-back victories?
Hikari Okubo (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing) is one of just three riders who has finished every race of the 2019 WorldSSP season in the points and, after a fifth at Magny-Cours, he will take his search for a first podium to San Juan. The 26-year-old Japanese rider had good pace in Argentina last season, finishing eighth in the race having started down in 16th. In 2019, he aims to achieve the WorldSSP podium that has eluded him all year; will he end Japan’s 12-year wait for a World Supersport rostrum?
Completing the top six in the championship standings is Raffaele De Rosa (MV AGUSTA Reparto Corse), who leapfrogged Thomas Gradinger (Kallio Racing) in the standings at Magny-Cours. The Italian star has endured misfortune in 2019 and resumes his chase for a first win in WorldSSP. MV Agusta are still eagerly awaiting a first podium since Imola and will hope their barren spell will end in Argentina.
There’s plenty of other names to be enthusiastic about in Argentina, none less than Ayrton Badovini (Team Pedercini Racing), whose welcome return to the podium at Magny-Cours means that he can’t be discounted. Neither can Isaac Viñales (Kallio Racing), after being denied a first win the class at Magny-Cours. However, this will be a new track for the Spaniard. Corentin Perolari (GMT94 YAMAHA) is another one to keep an eye out for, after another top ten last time out.
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Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) was crowned an eight-time World Champion as he took victory in the PTT Thailand Grand Prix, but it was far from easy going as rookie sensation Fabio Quartararo (Petronas Yamaha SRT) once again took the reigning Champion to the wire on race day. The two were locked together on each and every lap, with the final corner deciding it all as Quartararo hit attack mode and dived up the inside, but Marquez kept the better of him. Behind the two, Maverick Viñales (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) completed the podium.
It was Quartararo who kept the lead from pole as the lights went out, with Marquez on his tail from the off as Viñales lost a place off the line. Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team) did the opposite and shot through the pack, up from seventh on the grid to muscle his way into P4 straight away – first mission accomplished. Despite the start though, Marquez, Quartararo and Viñales started to pull away, with the number 12 particularly keen to make a move on Marquez. Not long after, however, the front two also started to drop Viñales.
Trying to attack Quartararo early doors, Marquez had run slightly wide and from then on, the reigning Champion seemed more content to sit behind the rookie Frenchman – just as he did at Misano. Sometimes further away, sometimes a little closer…sometimes seeming to fade and then suddenly pulling the pin to move back in, Marquez stalked his prey lap after lap.
Viñales couldn’t stay with the pair, and as they moved on to the final lap it was set in stone as another rookie-reigning Champion duel. And the ball was in the reigning Champion’s court, with Marquez trailing the Frenchman as he had all race. But he struck early, where he’d feinted the move a few laps before, outbraking Quartararo at the end of the back straight. Now, it was all on the rookie. Could he stay with him? Could he attack back?
Throughout the lap the Yamaha was making up the distance on the Honda in the lead, and blasting down towards the final corner it seemed he was close enough. Sure enough, ‘El Diablo’ pulled out, back wheel in the air as he dropped anchor, slamming it up the inside…but Marquez was ready. The number 93 cut back and gassed it towards the line, just able to stay ahead to take the win and a stunning eighth world title, his sixth in the premier class.
Quartararo, meanwhile, was left with another second place – but he was closer than last time, and will surely be closer again…
Viñales completed the podium after another solid but ultimately lonely race, not quite on terms with the duel ahead but nearly ten seconds clear of Dovizioso in fourth, who found race day tougher going in 2019. Second in the Championship, however, seems ever more likely.
Alex Rins (Team Suzuki Ecstar) recovered from a tougher qualifying and tougher start to the race to complete the top five, just two tenths off Dovi by the flag. Franco Morbidelli (Petronas Yamaha SRT) took P6 and another solid haul of points despite fading a few positions from the start.
Joan Mir (Team Suzuki Ecstar) took on Valentino Rossi (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) and won, four tenths ahead of the veteran by the flag, and both leapfrogged second row starter Danilo Petrucci (Ducati Team). The Mugello winner came home in a lonely P9.
Takaaki Nakagami (Idemitsu Honda Team Asia) was the second Honda home as he completed the top ten, ahead of rookie Francesco Bagnaia (Pramac Racing). Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda Castrol) suffered braking issues and could only manage 12th at Buriram.
Pol Espargaro (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) was able to take P13 as he comes back from injury, impressive once again and going the distance, with Jack Miller (Pramac Racing) taking P14. Why? The Australian unfortunately hit the kill switch on the grid and had to start from pitlane. Considering that, it was quite a comeback, just edging ahead of Andrea Iannone (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini), who in turn beat Miguel Oliveira (Red Bull KTM Tech 3).
And so, that’s a wrap on the 2019 Championship fight, although it’s far from the end of the season. Marquez breaks more records and takes home another trophy, and Quartararo takes home yet more experience to keep improving his already impressive armoury. Next up it’s the Twin Ring Motegi…tune in in two weeks, when Marquez could be unleashed…
Luca Marini (Sky Racing Team VR46) absolutely dominated the PTT Thailand Grand Prix, getting to the front early on and then putting the hammer down to pull well clear of the chasing pack. That chasing pack was headed by an all-KTM duel between Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Ajo) and Iker Lecuona (American Racing KTM), with the South African able to hold off the Spaniard at the final corner. Just behind them, Augusto Fernandez (Flexbox HP 40) came out on top in an almighty scrap with Championship rival Alex Marquez (EG 0,0 Marc VDS).
Marquez took the holeshot from pole, with Tetsuta Nagashima (ONEXOX TKKR SAG Team) keeping second and Marini immediately making his presence felt as he blasted up into the top three. He was soon the man on the chase behind Marquez too, and the gap between the two started to come down as the Italian pulled the pin. With Marini into the lead by Lap 3, he and Marquez were both also easing away from the group behind, but once Lecuona was through into third he was also able to home in.
As that battle got closer and closer to a reality though, Marini got further and further away. And before long, Marquez had a small queue behind him of Lecuona, Binder, and Fernandez. The number 27 attacked and was denied, Binder would look for a way through on his fellow KTM, and Fernandez was right on the back of them – but still Marquez held firm. By Lap 13 though, Lecuona had made his move and made it stick, with Binder then following him through as well.
That created two duels. The all-KTM fight for second, and the brutal bust up for supremacy between the Championship leader and the man who is now once again his closest challenger. In the first, Binder waited it out and it was only over the line for the last lap that the South African led the way, then left to defend his position and everything going down to the final corner. Lecuona pounced, but the Spaniard then had to perform the save of his career to stay on the bike – and Binder was able to cross the line first.
Behind them, it was Fernandez who beat Marquez at Buriram. The battle was brutal, however, with so much on the line – and the number 40 ultimately coming out on top. For the Championship, he needed to – and he even almost got on terms with Lecuona after the KTM rider’s mammoth moment out of the final corner.
After Fernandez’ crash at Aragon, however, taking P5 just behind his compatriot was still enough for Alex Marquez to extend his lead. It’s now 40 points ahead of number 40 Fernandez after a 0 for Jorge Navarro (Beta Tools Speed Up)…and Binder is now third, only 44 points back…
Sixth went the way of Jorge Martin (Red Bull KTM Ajo) as the rookie took his best finish yet and from his first front row, ahead of Tom Lüthi (Dynavolt Intact GP) and Nicolo Bulega (Sky Racing Team VR46). Home hero Somkiat Chantra (Idemitsu Honda Team Asia), meanwhile, took an impressive ninth on home hero – getting the better of Marco Bezzecchi (Red Bull KTM Tech 3) at the final corner, who in turn was only just clear of Enea Bastianini (Italtrans Racing Team).
Remy Gardner (ONEXOX TKKR SAG Team), Andrea Locatelli (Italtrans Racing Team), Marcel Schrötter (Dynavolt Intact GP) back from injury and front row starter Nagashima completed the points, with Navarro in P17.
Was Buriram another pivotal race in the title fight? Marquez left with a bigger lead but he also had some serious rivals. What can the likes of Fernandez and Binder do in Japan? Find out in two weeks at the Twin Ring Motegi.
Albert Arenas (Gaviota Angel Nieto Team) took his first victory of the season in the PTT Thailand Grand Prix, becoming a record-breaking 11th different winner in 2019 after coming out on top in a battle of attrition at Buriram. The Spaniard fought at the front throughout and held off Championship leader Lorenzo Dalla Porta (Leopard Racing) at the final corner, although the Italian’s second place seriously increased his lead in the standings after key rival Aron Canet (Sterilgarda Max Racing Team) suffered a DNF. Alonso Lopez (Estrella Galicia 0,0) completed the podium, taking his first ever rostrum finish.
Marcos Ramirez (Leopard Racing) took the holeshot from second on the grid, the Spaniard getting the jump on polesitter Celestino Vietti (Sky Racing Team VR46) as the Italian lost a few positions off the line. Arenas initially took over in second, although Lopez was threatening behind and Tony Arbolino (VNE Snipers) another to soon make his presence felt. But it remained, of course, a huge freight train at the front.
Lorenzo Dalla Porta and Tatsuki Suzuki (SIC58 Squadra Corse) were making waves at the front of the pack before long too, and the contest was a classic Moto3 squabble of changing positions, swapping paint and slipstreaming. And it seemed that was the challenge for Dalla Porta and closest title rival Canet: navigating calmly through the storm despite so much on the line for both.
Calm, however, it would not prove to be – for Canet, at least. Mid-race, the Spaniard suffered contact in a multi-rider crash instigated by Darryn Binder (CIP – Green Power), down at the final corner along with John McPhee (Petronas Sprinta Racing) and Tatsuki Suzuki (SIC58 Squadra Corse). The South African was given a ride through penalty for the move, but the Championship damage was done for Canet as Dalla Porta was left with an open goal. Would he capitalise?
Heading into the final laps, a smaller group of seven was fighting it out for the podium, with Arbolino out of it and well down the order after suffering a problem and adjusting his glove, Andrea Migno (Mugen Race) skittling Ai Ogura (Honda Team Asia) and Ayumu Sasaki (Petronas Sprinta Racing) sliding out. Bit by bit, however, it became five, as Dalla Porta, Arenas, Lopez, Ramirez and Vietti all vied for victory.
At Buriram, the final corner always creates last minute drama and this last lap was no different. Arenas was ahead into the braking area but Dalla Porta, despite everything on the line, decided to lunge for it – and the Italian made it through. Arenas was ready though, and the Spaniard cut back across to gun it to the line and took the flag a couple of tenths clear; his first win of the year.
Dalla Porta was able to just hold off an awesome performance from Alonso Lopez, with the Championship leader taking a valuable 20 points for second. Lopez’ third, meanwhile, saw him visit the rostrum for the first time in his Grand Prix career, another boost to his impressive form of late.
Ramirez completed the podium after a solid race running at or near the front, just losing out over the last couple of laps – and getting a brief punt at the final corner with a few laps to go, too. Dennis Foggia (Sky Racing Team VR46), who took his first podium in Thailand last year, ultimately just got the better of rookie polesitter teammate Vietti as the two took fifth and sixth respectively, just ahead of Kaito Toba (Honda Team Asia), who was the last man in the front group.
Next up was a best yet for Stefano Nepa (Reale Avintia Arizona 77) by some stretch, the Italian taking an impressive P8 and crossing the line somewhat lonely. Rookie Raul Fernandez (Gaviota Angel Nieto Team) was the next man up the road, a few seconds back, as he took ninth.
Arbolino, after his issue during the race, gritted his teeth to be able to come back from as low as 18th and complete the top ten, with Filip Salač (Redox PrüstelGP) and teammate Jakub Kornfeil taking 11th and 12th, the three all within half a second of Fernandez. Riccardo Rossi (Kömmerling Gresini Moto3), Sergio Garcia (Estrella Galicia 0,0) and Makar Yurchenko (BOE Skull Rider Mugen Race) completed the points.
That’s it from a hot and action-packed PTT Thailand Grand Prix. Next up it’s Motegi – a home track for plenty and another chance for the Championship to take yet another twist…
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