Air Asia Grand Prix of Japan, Motegi: Preview – MotoGP, Moto2, Moto3

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In the final round of the triple-header at the AirAsia Grand Prix of Japan in Motegi, Repsol Honda Team’s Marc Marquez will get another shot at taking the title if he beats Yamaha Factory Racing’s Jorge Lorenzo by more than seven points.

Marquez, who in the previous round was disqualified due to a team error regarding the then-compulsory mid-way bike swap, will be looking to make amends at Honda’s home track. And with the stop-and-go nature of the Motegi circuit, both he and his teammate Dani Pedrosa will be two of the favourites for victory.

Yet Lorenzo will be buoyed by the fact that the championship is once again in his reach, and will no doubt be a force to be reckoned with after his convincing victory in Phillip Island last time out. The Yamaha man knows that nothing but a win will do, making the race with the Repsol Hondas yet another exciting prospect. His teammate Valentino Rossi will be looking to make further strides towards the three at the front, and once again challenge for a podium.

Monster Yamaha Tech3’s Cal Crutchlow, who only narrowly missed out on the podium in Australia to Rossi, will hope to overhaul the Italian this time out, whilst also keeping GO&FUN Honda Gresini’s Alvaro Bautista at bay. Bautista was a podium-sitter in Motegi last year after an entertaining battle with Crutchlow, and will be an outside favourite for yet more success at the track.

LCR Honda MotoGP’s Stefan Bradl, who fractured his right ankle in Malaysia and was unable to race in Australia, will be assessed by track doctors before the race weekend to check if he is fit enough to take part in FP1. Tech3’s Bradley Smith will aim to make further strides towards the front after an impressive outing in Phillip Island, whilst Ducati Team riders Nicky Hayden and Andrea Dovizioso will look to squeeze the most out of their Desmosedicis.

In the CRT class it will be Avintia Blusens’ Hiroshi Aoyama who will aim to put on a show for his home fans on his FTR-Kawasaki. He has been showing some good form recently, and will hope to make it into the top-CRT spot that so far has eluded him. He will however face the stiff challenge from the Power Electronics Aspar riders in the form of Aleix Espargaro and Randy de Puniet, as well as NGM Mobile Forward Racing’s Colin Edwards. There will be one wildcard taking part on a Yamaha M1 in the shape of Katsuyuki Nakasuga with the Yamaha YSP Racing Team.

Due to many riders suffering braking issues in last year’s race due to the hard-braking nature of the track, the technical rules for this weekend have been altered to allow the use of 340mm carbon brake discs – a 20mm increase from the regulation size. Some of the teams, including Ducati, have already carried out tests with the bigger brakes in the Misano test this year.



Tuenti HP40’s Pol Espargaro has the opportunity to win the Moto2™ World Championship this weekend at the AirAsia Grand Prix of Japan in Motegi, if he comes away with a 25-point lead over his closest challenger Scott Redding.

Marc VDS Racing Team’s Redding looks set to miss the race due to a fractured left wrist sustained in qualifying for the Australian GP, and unfortunately won’t be able to fight it out with Espargaro on track. The Spaniard’s teammate however, in the form of Esteve Rabat, may be able to challenge, despite not having a great race in Phillip Island last time out.

Interwetten-Paddock’s Tom Luthi and Mapfre Aspar Team Moto2’s Jordi Torres both made it onto the podium in the previous round and will be ones to watch, whilst Marc VDS’ Mika Kallio will have recovered further from his crash over the weekend to be a podium contender once more. Technomag carXpert’s Dominique Aegerter is proving a continual threat, whilst local boy Takaaki Nakagami, with the Italtrans Racing Team, will be hoping for a much-improved weekend over last.

Other local riders will include wildcard Kohta Nozane with the Webike Team Norick NTS outfit, and Tetsuta Nagashima as a substitute for Mike di Meglio in the JiR Moto2 team. There will be one other wildcard taking part in the form of Thailand’s Decha Kraisart with the Singha Eneos Yamaha Tech3 team.



With the Moto3™ grid tightly poised at the top of the championship table, the AirAsia Grand Prix of Japan in Motegi this weekend is a mouth-watering prospect.

Red Bull KTM Ajo’s championship leader Luis Salom now only holds a five-point advantage over Estrella Galicia 0,0’s Alex Rins, with 50 still on offer in the final two rounds. Rins came out victorious on the last occasion in Phillip Island, and will be hoping for a repeat in Motegi to overtake his compatriot ahead of the final race of the season.

Yet Team Calvo’s Maverick Viñales is also still in contention, despite having a slightly tougher task at hand with a 22-point deficit to Salom. He has however shown that he can scrap it out with the top two, after coming second to Rins in Australia by a mere 0.003 seconds.

And with Mahindra Racing’s Efren Vazquez and Miguel Oliveira, GO&FUN Gresini’s Niccolo Antonelli, as well as Caretta Technology – RTG’s Jack Miller looking strong, the podium could go many ways. Two Japanese wildcards will join the field in the form of Team Plus One’s Sena Yamada and Team Honda Asia’s Hiroki Ono.