The infamous Twin Ring Motegi circuit was added to the World Championship calendar in 1999, and has hosted a round every year since. This weekend marks the 21st #JapaneseGP.
The most successful manufacturer at the Twin Ring Motegi is Japan’s own giant, Honda, with 8 wins since the beginning of the MotoGP class in 2002. Most recently Marquez triumphed in a historic duel with Dovizioso in 2018. Ducati have taken 5 wins in Honda’s backyard, most recently in 2017, with Dovizioso beating Marquez in a stunning battle. The Marquez/Dovizioso rivalry has grown over the last 3 seasons, giving the fans some amazing battles, and has shown some of the greatest sportsmanship in the history of our sport. Yamaha’s most recent win at Motegi came with Lorenzo, making it 4 wins for the Japanese manufacturer at their home GP.
Since 2002, Suzuki have achieved 2 podiums, most recently in 2018, with Rins finishing 3rd. Aprilia’s best finish came in 2017, when A. Espargaro crossed the line in 7th position. KTM’s best finish came when P. Espargaro crossed the line in 11th in 2017.
Marquez has won at least 9 Grand prix per season in 5 different seasons of his career so far, equalling the record of Giacomo Agostini. The only rider who has bettered this record is Rossi, who holds at least 9 Grand Prix wins per season over 8 years in his career.
Quartararo’s 2nd place finish at the #ThaiGP was his 5th podium finish in his rookie year. Since the beginning of the MotoGP class in 2002, only 3 rookies have bettered this record, Marquez achieved 16 podium finishes in his rookie year, on his way to becoming 2013 World Champion. Pedrosa scored 8 podium finishes in 2006, whilst Lorenzo boasts 6 podium finishes in his rookie year, 2008. These 3 riders all made the step to the premier class aboard factory option motorbikes.
Our 2019 MotoGP World Champion was crowned last weekend, as Marquez celebrated his 8th World Championship victory. However, the race to Rookie of the Year is still on. Quartararo leads the standings with 143 points. Mir is his closest competitor with 58 points. Bagnaia has scored 34 points, and Oliveira has scored 29 points. Quartararo is currently 85 points clear of Mir, however he must leave the #JapaneseGP at least 75 points clear to be crowned Rookie of the Year.
LCR Honda’s Nakagami will undergo surgery for pain in right shoulder, which is the result of a crash at the #DutchGP, involving Rossi. Nakagami will miss the final 3 races of the season, after competing in his home GP, as MotoGP’s sole Japanese rider. Zarco has been called up to the LCR Honda IDEMITSU team to replace Nakagami for the remainder of the season. Whilst this is a controversial move by Honda, with many fans sharing this opinion, it could be a positive move for Zarco.
Can Quartararo grab the ROTY crown this weekend, and take his maiden MotoGP win? Will Marquez remain victorious in Honda’s backyard? Can Suzuki challenge the frontrunners and throw a cat amongst the pigeons? Or will Ducati spoil the party in Japan?