MOTEGI: Ducati’s Andrea Dovizioso stunned world champion Marc Marquez to win a pulsating Japanese Grand Prix and blow the MotoGP title race wide open on Sunday.
The Italian pipped Marquez’s Honda on the final lap after a classic dogfight in the wet at Motegi to cut the Spaniard’s championship lead to 11 points with three races left this season.
Dovizioso made a blistering start from ninth on the grid as he joined Marquez in chasing down early leader Danilo Petrucci.
The title rivals blew past Petrucci’s Ducati midway through the race and went toe to toe in a dramatic game of cat and mouse.
Dovizioso twice roared past Marquez and twice Marquez produced daring overtaking moves to recapture the lead, the triple world champion entering the penultimate lap ahead.
But just when it looked as though Marquez would hang on for this third successive victory, Dovizioso flashed past him on the final lap to snatch a breathtaking win and trigger wild celebrations in the Ducati garage.
“I knew I had a last chance at the back straight, turn 11 but he was pushing and the tyres were finished,” said Dovizioso.
“I did a perfect corner at turn 10 and he made a mistake so I was able to catch him.”
Marquez, who is chasing a fourth world title in five years, paid tribute to the winner.
“It was amazing today,” said the Spaniard. “The two guys that are fighting for the championship fighting until the last corner.”
“On the last lap I saw there was a small advantage but I did a few mistakes,” he added.
“I knew the Ducati was faster on the back straight, even in the braking point. At this circuit I knew he would be very, very strong.”
Petrucci finished third, ahead of Suzuki’s Andrea Iannone and Alex Rins with former champion Jorge Lorenzo’s Ducati sixth and Aleix Espargaro seventh on his Aprilia.
French rookie Johann Zarco finished back in eighth for Yamaha after a dismal start from pole, while Maverick Vinales saw his fading title hopes suffer a further blow after finishing ninth.
Seven-time champion Valentino Rossi, who is continuing his return from a double leg fracture, dumped his Yamaha in the gravel early in the race, ending his involvement. -AFP
Leading results from the Japanese Grand Prix at Motegi on Sunday:
MotoGP (24 laps)
1. Andrea Dovizioso (ITA/Ducati) 47 minutes, 14.236 seconds
2. Marc Marquez (ESP/Honda) at 0.249,
3. Danilo Petrucci (ITA/Ducati) 10.557,
4. Andrea Iannone (ITA/Suzuki) 18.845,
5. Alex Rins (ESP/Suzuki) 22.982,
6. Jorge Lorenzo (ESP/Ducati) 24.464,
7. Aleix Espargaro (ESP/Aprilia) 28.010,
8. Johann Zarco (FRA/Yamaha) 29.475,
9. Maverick Vinales (ESP/Yamaha) 36.575,
10. Loris Bas (FRA/Ducati) 48.506
Moto2 (15 laps)
1. Alex Marquez (ESP/Kalex) 32:08.901,
2. Xavi Vierge (ESP/Tech3) at 1.465,
3. Hafizh Syahrin (MAL/Kalex) 3.134,
4. Francesco Bagnaia (ITA/Kalex) 5.415,
5. Mattia Pasini (ITA/Kalex) 5.618,
6. Takaaki Nakagami (JPN/Kalex) 6.163,
7. Miguel Oliveira (POR/KTM) 7.597,
8. Franco Morbidelli (ITA/Kalex) 11.400,
9. Dominique Aegerter (SUI/Suter) 11.572,
10. Lorenzo Baldassarri (ITA/Kalex) 14.310
Moto3 (13 laps)
1. Romano Fenati (ITA/Honda) 29:22.278,
2. Niccolo Antonelli (ITA/KTM) at 4.146,
3. Marco Bezzechi (ITA/Mahindra) 5.013,
4. Tatsuki Suzuki (JPN/Honda) 8.767,
5. Aron Canet (ESP/Honda) 12.827,
6. Philipp Ottl (GER/KTM) 14.865,
7. Fabio Di Giannantonio (ITA/Honda) 15.482,
8. Jakub Kornfeil (CZE/Peugeot) 15.625,
9. Bo Bendsneyder (NED/KTM) 15.947,
10. John McPhee (GBR/Honda) 16.216