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Photo: motogp.com Photo: motogp.com

Motegi GP Preview: The heat is on

Written by  Oct 12, 2017

The MotoGP grid rolls into Japan for the first of three flyaway races. The Twin Ring in Motegi has hosted a GP round since 1999, and Honda have taken seven victories at the track since the four stroke formula was introduced in 2002 with the most recent of those being last year with Marc Marquez. However Marquez' team mate Dani Pedrosa has the most successful record at the Japanese circuit, with five victories to his name - 3 in MotoGP, 1 in 250cc and 1 in 125cc.

What can we expect from this weekend?

Well the fight for the championship is still well and truly on. Last year, Marquez clinched the championship in Motegi when his rivals failed to finish but there'll be no such sight this year. Only sixteen points separate Marquez from Andrea Dovizioso in the championship standings, with Maverick Viñales a further twelve points behind the Italian in third. Although Pedrosa isn't completely out of the running in fourth, it's looking like this will be a battle between the top three which could possibly go down to the final round in Valencia.

Jorge Lorenzo is on the hunt for his first Ducati win of the year. He finished third at Aragon but will be pushing to improve on that with a win he has enjoyed success at in the past. His last win at the Twin Ring was in 2014 on board his Yamaha, which was one of three Motegi victories for the Spaniard. His last podium in Japan was 2015, as he suffered a DNF last year. A win is coming for Lorenzo, but whether it will be this weekend remains to be seen. 

Valentino Rossi has had a similar fate to his former team mate Lorenzo at Motegi. Last year he also failed to finish, and the year before that he stepped into second on the podium. The Italian is still suffering with his leg injury, but is starting to make his return to full fitness. If he can finish fifth in Aragon just a couple of weeks after breaking his leg, then he can surely achieve a podium after having some rest time.

Jonas Folger will be missing this weekend, after being advised to return home to Germany for blood tests as he is plagued by illness. He will be replaced by local hero Kohta Nozane, who races in the All Japan Road Race championship.

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