Following the Thailand GP held two Sundays back which saw Dovizioso take the flag as runner-up, the Ducati Team has now arrived at Motegi for the Grand Prix of Japan, the sixteenth round of the 19-race 2018 MotoGP season and the second leg in a challenging series of four overseas rounds, which will continue the following weekends with races in Australia and Malaysia.
The Twin Ring Motegi circuit has an unusual layout with a series of long straights followed by tight corners that prove to be demanding on the bikes’ braking and acceleration prowess. In recent years the Japanese track has been favourable to Ducati Team riders, who have scored some excellent results, with three successive wins for Loris Capirossi in 2005, 2006 and 2007 and a win in 2010 for Casey Stoner, who also took the world title with Ducati here in 2007.
The excellent results for the Bologna-based squad have resumed in the last two years, with a second place for Dovizioso in 2016 and his superb win last year after an exciting battle with Marquez right down to the final corner.
Jorge Lorenzo can also boast an extraordinary record at Motegi in MotoGP, with four pole positions and three victories to his name. Last year the Palma de Mallorca racer qualified on row 2 and finished the race in sixth place.
The Motegi weekend programme will get underway on Friday morning with the first free practice session at 9.55 am local time (2.55 CET), while the 24-lap race is scheduled for Sunday afternoon at 2 pm (7.00 CET).
Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team #04) – 2nd (194 points)
“After the Buriram result I think that the title battle is almost over, and even though it’s not yet a mathematical certainty, we will of course be fully committed in the next few races. Together with my team, we are able to understand some new important details in every race, and so we’ll continue working this way also at Motegi, where our aim is to win. I like the Japanese track a lot and our Desmosedici is always efficient in braking and acceleration there, so I can’t wait to get out on track and try and get payback on Marquez.”
Jorge Lorenzo (Ducati Team #99) – 5th (130 points)
“Several days have gone by since I left Buriram without being able to race and, even though now I feel better after training and resting in Thailand, only in Friday’s free practice will I be able to get an idea of how I feel on the bike. I absolutely want to race in Japan because Motegi is one of those circuits where I think I can do really well, and so I hope that the after-effects of the injuries to my foot and my wrist won’t give me any trouble. Furthermore, the weather conditions this weekend are sure to be an important factor, because in the last few years it’s almost always rained in Japan during the race weekend.”
The Twin Ring Motegi circuit
Located in a mountainous area, the Twin Ring Motegi circuit consists of a 2.5 km banked oval and a classic 4.8 km road course built to international standards. Constructed by Honda as a test facility in August 1997, the road circuit became home to MotoGP in 1999. Twin Ring Motegi, which is around 100 km from Tokyo’s Narita airport and 30 km from Mito, is the venue for the Honda Museum, as well as a safety and riding school, dirt-track and go-kart tracks, a hotel, a restaurant, shops and event halls.
Fastest Lap: Lorenzo (Yamaha) 1’43.790 (166.5 km/h) - 2015
Circuit Record: Lorenzo (Yamaha) 1’45.350 (164.0 km/h) - 2014
Best Pole: Lorenzo (Yamaha) 1’43.790 (166.5 km/h) - 2015
Top Speed: Iannone (Ducati) 314.3 km/h - 2015
Track Length: 4.8 km
Race Distance: 24 laps (115.2 km)
Corners: 14 (6 left, 8 right)
Race Start: 2 pm local time (07.00 CET)
Podium: 1st Dovizioso (Ducati), 2nd Marquez (Honda), 3rd Petrucci (Ducati)
Pole Position: Zarco (Yamaha) 1’53.469 (152.320 km/h)
Fastest Lap: Dovizioso (Ducati) 1’56.568 (148.270 km/h)
Bike: Ducati Desmosedici GP
Race Number: 04
Age: 32 (born on 23rd March in Forlimpopoli, Italy)
Residence: Forlì (Italy)
Races: 290 (192 x MotoGP, 49 x 250cc, 49 x 125cc)
First GP: 2001 Italian GP (125cc)
Wins: 20 (11 x MotoGP, 4 x 250cc, 5 x 125cc)
First Win: 2004 South African GP (125cc)
Poles: 19 (6 x MotoGP, 4 x 250cc, 9 x 125cc)
First Pole: 2003 French GP (125cc)
World Titles: 1 (1 x 125cc)
Bike: Ducati Desmosedici GP
Race Number: 99
Age: 31 (born on 4th May 1987 in Palma di Mallorca, Spain)
Residence: Lugano (Switzerland)
Races: 281 (187 x MotoGP, 48 x 250cc, 46 x 125cc)
First GP: 2002 Spanish GP (125cc)
Wins: 68 (47 x MotoGP, 17 x 250cc, 4 x 125cc)
First Win: 2003 Brazilian GP (125cc)
Poles: 69 (43 x MotoGP, 23 x 250cc, 3 x 125cc)
First Pole: 2003 Malaysian GP (125cc)
World Titles: 5 (3 x MotoGP, 2 x 250cc)