MotoGP 2015 Motegi Results

Bruce Allen
by Bruce Allen

Pedrosa's first win of the season puts a hurt on Lorenzo

The 2015 MotoGP championship season that was, back in April, a marathon is now a sprint. Repsol Honda #2 Dani Pedrosa helped his employer avoid potential disgrace at the hands of Yamaha, his win today (actually brilliant, I think, in a world of routine overstatement) under difficult conditions and well under the radar. In the process, he threw some more dirt on what has become Yamaha factory stud Jorge Lorenzo’s grave – bad things happen to Lorenzo on wet tracks.

Motegi on this Sunday was cool and damp, the track wet, a light drizzle falling. The riders all put rain tires on their race bikes and had their #2 bikes set up for the wet in case something untoward were to happen during the sighting lap. Once it was complete, the teams re-set the bikes for the dry in anticipation of an expected flag-to-flag cluster. The riders appeared more tense than usual as they lined up on the grid. Everyone wanted to talk to the Bridgestone people.

A wet track forced teams to carefully consider their tire strategies.

For Lorenzo and, to a lesser extent, Rossi, today’s conditions were too wet for drys and too dry for wets. Each chose rain tires, a hard front and a medium/soft rear. The 2015 Yamaha YZR-M1 is clearly a better bike than the 2015 Honda RC213-V, but one of its weaknesses was exposed today. On a wet but drying track, the M1 now behaves more like a Ducati in terms of tire degradation. The Bridgestones on most of the factory Ducatis lasted until Lap 14, when three riders left the race involuntarily. For Lorenzo and, to a lesser extent, teammate and series leader Valentino Rossi, it appeared more rain today would have been helpful.

Even I have trouble with that last thought, insofar as the championship discussion itself includes only the two Yamaha pilots. As much as some people try to deny it, Jorge Lorenzo and rain is now A Thing. Had it rained hard, Lorenzo would have still lost four or five points to Rossi. The relative result likely wouldn’t have changed. (I suspect Lorenzo would have lost more ground to Rossi on a truly wet track, as all of the Italian riders seem to be mudders. Surprising to see Danilo Petrucci and Andrea Iannone crash, as the Ducati handles well in the wet. Left to ponder the tires, always the tires…)

Normally one of the front runners, an injured Marc Marquez found himself battling Andrea Dovizioso for fourth.

In a nutshell today, Pedrosa came from out of nowhere to win the race, trailing at the end of Lap 7 by almost 9 seconds as Lorenzo was running away. Pedrosa had struggled all weekend in dry practice sessions but won the wet WUP. As his fuel load dropped, he watched the Yamahas and Ducatis grind their Bridgestones to powder on the drying surface of the racing line. Then, on Lap 8, he began reeling in Ducati #2 Andrea Dovizioso (Lap 11), then Rossi (Lap 16) and finally Lorenzo on Lap 18. On Lap 19, both riders on the rims, Rossi gave Lorenzo the slap, taking him from what, most of the day, would have been a 5 point lead and jumping it to 18, which is a lot with three rounds left. Pedrosa laughed his way to his first win of the year, the 50th of his career, and his 139th career podium, third in wins in the history of MotoGP.

A garage full of trophies and not a premier class title to show for it.

Dani Pedrosa has reason to celebrate, winning his first MotoGP race in over a year. Jorge Lorenzo, however, lost ground in his chase to catch teammate Valentino Rossi.
Jorge Lorenzo’s expression shows what he thinks about his third-place finish.

This is now two races in a row in which the post-Stoner, pre-Marquez Aliens hogged all three steps of the podium, with Pedrosa lately appearing as rejuvenated as Rossi has all year. Lorenzo, as we know, usually wins due to his tactics, i.e. get out in front of everyone and never see another bike all day. Rossi, and Pedrosa, are more strategic in their approach, more patient; it seems they can afford to be patient while Lorenzo can’t. Lorenzo’s tactics chewed up his front tire, which is usually not an issue for him, appearing to get less than his full attention until it was too far gone.

Usually it’s not an issue for either Yamaha rider. Today, however, it was an issue.

Years from now, scruffy motojournalists will be looking up race results and see at the bottom of this one “wet track” and that Rossi took another four points away from Lorenzo, and think “ok, this again. Lorenzo couldn’t ride in the rain.” Given the way this one went, he can be forgiven for thinking that. Let’s not forget, class, that we’ve agreed that the weather will be a determining factor in this year’s championship. In fact, it just has.


Elsewhere on the Grid

Soon to be former world champion Marc Marquez managed fourth place today despite a difficult start from the front row and a broken left hand. He passed the tireless (!) Dovizioso on his way down from third to fifth place, where he just edged out LCR Honda’s Cal Crutchlow, on his way to winning the Battle of Britain against Tech 3 Yamaha’s Bradley Smith by a scant 4/10ths . Yamaha test rider Katsuyuki “Katman” Nakasuga, on a full factory bike, claimed eighth place today, satisfying but not nearly as satisfying as his second place finish at Valencia last year, other than this one having been on his home turf. Hectic Barbara drove the Avintia Racing Ducati to the top open class spot in ninth, with Scott Redding taking no chances on the Marc VDS Honda to complete the top ten.

Scott Redding and his man bun finished tenth.

One rider whose day had its ups and downs was Factory Suzuki operator Aleix Espargaro. Starting the day in a solid seventh place, he was running in sixth when he went walky at Turn 1 of Lap 6, dropping back to 18th place, from whence he whipped his GSX-RR to a disappointing 11th place finish.

That’s a whole lot of work for 11th place.

Johann Zarco clinched the Moto2 title after winning his seventh race of the season.

The Big Picture

Rossi leads Lorenzo by 18 points with three rounds left: Phillip Island and Sepang looming on the horizon and Valencia closing things up. He will likely have a magic number in his mind – 25 – heading into Sepang. If Rossi can manage to depart Sepang with a lead of at least 26 points, it will be over.

We will look at each Alien rider’s recent history at these upcoming tracks in Wednesday’s previews. Unlike the world of stocks and bonds, in MotoGP past performance IS an indicator of future results. Pedrosa’s fifth premier class win at Motegi gives testament to that one.

Alex De Angelis remains in critical condition with intracranial bleeding following a crash during practice.

Marc Marquez, in a season of feast or famine, sits solidly in third place, enjoying a 25 point lead over wounded Ducati #1 Andrea Iannone, whose crash today cost him in the standings. And now trailing Dovizioso by only 18 is the resurgent Pedrosa, with 45 points in the last two rounds. His his arm pump surgery in the spring having cost him three full races and parts of two others, Pedrosa sat in 13th place with 23 points after Mugello. Pedrosa appears now to be approaching 2016 with his Alien status intact, a rider capable of winning if not every time out, then many times out.

Today, Pedrosa was the best rider on the track. He appeared to enjoy himself immensely. With absolutely nothing to lose, and familiarity with the upcoming tracks verging on intimacy, he is a threat to podium for the rest of the season. This, in turn, puts more pressure on Lorenzo, as now he must not only beat Rossi, but keep Pedrosa out of the lead, to have a chance for his third world championship in 2015.

How ironic if the greatest MotoGP rider never to have won a title ends up depriving a double world champion of his third? Or a seven time world champion his eighth?

Valentino Rossi moved another step closer to his eighth 500cc/MotoGP championship.

2015 MotoGP Motegi Top 10 Results




Dani PedrosaRepsol Honda


Valentino RossiMovistar Yamaha+8.573


Jorge LorenzoMovistar Yamaha+12.127


Marc MarquezRepsol Honda+27.841


Andrea DoviziosoDucati Corse+35.085


Cal CrutchlowLCR Honda+37.263


Bradley SmithMonster Yamaha Tech3+37.667


Katsuyuki NakasugaYamaha Factory Racing+44.654


Hector BarberaAvintia Racing+48.572


Scott ReddingEG 0,0 Marc VDS+50.121

2015 MotoGP Top Ten Standings After 15 Rounds




Valentino RossiYamaha283


Jorge LorenzoYamaha265


Marc MarquezHonda197


Andrea IannoneDucati172


Dani PedrosaHonda154


Bradley SmithYamaha152


Andrea DoviziosoDucati150


Cal CrutchlowHonda98


Danilo PetrucciDucati93


Pol EspargaroYamaha88
Bruce Allen
Bruce Allen

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2 of 20 comments
  • Methamphetasaur Methamphetasaur on Oct 12, 2015

    Correct me if I'm wrong, but I think your statistics are not exactly correct. You say "Pedrosa laughed his way to his first win of the year, the 50th of his career, and his 139th career podium, third in wins in the history of MotoGP."

    Now by 'history of MotoGP', I assume you mean 2002 onwards top class wins and not 'Motorcycle Grand Prix racing' in general, or he would be 8th on the list of wins. But in >'02 GP class wins he has 27 wins- which would be fourth [not third] behind Rossi with 73, Lorenzo with 39, and Stoner with 38.

  • Old MOron Old MOron on Oct 13, 2015

    So Lorenzo hurt his shoulder before the race, right?
    He even kept his arm in a sling when he wasn't riding.
    Then he tops every practice and gets pole position.
    Was he sandbagging about his shoulder?

    What is Cal trying to say?
    Ha ha ha!