2019 Motegi MotoGP Race Result: Tying Up Loose Ends

Patches of blue sky splitting the cloud cover were a novel feature for race Sunday in Motegi and it complicated tyre choice but the only problem Marc Marquez had was getting back to the winners’ enclosure after running out of fuel on the victory lap. The Spaniard secured the constructors’ title on Honda’s home soil with his 80th career win and equalling the legendary Mick Doohan on premier class wins. Celebrations were extra sweet for the second placed man too, Fabio Quartararo sealing the Rookie of the Year title after a mostly lonely race. Andrea Dovizioso did give the Frenchman a fright on the final lap but ran out of time and the Italian’s 100th grand prix podium ended up being a third place.

Marquez looked good as soon as the lights went off, keeping the lead into turn one, while Quartararo attacked teammate Franco Morbidelli and ran him wide into turn one, allowing Jack Miller and Cal Crutchlow to go past the Italian as well. Quartararo went one better and hit the front after an attack out of turn seven but the world champion reclaimed top spot in turn ten. By the end of lap two, Marquez took some risk but had stretched a gap of one second to the Frenchman. Meanwhile, Morbidelli recovered ground and was wingman to his teammate ahead of the Ducatis of Miller and Dovizioso. If the men in red were on the offense, some of the boys in blue were getting humbled early on, both Alex Rins and Valentino Rossi outside of the top ten.

Quartararo put his head down to hold Marquez’ rhythm and slowly crawl his way back into contention but the Honda man spent more time flipping switches than positions. With the temperature dropping ever so slightly, the Frenchman’s soft rear tyre seemed like the more suitable option at this early stage to the Spaniard’s mediums but Marquez was still maintaining a fast pace. Another second down the road, Miller took over from Morbidelli, who was defending position from Dovizioso and Maverick Vinales. The two Yamaha machines were struggling to make an impression on the respective Ducatis ahead of them but the gaps between them were minimal.

The pace seemed to settle by lap seven and Marquez’s gap kept steady at one second, the four-way battle for the final podium spot unfolding another three seconds down the road from Quartararo. A few mistakes from the Ducatis allowed the Yamahas a try and Morbidelli took over the pursuit by lap ten. Miller quickly found himself going from a podium position to the back of the chasing pack in sixth and losing ground on that battle even further with apparent tyre issues.

The halfway mark of the race looked decisive for Marquez, whose gap was ticking over the two seconds mark for the first time and Quartararo did not seem to have any solutions of his own for this particular problem. Four seconds back, Morbidelli was admirably defending from Dovizioso but the Ducati man found an easy way past in turn 11. All he had to do to secure a podium was to hold off the two Yamahas for long enough until their soft rear tyres screamed “no more” but Vinales’ seemed just fine as he breezed past Morbidelli into turn one. Meanwhile, Rins was trying to find his way into this battle, a second and a half behind the trio and with Crutchlow and Miller not too far behind.

Riders entered unknown territory for the final ten laps, with little opportunity to torture the tyres for so long throughout practice but there was no obvious drop just yet. Marquez had a comfortable 2.5 seconds gap at the front but Dovizioso seemed to be reducing the distance to Quartararo from four seconds to three once he hit the front of that chasing group. However, Vinales was the fastest man on track and he was glued to the Italian’s back, harassing him and pushing him into posting personal best times. Vinales continued to demonstrate how difficult it is to get past the Ducati going into the final five laps and although the Spaniard was doing a great job of creating opportunities for himself, the Italian was just as good at finding the defensive line. Meanwhile, another Italian suffered opposing fortunes, Rossi crashing out with four laps left from 12th position.

While Marquez was continuing on his steady march to victory, the battle between Dovizioso and Vinales ran its course with two laps remaining and the Italian was suddenly eyeing the second place of Quartararo. The gap went down to eight tenths of a second as they started the final lap but the Ducati man ran out of time and finished third, four tenths behind Quartararo. Vinales had to settle for fourth, with Crutchlow breaking Morbidelli’s heart on the line for fifth place. Rins showed good speed in the late stages of the race but poor qualifying hurt him once again and the Suzuki man had to make do with seventh, ahead of teammate Joan Mir. Danilo Petrucci and Jack Miller rounded out the top ten.

With the title already deep into Marquez’s pocket and a record 13th consecutive podium for the Spaniard, the rest were left to fight for scraps in the championship. Dovizioso looks comfortable in second place, while Rins and Vinales are tied on points for third and with Petrucci and Quartararo not out of contention either.


Pos. Num. Rider Bike Gap
1 93 Marc MARQUEZ Honda 42'41.492
2 20 Fabio QUARTARARO Yamaha +0.870
3 4 Andrea DOVIZIOSO Ducati +1.325
4 12 Maverick VIÑALES Yamaha +2.608
5 35 Cal CRUTCHLOW Honda +9.140
6 21 Franco MORBIDELLI Yamaha +9.187
7 42 Alex RINS Suzuki +9.306
8 36 Joan MIR Suzuki +10.695
9 9 Danilo PETRUCCI Ducati +14.216
10 43 Jack MILLER Ducati +18.909
11 44 Pol ESPARGARO KTM +25.554
12 88 Miguel OLIVEIRA KTM +27.870
13 63 Francesco BAGNAIA Ducati +29.983
14 82 Mika KALLIO KTM +31.232
15 41 Aleix ESPARGARO Aprilia +32.546
16 30 Takaaki NAKAGAMI Honda +37.482
17 99 Jorge LORENZO Honda +40.410
18 17 Karel ABRAHAM Ducati +43.458
19 55 Hafizh SYAHRIN KTM +46.206
20 50 Sylvain GUINTOLI Suzuki +50.235
    Not Classified    
  46 Valentino ROSSI Yamaha 4 Laps
  29 Andrea IANNONE Aprilia 17 Laps
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zero comments?

was the race really that lackluster?

Unfortunately yes. I ended up skipping through the laps so I could get on to moto3 and Moto2.

I thought Dovi v Vinales was fascinating (and they showed it a lot because in front was settled), especially how Vinales just could not make a pass despite many attempts to set one up. Then Dovi proved to be the master of the last few laps and left him. Great effort by Dovi, great frustration for Vinales.

The TV coverage is what is so lackluster. These are the best riders in the world, there is plenty of action all up and down the field if TV would deign to show it to us. Any commenter here and about 500,000,000 other people along with some wild animals could do a better job of presenting a race. To cut away from action to show the back of someone's head or someone randomly looking up or to show someone's daddy making a spectacle of himself is what kills any tension and flow the production might have. TV directors or whomever it is making these decisions has zero point zero idea of what they're looking at or why any of it matters. It's TV that's the problem as there is plenty of action in a Motogp race. If we could have 45 minutes of RACE coverage, not personalities and unknown peoples' reactions, every race would be riveting. Alas, until we get intelligent, informed, interested people making the decisions as to what's shown it will be half what it could be. Just show the damned race or come in here and explain why you don't.

Said in the BT Sport commentary box was that without Márquez the Honda was generally a 10th placed machine. There was also a mention of how the relatively new in town KTM, in the hands of Pol, was now also generally a 10th place bike. Ooh I do love conspiracy theories ☺️

In this race, it seemed once MM93 had it in his pocket (sans a mistake) the cameras were focused during the last half on everyone else especially riders 2 thru 4.  This was ANTI(lackluster) at least for me.  

It would be interesting to see (and hear from) the riders who struggle at the back of the pack, too.  I remember in The Tour de France there was an award (of sorts) for the last rider to finish ("La Lantern Rouge" or something like that.) I can't remember if it was on a stage-by-stage basis or for the last rider across all stages on time, but it was always an interesting interview especially during especially very warm and sunny Tours.  I'd want to hear how a rider "gets out there" knowing he's not going to finish in the points (in all likelihood) and is there to test new parts, get more experience, try to earn a contract/ride, etc.  I'm not saying the Top riders have it easy...just that those who know they're very unlikely to be in the coverage likely have stories to tell, too.


and he looks very stiff, uncomfortable and out of sorts.

And I don't mean in the ergonomic sense. The "between the ears" sense. The "this f***king bike is trying to kill me" sense. I think he's just riding around until he can turn his back on the unloved 2019 HRC machine and the end of the 2019 Valencia race can't come soon enough.

Then in 2020 he'll be healthy and can judge what kind of platform Honda will give him to ride. The thought of becoming a wheelchair pilot at 32 y.o. can put a dent in anyone's self-confidence (and I mean no disrespect to anyone).