MOTEGI, Japan (AFP) – MotoGP world champion Marc Marquez won the Japan Grand Prix yesterday to notch his 10th victory of the season and third win on the circuit in four years.
The Honda rider finished the race in 42min 41.492sec, followed 0.870sec later by French rookie Fabio Quartararo of Yamaha-SRT and Ducati’s Andrea Dovizioso 1.325sec later.
Marquez was unassailable from the second lap in his first ever pole start at the Motegi Twin Circuit.
Quartararo managed to shoot ahead of the Spaniard for a brief moment shortly after the start, but Marquez quickly regained the lead and shot ahead with a one-second gap early in the race.
“It was not easy. I was pushing from the beginning because our strategy was clear,” Marquez said.
“This time I tried to open the gap from the beginning,” he said.
He said he lost focus during the race when he realised his bike was burning through fuel too quickly, forcing him to “play a lot with switches”.
But Marquez was never threatened and enjoyed a two-second gap ahead of Quartararo through most of the second half.
Quartararo finished with his third narrow defeat to the championship winner in recent races but was left smiling after winning the Rookie of the Year award.
“Marc was super fast today,” the Frenchman said. “I really pushed at my 100 per cent to try to stay with him.”
He was also fending off pressure from Dovizioso, whose late charge fell just short.
“Dovi was unbelievably fast. He was riding more than a half second faster than me,” Quartararo said.
Dovizioso, marking his 100th career podium finish, said he struggled to find his form until late in the race, where he could only compete for the possible second while fending off Yamaha’s Marverick Vinales behind him.