Australian Jack Miller (Ducati) won solo at the Motegi circuit. Francesco Bagnaia (Ducati), runner-up to Fabio Quartararo (Yamaha) in the Championship, fell at the end of the race when he was on the heels of the Frenchman, who finished in 8th position. The latter now has an 18-point lead in the standings over the Italian.
It’s only eighth place, but it tastes almost sweet for Fabio Quartararo, who finished short of winner Jack Miller while enjoying a brilliant day at the Japanese Grand Prix on Sunday. The Frenchman from Yamaha was under pressure in the World Championship, where his leadership position was increasingly fragile, and he managed to consolidate it in a GP in which all his rivals failed, with Francesco Bagnaia in the lead.
Miller (Ducati) ran most of the race out front and, during their one-man run, the title contenders found themselves working their way through the pack. While Johann Zarco (starting 2nd) missed his start, the positions remained fixed for Quartararo (9th) and Bagnaia (12th). And the first push for the niçois: Aleix Espargaró (3rd overall) had to leave the pits after a problem with his Aprilia.
Bagnaia, risk expensive
Quartararo then fought for 24 rounds. He tried to put Maverick Viñales in front of him, without success. He then defended 8th place from him, which was already a good trade as Bagnaia fell behind. But the Italian did not accept losing one more point and wanted to push to overtake the Frenchman on the last lap. A risk that cost him dearly: in a left turn, the Ducati rider went off alone. Quartararo was able to calmly negotiate the last corners to add 8 points to him.
The world champion can also approach the last four races with a little more calm: here he is now 18 points ahead of Bagnaia and 25 over Espargaró. The title is not played and there are 100 points left to distribute. But this Japanese stage may have been decisive.