Moto3 kicked off the action at Motegi with their Japanese Grand Prix proving to be a thriller, one of the most exciting races this season in any of the classes.
Though Alex Marquez found himself in a position to take his first ever win it was the crashes of Luis Salom and Alex Rins that would leave everything to play for for the three main title contenders heading into the final round at Valencia.
|Moto2 Champion 2013 Pol Espargaro Photo: Pons Tuenti HP 40
Red Bull KTM rider Luis Salom crashed twice leaving him to rue what might have been in the pits.
Alex Rins then threw away a huge advantage, and a lifeline for Salom, by also taking a tumble while tailing Marquez who had just overtaken him on track. Rins recovered but only finished in 24th.
Maverick Vinales them brought himself back into the equation by leading. After being passed by Marquez he didn’t have enough left to slipstream him on the approach to the line, leaving him in second.
If one of the trio go on to win Valenecia outright they will take the Moto3 title too.
Folger took the remaining podium spot for Aspar, with Miguel Oliveira just missing out after surging forward from 18th on the grid for Mahindra.
Also fighting his way through the field was Romano Fenati, who was the top Honda in fifth despite starting from 26th position.
The Caretta Technology team-mates Jack Miller and John McPhee were next to take the flag with Miller ahead in sixth, seventh marked a best finish to date for his Scottish partner.
Niklas Ajo took eighth, Niccolo Antonelli ninth and Brad Binder tenth, though the South African had controversially knocked off Zulfahmi Kharuddin at the first corner.
The remaining points went to Jakub Kornfeil in 11th ahead of Livio Loi’s third points scoring finish in his debut season for Marc VDS in 12th. Philipp Oettl put a troubled qualifying behind him for 13th.
CIP rider Alan Tacher was 14th. Home hope Hyuga Watanabe took the final point.
Moto2 began with a multiple crash, the carnage was enough to see the red flag come out yet again this season.
Alex Marinalerena was the worst off, though he quickly regained consciousness he is still under precautionary watch in hospital.
The bad news for the championship was that the event also put paid to the challenges of Tito Rabat and Scott Redding.
Though both were battered and bruised neither picked up serious injury, but it took the pressure off Pol Espargaro, who after passing Mika Kallio early on in the restarted 15 lap sprint went on to romp to victory after not resting on his laurels and putting in a performance worthy of a champion to win the race.
Kallio held on for second, slightly cushioning the blow for Marc VDS, Tom Luthi was a distant third.
Just off the podium was Xavier Simeon in fourth. He had been part of a race highlight of a battle between himself and Johann Zarco, which only ended when Zarco’s bike died.
Julian Simon returned to the form he is capable of but struggled to show in fifth for Italtrans, fellow former lightweight champion Nico Terol was sixth after qualifying back in 25th.
Alex De Angelis finished seventh and the best of the Speed Up riders.
Dominique Aegerter kept his points scoring run intact against the odds. The Swiss rider also crashed at the start of the red-flagged original run.
His team frantically rebuilt his wreckage at Technomag carXpert, allowing him to start from the back of the grid, slicing through the field for eighth.
Home rider Taka nakagami was ninth for Italtrans, with Mattia Pasini also making the top ten finishers.
Ant West crossed the line in 11thahead of Marcel Schrotter in 12th. Alex Pons finished in 13th and Gino Rea took two points as a replacement rider in 14th, the final point went to Sandro Cortese.
Briton Danny Kent didn’t race after breaking his collarbone in the first session of the day.
Moto3 Motegi Top 15:
1. Alex Marquez SPA Estrella Galicia 0,0 (KTM) 39m 45.953s
2. Maverick Viñales SPA Team Calvo (KTM) 39m 45.980s
3. Jonas Folger GER Mapfre Aspar Team Moto3 (Kalex KTM) 39m 53.703s
4. Miguel Oliveira POR Mahindra Racing (Mahindra) 40m 1.842s
5. Romano Fenati ITA San Carlo Team Italia (FTR Honda) 40m 4.276s
6. Jack Miller AUS Caretta Technology – RTG (FTR Honda) 40m 4.385s
7. John McPhee GBR Caretta Technology – RTG (FTR Honda) 40m 4.392s
8. Niklas Ajo FIN Avant Tecno (KTM) 40m 11.561s
9. Niccolò Antonelli ITA GO&FUN Gresini Moto3 (FTR Honda) 40m 11.903s
10. Brad Binder RSA Ambrogio Racing (Mahindra) 40m 18.886s
11. Jakub Kornfeil CZE Redox RW Racing GP (Kalex KTM) 40m 19.020s
12. Livio Loi BEL Marc VDS Racing Team (Kalex KTM) 40m 19.184s
13. Philipp Oettl GER Interwetten Paddock Moto3 (Kalex KTM) 40m 19.621s
14. Alan Techer FRA CIP Moto3 (TSR Honda) 40m 24.959s
15. Hyuga Watanabe JPN La Fonte Tascaracing (FTR Honda) 40m 25.212s
Moto2 Motegi Top 15:
1. Pol Espargaro SPA Tuenti HP 40 (Kalex) 28m 15.162s
2. Mika Kallio FIN Marc VDS Racing Team (Kalex) 28m 16.506s
3. Thomas Luthi SWI Interwetten Paddock Moto2 (Suter) 28m 18.541s
4. Xavier Simeon BEL Maptaq SAG Zelos Team (Kalex) 28m 23.582s
5. Julian Simon SPA Italtrans Racing Team (Kalex) 28m 25.477s
6. Nicolas Terol SPA Aspar Team Moto2 (Suter) 28m 26.526s
7. Alex De Angelis RSM NGM Mobile Forward Racing (Speed Up) 28m 27.880s
8. Dominique Aegerter SWI Technomag carXpert (Suter) 28m 30.771s
9. Takaaki Nakagami JPN Italtrans Racing Team (Kalex) 28m 33.576s
10. Mattia Pasini ITA NGM Mobile Racing (Speed Up) 28m 35.841s
11. Anthony West AUS QMMF Racing Team (Speed Up) 28m 45.921s
12. Marcel Schrotter GER Maptaq SAG Zelos Team (Kalex) 28m 46.296s
13. Axel Pons SPA Tuenti HP 40 (Kalex) 28m 46.497s
14. Gino Rea GBR Argiñano & Gines Racing (Speed Up) 28m 46.667s
15. Sandro Cortese GER Dynavolt Intact GP (Kalex) 28m 46.963s