|Close, but not close enough: Vinales attempts to catch Luthi Photo:Pons Racing|
Moto3 got the Grand Prix action off to a flying start in Japan and with six riders in contention on the final lap after swapping position and rubbing tyres from the opening lap the close finish came down to a final shot at the win by Ajo riders Danny Kent and Jack Miller, leaving the way clear on the inside for Estrella Galicia’s Alex Marquez to come through on the inside for the win.
The win also moves Marquez championship lead to 25 points, a full race wins worth of points.
The Honda rider, who also took his first ever win at the manufacturers Twin Ring track last season, pulled Efren Vazquez through with him for second for SaxoPrint-RTG with Ambrogio’s Brad Binder and Brit John McPhee turning their personal battle into the race for third.
Binder took the final podium spot with McPhee a career best fourth, marking a great day for the SaxoPrint team.
Kent’s Husqvarna running onto the grass and then wide with Red Bull KTM’s Miller, who hit false neutral left the leading pair to fight it out for fifth, Miller who had looked confident after a good start made the best of a bad situation for the pair, snatching the fifth, with Kent sixth.
Romano Fenati lead the chasing pack across the line in seventh, improving ten places on is grid spot for Sky Racing Team VR46.
Next to take the flag were the warring Italian Go& Fun team-mates, Enea Bastianini finished ahead in eighth, beating Nico Antonelli to the line.
Alex Rins saw his title dreams fade after a poor start left him off the pace, finishing tenth.
Isaac Vinales (Team Calvo) took 11th, Karel Hanika (Red Bull KTM Ajo) 12th, Francesco Bagnaia (Sky Racing Team VR46) 13th , Zulfahmi Khairuddin (Ongetta-AirAsia) 14th and Alessandro Tonnucci (CIP) secured the final point.
There were also may crashes in the hectic race with Scott Deroue, Niki Ajo, wild-cards Sena Yamada and Hikari Okbuko, Andrea Migno and Matteo Ferrari all falling on the opening lap.
Mahindra’s Miguel Oliveira had been in with a shout of the win in the leading group before crashing later in the race.
Moto2 saw Interwetten’s Tom Luthi secure his first win since Le Mans in 2012, and his first podium this season since he took third at thr opening round in Qatar after pushing his Suter hard to pull out a gap of over two seconds and holding on as Maverick Vinales reeled him in as the laps counted down.
Pons rider Vinales best efforts pulled him clear of his battle with Tito Rabat, the championship leader extending his lead to 38 points over his Marc VDS team-mate Mika Kallio by taking third.
Johann Zarco who had proved had to pass allowing Luthi to build his lead eventually found himself overtaken by Vinales and Rabat but held off Both Kallio and Simon to secure fourth in another strong performance for AirAsia Caterham.
Kallio took fifth with Julian Simon sixth, his Italtrans team-mate Franco Morbidelli was next to the the flag in seventh.
Hafizh Syahrin equalled his best finish this season in eighth, Ricky Cardus took ninth for Tech 3, Xavier Simeon’s Gresini competed the top ten.
The remaining points went to Jordi Torres (Mapfre Aspar) in 11th, Jonas Folger (AGR Team) in 12th, top home rider Taka Nakagami (Idemitsu Honda Team Asia) 13th ,Gino Rea (AGT Rea Racing) an impressive 14thwith Pons man Luis Salom (Paginas Amarillas HP40) picking up the final point on offer in 15th.
Fallers over the distance included Riccardo Russo, Sandro Cortese, Mattia Pasini and British rider Sam Lowes.