MotoGP returns to Motegi for the first time in three years this weekend with the Japanese Grand Prix.
Following a thrilling Aragon MotoGP in which title leader Fabio Quartararo crashed out on lap one after colliding with Marc Marquez, Motegi will host the second Grand Prix of the current triple header.
The Japanese MotoGP, which was canceled in 2019 owing to the COVID-19 pandemic, will see Ducati come as firm favorites after securing yet another 1-2 in Aragon.
While Enea Bastianini won the penultimate lap battle with Francesco Bagnaia, the latter has closed to within 10 points of the 2022 MotoGP World Championship standings.
Marquez is the most recent winner of the Japanese MotoGP, having defeated Quartararo and Andrea Dovizioso in 2019.
Aleix Espargaro, another rider who gained vital points back on Quartararo in Aragon, is now just 17 points behind the series leader.
The Aprilia rider, who had not finished on the podium since Mugello, finished third in Aragon after outdueling Brad Binder and Jack Miller in the final stages.
Joan Mir will be out of action once more after withdrawing from the Aragon MotoGP weekend due to a persistent right ankle issue.
The riders in contention to replace the Spaniard are Kazuki Watanabe and official test rider Sylvain Guintoli.
MotoGP 2022 Japanese Grand Prix: Preview
With only five races remaining, this weekend’s Japanese Grand Prix, which was canceled in 2019 because to the pandemic, is set to have big title implications.
Without a win since the mid-season break, leader Fabio Quartararo wrecked on the opening lap at Aragon last week in an incident involving returning six-time world champion Marc Marquez and Takaaki Nakagami.
According to Yamaha boss Lin Jarvis, the Frenchman was “mad and unhappy,” but he escaped with minor injuries.
The incident allowed the trailing group to reduce the gap at the top of the standings, with Enea Bastianini passing Francesco Bagnaia on the final lap to deny him a fifth consecutive victory.
Bagnaia now trails Quartararo by ten points, with Aleix Espargaro trailing by seven.
The Aprilia rider finished third in Aragon, his first podium since Mugello, and has fought his way back into contention.
Bagnaia, arguably the favorite considering his previous form, said: “We’re close. 10 points is the shortest distance I’ve had since the beginning of the season, so I’ll try not to think about the championship too much.
“I’ll just concentrate on my work.” I know Japan will be difficult since we will have less time to test and enhance the bike.”
Cal Crutchlow returned in Aragon last week, finishing as the top Yamaha rider, and his comeback continues at Motegi following Andrea Dovizioso’s retirement.
Repsol Honda rider Marc Marquez also made a long-awaited return, racing this weekend in Japan at his team’s home track. The accomplished Spaniard was the most recent champion here in 2019.
Ducati won the constructors’ championship for the third year in a row in Aragon, putting the spotlight on what seems to be a fierce battle at the top of the championship standings.
In another subplot, Typhoon Nanmadol’s disruption on a big MotoGP Japanese Grand Prix weekend isn’t out of the question.
Race schedule for the 2022 Japanese Grand Prix
Friday 23 September
Free Practice 1: 5.15am – BT Sport 2
Saturday 24 September
Free Practice 3: 1am – BT Sport 2
Qualifying: 4am – BT Sport 2
Sunday 25 September
Warm-ups: 2am – BT Sport 2
Moto3 race: 3.15am – BT Sport 2
Moto2 race: 5am – BT Sport 2
MotoGP race: 6.30am – BT Sport 2
Chequered Flag: 8am – BT Sport 2
MotoGP Japanese Grand Prix 2022 Track Guide
The Japanese Grand Prix has been held at the Mobility Resort Motegi in Motegi, Tochigi Prefecture, since 1999.
The renowned circuit is 4.8km long with six left and eight right turns. The longest straight is 762 meters long.
Marc Marquez has the joint most victories, and the Spaniard won the track’s most recent race in 2019. The all-time circuit record is held by Jorge Lorenzo.
How to Watch the Japanese Grand Prix MotoGP:
Anyone interested in watching the race weekend can do so by opening the BT Sport app during the times listed above and following the link on the homepage.
The software is free to download on iOS and Android phones and tablets.
Visit btsport.com during the times given above to get a live stream connection to the weekend’s activity.
On Sunday, watch Race Day using the upgraded video player by clicking here.