The Japanese Moto GP round since many years has been a favourite hunting ground for the mother nature. In 2010 we saw ‘Eyjafjallajökull’ (No, this is not a spelling mistake), a volcano from the Iceland which disrupted the Air Traffic in a large part of Europe and Asia, meaning the scheduled Japanese round was shifted from the beginning of the season to the October, 2010. A year later, Tohoku arrived, the Earth-Quake which and the subsequent Tsunami took 16000 lives and destroyed the Fukushima Nuclear Reactor. Again, the race was rescheduled to October from April, 2011. The supposed 'End of The World' year, 2012 went smooth only to bring Typhoon Francisco, ravaging the region, causing the first day and a half of practice to be lost in fog and rain.
This year, thus, It is no wonder that the GP weekend starts under fear of the Upcoming Grade 5 Super Cyclone Vongfong. The good news being, it would lose most of its anger before it reaches the Japanese shore and is expected to landfall 1200 km South East from the Twin-Ring Motegi Circuit, owned by the mighty Honda itself.
It is no wonder, Honda means business this weekend. With Repsol Honda riders being first and second in the championship, and Honda within 10 points of the manufacturers' title, the Repsol squad will try to close the championship with win. Though, of the ten MotoGP rounds held at the circuit so far, only, three have been won by Hondas. Of the rest, another three have been won by arch rival Yamaha. But the Lion's share of the wins at the Motegi has been eaten by the Ducati, Loris Capirossi taking three wins and Casey Stoner taking the fourth. Of the current riders, Dani Pedrosa and Jorge Lorenzo share the spoils, with two wins each.
Marquez made his intentions clear at the pre-event press conference. "You know how I ride, and my mentality. I always try to push." There are still four races left in the championship, and so Marquez can afford to fail here. That doesn't mean he will sit quietly and aim for a conservative result. "I will push like always, try to find the limit." He himself was clear what he needed to do: finish ahead of Dani Pedrosa and Valentino Rossi, which means either winning, or coming second to Jorge Lorenzo.
Dani Pedrosa's record at Motegi is impressive: alongside his two wins are another, three podium finishes, including a third place here last year. While, Lorenzo feels he has adapted better during the second half of the season than he has. He pointed out that he has scored the most points of all of the top Moto GP riders in the last six races, and the Spaniard has not been off the podium since Indianapolis. His goal is to maintain that record, a target which will be tough, but achievable, though, hoping to get in his way, is his teammate, Valentino Rossi.
Motegi, is a circuit of hard braking zones, and those hard braking zones may well play into the hands of the Ducatis. The Ducati is now the strongest bike on the grid when it comes to braking. Add to that, its improved turn in and a decent corner exit, and the Desmosedici is starting to resemble a competitive motorcycle.
Watch this space for updates from the qualifier, tomorrow.