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MotoGP Motegei 2016; an exciting race, a champion crowned

Compton, Ca, United States





Yesterday was MotoGP's Japanese Grand Prix at Motegei. It's a relatively short but fast circuit with a good mix of fast and slow 90 degree turns. Typically this leads to a lot of opportunities for overtaking and and the 2016 MotoGP race was no exception. With the championship on the line for the first time in the season, the drama and intensity of the race was at a season all time high.

MoviStar Yamaha's Valentino Rossi and Jorge Lorenzo vigorously battled it out until Rossi, crashed out in the 15th lap. Lorenzo was met with the same fate with only five laps to go when he lost the front end and low sided his way out of the race. Both blue yamahas were too damaged to continue in hopes of securing a handful of points.

Cal Crutchlow as expected finished first out of all the private team riders. Maverick Vinales, who's race had a poor start, managed to fight his way through the ranks. His effort combined with a few crashes ahead of him allowed him to seal a third place podium spot. (Not a bad rookie season so far).

But unsurprisingly many eyes were on Marquez, who had a strong start, kept a solid pace, rode consistently and who's NOT crashing meant the world championship was his. Repsol (and all of Honda) was thrilled to have one of their riders crowned at their home event, and while I didn't watch much post race coverage, I imagine they partied hard. In addition to the world champion riding a Honda, the Japanese manufacturer is leading in the points ahead of the other companies making this an awesome season for them and if the old "win on Sunday, sell on Monday" adage is true, Hondas newly unveiled 2017 CBR1000RR (and SP) should see some boosted sales numbers.

The Repsol #93 rider celebrated after the race, carrying a black and gold special shoei helmet, and wearing a celebratory jersey saying "2016 MotoGP world champion, Repsol, Honda" and "give me five", along with a hand print picture, referring to this being Marquez's fifth world championship in total. (2010 moto3, 2011 moto2, and 2013 & 2014 MotoGP, and this years 2016 motogp).

With the next race at Phillip island, my favorite MotoGP venue, it should still be an exciting race, even with the championship's first place already figured out. And with two more races following Phillip island, the season is close to ending. The seasons final race at Valencia will give us all a preview of some of what's to come in MotoGP in 2017. Many riders will be throwing a leg over their new team's bike for the first time, so long as their 2016 contract and team allows for it. The Repsol team will remain unchanged, Movistar Yamaha will see their Jorge Lorenzo go to Ducati, where his place upon the M1 will be filled by the young and promising Maverick Vinales. Vinales departure from Ecstar Suzuki means that his place there will be open. Ducati's Ianone will go to Suzuki while his place will be taken by Jorge Lorenzo as mentioned.

There have been rumors of drama between Yamaha and Lorenzo, with many sources saying Yamaha will not be allowing their number 99 rider to ride a Ducati until his contract with them completely expires. This means no test session at Valencia; a valuable chance to get feedback from the rider on the bike and for the rider to get a feel for their new ride. It could be a simple choice of strategy on MoviStar Yamaha's part. Less testing and feedback means less successful results to some extent, and while it seems a little unfair for Lorenzo, who is the only rider not allowed to race Valencia on their 2017 contract's bike, it makes sense.

This Friday is the first practice day at Phillip Island, for the Australlian Grand Prix, a long swooping, Oceanside circuit, peppered with fast and medium speed turns. A truly exciting track to watch the premier class race. A recap will be out Sunday afternoon as per usual. This week I was at the track Sunday and couldn't manage to write my normal piece on time. Also check out my piece on MM93's world records. Keep riding and ride safe.

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