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MotoGP, Japanese GP: the Good, the Bad and the Ugly

Game over for everyone expect Marquez. The guy at the bar who, with just one coin, monopolises the pinball machine all afternoon

MotoGP: Japanese GP: the Good, the Bad and the Ugly

Game over for everyone except Marquez. Like the guy at the bar who, with just one coin, monopolises the pinball machine all afternoon. And with Marc, you can't even buy him a drink in the hope of getting him off his favourite game for a minute. MotoGP is his, and those who try to take him await from it will pay the consequences.

He pulled out his full box of tricks at Motegi, the Honda bosses realising that they've done very well to keep him for another two years, whatever the price. Having the Spaniard is like having the only joker in the pack - he may be a little crazy but it's a successful crazy.

THE GOOD – Speaking of 'goats’, the only goats are those who refuse to count Marquez among the greatest of all time. A cannibal who gobbles up records and rivals without ever being sated, an experimenter who invents new ways of riding and winning, a serial winner who takes no prisoners. Marquez is not just MotoGP's present but also its future, which is not a compliment but simply a fact.

THE UGLY – Six wins and compliments from its rivals who deem it the best bike, but for Ducati the 2018 season feels like something of a wasted opportunity. You can't win titles with 'ifs', especially against Marquez, but they could have made the Martian's life (more) difficult. Dovi's mistakes and Lorenzo's long 'running-in period' didn't help, but neither did the questionable management of the riders' contracts. We learn from our mistakes, but there have been too many mistakes this year.


THE BAD – He was the first Ducati rider to cross the line, in the top five with last year's Desmosedici, he has experience and he's proved to be quick on various bikes. Yet Alvaro Bautista will not compete in MotoGP in 2019, the paddock prioritising full pockets and new names over professionalism. He will at least have the satisfaction of riding the red factory bike before he leaves a world where he has given a great deal and not received enough in return.

THE DISAPPOINTMENT – Someone should have told Petrucci and Miller that the Ducati likes the Japanese track. Jack at least completed a solid qualifying lap, Danilo not even managing that. Next year, the Australian will have a factory bike, the Italian on the team of his dreams - it's only polite to show that they deserve this.

THE CONFIRMATION  – Valentino might be struggling as a rider right now, but he's in the mix for best teacher of the year. His pupils, Bezzecchi and Bagnaia, are on their way to graduating with top marks. Marco and Pecco are similar, both as smart as they are fast. Just three races left in which to pass the final test.

THE MISTAKE – Not one but two, for Jorge Martin. The first on track, when he threw valuable points into the gravel rather than keeping a cool head. The second when talking to Spanish journalists, accusing the KTM and VR46 riders of having ganged up on him. If Martin wants to win this championship, he needs to relax, as his speed is not up for debate.

THE SURPRISE  – The bad one that Fabio Quartararo received, forced to hand victory to Bagnaia at Motegi. The Frenchman saw his dreams of victory deflate as a result of just 0.02 bar (the pressure by which his rear tyre was out, resulting in his disqualification). A pity, but at least he has the memories of a great race.

THE PASS – The most significant was the move that Marco Bezzecchi made on Darryn Binder as they raced to the line. A fraction of a second that was worth a ton of points.


THE INTERESTING FACT – it wasn't the fastest Yamaha on track but it was the best looking. Katsuyuki Nakasuga's M1 had a special livery to mark 20 years of the R1, already used by the Iwata manufacturer in the Suzuku 8 Hours

I TOLD YOU SO –My aim is to defer Marquez's celebration”. Andrea Dovizioso tried, and for this alone he can leave Motegi with his head held high.

Translated by Heather Watson

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