Motul Grand Prix of Japan 2023 might receive the title of most dramatic weekend of this season. Jorge Martin (Prima Pramac Racing) was on another level of performance throughout all the sessions. He clocked a stunning 1:43.198 in the Saturday qualification. That was the Spaniard's second pole in the last three races, but he still had a job to do, as both his main rivals Francesco Bagnaia (Ducati Lenovo Team) and Marco Bezzecchi (Mooney VR46 Racing Team) were quite hungry for the wins.
MotoGP qualifying Japan 2023 brought a glimpse of the fight we have all been waiting for in both races. Besides all the title contenders anticipated amongst top online bookmakers, Repsol Honda Marc Marquez's performance looked promising.
He showed his personal best time of 1:44.997 on the first try and secured his spot in Q2 in the fight against Fabio Quartararo (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP™), who was on his rear wheel. For quite a time it looked like this duo would go to the Q2, but Raul Fernandez (CryptoDATA RNF MotoGP™ Team) bumped Quartararo from his spot.
The 2021 World Champion still did his best and was able to retake the second position, but Fernandez once again improved the result and it was him and Marquez who went down to the Q2 session of Motul Grand Prix of Japan 2023.
Jorge Martin has been unreachable since the start of Q1. The Spaniard showed mid 1:43 on his very first attempt. He was one of the favorites of the fans' predictions on the MotoGP betting sites.
His 1:43.198 broke the lap record previously held by Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing). So by the time of Q2, we’ve had a second fresh «Motegi Master» since the Jorge Lorenzo’s record.
The front row was completed by the championship leader Pecco Bagnaia, who showed some decent pace despite some mistakes, and Jack Miller, who mastered the track for the first time since British GP.
Martin becomes the king of Tissot Sprint Races. In the last two, he led every single lap, and the Motul Grand Prix of Japan 2023 wasn’t the exception. He mastered the perfect hole-shot start that gave him the possibility to run first into turn 1. But it wasn’t a fairytale for the #89, because he wasn’t alone in the lead, as both factory KTM’s also had a decent start of MotoGP Japan while Francesco Bagnaia was lost in between. It was a curious outcome from the betting perspective - especially if you were playing live - because after this the situation on the Japanese betting sites became quite heated.
Lap by lap Martin started to build a gap from his rivals. It was 0.338s from the Binder in second place and 1.7s from his rival for the title Pecco, who was fourth at the moment.
Through the whole distance, Martin was untouchable and dominantly crossed the line, while Binder brought his KTM home on the second spot and Bagnaia took the last podium place of the Tissot Sprint.
This win helped Martin to cut the title fight gap just to 8 points from Bagnaia before the main race of MotoGP Japan. It was interesting to see how the odds on betting sites with bonuses changed before the main event of the weekend.
By the start of the weekend's main event weather conditions had noticably worsened and all this the best online betting apps players' attention was centered around the three Ducati’s title fight because Bagnaia’s lead was in real danger. . Slight rain on the sighting lap brought up the white rain flags. The mixed conditions brought to light a huge tire selection dilemma for the riders and teams.
The dramatic tension was palpable from the very start because Maverick Viñales (Aprilia Racing) ended his weekend in the gravel trap of the first turn after an incident with a few other riders. This also worsened Johann Zarco's (Prima Pramac Racing) situation, who went quite wide and lost some time due to that.
A few minutes into the race the rain intensified, so the race authorities decided to open the pit lane for a bike swapping, which both of the grids had opted to do. It was Fabio Quartararo (Moneter Energy Yamaha MotoGP™), Franco Morbidelli (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP™), Cal Crutchlow (Yamalube RS4GP Racing Team), Stefan Bradl (LCR Honda Castrol) and Michele Pirro (Ducati Lenovo Team) who resolved to forego this option, which in turn let Pirro become a leader of Motul Grand Prix of Japan 2023.
It was a peak of workload for sportsbooks that accept Mastercard, because all the championship leaders were too far from the leading group when they got back on track.
In a few laps the situation has changed: Marquez confidently flew away from the pack of riders who opted for the bike-swapping process; the Ducati trio (Martin, Marquez, and Bezzecchi) went after him.
By the ninth lap, it looked like everything has calmed down after such a hectic start of the race, and all eyes were on Joan Mir (Repsol Honda Team) and Miller fighting for the seventh position. It was the main intrigue of the course up until the moment when Miller ran pretty wide in the turn 11.
When just 13 out of 24 laps were done, the Race Direction decided to red-flag the race because of the terrible weather conditions. For a moment there was a possibility of the restart, but before they could complete the warm-up lap, the red flag was waved once again, and the race result was declared.
Since the majority of the distance has been completed, the pilots received full points and this turned the heat of the championship fight to another level. As it stands after this race, the gap between leader Bagnaia and Martin is only three points.
This will give MotoGP and F1 bookmakers a huge amount of popularity before the Mandalika round in two weeks. Will we get the new championship leader or will Bagnaia defend his lead?