It was a KTM show in qualifying at Motegi, and on race day it was a group of the Austrian factory’s machines largely fighting it out – joined by the likes of eventual podium finisher Lorenzo Dalla Porta and Championship leader Jorge Martin fighting for Honda glory on their home turf.
In the end, however, it was a push too far for Martin and the Spaniard crashed out – as closest challenger Marco Bezzechi judged the drag to the line to perfection and won in style. That cuts the gap back to just one point.
Phillip Island is a very different track to Motegi and that will likely play a role in equalling the playing field again – and it would be no surprise to see Martin back to having a target on his back. But it’s also a track that provides some of the best racing on Earth and with Moto3 already enjoying that rep, it will definitely be a showcase of what everyone’s got. Can Martin pull that gap back out? Will Bezzecchi be able to pounce?
There are a few seriously fast faces sure to make it more than a duel, however. Dalla Porta, teammate Enea Bastianini, Darryn Binder fresh from his first podium, Gabriel Rodrigo, Dennis Foggia, John McPhee, and last but not least Martin’s teammate Fabio Di Giannantonio. Diggia suffered a huge highside in Japan but thankfully escaped largely unscathed. With Martin’s crash the Italian didn’t lose any ground to the top of the championship, so his gap remains at 29 points – a longer shot but very much a possible one.