Movistar Yamaha MotoGP rider Valentino Rossi remained calm and collected in a tense and difficult race, to secure second place. Teammate Jorge Lorenzo had a strong start to the race at Twin Ring Motegi, but suffered tyre problems mid-way through the race and took a strong third, making it a ninth double podium for Yamaha.
Rossi had one goal for today’s 24-lap race: to extend his lead in the championship. You could cut the tension with a knife as the lights went out signaling the start, but he didn’t let it get to him and had a dream launch from second place on the grid to take the holeshot in front of Lorenzo. As the Spaniard fought back, the teammates got involved in a shot duel in the first corners, but due to cold tyres and the treacherous conditions, the Doctor was unable to stay with Lorenzo. So began a lonely ride until Dani Pedrosa closed down the margin with nine laps to go and piled on the pressure.
Rossi, unwilling to give up second place and the additional four vital points difference for the championship, defended his position with all he had. He was unable to hold the Spaniard off for long, but was determined not to let him escape. He followed Pedrosa and together they reeled in Lorenzo, reducing the gap to less than 0,4s with five laps to go. Pedrosa quickly took over the lead and Rossi soon followed passed Lorenzo as the Spaniard went wide. The Doctor kept his head down and squeezed out the maximum to create an over three second gap to Lorenzo, but he was unable to stay with Pedrosa and took second over the line, 8.573s from the front.
Lorenzo had a good start to the wet race from pole. He entered the first corner in second place behind his teammate, but needed little time to take over at the front and made clear he meant business. With a clear track in front of him he was in his element and consistently increased the pace, creating a gap of over three seconds, but it wasn’t to last. As the track dried up, his front tyre started to deteriorate, forcing him to lower his pace and allowing his rivals to come closer.
With seven laps remaining Pedrosa was within 0.5s and he brought Rossi with him. Lorenzo gave everything to keep his chasers at bay, but the front tyre was too degraded for him to give his all and he fell back to third with five laps to go. The Spaniard did well to bring his Yamaha home in third place, securing another 16 points, together with a second consecutive double podium for Yamaha at Motegi.
Today’s 20-point gain sees Rossi increase his lead in the championship standings to 18 points, with a point total of 283. Lorenzo stays in second place with 265 championship points. Additionally, these scores mean that Yamaha, besides securing the 2015 Team Title at the previous round, is certain that one of Movistar Yamaha MotoGP riders will be crowned MotoGP World Champion.
Yamaha Factory Racing Team wildcard rider Katsuyuki Nakasuga made his vast experience count and rode a spectacular race, securing a strong eighth place aboard his ‘60th Anniversary’-styled YZR-M1.