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Alex Marquez (EG 0,0 Marc VDS) says there isn't anything particular about the Twin Ring Motegi that has made his record at the track such a good one, but he'll feel pretty good about it heading into the Motul Grand Prix of Japan this year. The number 73 has a chance at a fourth win at the circuit, and he's already 40 points clear...so is he sitting pretty? Almost, so now is the time for key rivals Augusto Fernandez (Flexbox HP 40) and Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Ajo) to stage somewhat of a final stand.
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Fernandez, certainly, took the gloves off last time out and showed he's more than willing to fight for this Championship; aggressive and leaving everything on the track. And he remains consistently impressive but now he has to remain consistently ahead of Marquez and by some margin, as does Binder, who is 44 points off the leader. The South African seems to have more been sneaking his way up the table as he's gained some serious traction in the latter half of the season, and if 40 points doesn't put Fernandez out of contention, a few more doesn't do the same for Binder. Will Marquez crack? Does he need to? A maximum 100 points remain on the table...
Jorge Navarro (Beta Tools Speed Up), meanwhile, will be looking to get up in that fight too in Japan. The Spaniard had a tough time at Buriram and didn't score, meaning he's been leapfrogged in the standings by a few riders - including Swiss veteran Tom Lüthi (Dynavolt Intact GP). It's a tight top five with a lot on the line for everyone though, and Lüthi could be one to watch. He's another who has a great record at Motegi.
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Then there's Luca Marini (Sky Racing Team VR46), who is in sixth overall. Although he's in danger of becoming the first near the top to be out of the fight mathematically, the turn of pace he had at Buriram was stunning - and if he keeps anything like that going in Japan, he could be a serious extra cat amongst the pigeons.
As with every class on the grid though, there's a home hero to consider too: Tetsuta Nagashima (ONEXOX TKKR SAG Team). He's had some impressive showings this season and could prove an extra complication for a few people at the Twin Ring Motegi...
The time is now for Marquez' rivals. How will Motegi shuffle the dice? Find out on Sunday 20th October.
2 years ago