At our first GP from the Asian leg of the campaign, Ducati’s Jack Miller claimed his first win of the season in dominant fashion, pulling the pin early on to lead Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) and Jorge Martin (Prima Pramac Racing) over the line in Japan.
The Australian launched brilliantly off the line from seventh to get into the podium places by the end of Lap 1, while he picked off Binder and Martin in the next two laps before building an unassailable lead out front. In the battle for second, Martin held the advantage until the penultimate lap, but in the end, he had no answer for Binder’s late race pace. Meanwhile, Repsol Honda’s Marc Marquez started on pole for the first time in three years, and he converted that into P4 at Motegi.
Despite victory, it proved a mixed day for the factory Ducatis as Francesco Bagnaia’s Championship ambitions were dented as he attempted a last lap overtake of Fabio Quartararo (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP™). Luckily for the Italian, he wasn’t punished to the max as Quartararo came home in P8, while Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing) finished outside the points following a mishap with his RS-GP’s setting just ahead of lights out.
With four rounds remaining, it was advantage Quartararo who would take an 18-point lead into the Thai GP one week later.