Another thrilling MotoGP™ Saturday has come to a close, and now eyes are firmly fixed on Sunday’s feature race at the Motul Grand Prix of Japan. Ahead of lights out on Sunday, here are 10 things you should know
1. Jorge Martin (Prima Pramac Racing) has qualified on pole for the 11th time in MotoGP™ (the second time so far this year along with Misano), setting a new all-time lap record at Motegi. He took his fifth Tissot Sprint win, becoming the rider with most Sprint wins so far. Since the Catalan Grand Prix race, he has always finished on the podium in both Sprints and the Grand Prix race. He will now be aiming to take his fourth MotoGP™ win along with Styria 2021, Germany 2023 and San Marino 2023. He could compete the double for the third time after already winning both the Sprint and GP race in Germany and Misano.
2. Championship leader Francesco Bagnaia (Ducati Lenovo Team) has qualified second for his 12th top three in qualifying so far this year. He finished P3 in the Sprint for his 12th Sprint podium and will now be aiming to take his sixth GP win of the season, which would be only one less than he took all last year.
3. Winner last year here in Motegi (with Ducati), Jack Miller (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) has qualified third for his fourth top three in qualifying so far this year. He finished P4 in the Sprint (his best Sprint result since he was P3 in Germany) and is in the running to make MotoGP™ history on Sunday by taking Grand Prix wins with three different factories (after already winning with Honda and Ducati). Maverick Viñales is the other rider who could achieve this feat, now riding with Aprilia after winning with Suzuki and Yamaha.
4. Despite a crash in Q2, Marco Bezzecchi (Mooney VR46 Racing Team) bounced back to qualify fourth, which is the ninth time so far this year he has missed out on the top three in qualifying (the last time being in Catalunya when he qualified 10th). He finished P6 in the Sprint, and he will be aiming to take his fourth MotoGP™ win on Sunday (along with Argentina, France and India) and the first time in back-to-back MotoGP™ Grand Prix races after his Sunday demolition of the opposition last weekend.
5. Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) has qualified fifth for his fourth top five in qualifying so far this season. He finished P2 in the Sprint for his first Sprint podium since he was also P2 in Austria and will now be aiming to score his ninth podium in MotoGP™, which would see him become the South African rider with most podiums in the premier class.
6. Fabio Di Giannantonio (Gresini Racing MotoGP™) has qualified sixth for his best qualifying result since he qualified fifth in Germany last year. He finished P8 in the Sprint for his first point-scoring Saturday, and he will be aiming to finish on the podium for the first time in MotoGP™. His best result so far is P8 scored in Germany last year and in France this year.
7. After passing through Q1, Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team), who was on pole here last year, has qualified seventh which is the third successive time he has qualified within the top nine. He finished P7 in the Sprint and will now be aiming to win for the first time since Emilia-Romagna 2021, 707 days ago.
8. Maverick Viñales (Aprilia Racing) has qualified eighth which is the seventh successive time he has qualified within the top nine. He scored one point in the Sprint, finishing P9, but he, like Miller, is in the running to make MotoGP™ history on Sunday by taking Grand Prix wins with three different factories (after already winning with Suzuki and Yamaha).
9. Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing) has qualified ninth which is the eighth time so far this year he has qualified within the top nine. He retired from the Sprint, but he will now be aiming to win for the fourth time in Grand Prix racing (and MotoGP™).
10. Johann Zarco (Prima Pramac Racing) has qualified 10th which is only the fourth time so far this year he has missed out on the top nine in qualifying. He finished P5 in the Sprint, and he is still missing that maiden MotoGP™ win. If he finishes on the podium on Sunday, he will have scored five podiums this year and 2023 will be his best season in terms of podiums since he stepped up to MotoGP™ in 2017.