With his demolition job at MotorLand Aragon, Aron Canet (Sterilgarda Max Racing Team) pulled the gap to Championship leader Lorenzo Dalla Porta (Leopard Racing) back to just two points - but then came a little more bad luck for the Spaniard at Buriram. Heading away from Thailand with another zero as Dalla Porta took second, it's back to 22 points and another uphill battle on the road to Japan.
The bad news for Canet is that Dalla Porta was only hundredths off the win at the Twin Ring Motegi last year, but the good news is that he himself has some top five experience at the venue, although a couple of years ago. He also knows he has to push and can't get trapped by playing it safe, and with higher stakes can come higher rewards. Is four rounds enough to get back on terms with the Italian? Given the see-saw of the year so far, it can still happen.
Tony Arbolino (VNE Snipers), meanwhile, needs even more. After suffering from an issue with his arm in Thailand and, like Canet, losing ground, it's fast approaching crunch time for the Italian if he's to stay in with a shout. Arbolino needs to start winning races and could need the likes of Albert Arenas (Gaviota Angel Nieto Team), Marcos Ramirez (Leopard Racing) and John McPhee (Petronas Yamaha SRT) to come into play...
Racing in Japan, however, lends a little extra motivation to the home heroes and they could well have a big say in the weekend. Tatsuki Suzuki (SIC58 Squadra Corse) is the most recent Japanese winner in the class and was also caught in the drama at Buriram so he'll be full gas to get more from Motegi, and Kaito Toba (Honda Team Asia) will want to win his second Grand Prix of the season. Ayumu Sasaki (Petronas Sprinta Racing) could be another to watch and needs to bounce back, and they should keep an eye on impressive rookie Ai Ogura (Honda Team Asia) too - he's had some impressive results so far this year, and a first podium already.
Race P7???? I’m happy because still I have problems in my shoulder..Next race will be better????— Kaito Toba 鳥羽 海渡 (@KaitoToba) October 6, 2019
The Motul Grand Prix of Japan is a vital stage of the Championship battle this season, but there's also a lot on the line for the home heroes. Who will come out on top? Find out on Sunday 20th August at 12:00 local time (GMT +9).