Marco Bezzecchi wins dramatic Motegi race, Jorge Martin crashes
Marco Bezzecchi snatched Moto3 Japanese Grand Prix victory from Lorenzo Dalla Porta by just 0.041 seconds to reignite his title charge, as points leader Jorge Martin crashed out of a dramatic race.
Prustel GP's Bezzecchi and his main rival Martin fought for much of the first 15 laps before the Gresini man crashed out at Turn 11, while Bezzecchi stole victory from Lorenzo Dalla Porta and Darryn Binder on the run to the line in a dramatic finish.
Gabriel Rodrigo held onto pole position on the run into Turn 1 at the start, with title rivals Bezzecchi and Martin ran line astern behind the RBA rider.
Bezzecchi moved into the lead a few turns into the opening lap, while John McPhee worked his way past the Argentine and Martin to run second by the start of lap three.
A mistake from Bezzecchi under braking for Turn 5 dropped him to fourth on lap four, with Rodrigo retaking the lead, before Martin passed at Turn 9.
Bezzecchi regrouped quickly, and found himself back at the head of the pack at Turn 3 on the next tour, retaliating at Turn 11 after Martin resisted at Turn 5.
The lead continued to change hands over the next handful of laps between Bezzecchi, Martin, Leopard's Dalla Porta and Binder on the Ajo KTM.
Things got tight between Bezzecchi and Martin into Turn 11 on lap 14, when the latter almost collided with Bezzecchi, while Binder moved into the lead.
This moment saw Martin drop to sixth, and he crashed trying to recover ground at the same corner on the following tour, while Bezzecchi moved ahead of Binder seconds later at Turn 1.
With three laps remaining, Bezzecchi pulled out a gap of four tenths over the warring Binder, Dalla Porta and Tony Arbolino [Marinelli Snipers] behind, though was unable to break away as the race entered its concluding tour.
Binder moved ahead of Bezzecchi at Turn 5, and held the lead as he exited the last corner. But Bezzecchi out-dragged the South African on the run to the line for his third win of the year, while Dalla Porta demoted Binder to third by a 0.001s.
Martin's demise allows Bezzecchi to reduce his deficit to just one point heading to Phillip Island next weekend, while the sister Gresini of Fabio Di Giannantonio remains an outside hope 29 adrift despite an early fall.
Sky VR46 rider Dennis Foggia was denied a podium late on in fourth, with CIP's John McPhee completing the top five ahead of Arbolino, Leopard's Enea Bastianini, Rodrigo, home hero Ayumu Sasaki [SIC] and Bezzecchi's teammate Jakub Kornfeil.
Jaume Masia led Bester Capital Dubai teammate Marcos Ramirez in 11th, with Nieto's Andrea Migno, Nicolo Bulega's Sky VR46 injury substitute and Moto3 debutant Cellestino Vietti and Japan's Tatsuki Suzuki [SIC58] claiming the final points