2023 Japanese MotoGP News and Results

2023 Japanese MotoGP News—Friday

KTM’s carbon fiber chassis

After sampling it for the first time at the Misano test, KTM’s factory riders had one new carbon fiber chassis apiece in Japan. The results were immediate, with Brad Binder topping Friday’s timesheets and Jack Miller finishing inside the top 10.

Binder used the new carbon-fiber chassis to smash the lap record at Motegi.

The frame, first raced by Dani Pedrosa at the San Marino GP, appears to aid rear grip, arguably the RC16’s big deficit this year. “The new chassis has given me a bit more rear grip, which is something I have been asking for so it’s great to have it available and it helps for sure; grip is lap-time,” said Binder.

“We were all surprised by how fast Dani was in Misano; he was smoking us! I feel better (with it). I feel I have a little bit more opportunity to ride the bike how I want to because I have a bit more rear grip at the moment.”

HRC reorganization

In Japan all the talk was of how Honda is planning to cull some the most senior figures from its MotoGP project. The first evidence of this came on Friday, when HRC Director Shinichi Kokubu was absent from the Repsol garage, leading HRC to confirm he has been moved on.

It’s a bit of a revolving door at Repsol Honda right now.

The Japanese figure has been a mainstay at Honda since 1986, where his roles included Project leader for the chassis of Honda’s NSR500 from 1996 to 2001, Project Leader for its RC212V 800 in 2008-’09 and Technical Director in 2010-’12.

If rumors in Motegi were to be believed fellow HRC Director Tetsuhiro Kuwata could soon follow suit, while names as varied as Suzuki’s ex-Team Manager Davide Brivio and Aprilia CEO Massimo Rivola were linked with moves to the project.

Of the changes, Marc Marquez said, “It’s true…I already say in Misano that some new faces were there, some new names and new people. We will see if there are new ideas or they will bring the correct ideas.”

Crutchlow returns, and pushing Yamaha

Cal Crutchlow returned to race in MotoGP for the first time since Valencia, 2022. Making a wildcard appearance for the Yamalube RS4GP Racing Team, Yamaha’s test rider offered some typically frank views on the development direction needed for next year.

Cal Crutchlow was back and not best pleased with Yamaha’s progress.

“We don’t need more power. We need less power,” he said of Yamaha’s M1 engine. “Trust me, I know what the other manufacturers are doing. And we’re using a lot more torque on the exit of the turn and the engine is not smooth.”

He also stated he warned Yamaha not to select this engine for 2023, but they went against at the behest of Fabio Quartararo and Franco Morbidelli. “They asked for this engine. I already tested it last year and said the engine will create a problem and now we have the problem. Now they’re asking for more power again. It’s not the right direction so I have to put my case to Yamaha.”

Friday MotoGP

One of the longest-standing lap records is no more thanks to a blockbuster performance from Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) on Friday at the Motul Grand Prix of Japan, with the South African smashing MotoGP Legend Jorge Lorenzo’s 2015 record by more than three tenths. It’s a statement opener to the weekend as KTM make a final stand against the Ducati onslaught in the Constructors’ Championship, but Binder did have company… and it was from Ducati. Francesco Bagnaia (Ducati Lenovo Team) ended the day 0.029 off the KTM, making his own impressive statement as his final effort dug him out of a trip to Q1.

Third goes to Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing) as he also just pipped Lorenzo’s 2015 best but by thousandths. Still, it was a strong opening day for the agile RS-GP at the hard-braking Motegi as the number 41 slotted in on the timesheets right ahead of Jorge Martin (Prima Pramac Racing) and Marco Bezzecchi (Mooney VR46 Racing Team).

In terms of the Championship top three, Bagnaia seemed on the back foot for much of the day before his sweltering lap at the end of Practice, and he said he’s solved some of his recent braking issues. Martin destroyed the opposition in FP1 but then crashed and took fourth in the afternoon, and Bezzecchi chipped away to ending Practice in fifth.

Binder was flying at Motegi to head Bagnaia, both riders under the old lap record.

There was an impressive showing from Gresini Racing MotoGP’s Fabio Di Giannantonio. The #49 was the first rider to break into the 1:43s in Japan, and with sixth on the timesheets, the Italian secured just his second Q2 appearance of the campaign. Elsewhere, Pol Espargaro (GASGAS Factory Racing Tech3) will appear in Q2 for the first time this year, having put in the ninth fastest time of the day behind Johann Zarco (Prima Pramac Racing) and the second RS-GP of Maverick Viñales (Aprilia Racing).

Rounding out the top 10 for the day is Jack Miller (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing), the 2022 winner at Motegi now taking in on in orange. The Australian had crashed earlier in the session but squeezed into Q2 courtesy of his last ditch effort.

Some late yellow flags played their part too, due to Raul Fernandez’ (CryptoDATA RNF MotoGP Team) second crash of the day, with Binder just escaping this time after the KTM rider found his Practice AND Q1 bests scrubbed off in India.

Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) lost one lap and then ultimately missed out as he was among the late fallers at Motegi, with the eight-time World Champion going down at Turn 1 while in pursuit of a flying lap that would place him at the business end of proceedings. Instead, he is facing down Q1, along with 2021 World Champion Fabio Quartararo (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP), who went down at Turn 6 earlier in the session. On home turf for Honda and Yamaha, it’s going to be quite a fight to move through.

2023 Japanese MotoGP Results—Friday

Brad Binder
(Red Bull KTM Factory Racing)

Francesco Bagnaia
(Ducati Lenovo Team)

Aleix Espargaro
(Aprilia Racing)

Jorge Martin
(Prima Pramac Racing)

Marco Bezzecchi
(Mooney VR46 Racing Team)

Fabio Di Giannantonio
(Gresini Racing MotoGP)

Johann Zarco
(Prima Pramac Racing)

Maverick Viñales
(Aprilia Racing)

Pol Espargaro
(GASGAS Factory Racing Tech3)

Jack Miller
(Red Bull KTM Factory Racing)

Friday Moto2

Somkiat Chantra (IDEMITSU Honda Team Asia) cemented himself as an early frontrunner the Motul Grand Prix of Japan with a comprehensive display on Friday. The Thai rider had already established his dominance at Mobility Resort Motegi, having been quickest on the grid in P1, before he doubled down to put in a 1:50.396 in the afternoon and head the combined timesheets.

Aron Canet (Pons Wegow Los40) was close behind with a time of 1:50.433, salvaging his day with a late charge. Meanwhile, Sam Lowes also recovered well after going down in Practice 1, taking third on his Triumph-powered Elf Marc VDS Racing Team machine.

Somkiat Chantra used his vast experience of Motegi to go fastest in Moto2.

With the prospect of rain looming on the horizon for tomorrow morning’s third and final practice session, Practice 2 took on additional importance and could well prove critical for qualifying…

Current Moto2 Championship leader Pedro Acosta (Red Bull KTM Ajo) was unable to break into the top three overall after ending P1 in second, with that lap still his fastest by the end of play as he finds himself fourth and a tenth behind Lowes. His title rival Tony Arbolino (Elf Marc VDS Racing Team), however, had a tougher day as he finished 18th on the combined timesheets, looking for a lot more on Saturday.

2023 Japanese Moto2 Results—Friday

Somkiat Chantra
(Idemitsu Honda Team Asia)

Aron Canet
(Pons Wegow Los40)

Sam Lowes
(Elf Marc VDS Racing Team)

Pedro Acosta
(Red Bull KTM Ajo)

Ai Ogura
(Idemitsu Honda Team Asia)

Marcos Ramirez
(OnlyFans American Racing)

Filip Salac
(QJMOTOR Gresini Moto2)

Manuel Gonzalez
(Correos Prepago Yamaha VR46 Team)

Dennis Foggia
(Italtrans Racing Team)

Izan Guevara
(Inde GASGAS Aspar Team)

Friday Moto3

Jaume Masia’s (Leopard Racing) incredible form continues after an excellent showing on Friday at Motegi, with the Indian GP winner putting in a 1:57.068 to lead the lightweight class charge into Saturday’s action at the Motul Grand Prix of Japan.

The session took on an added importance at Motegi, with the threat of rain looming large over Saturday’s action, so it was absolutely pivotal that riders recorded a banker lap before then, something which the leading lights in the class managed to do. Ivan Ortola (Angeluss MTA Team) sits in P2, just 0.108s off the lead, while Championship frontrunner Ayumu Sasaki’s (Liqui Moly Husqvarna Intact GP) late efforts see the home hero occupy third.

Masia is on fire right now and went fastest again on Friday.

Crucially for Daniel Holgado, who leads the title race but is now tied on points with Masia, he is among the provisional Q2 places having missed out in India amid a more checkered run of form. The Red Bull KTM Tech3 rider is P4, ahead of Diogo Moreira (MT Helmets – MSI) and fellow Championship challenger Deniz Öncü (Red Bull KTM Ajo). All the main protagonists involved in the title race can rest easy tonight knowing they have all but secured a Q2 spot should rain arrive in the morning, with David Alonso (Gaviota GASGAS Aspar Team) sneaking into P13 late on.

Stefano Nepa (Angeluss MTA Team), Kaito Toba (SIC58 Squadra Corse) and Jose Antonio Rueda (Red Bull KTM Ajo) all sit safely inside the top 10, while three Japanese riders, Ryusei Yamanaka (Gaviota GASGAS Aspar Team), Taiyo Furusato (Honda Team Asia) and Tatsuki Suzuki (Leopard Racing) join Alonso in the danger zone, should the skies remain clear on Saturday morning. Collin Veijer (Liqui Moly Husqvarna Intact GP) is one of the bigger names who will be hoping the sun shines through as the young Dutch rider missed out, with a near highside not helping his case.

2023 Japanese Moto3 Results—Friday

Jaume Masia
(Leopard Racing)

Ivan Ortola
(Angeluss MTA Team)

Ayumu Sasaki
(Liqui Moly Husqvarna Intact GP)

Daniel Holgado
(Red Bull KTM Tech3)

Diogo Moreira
(MT Helmets – MSI)

Deniz Öncü
(Red Bull KTM Ajo)

Stefano Nepa
(Angeluss MTA Team)

Kaito Toba
(SIC58 Squadra Corse)

David Muñoz
(BOE Motorsports)

Jose Antonio Rueda
(Red Bull KTM Ajo)

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