The MotoGP title race is back on following Marc Marquez’s disqualification from the Australian MotoGP that enabled Jorge Lorenzo to close the gap to 18 points going into the final two rounds of the season in Japan and Spain.
Marquez remains in pole position, though, with the MotoGP rookie trading at odds of 1.33 with William Hill to take out the championship. The likelihood is that Marquez will land the spoils because the Spaniard has only missed the top three in two of this season’s 16 races and both times he failed to take the chequered flag.
The Japanese Grand Prix has been a regular on the calendar since 1987 but it did not move to Motegi until 2004, the year in which Dani Pedrosa won the 250cc event and Lorenzo finished seventh in the 125cc category. The good news is that one has nine years of track form on which to mull over.
The bad news is that the Japanese Grand Prix results at Motegi paint a confusing picture. Lorenzo and Pedrosa have competed in the same Japanese Grand Prix class five times. Lorenzo has been quicker than Pedrosa in every qualification battle but the latter has outperformed the former in four of the five races. Then there is the Marquez factor to assess.
Marquez has competed in four editions of the Japanese Grand Prix for a first and a fifth in the 125cc category and two seconds in the Moto2 grade. One win from four starts is not the type of form figures that one wants to see in a motor cyclist whom some bookmakers are quoting at odds on to win the Japanese MotoGP. So it comes down to a choice between Lorenzo and Pedrosa given the state of the betting market.
Pedrosa is the outsider of the three Spanish amigos and, in light of him having beaten Lorenzo at Motegi four times out of five, he gets the nod at odds of 4.25 with Youwin. Pedrosa’s record stands up to close inspection.
Last year, Pedrosa qualified for the Japanese MotoGP second fastest behind Lorenzo but won the race comfortably, taking the chequered flag more than four seconds in front of his nearest rival. In 2011, Pedrosa made light of qualifying for the Japanese MotoGP in fourth spot to win the race by more than seven seconds. Pedrosa did not take part in the 2010 Japanese MotoGP and one can forgive him for only coming third in the 2009 race because, after adverse weather conditions forced the grid positions to be defined by free-practice times, he started from 11th place.
Pedrosa has the best Japanese Grand Prix form in the field – as mentioned above he won the 250cc race in 2004 and he would have gone close to winning the 2007 MotoGP event had he not been forced to retire – so he is the top pick in view of bookmakers rating him below both Marquez and Lorenzo.
Away from the Japanese MotoGP favourites it is worth keeping a close eye on Andrea Dovizioso, whose recent performances at Motegi mean that he could be a value bet at odds of 3.50 with Ladbrokes to finish in the top six. Dovizioso was fifth in 2009, second in 2010, fifth in 2011 and fourth in 2012, plus he was the pole sitter in 2010. Dovizioso won the 125cc class of the Japanese Grand Prix in 2004 so he has Motegi winning form as well. The argument against Dovizioso making the Japanese MotoGP top six is that only twice this season has the Italian finished in the top half dozen and both his top-six efforts occurred in the first five rounds of the championship. But Dovizioso’s odds account for that.