Here Are Three Of The Most Memorable Japanese Grand Prixs in MotoGP History
After three years of not being able to race overseas, MotoGP finally returns to Motegi. As riders try to adapt to the track, we have a look at some of the most memorable races at the Japanese track.
1994 Japanese Grand Prix – Abe’s inspiring debut ends in the gravel
Not only for MotoGP fans around the world, the 1994 Japanese Grand Prix was one to remember. Future MotoGP legend and nine-time champion Valentino Rossi was inspired by the performance of Japanese wildcard rider Norifumi Abe.
The race started with a poor start from 1994 champion Kevin Schwantz. While the American fought back from seventh into the top three, Mick Doohan and 18-year-old wildcard rider Norifumi Abe stormed ahaed.
Norifumi Abe in 2006 – Image provided by Motorsport Images
The Japanese with his long and flowing hair performed incredibly well, surprising his opponents multple times.
All front three took turns leading what became an iconic race of the 90s. With Schwantz taking the lead late in the race and Mick Doohan continually frustrated by Abe’s incredibly late braking maneuvers though, everything went wrong for the young Japanese.
Braking later lap after lap into turn one his front tyre finally gave way and his debut race in the premier class ended in a plume of dust.
Still, however, an Abe’s performance was one to remember and was the foundation of what would become a ten year long lasting MotoGP career.
Valentino Rossi would later say: “I remember for two or three months I always looked at the video of the race before I went to school. I’d wake up at 7am each day and look at the video until Norick crashed and then I would go to school.”
2010 Japanese Grand Prix – Stoner’s back-to-back win, Rossi-Lorenzo battle for 3rd
The 2010 Japanese Grand Prix at Motegi saw Ducati rider and later World Champion Casey Stoner take his first back-to-back win in MotoGP.
The Aussie lead the race from start to finish, never reaLly getting away from Andrea Dovizioso in 2nd. In the final phase of the race though, Stoner was able to slightly pull away and grant himself a relaxed Japanese Grand Prix victory.
Jorge Lorenzo in the hunt for his teammate – Image provided by Motorsport Images
In the time of the famous Yamaha pit box wall, seperating the two rivals, Rossi and Lorenzo went all out for the remaining podium seat.
In the end, then World Champion Valentino Rossi came out on top to finish one of his fiercest battles with Lorenzo in third place.
2015 Japanese Grand Prix – Pedrosa on top,
Dani Pedrosa won his first MotoGP race of the 2015 season at the Twin Ring Motegi, coming through like a train in the latter half of the JapanGP to take a deserved victory in the wet.
After a difficult start to the campaign that saw the Repsol Honda rider miss three rounds through injury, Pedrosa had shown he was back to his best last time out with a second place in Aragón, following a battle with Valentino Rossi.
In Japan, he was too fast for the Italian and his Yamaha teammate Jorge Lorenzo as he flew through to a career 50th Grand Prix win.
Lorenzo had started from pole and, after losing out into Turn 1 off the start to Rossi, he took the lead and rapidly built up a substantial advantage.
However, not far past the halfway point of the race, what appeared to be front-tyre issues started to trouble Lorenzo as the track began to dry out.
With Rossi closing in, it was in fact Pedrosa who was the real danger. The Spaniard was laying down a fierce pace and overtook Rossi with nine laps to go, before then seeing off Lorenzo. Rossi then found a way past the struggling Lorenzo to settle the podium positions.