Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team RC213V) contests Honda’s home Grand Prix this weekend with the aim of further increasing his advantage in the battle for the 2017 MotoGP crown.

The reigning World Champion, who has won three of the last four MotoGP titles, goes into the Twin Ring Motegi event holding a 16-point advantage over Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati), after winning the last two races, at Misano and Aragon. So far this year Marquez has won five races, with just three rounds remaining after Sunday. He has ridden brilliantly and worked superbly with HRC and his Repsol Honda crew to keep improving the RC213V.

Team-mate Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda Team RC213V) currently holds fourth place in the championship, after claiming an excellent second-place finish at Aragon. Together the two Spaniards hope to increase Honda’s lead in the Constructors World Championship and the Repsol Honda Team’s advantage in the Teams World Championship to deliver the triple crown.

Marquez and Pedrosa arrive at Motegi after visiting Honda Motor Co., Ltd Head Office in Tokyo, where they met fans on Tuesday, along with Japanese Moto2 star Takaaki Nakagami (Idemitsu Honda Team Asia Kalex).

Motegi has good memories for Marquez: last October he wrapped up the 2016 MotoGP title at the Japanese venue, situated in the hills to the north east of Tokyo. At the same time he achieved his first MotoGP victory at the track, bettering his second-place MotoGP finishes in 2013 and 2014, which followed two earlier victories in the smaller classes, in Moto2 in 2012 and 125cc in 2010.

The 24-year-old’s latest GP win at Aragon was his 60th across all classes and his 34th in MotoGP, which makes him Honda’s second most successful premier-class rider after Mick Doohan, who dominated much of the 1990s aboard a Repsol Honda NSR500.

Thirty-one-year-old Pedrosa has also enjoyed success across all three classes at Motegi, which was constructed to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Honda Motor Company in 1998. He won the 125cc race at Motegi in 2002, the 250cc race in 2004 and the MotoGP race in 2011, 2012 and 2015.

Marquez and Pedrosa have both mastered Motegi despite very contrasting riding styles – whereas Marquez has a more aggressive, spectacular technique, Pedrosa is very smooth and inch-perfect. This is one of the great attractions of motorcycle racing – that different riders can use different ways of riding to the same effect.

Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda RC213V) comes to Japan hoping to be in the battle for another podium finish. Honda’s top independent-team rider has already come close to claiming a top-three finish at Motegi, when he ran out of fuel on the last lap of the 2012 Japanese GP, some years before he joined Honda. Last year Crutchlow finished Motegi in fifth place, the first non-factory rider. This year the 31-year-old Briton should once again have the speed to fight towards the front of the pack.

Jack Miller (Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS Honda RC213V) will miss this weekend’s action after breaking the tibia bone in his right leg in a trials-bike mishap. His place will be taken by former 250 World Champion Hiroshi Aoyama (Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS Honda RC213V).

The 35-year-old from Chiba contested his last full MotoGP season in 2014, riding a Honda RCV1000R, after enjoying a long career in Grand Prix racing. The highlight, of course, was when he won the 2009 250 title, riding a Honda RS250RW. Aoyama won nine 250 GPs, aboard Honda and KTM machinery, including the 2005 and 2006 Japanese GPs at Motegi.

Last year Aoyama rode two MotoGP races, taking the place of injured Pedrosa at the Japanese and Malaysian GPs, scoring one point at Motegi, with a 15th-place finish. In 2015 he rode three races for the Repsol Honda Team, while Pedrosa recovered from surgery, scoring an excellent 11th-place result at COTA. Aoyama currently does important testing working with HRC.

Miller’s usual team-mate Tito Rabat (Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS Honda RC213V) scored points last time out at Motegi, finishing last year’s race in 14th place. The former Moto2 World Champion has scored points at nine of this year’s races and has tasted champagne at Motegi, twice finishing in the Moto2 top three.

Japan has hosted a round of the motorcycling World Championships on and off since 1963, when the Japanese GP was held at the brand-new Suzuka circuit, the country’s first roadrace venue. Honda founder Soichiro Honda built Suzuka to give his countrymen the chance to compete on a real racetrack, helping to improve Japanese riders and Japanese machinery, and to bring GP racing to Japan. Motegi staged its first World Championship race in 1999. The track is a great test for riders and machines, with braking stability and acceleration performance especially important.

MotoGP’s Asia-Pacific adventure continues next weekend in Australia and the following weekend in Malaysia. The season concludes at Valencia, Spain, on November 12th.

Marc Marquez

Marc Marquez 93

“There are four GPs to go in the season, and we must give 100 percent at every one, starting with the three flyaway rounds. These races are always demanding due to the different time zones and conditions, and this year with the Championship so close, they’ll be even more of a challenge. The most important thing for us is that since Montmelo, we’ve been on the podium in every race but Silverstone. We’ve done a good job of managing different conditions and different circuits, which gives us confidence and shows that we’re at a good level everywhere. We have some great memories in Japan, because we won last year and got the title there twice, but every season is a new story and we must remain focused and ready to handle every situation. Track conditions in Motegi can vary dramatically, and we’ll have to work hard on the setup to find a good compromise for the hard acceleration and braking. We’ll give our best effort and push hard to get another good result in front of Honda’s home fans.”

Repsol Honda Team
Dani Pedrosa

Dani Pedrosa 26

“I look forward to racing at Honda’s home circuit in Japan! Not only are the fans very special - they are incredibly passionate and in love with Honda and with the sport which makes you feel very welcome - but also the circuit is great. I’ve had a good feeling with the track from the first time riding there, when I was 15 years old. It suits my riding style and I enjoy the track a lot. Last year unfortunately I had a big crash and suffered a serious injury but I hope this season we can keep up the good momentum and have a strong race. We’ll definitely give our 100 percent to make it happen!”

Repsol Honda Team
Cal Crutchlow

Cal Crutchlow 35

“We had a disappointing race with a DNF at Aragon, so I am really looking forward to putting that result behind me at Motegi. This is Honda’s home race, so we always try to put on great show there, for Honda and for all the Japanese fans. It’s a track that I like, and last year we had quite a good result there, so the aim this time is to improve on that and do a good job for the team. I got a bit bashed about at Aragon, so I hope to be injury free this weekend.”

LCR Honda
Hiroshi Aoyama

Hiroshi Aoyama 73

“Firstly I want to wish Jack a speedy recovery and I hope he will be fit to race in his home Grand Prix at Phillip Island. It’s never nice to replace an injured rider but I hope that I can do a good job for both Jack and the team in Motegi. I also want to thank Michael Bartholemy and Team Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS for giving me the opportunity to race once again in front of the Japanese fans. I have not raced yet this season, so it will take some time to get back the feeling. The fact that I already know a lot of the crew, having worked with them in the past, will help a lot, as will having a rider with Tito’s experience on the other side of the box. I am looking forward to the weekend ahead!”

Repsol Honda Team
Tito Rabat

Tito Rabat 53

“Given our situation I’m fairly satisfied with the last three races, especially Aragon where I finished closer to the winner despite a difficult weekend. Now we head to the three flyaway races, my favourite part of the season, and our goal is clear; to do the best job we can and to pick up as many points as possible. Motegi is a tricky circuit with a lot of heavy braking, but I’m confident that together with my crew we can quickly find a good set up and push for a good qualifying position, which is so important on such a stop and go track layout.”

EG 0,0 Marc VDS
Motul Grand Prix of Japan

Twin Ring Motegi, Japan

MotoGP 2017, Round 15

Rider Standings
Sunday, 24 Sep 2017 - Open world standings grid
# Rider Num Nationality Nat. Points Pts. Team Constructor Constr.
1 Marc MARQUEZ 93 SPA 224 Repsol Honda Team Honda
2 Andrea DOVIZIOSO 4 ITA 208 Ducati Team Ducati
3 Maverick VIñALES 25 SPA 196 Movistar Yamaha MotoGP Yamaha
4 Dani PEDROSA 26 SPA 170 Repsol Honda Team Honda
5 Valentino ROSSI 46 ITA 168 Movistar Yamaha MotoGP Yamaha
6 Johann ZARCO 5 FRA 117 Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Yamaha
7 Jorge LORENZO 99 SPA 106 Ducati Team Ducati
8 Danilo PETRUCCI 9 ITA 95 Octo Pramac Yakhnich Ducati
9 Cal CRUTCHLOW 35 GBR 92 LCR Honda Honda
10 Jonas FOLGER 94 GER 84 Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Yamaha
11 Alvaro BAUTISTA 19 SPA 70 Pull&Bear Aspar Team Ducati
12 Jack MILLER 43 AUS 56 EG 0,0 Marc VDS Honda
13 Scott REDDING 45 GBR 56 Octo Pramac Yakhnich Ducati
14 Aleix ESPARGARO 41 SPA 53 Aprilia Racing Team Gresini Aprilia
15 Loris BAZ 76 FRA 39 Avintia Racing Ducati
16 Andrea IANNONE 29 ITA 38 Team SUZUKI ECSTAR Suzuki
17 Pol ESPARGARO 44 SPA 35 Red Bull KTM Factory Racing KTM
18 Karel ABRAHAM 17 CZE 28 Pull&Bear Aspar Team Ducati
19 Tito RABAT 53 SPA 28 EG 0,0 Marc VDS Honda
20 Alex RINS 42 SPA 27 Team SUZUKI ECSTAR Suzuki
21 Hector BARBERA 8 SPA 23 Avintia Racing Ducati
22 Michele PIRRO 51 ITA 18 Ducati Team Ducati
23 Bradley SMITH 38 GBR 15 Red Bull KTM Factory Racing KTM
24 Mika KALLIO 36 FIN 11 Red Bull KTM Factory Racing KTM
25 Sam LOWES 22 GBR 2 Aprilia Racing Team Gresini Aprilia
26 Sylvain GUINTOLI 50 FRA 1 Team SUZUKI ECSTAR Suzuki