Lorenzo Dalla Porta (Leopard Racing Honda NSF250RW) took a thrilling and vital Moto3 victory, resisting immense pressure from a frantic lead group to extend his World Championship lead to 47 points with three races remaining.
The 22-year-old was faultless, taking the lead from Tatsuki Suzuki (SIC58 Squadra Corse Honda NSF250RW) at half distance but never gaining more than a meter advantage over the pursuing pack. Therefore he could not afford even the slightest mistake. He did lose the lead for one corner with three laps to go when Suzuki sneaked ahead, but Dalla Porta was soon back in charge.
The final lap was particularly frantic, with positions changing frequently behind him, but Dalla Porta braked as late as he dared and never gave anyone the chance to get past. He now leads the championship by a big margin, after his biggest title rival Aron Canet crashed out of the lead group at three-quarters distance.
This was Dalla Porta’s third victory of the year, after his first place in Germany, and the second win of his career, the first achieved at last year’s San Marino GP.
Today’s success also extended Honda’s lead in the Constructors World Championship to 69 points. Honda is currently chasing its third successive constructors prize in Moto3, which would bring its total in the Moto3/125cc class to 19, an all-time record for the category.
Dalla Porta’s advantage at the checkered flag over runner-up Albert Arenas was just 0.094 seconds, with Celestino Vietti taking third. The podium was covered by 0.198 seconds.
Suzuki was the unluckiest rider of the day. The 2019 San Marino GP winner led the first half his home race and challenged Dalla Porta for the lead until the very last lap, when he lost out to Arenas and Vietti to miss the podium by 0.091 seconds. Right behind the 22-year-old from Chiba came 16-year-old Spanish rookie Sergio Garcia (Estrella Galicia 0,0 Honda NSF250RW).
French GP winner John McPhee (Petronas Sprinta Racing Honda NSF250RW) was Honda’s next finisher in sixth place, after losing contact with the lead pack in the final stages. The Briton finished comfortably ahead of eighth- and ninth-placed Marcos Ramirez (Leopard Racing Honda NSF250RW) and Alonso Lopez (Estrella Galicia 0,0 Honda NSF250RW).
Talented Grand Prix rookie Ai Ogura (Honda Team Asia Honda NSF250RW) fought his way into the World Championship points, taking 14th place, just over one second outside the top ten. This was another great display from the 18-year-old from Tokyo who was contesting his first Japanese Grand Prix.
Team-mate Kaito Toba (Honda Team Asia Honda NSF250RW) crossed the finish line in 17th place, less than two tenths of a second outside the points! The 19-year-old from Fukuoka, who won the season-opening Qatar GP, but struggled during braking today.
The MotoGP paddock rushes to Australia next, for next weekend’s Australian Grand Prix at Phillip Island, which is followed immediately by the following weekend’s Malaysian GP. The season concludes at Valencia, Spain, on November 17.