The MotoGP, Moto2 and Moto3 grid are roaring to go as they start the first of three flyaway races with Japan, Australia and Malaysia a key indicator for the World Championships. We have varying conditions for all three events, different circuit layouts, gradients and a challenging few weeks to come mentally and physically speaking. Unfortunately, Jonas Folger will be sitting out the next two races from what appears to be a reoccurring dose of Epstein-Barr Virus (EBV). Folger has been incredibly weak for the last two races, struggled to get out of his hotel in Japan and has been flown back for emergency blood tests in Germany. As a result, Kohta Nozane will be stepping up to take his ride and his feelings are that of being blessed with the opportunity. Nozane: “This is big surprise for me! I still can’t believe that I will ride at the Grand Prix of Japan. Motegi is my favourite circuit, and I have ridden the YZR-M1 with Michelin tyres here before as a Yamaha test rider.” We wish Folger a speedy recovery and know that sitting on the side line is something that no rider wants to do. His job is clear and that is to get back to 100% health because a virus that reappears can be disastrous for his sponsors and team.

© Movistar Yamaha Factory Racing MotoGP Team

Valentino Rossi is much better than he was in Aragon and has a big smile on his face. He feels strong coming in to Motegi and is capable of strong results in the next three races. The Doctor has nothing to lose now and just wants to stay within reach of Andrea Dovizioso, Marc Marquez and Maverick Vinales. It will be a very important race for Honda, Yamaha and Suzuki with their manufactures pushing the limits to be ahead of Ducati. Rossi will do everything he can to get the best result possible whilst Vinales sees it as a favourite circuit and his opportunity to collect more points for the Championship. His goal is to bridge the gap to Marquez more than anyone else and learn to be stronger. The passionate Japanese fans will be in full swing and this is a great booster of energy for the riders.

© Team Suzuki Ecstar

The Japanese circuit is one that many riders find enjoyable and Dani Pedrosa is one of those guys. Pedrosa has always been strong in Japan and Malaysia. He will be pushing extremely hard considering that 2017 is a real chance for him to try and clinch the title honour of being number one. Will he be able to master the wet conditions and tyre warming issues that have arisen in FP1 for the Spanish rider? Sometimes Pedrosa holds back and rides in a safety mode. However, the dark horse of DesmoDovi will go down fighting! The Italian nature is to keep at 100% no matter what. The kind of luck that Dovi has is something that Andrea Iannone wants to have for the Japanese race in particular. Iannone: “The Japan GP will be thrilling for all of us as it is the home race for Suzuki. We are expecting many engineers to join us at the circuit, and it will be interesting to meet all the people that develop the bike that I ride every weekend. It is a chance to speak directly with them and I also believe they will be happy to see their GSX-RR racing live. The circuit itself looks to be a good one for us, on paper.” This allows Iannone and others to have a strong mindset for results though anything can happen in the sport that is constantly changing from circuit to circuit. You need confidence, patience and to think before you do at this point of the season.

© Ducati Corse Press

In contractual news, Bradley Smith is staying in MotoGP after KTM decided to stick with an unchanged rider line up. There was speculation that Mika Kallio was going to be promoted and Bradley demoted, however, this has not taken place. The British rider is capable of finding top results and just needs to continue with his head down and with complete focus. This is exactly what Marquez did in FP1 at the Japanese circuit. He was hard to catch in the wet and Cal Crutchlow managed to sideswipe Jorge Lorenzo from the circuit and ended up having a discussion in the gravel traps as to how it happened. Lorenzo finished in fourth position which is positive considering how poor the conditions were at the time. Crutchlow is probably not on Lorenzo’s Christmas Card list. Can you imagine the heart rate at the point when Crutchlow’s bike made contact with the Ducati rider.

As we head towards more practice sessions and qualifying, the pressure to perform only increases. Marquez has everything to lose.! So lets see who takes the top step this weekend at Motegi. As it stands, Dovizioso and Lorenzo will be key threats as the Ducati performs well in mixed conditions as its bike features strong acceleration, braking and tyre wear. Time to tune in to FoxSports and enjoy some two wheel motorsport.

About The Author

Myanna Wedes

Myanna has an incredible grasp and knowledge of the sport in detail and continues to secure lead stories every week. She is in constant contact with team and rider media management. She is an admitted lawyer with two degrees and is currently writing a biography on Alan Jones MBE 1980 F1 World Champion. She is a fond lover of two wheel motorsport, predominantly MotoGP, Moto2 and Moto3.