Round 15 at Aragón had huge ramifications for the Moto3 title race. Now it’s Japan’s turn to offer more twists to the championship tale.
The wonderful Mobility Resort Motegi hosts round 16 of the 2022 season this weekend (24/25/26 September). It’s the first time MotoGP has been back to Japan since 2019, and marks the start of four flyaways in the next five weeks.
A lot has changed since the last visit to Motegi, most of the current Moto3 riders have never raced there, including championship leader Izan Guevara. After a sensational weekend in Aragón, the Spaniard has a 33 point advantage over his closest challenger, teammate Sergio Garcia.
Whilst Guevara’s lead looks insurmountable, Garcia does have a slight advantage having raced at Motegi in 2019, where he finished 5th. He wasn’t the only current Moto3 rider to finish that race in the top 10. Tatsuki Suzuki, John McPhee, Jaume Masia, and Andrea Migno also had strong finishes.
The 2019 event was a race to forget for Dennis Foggia. The Italian finished 23rd, almost 33 seconds behind the leader. He does still have a chance to take the Moto3 crown, albeit a slim one. Having shown flashes of excellence this season, the inconsistency of old has resurfaced, and the gap to Guevara now stands at 58 points with just five races remaining.
A rider desperate to impress his home crowd will be Max Racing’s Ayumu Sasaki. The 21-year-old has shown fantastic pace this season, and has established himself as one of the frontrunners in Moto3. Whilst it’s extremely unlikely he’ll win the championship at this stage, he is certainly worth keeping an eye on for the rest of the season.
Eighteen year-old Kanta Hamada is set to make his Grand Prix debut, replacing the the injured Alberto Surra for the Rivacold Snipers Team. The Japanese rider has previously competed in the Asia Talent Cup, and should be familiar with the circuit at Motegi.
There were doubts about whether or not the race would take place last week as Japan was hit by Typhoon Nanmadol. Millions were told to evacuate, but fortunately the storm has dissipated, and the Island has begun the recovery process.
Rain is forecast for the entire weekend, adding intrigue to what should be an exciting event. Fans in the UK will need to have their alarm clocks primed as the race is scheduled to start at 12:00pm local time (04:00am GMT).
Feature Image: MotoGP