Tom Luthi was back to his best in Japan as he pushed himself and his bike to the limit to keep Johann Zarco at bay in the Japanese Moto2 Grand Prix at Motegi.

The Garage Plus Interwetten rider has a strong recent record around the circuit, having previously graced the podium in 2011 and 2013 and having won the round in 2014 and dominated from his powerful start to hold advantage at the first corner all the way to the chequered flag.

The Swiss rider rode to the limit to keep Zarco at bay, having previously been clear out front the Ajo Motorsport man took advantage of an error to pass Taka Nakagami then overtook Franco Morbidelli, to hunt down the eventual winner and pile on the pressure.

Morbidelli held off a last lap challenge from the Japanses Idemitsu rider on the final lap, with a block pass handing Nakagami the lead briefly before the Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS man retook the position for a top three finish.

Reigning champion Zarco now has the title within his grasp after the only men who can stop him taking the title both fell.

Alex Rins had painkilling injections before the race but found himself in trouble on the opening lap after starting 22nd and was the first to crash. His title hopes faded away but still the Spaniard frantically attempted to get his bike upright and moving, his decision to circulate almost justified by the large amount of fallers as he battled to 21st.

He was swiftly followed off by Sam Lowes who fell just one lap later at turn ten.

Home hopes rested with Taka Nakagami who finished off the podium but looked content with his hard fought fourth.

Sandro Cortese celebrated his 200th GP start, the youngest rider and first German to hit the milestone ever, with a solid fifth for Dynavolt Intact GP, though ten seconds adrift of the rostrum battles.

The three-way battle for sixth was next to meet the chequered flag, with Simone Corsi's Speed Up finishing ahead of Mattia Pasini's Italtrans and Julian Simon's QMMF Racing Machine.

Marcel Schrotter was four seconds adrift of that battle and couldn't make up the distance, leaving him ninth, splitting the QMMF team-mates with Xavier Simeon just behind and inside the top ten.

Xavi Vierge impressed with a consistent performance to put the Tech 3 in the points in eleventh, with Luca Marini the sole Forward finisher in twelfth.

The remaining points on offer went to Hafizh Syahrin (Petronas Raceline Malaysia) in 13th, Testuta Nagashima on the Ajo Motorsport Academy entry in 14th and Isaac Vinales on the second Tech 3 in 15th.

Also failing to go the distance without a fall were Robin Mulhauser and his Interwetten team-mate Iker Lecuona, who replaces the ousted Dominique Aegerter. Jonas Folger then hit the dirt at turn nine with 18 laps remaining.

Alex Marquez sent his bike cartwheeling away at turn ten two laps later, falling from 7th in the race. Lorenzo Baldassarri also slipped out of top ten contention shortly after, as did Axel Pons who was on for a career best finish before also crashing out.

Danny Kent again pulled into the pits and retired, making it to around the halfway mark before calling it quits due to a technical problem with his gear shifter.


Loading Comments...