Jorge Martín is in the best moment of his sporting career. At 25 years old, the Madrid rider feels stronger than anyone and lurks the leadership of the world championship after getting in this run over Japanese GP his third full of the season: pole, sprint victory and in the long race on Sunday. The race in Motegi presented the title contender with another major challenge under changing rain conditions, and he overcame it again with note to continue cutting points to the leader of the contest and number one in the category, the Italian Pecco Bagnaia. "I was obsessed with today, I knew it could be a good time," he confessed, happy. The color note was put by Marc Marquez, third in a weekend of meetings with Honda bosses and at home of Honda, with whom only he knows if he will continue to compete next year.
Martin's victory came under curious circumstances. The race, which had been suspended due to the large amount of water on the track and the poor conditions of it, was resumed after a few minutes. The riders started the warm-up lap and couldn't even get back on track. Race direction again showed red flag. Visibility on the track was almost zero. And the downpour had turned the track into an ice rink. The Pramac pilot kept his blood cold-blooded at all times, who knew how to manage the scares of falling and the pressure of feeling closer and closer to the dream of his life. The second red flag and the definitive suspension of the race after 13 laps gave him a victory that places him just three points from the head of the championship.
Jorge Martín, the boy who got used to living on the edge, caresses the leadership of the MotoGP World Championship
"Today was a day where I had more to lose than to gain, but we came out on top. It's my first victory on water in MotoGP, these are conditions that cost me and even so I was able to make a difference," celebrated the rider from San Sebastián de los Reyes. Bagnaia, still leader, acknowledged once again the great moment of his former teammate in Moto3, but assured that he is satisfied to save the ballot with the second place. "In these conditions I am not a magician, and being on top gives me encouragement. It is true that he has cut me points, but I am happy and I like this battle, "said the reigning world champion.
The rain that had respected the bikes throughout the weekend in Motegi came minutes before the start of the grand prix. It started shy and sparkling, and the exit procedure was declared dry. With the slick tires, Martin started resolutely and avoided the touches from behind, which again affected Marco Bezzecchi, the third Ducati involved in the fight for the title. The worst part was taken by Maverick Viñales, who ended up with his Aprilia in the gravel moments after showing his disagreement with the decision of the stewards to declare the race dry. Ahead, the Spaniard purposely gave up his preeminent position and stood behind Bagnaia to copy the strategy in the change of bike. "These have been very tense moments. I didn't know what to do and I wanted to be behind Pecco to know if he entered the pits," said the winner.
There was no other choice. The track quickly became soaked and most of the drivers headed for the pits. The candidates for the title and the aspirants to victory entered to get on the second mount, already with tires and settings for wet, and they left compressed with hardly any space in the pit lane. Fabio Quartararo and four other riders bet on playing it and staying on track, but the bet was in vain. In parallel, they went for the virtual lead Martín, an Aleix Espargaró who climbed from ninth place to second in the first turn and Marc Márquez, wanting to fish for a balsamic victory under the downpour.
The Honda prop, which managed to make the difference when the track was flooded, was able to celebrate its first podium of the year on a Sunday with the contenders for the crown, both riding a Ducati, the bike with which it is speculated that it will race next year. "The podium had to come at Honda's home, with the bosses watching. This is a romantic movie," confessed the eight-time world champion. Even his teammates squeeze him to know once and for all what he will do with his future.
THE RACE IS OVER! 🏁 @88jorgemartin takes the victory ahead of Pecco Bagnaia and @marcmarquez93 after another red flag due to the amount of water on the track and the poor visibility
#JapaneseGP 🇯🇵 #MotoGP 🏁 pic.twitter.com/XCuy7Ighsf
— DAZN Spain (@DAZN_ES) October 1, 2023
In the third lap, already with the striped tires, Martín suffered a strong scare and fell from sixth to tenth place. He stepped on the paint but kept the bike upright to avoid the fall: "I went long, but I felt good and I was able to overtake many riders." In just two laps, the Spaniard overtook Bezzechi and when he saw that Bagnaia was going for Espargaro, ahead, he rushed to also overtake Marquez. In an enviable moment, Martinator took out the mallet and on the sixth lap he overtook his great rival for the championship and then his great friend and neighbor in Andorra to take the lead.
Plethoric, Martín then continued with his usual script, until the red flag that stopped the race when the rain prevented him from seeing properly. Until then, he set a pace risky enough to detach himself from the number one Ducati, but cautious enough to avoid a crash and a theatrical coup in the championship. After his full sessions at the German GP and the San Marino GP, again no one else managed to approach him in a Japanese GP that places him as the pilot to beat with his Desmosedici satellite team. It is only the fourth victory of his career in the premier class, but in his third season his devilish pace and regularity have made him the alternative to champion Bagnaia.
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