MotoGP

MotoGP: Crutchlow ditches Arai to sign with HJC

2019-cal-crutchlow-with-hjc-motogp

HJC Helmets have reached an agreement with Cal Crutchlow to become his official helmet sponsor for 2019 and 2020 in the MotoGP World Championship.

Cal has been a permanent fixture on the MotoGP grid since 2011 and the British rider continues his relationship with Team LCR Honda in 2019 after celebrating three podiums in 2018 including a victory in Argentina. Unfortunately, an injury sustained in Australia excluded Cal from the final three races of the season.

A well-respected rider by all in the paddock, Cal will become a vital part of HJC’s racing program. His maturity and experience on track bring important knowledge to contribute to the development of HJC’s products, building on their 47 years of experience in manufacturing quality motorcycle helmets.

Crutchlow said: “I am very pleased to announce my new partnership with HJC Helmets. They’ve grown their presence in the MotoGP paddock over the past few years, sponsoring races and I’m happy to join the family. Despite being a huge company, they haven’t lost the personal approach and relationship, and this means a lot to me. Their helmet is a great product and I’m looking forward to working with them to continue to develop and evolve their design.”

The move sees Cal ditch his long-standing relationship with Arai.

Advertisements

MOTOGP: PEDROSA PRESENTED WITH TWO GP BIKES AT HONDA THANKS DAY, JAPAN

48348588_786004758406234_2099538197930311680_n-1

Dani Pedrosa has been presented with two of his former Grand Prix bikes during a farewell appearance at the Honda Thanks Day.

The Spaniard spent his entire grand prix career with Honda – starting in the 125cc class in 2001, followed by two seasons in 250 and then 13 years at the factory Repsol team in MotoGP, culminating in his final race at Valencia last month.

Pedrosa and Honda claimed 54 race victories together, 31 in the premier-class, whilst winning the 125cc crown in 2003, then 250cc title in 2004 and 2005.

At the end of this year’s Honda Thanks Day, Pedrosa was given both an RCV MotoGP machine and RS250RW two-stroke by HRC Director Tetsuhiro Kuwata and Honda President Takahiro Hachigo.

MotoGP: Nakagami leaves Jerez test on top

30-takaaki-nakagami-jpn08796_preseason_motogp_action_0_0.video_list_3x

LCR Honda’s Takaaki Nakagami enjoyed Day two of testing at Jerez, putting in 66 laps on his 2018 Honda to go fastest.

Reigning Champion Marc Marquez wasn’t far behind on his Repsol Honda however, ending the day just 0.025 off Nakagami’s best with a 1:37.970 – with Yamaha’s Maverick Viñales completing the top three within a tenth of the top.

At Honda, the devil was in the details – not just the logo on the number 99’s side of the garage – although there was a new airbox on show. Marquez completed 56 laps – including a Marquez-style save – and says now focus will shift more towards the chassis. New teammate Jorge Lorenzo was also a force to be reckoned with on the timesheets. He put in a 1:38.105 and was just 0.039 off Viñales in third, securing fourth after 65 laps – the third Honda in the top five.

The leading Yamaha on Day Two was Viñales after completing 78 laps. Both he and teammate Valentino Rossi have been testing two different engine specs, with Viñales clear as to which one they should go with.

While Viñales seems content, the nine-time World Champion wasn’t quite as happy after Day 1, saying that it was good enough for fourth – if they can capitalise on others’ misfortunes. On Day 2 though, Rossi finished 11th fastest after setting a quickest time of 1:38.596, 0.651 from Nakagami’s benchmark after completing 67 laps.

In the Petronas Yamaha SRT garage, it was another good day for both Franco Morbidelli and rookie Fabio Quartararo. For the former, asixth finish after 68 laps and just 0.173 from the top sees him continue his quick adaptation from Honda to Yamaha. For Quartararo, it was another vital 58 laps in the bag – and it was another hugely positive day. The Frenchman finished the day twelth on the timesheets after setting a fastest lap of 1:38.761, just over a tenth off Rossi’s fastest lap and under a second from Nakagami.

Meanwhile Ducati’s Andrea Dovizioso put in 44 laps with a fastest of 1:38.292 to put him in P8, and it was new teammate Danilo Petrucci who flew the flag highest in fifth, a 1:38.109 his fastest of 68 laps.

Pramac’s Jack Miller was fastest for a brief time in the afternoon, and ended the day in seventh overall after 57 laps, the best of which was a 1:38.207. His rookie teammate Francesco Bagnaia, meanwhile, made for close company and was the quickest of the new kids on the grid. The Pramac duo were split by Dovizioso but ‘Pecco’ was only just over a tenth off Miller and the Italian debutant did 50 laps.

Tito Rabat was another impressive performer on Ducati machinery. The Spaniard, who is still coming back from his leg break sustained at Silverstone, managed 60 laps and ended the day in thirteenth. The best lap from the recovering Reale Avintia Racing rider was a 1:38.876 – with teammate Karel Abraham putting in a 1:39.744 after 40 laps, taking seventeenth.

For Suzuki, Alex Rins was able to continue to test the new GSX-RR engine and chassis combinations, alongside test rider Sylvain Guintoli. Rins was able to post the tenthth quickest time on Day 2, his 1:38.522 0.577 off Nakagami’s pace as he completed 63 laps on Thursday. For teammate Joan Mir, it was another 55 laps under his belt as he continues to impress, bouncing back extremely well from a fast crash on Day 1. Fourteenth on the timesheets for the Spaniard and under a second from P1 shows the 2017 Moto3 World Champion is continuing to adapt well, and he also got to try the new Suzuki engine and chassis on Thursday.

It was a tough test for Aprilia with Aleix Espargaro missing the whole of Day One through illness, while also missing the morning of Day 2 to complete just 11 laps. In addition, after a crash on Day One, Andrea Iannone was riding with an injured foot as the Italian completed 36 laps by the end of the second day to finish eighteenth on the timesheets. This left new test rider Bradley Smith with the majority of the testing duties, the British rider getting 59 laps done on Thursday, and Matteo Baiocco was also on circuit for the Italian factory once again – with 48 laps completed for the latter.

At KTM, Pol Espargaro was once again the quickest Austrian machine as the Spaniard put in a best of 1:39.144 after 60 laps – putting him fifteenth on the timesheets. Work continued on many different parts of the RC16, with Espargaro testing what Team Manager Mike Leitner called “bigger items”. Johann Zarco, meanwhile, was getting to better grips with his switch to the machine – with Leitner confirming his adaptation to the bike and vice versa. The Frenchman was seven tenths off his teammate on Day Two.

KTM Tech 3 Racing, meanwhile, had Hafizh Syahrin on a 1:40.520 and rookie teammate Miguel Oliveira with a best lap of 1:40.577 – only half a tenth off the Malaysian. They put in 54 and 61 laps respectively as they both switch machinery – the former from Yamaha and the latter from Moto2.

MotoGP: own a KTM racebike, yours for a cool €250,000

one page sales folder rc16

KTM’s slogan is ‘Ready to Race’, and the Austrian manufacturer is living up to its ethos by offering two lucky riders the chance to own a full-factory RC16 MotoGP race bike.

Placing the advert on the KTM Factory Racing social media pages, the €250,000 package also includes a full set of Pol Espargaro’s race kit, along with a signed helmet. The price also gives the successful buyer the chance to be a member of the team for the weekend with a paddock and pitbox tour, a meet and greet with Espagaro and newly-signed Johann Zarco at a Grand Prix of their choice and a complementary set of team wear. 

Any interested buyers should now contact rc16@ktm.com for more details.

MotoGP: Ducati’s Petrucci leads the pack at day one of Jerez test

85bcf33a-7ec8-4b56-914b-1855d680e6f4
Ducati’s Danilo Petrucci topped the timesheets on Day 1 at the Jerez Test after setting a 1:37.968 in the afternoon, heading teammate Andrea Dovizioso – the 04 Italian crashing at Turn 5 late in the day – by 0.217 seconds.

LCR Honda’s Takaaki Nakagami finished third on the timesheets, with just 0.380 splitting the top three.

A cold morning in southern Spain meant the track action didn’t get going until 11:30am local time, but conditions soon improved in the afternoon as the premier class riders continued their crucial 2019 preparations under sunny skies in Jerez. By the half way mark it was Repsol Honda Team’s Jorge Lorenzo heading the pack, but times would tumble further – and Petrucci would emerge fastest.

At Ducati, Petrucci completed 53 laps on Wednesday to be the only rider to dip below the 1:38 bracket. Both he and Dovizioso had a 2018 spec and 2019 spec bike to compare on the opening day in Jerez, but according to Team Manager Davide Tardozzi, both riders soon switched to the 2019 Desmosedici.

On his last run, however, Dovizioso crashed at Turn 5 to end his day prematurely, although he was uninjured and had already managed to get 53 laps in as he and Ducati concentrated on electronics, chassis and the engine. The returning Alvaro Bautista – the Spaniard replacing injured test rider Michele Pirro – had a full 2019 spec at his disposal, with the Ducati WSBK rider ending the day ninth on the timesheets. Just ahead of him was Pramac Racing’s Jack Miller in eighth, the Australian on a part-2018 and part-2019 Desmosedici as he worked on the geometry.

Miller’s rookie teammate Francesco Bagnaia had another good day on track and was 14th fastest on Day 1. The reigning Moto2 Champion has the 2018 Ducati available to him and he completed another 51 laps, finishing 1.189 off Petrucci. Bagnaia described Jerez as a ‘more difficult’ track than Valencia to ride a premier class machine, but he also confirmed he was happy with his progress.

For Honda, Takaaki Nakagami was the leading name on Day 1, continuing his impressive start to the 2019 preseason. The Japanese rider completed 66 laps on board a 2018 RC213V, the same bike teammate Cal Crutchlow was using last season. The number 30 rider said the improvement in the engine between the 2017 Honda and the 2018 Honda is quite big, and he was also able to set consistent lap times on the used tyre.

Reigning World Champion Marc Marquez wasn’t far off on the Repsol Honda. The second fastest Honda after the first day of action, the Spaniard ended Wednesday fifth on the timesheets. According to team manager Alberto Puig, the bikes were the same as they had in Valencia as the Japanese factory continue to mix parts in order to find the best combination to take to Japan. Marquez ended the day 0.549 from the top after completing 50 laps, while also sporting a new aero package on the front of his Honda.

New teammate Jorge Lorenzo, who led in the morning for a time, was seventh fastest on his third day riding a Honda. The Spaniard set a quickest time of 1:38.749 to finish 0.781 off Petrucci after getting another 56 laps under his belt. Lorenzo is still not 100% fit, adding to the challenge of adaptation from the Ducati.

At Yamaha, work continued on the engine. Maverick Viñales was a threat at the top throughout the day and put in 58 laps before the end of play – with the number 12 finishing up just over four tenths off the top in fourth. Teammate Valentino Rossi was a later presence pitting out, but the number 46 put in 50 laps on Wednesday once out on track. He ended the day just over a second off Viñales, in P17, but didn’t put in new tyres. He also suffered a technical problem that brought one run to a halt, with Rossi pulling off track after hearing a problem in his M1.

Petronas Yamaha SRT, meanwhile, had another solid day. Franco Morbidelli was sixth overall after 70 laps and a best of 1:38.659, and rookie teammate Fabio Quartararo ended the day in sixteenth. The Frenchman’s best was a 1:39.414 as he continues settling into the premier class.

Suzuki’s Joan Mir was another entering a new era who impressed – and he was the fastest rookie. He led the way for Suzuki in Jerez to finish the day tenth on the timesheets, although, the 2017 Moto3 World Champion suffered his first MotoGPcrash after going down at Turn 7 just after 13:00 local time. The Spaniard was unscathed and headed back out later in the day to improve – a hot 1:38.956 his best time, putting him under a second from the top.

His teammate Alex Rins, alongside test rider Sylvain Guintoli, had a lot of new parts to try on Wednesday. The new engine and the chassis has been the main focus for the Hamamatsu factory, with the new engine more powerful than last season’s. According to Team Manager Davide Brivio, Rins was on an aluminium chassis, while Guintoli was testing a carbon-based chassis – with Brivio also confirming the plan is to build an aluminium chassis that has the same stiffness as the carbon one. Rins ended the day P13 on the timesheets after completing 87 laps – the most of any rider – while the Guintoli was P22.

At Aprilia, the test got off to a tough start as Aleix Espargaro missed Day 1 through illness – although he’s hoping to ride on Thursday – but new signing Andrea Iannone put the Noale factory in P11 overall with a 1:39.008. He was only able to complete 24 laps, however, sitting out the rest of the session after a crash. Test rider and new arrival Bradley Smith, meanwhile, did 69 laps. He was working with Aleix Espargaro’s bikes, with a new spec engine focused on power delivery and torque, and each Aprilia rider had two chassis to compare. CIV Superbike superstar Matteo Baiocco was also on track for the Noale factory, and he did 49 laps.

Finally, for KTM, it was all hands on deck as the Austrian factory look forward after a more difficult 2018 – Valencia notwithstanding – and they had six bikes in the garage. Pol Espargaro was the lead orange machine in P15 with a best of 1:39.241 after 58 laps, while new teammate Johann Zarco was in P19, with both riders testing a seamless gearbox, chassis parts, aerodynamic parts and a new IMU.

The two independent team riders at Red Bull KTM Tech 3, meanwhile, were working on the best bike from 2018 – although they’re expected to receive an update in Sepang. Hafizh Syahrin did 51 laps with a best of 1:40.630 and rookie Miguel Oliveira put in 61 laps, ending the day around a second off his more experienced teammate.

MotoGP: Dovi masters the wet to win at season finale in Valencia

AD_G025171_UC69658_High

Andrea Dovizioso gave a wet weather riding masterclass to take a dominant Valencia victory in the restarted race.

The Ducati rider capped a strong end to 2018 with victory in Valencia, Ducati’s first at the Circuit Ricardo Tormo for a decade and the first of his career at the track, with flawless wet weather riding in each MotoGP race following the initial start’s red flag on 15 laps after a large number of riders fall foul of the tough conditions – not least reigning Champion Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) and Movistar Yamaha MotoGP duo Maverick Viñales and Valentino Rossi.

On the original start, Suzuki’s Alex Rins had destroyed the field to gain a huge lead after only a couple of corners, and the rain was falling but not heavy. The conditions remained difficult, however, and a good few big names – including some wet specialists – found themselves sliding out. They included a highside that skittled Marquez into the gravel from podium contention, and a high-speed tumble for Viñales after a good initial getaway. Pol Espargaro crashed out of P4 at Turn 3 after a stunning start, but he was incredibly able to re-join. Brother Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini), Jack Miller (Alma Pramac Racing), teammate Danilo Petrucci (Alma Pramac Racing) and Andrea Iannone (Team Suzuki Ecstar) also all crashed out and couldn’t get back in it, but Rossi? At that stage, he was only getting faster as the rain was getting worse.

Eventually, however, the volume of rain was starting to beat the circuit’s ability to drain and the Red Flag came out. The race would be re-started for 14 laps, and the grid would be decided by the standings as of the last completed lap – meaning it was Rins on pole, Dovizioso second, Rossi third and Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda Team) lining up fourth in his final race. 14 laps and the end of an era for many…

The front row held station as the lights went out for ‘Race 2’ and all 16 riders safely negotiated the opening exchanges, with Rins leading. However, Dovizioso was once again able to get the power down on his GP18 to slice past Rins heading onto lap 2 – with Rossi in close pursuit. The three leaders quickly gapped fourth place Espargaro by 2.9 seconds, and Pedrosa tucked in behind the KTM in P5.

By then, the rain was starting to fall once again and conditions were still incredibly tough. Nevertheless, the leading trio were all lapping in the low 1:43s – two seconds quicker than anyone else as it soon became a three horse race for the final win of 2018.

On Lap 6, Dovizioso then pulled the pin to create a one-second gap back to Rins – a 1:49.921 creating that gap, with 1.5 seconds then splitting the trio. Another fastest lap soon followed for Dovi, as Rossi made his move past Rins at Turn 4 – 1.5 down on  the Ducati. However, with six to go, the gap was up to 2.4 and a lap later, the Ducati rider’s lead was over three seconds. But then, the drama hit again and ‘The Doctor’ was down at Turn 12 – rider ok, but lifting Espargaro and KTM up to a podium place.

As the last lap began, Dovizioso’s advantage was four seconds to Rins as both safely waded their way to the finish line – the Italian taking his first win since Misano and Rins grabbing a fifth podium of the year to claim P5 in the Championship. Then, emotional scenes followed as Espargaro kept Michele Pirro (Ducati Team) at bay to take both his and KTM’s maiden MotoGP podium – phenomenal from rider and factory alike after the number 44 rider had crashed earlier. Behind him and Pirro came the new MotoGP Legend, pedrosa, who took home a hard-earned P5 from his farewell Grand Prix ride on home soil as he helped Repsol Honda secure the triple crown. Behind the three-time Champion was fellow Honda rider Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda Idemitsu), the Japanese rookie taking home a career-best P6 as top Independent Team rider in the race, with Johann Zarco (Monster Yamaha Tech 3) taking the overall 2018 Independent Team rider honours after crossing the line in P7. The Frenchman held off Bradley Smith (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing), who grabbed his best KTM result on his final ride for the team.

Replacement rider Stefan Bradl (LCR Honda Castrol) crossed the line in P9, with Hafizh Syahrin (Monster Yamaha Tech 3) rounding out the top ten – a great ride, but not quite enough to beat Morbidelli to ‘Rookie of the Year’. On his final Grand Prix appearance, Scott Redding (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini) claimed a season-best P11, with Jorge Lorenzo (Ducati Team) bringing his Ducati career to an end with a tough P12 on the comeback from injury. Rossi remounted to ride to P13 and take third in the championship, with Karel Abraham (Angel Nieto Team) and Jordi Torres (Reale Avintia Racing) claiming the final point-scoring positions.

Dovizioso, who finished runner-up in the overall rider standings, said: “The mix of the [new] tyre and the set-up worked well so I am so happy in the way we worked this weekend. Also every practice our speed was good but we never were the fastest. In the end in qualifying and the race we were there so I am so happy to finish the season like this. I am happy to give this victory to my team.”

MotoGP: Pedrosa ends 18-year career a ‘legend’

DsTENLaUUAAXjx-.jpg large

The curtain has fallen on Dani Pedrosa’s MotoGP racing career.

The Spaniard, a three-time World Champion, has been named a MotoGP™ Legend and was inducted into the MotoGP™ Legends Hall of Fame at the season finale at Valencia.

Pedrosa won the 125 Championship in 2003, the 250 title in 2004 and 2005, and is one of the most successful riders of all time in the premier class. The Spaniard was inducted into the MotoGP™ Legends Hall of Fame at the season finale at Valencia.

Pedrosa ends a highly successful 18-year GP career, all of it as a Honda rider, having achieved three World Titles (125 in 2003, 250 in 2004 and 2005) 49 poles, 54 wins, 153 podiums and 64 fastest laps out of 295 starts.

Pedrosa is one of the best racers to have never won the championship, injuries taking their toll on his ability to make a sustained title charge. The Spaniard was never a prolific crasher, but when he did, he nearly always ended up injured, often seriously.

Pedrosa has had 21 injuries during his time at the top, the most serious of which occurred at Motegi in 2010, in yet another crash caused by a mechanical error when a sticking throttle caused him to be thrown into the gravel at Turn 9, badly breaking his left collarbone in the incident. The surgery to plate that collarbone was as successful as it should have been, the plate and screws putting pressure on his subclavian artery, which supplies blood to the arms.

In race conditions the plate was reducing blood flow to the arm leading to Pedrosa feeling he was losing strength in that arm, and unable to grip the handlebars successfully. The Spaniard struggled with that feeling for nearly six months, his doctors unable to pinpoint exactly what the problem was. It left him both physically and mentally drained, Pedrosa giving serious consideration to retiring unless a solution could be found. Once the issue with the plate was identified, he was able to have surgery to solve the problem, and get back to full fitness again.

But the crash had also left him wary of surgery. When he was taken out by Marco Simoncelli at Le Mans the following year, Pedrosa deliberated for a long time before agreeing to surgery to plate the collarbone. It remained an issue for the Spaniard throughout his career, and in the end, pushed him towards retirement.

It is hard to say whether Pedrosa’s diminutive size and weight played a factor in the severity of the injuries he has accumulated over the years, but it was always a question for debate.

Pedrosa’s old team boss Livio Suppo is convinced that Pedrosa’s physical stature held him back, and that if he was just 10cm taller, he would have won the MotoGP crown at least four times. He said: “MotoGP is all about traction. Dani has the talent and riding skill, but if he was just 10cm taller, that would give him all the traction and grip he’d need to dominate the class. Of that I’m absolutely clear.”

This theory is backed up by LCR rider Cal Crutchlow, who is convinced that Pedrosa would have won multiple title had he switched to Yamaha, a bike which is much less physically demanding to ride.

Of course, Pedrosa also has the misfortune to have raced in the golden age of MotoGP, and his team-mates Casey Stoner and Marc Márquez are arguably the two most naturally talented riders to race in the championship with Stoner taking one title with Honda, and Márquez winning four of the five championships he has competed in.

Dr-rDnZXQAMbKqd.jpg large

MotoGP: Maverick Viñales is top gun as he reigns down under to end Yamaha winless streak

MYM_2073044397

Maverick Viñales proved he was top gun in Australia as he took Yamaha’s first win in 26 races with a commanding ride at Phillip Island.

As the lights went out it was Danilo Petrucci who got a lightning launch from eighth to head around the outside and lead into turn one, but the Italian then ran off at turn two when a technical issue put an end to his race. Pramac Racing team-mate Jack Miller then took advantage to take the lead of his home Grand Prix at turn four, with polesitter marc Marquez  just behind and Andrea Iannone slotting into third.

However, it was all change just a lap later, when Marquez pounced for the lead at Turn One, with Andrea Dovizioso fighting through to second and Miller dropping back to fourth behind Iannone.

Lap six saw all hell broke loose at the front of the field, when Johann Zarco slipstreamed Marquez and a Ducati, the extra increase in speed resulting in Zarco’s Tech 3 Yamaha hitting the back of Marquez’s Honda, leading to the Frenchman suffering a scary 200mph crash. The impact was so strong that it left Marquez’s rear sub unit severely damaged, and the Spaniard coasted back to the pits to retire.

The coming together allowed Dovizioso to take the lead, ahead of Miller and Ianonne, but then Viñales began a sensational charge through the field. By lap eight he had joined the fight at the front, and dived into the lead at turn four. He never looked back, controlling the race and building a five-second lead before eventually crossing the line 1.5 seconds ahead of Iannone, with Dovizioso rounding out the podium.

Speaking after the race, a clearly ecstatic Viñales said: “This is the best feeling. We’ve been in the dark all year, and suddenly we came into the light I couldn’t show my potential in the previous races, but today I could.

“Being first in Australia is always amazing! It’s the best track ever and to win here and break this long none winning period of Yamaha is unbelievable! I was riding on the bike like I was in FP4. I got a really good feeling from the bike, so I knew I could maintain 1‘29s. That’s what I did for most of the middle of the race. I tried to escape as far as I could, because I knew my tyre wasn’t going to last until the end. I knew opening that gap would be difficult, I had some moments with some riders, and some shaking on the bike – I was struggling, but I still made it through anyway.”

 

 

MotoGP: Pedrosa signs two-year test deal with KTM

Pit Beirer & Dani Pedrosa 2018

Dani Pedrosa has signed a two-year deal with Red Bull KTM to be the manufacturer’s MotoGP test rider for 2019-2020.

The three times champion and thirteen-season premier class veteran will work alongside Mika Kallio developing the KTM RC16 for what will be the motorcycle’s third year of Grand Prix competition.

 

 

MotoGP: Marquez wins in Motegi to clinch fifth premier class title

5bcc4adf66e614.72649438

Marc Marquez took an incredible victory at Twin Ring Motegi, thus becoming the 2018 MotoGP World Champion with three races to go.

After starting from the sixth spot on the grid, Marquez was immediately able to recover four positions, taking over second place and engaging in race-long battle with title contender Andrea Dovizioso and fellow Honda rider Cal Crutchlow. With two laps remaining, the Italian rider crashed out of the race, just after Marquez had passed him in preparation for a last-lap duel.

With his eighth win of 2018 and the 69th in his career (across all classes), Marquez becomes the youngest rider of all time to reach the milestone of seven World Championships (125cc in 2010, Moto2 in 2012 and MotoGP in 2013, 2014, 2016, 2017 and 2018); he does this at the age of 25 years and 246 days, taking the record from Mike Hailwood, who was 26 years and 140 days old when he won his seventh title, the 1966 350cc crown.

He said: “I feel really, really good. I would say it’s a dream came true, or better, that I’m living a dream. It’s something so special, here together with my team, all the Honda and HRC people, my family and my staff. It has been a great season, and ever since Aragon I’ve been tasting, imagining this title, because it was very close. Then I realized that this wasn’t my style, and I needed extra motivation, so I set the goal of trying to achieve it with my first match ball in Motegi, by winning the race. This circuit was a challenging one to manage that, but it seems like when I’m under pressure, I feel better on the bike! Today the race was as I expected. I was prepared to make a good start and immediately make some passes. I got to second place at the end of the first lap, and then was able to follow Andrea and stay with him. I thought I could try and attack before the last lap because I felt I had something extra to give. He was pushing very hard and made a mistake, and that’s a shame because he deserved to be here on the podium. Anyway, when I crossed the finish line it was an explosion of joy. My people prepared this Level7 celebration, but I didn’t know anything ahead of time. I never want to know, but I think it’s because I used to play that kind of game a lot. Now it’s time to celebrate this seventh title and enjoy these final three races.”