until Abu Dhabi Autonomous Racing League

MotoGP

MotoGP's Japanese GP halted by downpour

by Valentin Khorounzhiy
1 min read

until Abu Dhabi Autonomous Racing League

MotoGP's Japanese Grand Prix at Motegi has been red-flagged due to torrential rain at around the halfway distance, with title rivals Jorge Martin and Pecco Bagnaia having led the way at that moment.

A flag-to-flag race had unfolded over the first 13 laps of the Sunday event, with riders starting on dry tyres against the threat of light rain and most of them immediately coming on for a bike swap at the end of the opening lap.

As it evolved into a proper wet race, it turned into a duel out front between Martin and Bagnaia, eight points apart in the standings, albeit with Marc Marquez a growing threat behind Bagnaia.

But rain had grown steadily before becoming really severe, and on the 13th lap - with visibility seemingly growing dire and Johann Zarco having a fast crash out of Turn 12 - the race was suspended.

Brad Binder (KTM) and Miguel Oliveira (RNF Aprilia) had retired by then, with Maverick Vinales (Aprilia) running a lap down after a start collision with Zarco.

But both Oliveira, who had pulled into the pits a handful of minutes before the suspension, and Vinales will be allowed to take the restart from the pitlane.

Zarco, despite his Ducati Desmosedici appearing distinctly wrecked with the front fairing effectively torn off, did push his bike back into the pits - but is ineligible to take the restart because he didn't take the normal pit entry but rather returned by service road.

With Martin, Bagnaia and Marquez the provisional podium, the race could have been declared as finished given it has crossed over the halfway point.

However, with the rain having eased off, the race will instead follow a quick start procedure at 3.50pm local time to try to fit in the remainder of the distance.

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