Morbidelli and Lüthi ready to shine in Japan as MotoGP moves to Honda’s home Grand Prix
Team Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS riders Franco Morbidelli and Thomas Lüthi head to the Twin Ring Motegi this weekend determined to deliver strong results in front of a large contingent of Honda fans who will pack the grandstands for the Japanese MotoGP round.
Honda’s all-important home round at the 4.8km Twin Ring Motegi track provides the spectacular backdrop for the next challenge facing Franco Morbidelli and Thomas Lüthi in the 2018 MotoGP World Championship.
Franco Morbidelli is optimistic he can battle for the top 10 again at the Twin Ring Motegi, which is dominated by a series of hard braking zones and brutal acceleration points out of tight hairpins that mean front-end stability and drive grip out of the 14 turns is important for posting fast lap times.
The Italian wasn’t as competitive as he’d hoped in the extreme heat and humidity at Thailand’s Buriram track last time out, but a gritty ride to 14th kept him at the top of the Rookie of the Year standings with just four races remaining.
Morbidelli has one podium finish to his credit in Japan and that came back in 2016 when he finished third behind current teammate Lüthi and eventual World Champion Johann Zarco.
Tom Lüthi has been eagerly anticipating his first opportunity to ride Honda’s RC213V in Japan on a track where he has enjoyed tremendous success at in the past.
Lüthi was triumphant in the Moto2 battles in 2014 and 2016 and he has raced to third place finishes on Japanese soil in 2011 and 2013.
The Swiss star was also runner-up in the 2005 125cc race behind former Marc VDS Moto2 race winner Mika Kallio, which was a result that turned out to be fundamental in helping him win the title that season.
Morbidelli and Lüthi kick off preparations in Honda’s backyard at 955am local time on Friday for the opening free practice session. The 24-lap Japanese Grand Prix is scheduled to start at 2pm local time.
Franco Morbidelli: 15th in the overall standings on 33 points
“I´ll try to make a good job in Japan”
“I’m hoping to be more competitive in Honda’s home race this weekend in Japan after a difficult race in Thailand. I will go there trying to make a good job and to get the best out of the package that I possibly can.”
Tom Lüthi: 25th in the overall standings
“I’m hoping to be strong in such a big race for Honda”
“The main target of Japan again will be to score my first points of the season. Japan is place I like a lot and I have many good memories of the Twin Ring Motegi. I’m hoping to be strong in such a big race for Honda and hopefully I can start this busy phase of the season in a good way with a positive result.”
Track facts / Twin Ring Motegi (Motegi, Japan)
Length: 2.983 miles (4.801 metres)
Width: 49.21 ft. (15 metres)
Corners: 6 (left) + 8 (right)
Longest straight: 2500 ft. (762 metres)
MotoGP Race: 24 laps, 71.6 miles (115.2 km)
Best pole: Jorge Lorenzo (1'43.790 – 2015)
Circuit record: Jorge Lorenzo (1'45.350 – 2014)
Top speed: Andrea Iannone, 195.1 mph (314.3 kph) – 2015)
2017 race winner: Andrea Dovizioso (47:14.236)