Morbidelli celebrates with podium in Motegi
Team Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS rider Franco Morbidelli celebrated his 50th start in the Moto2 World Championship with a brilliant podium in today's Japanese Grand Prix.
The third place finish was Morbidelli's fifth podium in the last eight races and came after a gripping final lap battle with home race hero Takaaki Nakagami.
The fight for the final spot on the podium came down to a breathtaking braking contest into turn 11 with Morbidelli overtaking his Japanese rival to secure third.
Nakagami had staged a late race surge to briefly move ahead of Morbidelli for third before the Italian responded.
Earlier Morbidelli had controlled second place for the first half of the race before being overtaken by Johann Zarco who finished second behind winner Tom Lüthi.
Álex Márquez could not capitalise on his qualifying pace and settled in eighth position but his attempt to move forward was compromised by rear grip issues.
The 20-year-old Spaniard crashed just after overtaking Marcel Schrötter for seventh place with 16 of 23 laps remaining.
Franco Morbidelli: 3rd
“I had great battle at the end of the race with Nakagami and we made a lot of nice overtakes and I was able to secure the podium with just a couple of corners to go. I am really happy because the team did a great job this weekend and this result is a very positive start to the three flyaway races. Next is Australia and we will try for the podium again.”
Álex Márquez: DNF
“I am very angry with myself because I didn't feel very good in the race and I don't know why. I struggled a lot with rear grip and could not overtake the riders ahead of me and then when I did pass Schrotter I tried to push too much and crashed. I am sorry for the team and I need to concentrate on getting better results. Now I look forward to Phillip Island, a track which I enjoy very much.”
Michael Bartholemy: Team Principal
“Based on Franco's times in practice I thought he would be able to stay a little closer to Lüthi and Zarco at the front but in the end he just did not have the pace. But the battle for third with Nakagami was very nice for the Japanese fans and I'm happy that Franco finished ahead. It was bad luck for Álex who wanted to raise his rhythm when he passed Schrötter but crashed, which is not so good for his confidence after his strong podium in Aragon.”