Red Bull KTM’s Jack Miller of Australia lost out in the final stages of Rd. 15 of the Moto3 World Championship at Motegi, Japan after a hard fought 20-lap race and a costly mistake in Turn 11. After accidentally slipping his bike into neutral, Miller had to settle for fifth place.
Alex Marquez took the victory from fellow Spaniard Efren Vazquez with South African Brad Binder taking third.
Miller, a Red Bull athlete got away very fast from the second row of the grid and had already vaulted into the lead in the first seconds of the race while clashes at the back of the field already knocked out a number of riders. The Australian, who led the world championship points right through to Rd. 13, then had a tough battle on his hands with Husqvarna’s pole man Danny Kent.
Kent and Miller, who rides the KTM RC 250 GP held onto the lead for the first four laps but by then it was clear that there were at least six contenders for the podium who consolidated into a tight-knit group at the front.
Miller continued to control the front for the majority of the race although Marquez of Spain looked increasingly threatening. Meanwhile Kent, who had dropped back to sixth place in the middle of the race was also challenging for the lead as riders entered the final lap. By then it was clear that the deciding move would come in the closing corners.
Then, in the closing seconds of the race, Miller made an error at turn 11 when he accidentally put his bike into neutral and had to go wide to avoid a collision. Marquez reacted with lightning speed and went on to take the race.
Jack Miller: it was a shame about the mistake I made in the last lap because our pace was still very good and I led for a large part of the race. I went in too strong going into the corner on the final lap, I tried shifting down as fat as possible for I made a mistake, which meant I passed the braking point.”
Aki Ajo, Red Bull KTM Ajo Team Manager: “Everything seemed right until the last lap. Jack (Miller) was at the front and was doing very well, looking very strong. But in this category a lot can happen. On the back straight you have to brake very late. Jack made a small mistake with the gears and so went a bit long. Then, after the contact with Danny (Kent), many riders passed him. The situation would have been great if we had won, but in the end we let a lot of points slip on the last lap. We are still positive, hungry and confident that we can win the title.”
Miller’s teammate Karel Hanika of the Czech Republic put in a workman-like race to finish twelfth after working his way up from twenty third on the starting grid to add four championship points to his tally.
Miller now trails Marquez by 25-points in the title chase with only three rounds to go. The championship now moves to Australia and the Phillip Island circuit for round 16 before returning to Sepang in Malaysia for the penultimate round. The championship finishes in Valencia Spain at the beginning of November
Moto3 GP of Japan Rd. 15 at Motegi
1, Alex Marquez, ESP, Honda 39:26.830
2, Efren Vazquez, ESP, Honda, 39:27.187
3, Brad Binder, RSA, Mahindra, 39:27.314
4, John McPhee, GBR, Honda, 39:27.502
5, Jack Miller, AUS, KTM, 39:27.502
6, Danny Kent, GBR, Husqvarna, 39:28.626
7, Romano Fenati, ITA, KTM, 39:32.757
8, Enea Bastianini, ITA, KTM 39:32.855
9, Niccolo Antonellu, ITA, KTM, 39:33.357
10, Alex Rins, ESP, Honda, 39:33.516
11, Isaac Vinales, ESP KTM 39:33.818
12, Karel Hanika, CZE, KTM 39:45.543
13, Francesco Bagnaia, ITA, KTM, 39:45.587
16, Eric Granado, BRA, KTM 39:51.618
18, Hafiq Azmi, MAL, KTM 40:06.984
Championship standings after Rd. 15
1, Marquez, 231
2, Miller, 206
3, Rins, 194
4, Fenati, 174
5, Vazquez, 174
6, Alexi Masbou, FRA, Honda, 140
7, Vinales, 121
8, Bastianini 116
12, Jakub Kornfeil, CZE, KTM 78
14, Bagnaia 45
16, Antonelli, 44
18, Hanika, 28
29, Granado, 2
Manufacturer’s standings after 15 of 18 rounds
1, Honda, 323
2, KTM 314
3, Mahindra 149
4, Husqvarna 123
5, Kalex KTM 5
6. FTR KTM 4
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Image courtesy KTM