Reports from Europe say Dorna has forced Ducati’s hand into having two bikes on the grid at Motegi, as the factory team initially stated it would not fill the vacant seat of the injured Andrea Iannone. Team test rider Michelle Pirro is busy testing next year’s bike ahead of Jorge Lorenzo’s debut, and Casey Stoner turned down the replacement ride offer. So Ducati plucked Hector Barbera from the Avintia team and replacing him at Avintia will be Australian Mike Jones, the 2015 Australian Superbike champion, who currently races a Ducati Panigale under a team run by Troy Bayliss. Ducati’s official press release is below. -TS
The Ducati Team has arrived at Motegi for the Grand Prix of Japan, the fifteenth round of the 2016 MotoGP World Championship and the first of three challenging end-of-season overseas races that will continue over the next two weekends in Australia and in Malaysia.
The Italian squad will be lining up at Motegi with two riders, but this time Andrea Dovizioso will have as his team-mate Hector Barbera from Spain, who takes part in the world championship with Avintia Racing. Thanks to the Spanish team, the rider from Valencia replaces Andrea Iannone for this race and will now be able to get some valuable track time with the same Desmosedici GP that he will race next season.
The Twin Ring Motegi circuit, the venue for a round of the premier category in Japan since 1999, has a very unusual layout, with a series of long straights followed by tight corners that are a tough test for braking and acceleration performance. In the past Motegi has proved to be a favourable circuit for the Ducati Team, which has scored some great results here: in particular four wins by Loris Capirossi and Casey Stoner, who clinched his first world title with Ducati in 2007.
Andrea Dovizioso likes the Japanese circuit a lot, and he has stepped onto the podium in all three categories, winning the 125 race in 2004, and setting two of his four career pole positions at Motegi. Last year the Italian qualified fourth with his GP15 and finished the race in fifth place.
“Motegi is one of my favourite tracks because you brake very hard and even though we were unable to express all of our potential at the last round in Aragón, I think that this year we can be very competitive. In any case I start the weekend confident because here I have always scored quite good results in MotoGP, picking up two poles in 2010 and 2014.”
“I am very excited, because it is incredible to be a part of the factory team, even though it’s only for one race. I really want to do well, and Motegi is a ‘stop-and-go’ track that adapts well to the Desmosedici GP, which has a lot of power. I am ready to capitalize on this occasion and do a good race, and I want to thank Ducati and Avintia Racing for giving me this opportunity.”
Located in a mountainous area, the Twin Ring Motegi circuit in Japan consists of a 2.5 km banked oval and a classic 4.8 km road course built to international standards. Constructed by Honda as a test facility in August 1997, the road circuit became home to MotoGP in 1999. Twin Ring Motegi, which is around 100 km from Tokyo’s Narita airport and 30 km from Mito, is the venue for the Honda Museum, as well as a safety and riding school, dirt-track and go-kart tracks, a hotel, a restaurant, shops and event halls.
Fastest Lap: Lorenzo (Yamaha), 1’43.790 (166.5 km/h) – 2015
Circuit Record: Lorenzo (Yamaha), 1’45.350 (164.0 km/h) – 2014
Best Pole: Lorenzo (Yamaha), 1’43.790 (166.5 km/h) – 2015
Top Speed: Iannone (Ducati), 314.3 km/h – 2015
Track Length: 4.8 km
Race Distance: 24 laps (115.2 km)
Corners: 14 (6 left, 8 right)
Race Start: 07.00 (14.00 CET)
Podium: 1st Pedrosa (Honda), 2nd Rossi (Yamaha), 3rd Lorenzo (Yamaha)
Pole Position: Lorenzo (Yamaha), 1’43.790 (166.524 km/h)
Fastest Lap: Lorenzo (Yamaha), 1’54.867 (150.466 km/h)
Bike: Ducati Desmosedici GP
Race Number: 04
Age: 30 (born on March 23rd 1986 in Forlimpopoli, Italy)
Residence: Forlì (Italy)
Races: 254 (156 x MotoGP, 49 x 250cc, 49 x 125cc)
First GP: 2001 Italian GP (125cc)
Wins: 10 (1 x MotoGP, 4 x 250cc, 5 x 125cc)
First Win: 2004 South African GP (125cc)
Pole Positions: 16 (3 x MotoGP, 4 x 250cc, 9 x 125cc)
First Pole: 2003 French GP (125cc)
Titles: 1 (1 x 125cc)
Bike: Ducati Desmosedici GP
Race Number: 8
Age: 29 (born on November 2nd 1986 in Dos Aguas, Spain)
Races: 239 (117 x MotoGP, 75 x 250cc, 47 x 125cc)
First GP: 2002 GP of Japan (125cc)
Wins: 10 (4 x 250cc, 6 x 125cc)
First Win: 2003 British GP (125cc)
Pole Positions: 9 (8 x 250cc, 1 x 125cc)
First Pole: 2004 Brazilian GP (125cc)