A severe change in the climate at Mobility Resort Motegi meant a shortened Grand Prix of Japan, and Jack Miller made it through the rain-lashed conditions to notch 6th in the final classification for round fourteen of twenty.
The looping 4.8km run around the Mobility Resort Motegi was made complicated and chaotic by the wild swing from warm and cloudy conditions to torrential rainfall just in time for the MotoGP race.
Red Bull KTM Factory Racing had initially pulled up to 3rd and 5th positions on the grid primed to chase for victory and podium rewards. Both Brad Binder and Jack Miller had fought for the top slot of the Q2 qualifying session and Binder had initially broken the circuit lap record on Friday. The South African then rushed to a decent 2nd position during the 12-lap Sprint Saturday afternoon.
As the field assembled rain started to fall and the race was declared ‘flag to flag’. The KTM RC16s both got away well but, like almost all the rest of the pack, both Binder and Miller pulled into the pitlane before the end of the first lap to swap bikes and to a wet tire configuration. Sadly, Brad’s efforts to draw up to the top five ended shortly after as he lost control into Turn 3. Miller persevered and was holding 6th position when the state of the track became too perilous to continue and the race was red-flagged. The Grand Prix was initially due to be restarted but with parts of the layout still extremely wet and with the light fading due to the delay the results were declared.
Binder is 4th in the championship standings and with a gap of 64 points to close down to the top three. Miller holds 9th while Red Bull KTM Factory Racing are the 4th best team in the current rankings. KTM retain 2nd position in the Constructors table and will now be able to take a well-earned break before the Pertamina Grand Prix of Indonesia at the Mandalika Street Circuit in mid-October.
Jack Miller, 6th: “Not the best day but also not the worst and I’m happy we finished. It took some time for the tires to get going in the first part and I managed to save the rubber while gaining some time on the guys as the rain started to fall harder. We made a couple of tweaks to the bike to try and challenge those boys for the restart but it wasn’t meant to be today. 6th place today but I wanted more.”
Brad Binder, DNF: “Overall I think we had a positive weekend here in Japan. We were fast in all sessions and to bring home a podium in the Sprint yesterday was fantastic but unfortunately today it was tricky with the weather conditions and we came in after the first lap for the bike swap. I started to feel good in the rain and with good pace but I had a small lock going into Turn 3 and that was it. Thank you to my team for their hard work. We’ll try and make up for it next time around.”
Francesco Guidotti, Red Bull KTM Team Manager: “A strange Sunday! Having a flag-to-flag after one lap meant that a delayed start might have been a better decision but it is like it is. No wet practice during the weekend meant we were quite conservative with our settings and electronics. It’s a shame. We had a very good GP from Friday until this afternoon. After the Quali and the Sprint yesterday our expectations were high. In conditions like these anything can happen. It was a weird and tricky situation but our riders gave their best.”
- From KTM Factory Racing