Moto2

Motegi may provide the first change of the championship leader in five months

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The Moto2 clash at Motegi, Japan this weekend may provide the first change of the championship leader in five months.

Viessmann-Kiefer Racing's Stefan Bradl has been at the top of the standings since taking the lead back from Andrea Iannone with a win at the Portuguese Grand Prix in Estoril.

Bradl built on that victory to amass a seemingly invincible 62 point lead which reached its zenith at the rain-lashed British Grand Prix. But the lead has all but evaporated due to the brilliance of Marc Marquez. The reigning 125cc World Champion overcame a slow start to build a winning record that is the envy of the field. Marquez has won six of the past seven races-he finished second in the other-and now trails Bradl by only six points with four races remaining.

While Marquez has been utterly dominant, the once unstoppable Bradl has faltered, giving away points in bunches under the weight of the championship lead. The young German has now vowed to forget about the championship and return to racing for wins, which he did earlier in the season, winning four of the first six races before stumbling in the Dutch TT, where he fell out of seventh four laps from the end and could only watch as Marquez won his second race of the year. The race in the Netherlands was pivotal: It marked the reversal of Bradl's supremacy in his second year in the class.

"I can forget about the championship now," Bradl said. "I don't want to think about it anymore. The only good thing is that I really like the next two circuits. I won the 125 race at Motegi in 2008 and was very fast in qualifying at Phillip Island last year. We had some bad luck at the last race when my rear tyre moved on the rim, but we hope everything will be okay at the next races."
Stefan Bradl is now just looking for wins as Marc Marquez hones in on his championship lead.
Marquez arrives in Japan having won at Motorland Aragon, his third in a row. Marquez battled in the early going before taking the lead for good from Iannone on the 13th of 21 laps and romping to victory. Bradl was a dispirited eighth.

"We will see what happens in Japan ‰ÛÒ I like the circuit," Marquez said. "There has been some talk about safety, but I'm happy to go there, no problem. I like the circuit a lot, so we will see if we can maintain the same level. On Friday we start from zero and try to do best like always."

Iannone, meanwhile, has tried to solidify third in the championship with podium finishes in three of the past four races.

"I had a few doubts about going, but have been reassured by various people that everything is okay," Iannone said. "I'm happy to be there and I plan to be fast and competitive again. My team is doing a great job and at Motegi we will do everything we can to get the bike right earlier in the weekend. If we can do that then we can have an even better bike for the race."

Interestingly, the three riders at the top of the championship have won the past three 125cc races at Motegi, Marquez last year, Iannone in 2009, and Bradl in 2008. Bradl was seventh in last year's Moto2 race, Iannone was 13th.

Main Photo: There will be plenty of Moto2 action at Motegi

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