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Jack Miller wins MotoGP Japanese Grand Prix as Fabio Quartararo stops his points slide Lessons learned in three rounds of Extreme E pay huge dividends in the Copper X Prix for Tanner Foust

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Jack Miller escapes MotoGP Japanese Grand Prix at Motegi how Fabio Quartararo stopped his descent in the championship when a last lap crash with his closest rival in the standings left Francesco Bagnaia to zero points.

Starting seventh, Miller quickly pushed his way forward. He was second at the end of two laps. Around later, he took the lead from Jorge Martin. Once in the lead, Miller showed three fast laps in a row and never ran into serious problems. It was the Australian native Miller’s first win of the season and his sixth podium finish.

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Proximity to his home territory was not lost.

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“Sometimes I can ride a motorcycle,” Miller told NBC Sports after the race. “I’ve been feeling amazing all weekend since I rolled out in my first practice. It’s so great to be racing on this side of the world.

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“What an amazing day. This is amazing; soon we will have a home Grand Prix. The wedding is in a couple of weeks. I’m in seventh heaven with happiness; I can’t thank everyone enough.”

Miller was 3.4 seconds ahead of Brad Binder, with third place Jorge Martin finishing about one second behind.

But the center of the storm was immediately in the top ten, as both Quartararo and Bagnaia started deep in the field.

Quartararo was outside the third row in ninth place, with Bagnaia one row back in 12th. Neither driver moved up significantly, but the championship was still paramount as Bagnaya applied a patented late race charge to land on Quartararo’s rear tire, which would only allow the championship leader to score one point.

On the last lap, Bagnaya rushed too hard and crashed under heavy braking, losing seven points that he would have earned in ninth place.

The day was even more dramatic for the driver, who entered the Japanese MotoGP Grand Prix third in the standings. On the control lap, Alex Espargaro sounded the alarm, so he slid into the pits, abandoned his main bike and jumped on the spare. Starting from the pit lane, he trudged across the field and could not get into the glasses. The culprit was an undisclosed electronics problem.

For Quartararo, eight points in the competition was more than a moral victory. It was a track where he expected to run moderately and he did, but the problems of his opponents forced him to focus again on the remaining four rounds.

The series will travel to Thailand next week and then to Miller’s home circuit at Phillip Island in Australia. They will close part of the Pacific Rim schedule before heading to Spain for the final in early November.

Team orders don’t seem to play a role among Ducati racers. Last week’s winner Enea Bastianini launched an aggressive attack on Bagnaia for the position before the championship contender regained the spot.

In his second race after hand surgery, Marc Marquez took pole. His last pole position was over 1,000 days ago at the same circuit in 2019, when the series last competed at Motegi. Márquez dropped to fifth midway through the race before reclaiming his position and finishing just behind the podium.

In the Moto2 competition, Ai Ogura beat Augusto Fernandez and reduced the gap in this championship to two points. Fernandez holds a slight advantage. Alonso Lopez closed the podium.

Both American riders, Cameron Beaubier and Joe Roberts, finished just outside the top ten, finishing 11th and 12th respectively.

To paraphrase the Grateful Dead, what a long and unique journey Tanner Faust went through in his first season in the Extreme E series when he took early season lessons in Chile to compete in the Copper X Prix. And he learned his lessons well.

McLaren announced in February that it would expand its motorsport program with the Extreme E. They signed two talented rally drivers, Foust and Emma Gilmour, and put them on the first round in Neom, Saudi Arabia, with just a few days of testing behind them. Scorched by the sun of the Arabian desert, it was tested by fire.

The duo performed well in their debut, advancing to the final round and finishing in fifth place. As the Extreme E heads into another desert halfway across the globe to stage four, it’s time to catch up with Faust and ask about McLaren’s progress. Last weekend in one of the most extreme regions of the world – the Atacama Desert – the Copper X Prix competition was held.

MORE: McLaren Considers Kyle Busch For Indy 500

“The shock in the first race was the speed,” Faust told NBC Sports. “It was much higher than what we tested. We spent a lot of time around 100 miles an hour [in race trim] and our test speeds were more in the 60 to 70 mile range. Then when we sort of got around that, the car was upgraded so you can drive it even faster.”

In rally racing, some incidents are beyond the control of the driver. Even peeking out from behind another car can be dangerous due to potholes that have recently been dug into the ground or large bushes that seem to sprout between the circles. A couple of flips got Foust back on the ground, but the speed was there, and that was important.

“We’ve had some issues this season,” Fust said ahead of the Copper X Prix. “We had a good start; reached the final, which is not easy to do in this series. I had two throws in the first three competitions, but each time I added. Now we come into the 4th round in Chile with a pretty strong position. We have competitive moments in the team. We communicate and think very well about this Odyssey car.”

Fust’s words proved to be prophetic.

He won the Crazy Race – the Extreme E version of the Last Chance qualifier – and did so after clearing the course. Similarly, he reached the Saudi Arabian final, but this time it was better. There were those hard-earned lessons to draw on, and Fust had representatives behind him. He wasn’t about to be taken by surprise by any random obstacles.

Tanner Faust passed Sebastien Loeb heading into the Switch Zone in the Copper X Prix. (Photo by Sam Bagnell/LAT Images)

In the Copper X Prix final, he put pressure on one of the best rally drivers in the history of the sport.

At the end of his stretch, after pitching sideways through a tight southpaw, Fust put his McLaren Extreme E Odyssey at the head of the pack in front of Sebastian Loeb as they headed into the switch zone. There he will hand over the car to his navigator Gilmour.

The Extreme E series is designed for male and female drivers, and both are behind the wheel.

After a driver change, Gilmour momentarily lost the lead to Loeb’s teammate Cristina Gutiérrez, but as they raced to the finish line, she took the lead and slipped under the checkers first.

“What an improvement for the team compared to this year,” Fust said after the race. “We struggled with some events being in the first year of competition. This weekend we showed real pace; Overtaking Sebastian Loeb was a highlight.

“Emma did a great job in the final. I was lucky enough to go from last to first in the Crazy Race and then to first in the final, but with some penalty flags, 20 seconds were added to our time, putting us in fifth place. It was great to cross the finish line first, I love this wide track and the NEOM McLaren Odyssey was fantastic here.

“Hopefully we can continue that momentum in Uruguay.”

Loeb and Gutierrez climbed to the top of the podiumbut the feeling of going under checkers first cannot be taken away.

Race responsibly

Since the invention of automobiles, racing has played a socially responsible role in improving safety. As the Earth reaches a tipping point with climate change, racing must adapt to these new needs and demands, and this is where Extreme E’s unique strategy becomes increasingly important.

The Extreme E experience is about more than just racing. Each race is accompanied by a legacy program designed to repair the damage caused by climate change and erase the footprints caused by the events.

Faust, a biologist at the University of Colorado, had the opportunity to rekindle his interest and pay tribute to the environment ahead of the Copper X Prix.

Atacama is the oldest desert in the world, dating back 150 million years. It is the driest place on earth with the highest levels of ultraviolet radiation. Yet somehow life continues through underground rivers with oases dating back to Inca times. Fust has been involved in preparing the local habitat for the reintroduction of the endangered aquatic…


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