At the moment it's only really Dani and Jorge who are able for victory right now, and while it wasn't the most exciting of races at Motegi it was of course good for the championship that Dani took the win. That could be his most important win of the year.
Aside from the top two it was great to see a real battle between Cal Crutchlow and Álvaro Bautista for third, and just a shame that Cal ran out of fuel on the last lap and couldn't finish the race.
In a different sport Casey Stoner's ankle injury would have meant a minimum of half a year, I'd say a season off, but he was back in eight weeks and any doctor would say he's crazy, but that's what racers are made of. His comeback was extremely impressive, he showed the speed is not missing and if could have held into the bike he'd be up there fighting for podiums and victories straight away. Those MotoGP bikes are so powerful though that if you're not 100% physically then you're not going to be able to get the maximum out of them. I think he did a stunning job to hold onto that position and finish the race in fifth like he did.
A lot of riders had problems with brakes overheating this weekend and in my first MotoGP race at Motegi I experienced braking problems, because my weight was always high and used to stress the package. Back in 2004 the carbon discs on my bike started to burn from the inside out! The brake pads starting scratching and it really affected what I was able to do. I had to slow down in the race, and I remember it was the only time I had that problem, so it shows just how demanding Motegi was. With the increased weight on the 1000cc bikes though I think it is something they'll have to work on for next year, but especially for this race track!
For the Ducati guys it was an up and down weekend. At one point in the weekend it looked like Valentino Rossi was there. He started quite well and I was really hoping he'd have the speed to fight for the top five, but then the others progressed and it seemed Ducati were again struggling to find the next step to fight for a really good position in the race.
For Nicky Hayden this weekend again showed how much of a tough cookie he is. Like Casey he was riding under extremely tough physical conditions and actually finishing a race like that is highly admirable. It was hard to expect anything more than a finish and he made no mistakes and rode very well.
There's little time to develop anything over these three back-to-back races, so let's hope the next two tracks suit the Ducati a little better because they have tested at Sepang, like everyone else. Malaysia's next, where the heat and humidity is always extremely gruelling, so that could definitely make things interesting!