Webber: Leaving without any regrets

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The worst thing for any sportsman to do is retire bearing regret or with a black cloud over their head. Many see Michael Schumacher’s ‘comeback’ as being a mistake, whilst the likes of Jacques Villeneuve and Ralf Schumacher saw their careers end in a rather muted manner. However, for Mark Webber, his retirement will be one where he has no regrets lingering from his eleven-year career.

When asked in the FIA press conference whether or not he had any regrets, Webber said: “No, no I don’t think so.

“At this level, you’re always open to some adversity here and there and challenges, that’s how this sport is, any top flight sport is going to be snapshots of different things which you could probably have done better here and there, but there’s no career which is like this. You’re going to have ups and downs and getting off the canvas is part of the rules, so I’ve been very fortunate to have some very very special memories for sure.”

Webber has finished 3rd in the drivers’ championship twice (2010 and 2011), as well as winning three constructors’ titles in a row with Red Bull. However, the Australian driver is still keen on adding to his raft of memories from his time in F1.

“I’m looking back with very fond memories and I’ve still got races to go obviously this year so still looking to add to those great memories and helping Red Bull still achieve very very good results.”

Webber will see out his contract with the team, with his final race being the Brazilian Grand Prix in November. Although this rumor has been circulating for some time, NBC Sports’ Will Buxton suggested on Twitter that Webber’s decision had been made before the beginning of the season.

Jack Miller wins MotoGP Japanese Grand Prix as Fabio Quartararo stops his points slide

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Jack Miller ran away with the MotoGP Japanese Grand Prix at Motegi as Fabio Quartararo stopped his downward slide in the championship when a last-lap accident from his closest rival in the standings caused Francesco Bagnaia to score zero points.

Starting seventh, Miller quickly made his way forward. He was second at the end of two laps. One lap later, he grabbed the lead from Jorge Martin. Once in the lead, Miller posted three consecutive fastest laps and was never seriously challenged. It was Australian native Miller’s first race win of the season and his sixth podium finish.

The proximity to his home turf was not lost.

“I can ride a motorcycle sometimes,” Miller said in NBC Sports’ post-race coverage. “I felt amazing all weekend since I rolled out on the first practice. It feels so awesome to be racing on this side of the world.

“What an amazing day. It’s awesome; we have the home Grand Prix coming up shortly. Wedding coming up in a couple of weeks. I’m over the moon; can’t thank everyone enough.”

Miller beat Brad Binder to the line by 3.4 seconds with third-place Jorge Martin finishing about one second behind.

But the center of the storm was located just inside the top 10 as both Quartararo and Bagnaia started deep in the field.

Quartararo was on the outside of row three in ninth with Bagnaia one row behind in 12th. Neither rider moved up significantly, but the championship continued to be of primary importance as Bagnaia put in a patented late-race charge to settle onto Quartararo’s back tire, which would have allowed the championship leader to gain only a single point.

On the final lap, Bagnaia charged just a little too hard and crashed under heavy braking, throwing away the seven points he would have earned for a ninth-place finish.

The day was even more dramatic for the rider who entered the MotoGP Japanese Grand Prix third in the standings. On the sighting lap, Aleix Espargaro had an alarm sound, so he peeled off into the pits, dropped his primary bike and jumped aboard the backup. Starting from pit lane, he trailed the field and was never able to climb into the points. An undisclosed electronic problem was the culprit.

For Quartararo, gaining eight points on the competition was more than a moral victory. This was a track on which he expected to run moderately, and he did, but the problems for his rivals gives him renewed focus with four rounds remaining.

Next week, the series heads to Thailand and then Miller’s home track of Phillip Island in Australia. They will close out the Pacific Rim portion of the schedule before heading to Spain for the finale in early November.

It would appear team orders are not in play among the Ducati riders. Last week’s winner Enea Bastianini made an aggressive early move on Bagnaia for position before the championship contender wrestled the spot back.

In his second race back following arm surgery, Marc Marquez won the pole. His last pole was more than 1,000 days ago on this same track in 2019, the last time the series competed at Motegi. Marquez slipped to fifth in the middle stages of the race, before regaining a position to finish just off the podium.

In Moto2 competition, Ai Ogura beat Augusto Fernandez to close the gap in that championship to two points. Fernandez holds the scant lead. Alonso Lopez rounded out the podium.

Both American riders, Cameron Beaubier and Joe Roberts finished just outside the top 10 in 11th and 12th respectively.