Round 14 of the 125cc World Championship at Motegi this weekend will see current standings leader Nico Terol and his main title rival Johann Zarco go head to head once more as the Spaniard looks to extend his advantage whilst the Frenchman continues in search of a first GP win.
With victory at Aragón Terol extended his lead at the top over Zarco to 36 points, taking his eighth win of the season and consigning his rival to a sixth second-placed result if 2011. Terol's win was also the 14th consecutive victory for Aprilia in the class, the manufacturer's longest ever sequence of successive victories in the category.
Knowing that catching the Bankia Aspar rider remains a tough task Zarco's determination to taste a first GP victory continues to drive the Avant-AirAsia-Ajo rider on. Neither Terol or any other rider on the current 125cc grid has previously won a GP race at the Motegi circuit.
As the battle rages between those two at the top the fantastic rookie season of Maverick Viñales (Blusens by Paris Hilton Racing) continues. Third place at Aragón was the precocious 16 year-old's seventh podium of his debut year in the World Championship, and few would bet against the talented young Spaniard adding spice to the title fight with a charge for victory of his own in Japan.
More experienced heads in Sandro Cortese (Intact Racing Team Germany) and Jonas Folger (Red Bull Ajo Motorsport) will also have an eye on challenging the leading group at this round, where Folger is set to make his 50th Grand Prix start. If the German lines up on the grid on Sunday he will become the third youngest rider ever reach the milestone, with only Scott Redding and Jorge Lorenzo having done so at a younger age.
The Spanish contingency of Efrén Vázquez (Avant-AirAsia-Ajo), Luis Salom (RW Racing) and Alberto Moncayo (Andalucia Banca Civica) will all push to be at the front, whilst Héctor Faubel (Bankia Aspar) is expected to be fit to ride after crashing out at Aragón on the final lap when battling with Zarco for second position. British rookie Danny Kent (Red Bull Ajo Motorsport) will also look to consolidate what has so far been an impressive debut year, and he currently completes the top ten as it stands in the Championship.
Japanese fans will have five young talents to cheer on this weekend with wild cards Takehiro Yamamoto (Team Nobby), Kikari Ookubo (18 Garage Racing), Jun Ohnishi and Hyuga Watanabe (both riding for Project u 7C HARC) lining up alongside Syunya Mori, who will replace the injured Simone Grotzkyj (Phonica Racing) for this race. Swiss youngster Damien Raemy will replace Francesco Mauriello on the WTR-Ten10 Racing this weekend.