Brad Binder broke the All-Time Lap Record during MotoGP Free Practice Two (FP2) Friday afternoon at Mobility Resort Motegi, in Japan. Riding his Red Bull KTM RC 16, the South African covered the 3.0-mile (4.8 km) infield road course in 1:43.489, which broke Jorge Lorenzo’s mark of 1:43.790, which he set in 2015!
Defending World Champion Francesco Bagnaia was second-best with a time of 1:43.518 on his Lenovo Team Ducati, and Aleix Espargaro was P3 with a 1:43.784 on his factory Aprilia RS-GP.
All of the top three riders were under the previous All-Time Lap Record.
The top 10 riders from FP2 go directly to Qualifying Two (Q2) on Saturday. Riders outside of the top 10 in FP2 – including Miguel Oliveira, Joan Mir, Fabio Quartararo, and Marc Marquez – will have to go to Qualifying One and then be one of the two fastest riders to advance to Q2 and fight for one of the top 12 grid spots.
Alex Rins, returning from a badly broken right leg, rode in both of Friday’s sessions, and then decided to withdraw from the event. He is being replaced by test rider Stefan Bradl.
“I started the day feeling good, but then after a couple of laps, I started to feel pain in the leg,” said Rins. “Today was important because now I know which is the starting point and how to continue with my recovery process. The plan is to keep working at home and try again in Indonesia, let’s see how everything goes.”
More, from a press release issued by Dorna:
Binder outguns Bagnaia for stunning new Motegi lap record
KTM rule, Bagnaia bounces back, Aprilia in the mix and Marquez out of Q2: headlines from Day 1 in Japan
Friday, 29 September 2023
One of the longest-standing lap records is no more thanks to a blockbuster performance from Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) on Friday at the Motul Grand Prix of Japan, with the South African smashing MotoGP™ Legend Jorge Lorenzo’s 2015 record by more than three tenths. It’s a statement opener to the weekend as KTM make a final stand against the Ducati onslaught in the Constructors’ Championship, but Binder did have company… and it was from Ducati. Francesco Bagnaia (Ducati Lenovo Team) ended the day 0.029 off the KTM, making his own impressive statement as his final effort dug him out of a trip to Q1.
Third goes to Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing) as he also just pipped Lorenzo’s 2015 best but by thousandths. Still, it was a strong opening day for the agile RS-GP at the hard-braking Motegi as the number 41 slotted in on the timesheets right ahead of Jorge Martin (Prima Pramac Racing) and Marco Bezzecchi (Mooney VR46 Racing Team).
In terms of the Championship top three, Bagnaia seemed on the back foot for much of the day before his sweltering lap at the end of Practice, and he said he’s solved some of his recent braking issues. Martin destroyed the opposition in FP1 but then crashed and took fourth in the afternoon, and Bezzecchi chipped away to ending Practice in fifth.
There was an impressive showing from Gresini Racing MotoGP™’s Fabio Di Giannantonio. The #49 was the first rider to break into the 1:43s in Japan, and with sixth on the timesheets, the Italian secured just his second Q2 appearance of the campaign. Elsewhere, Pol Espargaro (GASGAS Factory Racing Tech3) will appear in Q2 for the first time this year, having put in the ninth fastest time of the day behind Johann Zarco (Prima Pramac Racing) and the second RS-GP of Maverick Viñales (Aprilia Racing).
Rounding out the top 10 for the day is Jack Miller (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing), the 2022 winner at Motegi now taking in on in orange. The Australian had crashed earlier in the session but squeezed into Q2 courtesy of his last ditch effort.
Some late yellow flags played their part too, due to Raul Fernandez’ (CryptoDATA RNF MotoGP™ Team) second crash of the day, with Binder just escaping this time after the KTM rider found his Practice AND Q1 bests scrubbed off in India.
Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) lost one lap and then ultimately missed out as he was among the late fallers at Motegi, with the eight-time World Champion going down at Turn 1 while in pursuit of a flying lap that would place him at the business end of proceedings. Instead, he is facing down Q1, along with 2021 World Champion Fabio Quartararo (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP™), who went down at Turn 6 earlier in the session. On home turf for Honda and Yamaha, it’s going to be quite a fight to move through.
There are only two places up for grabs in the morning to get into the battle for pole position, with even more talent joining Marquez and Quartararo in Q1. It’s set to be another scintillating chapter of MotoGP™ action in Japan!