MotoGP: Fabio Quartararo Under Race Lap Record In FP2 At Motegi (Updated)

MotoGP: Fabio Quartararo Under Race Lap Record In FP2 At Motegi (Updated)

© 2019, Roadracing World Publishing, Inc. by David Swarts

Race Lap Record: 1:45.350, Jorge Lorenzo, 2014

All-Time Lap Record: 1:43.790, Jorge Lorenzo, 2013

FIM MotoGP World Championship

Twin Ring Motegi, Japan

October 18, 2019

Free Practice Two Results (all using Michelin tires):

  1. Fabio Quartararo, France (Yam YZR-M1), 1:44.764
  2. Maverick Vinales, Spain (Yam YZR-M1), 1:45.085
  3. Marc Marquez, Spain (Hon RC213V), 1:45.100
  4. Andrea Dovizioso, Italy (Duc GP19), 1:45.414
  5. Valentino Rossi, Italy (Yam YZR-M1), 1:45.466
  6. Franco Morbidelli, Italy (Yam YZR-M1), 1:45.562
  7. Jack Miller, Australia (Duc GP19), 1:45.577, crash
  8. Danilo Petrucci, Italy (Duc GP19), 1:45.619
  9. Joan Mir, Spain (Suz GSX-RR), 1:45.641
  10. Aleix Espargaro, Spain (Apr RS-GP), 1:45.721
  11. Alex Rins, Spain (Suz GSX-RR), 1:45.730
  12. Cal Crutchlow, UK (Hon RC213V), 1:45.804
  13. Pol Espargaro, Spain (KTM RC16), 1:46.020
  14. Francesco Bagnaia, Italy (Duc GP19), 1:46.330
  15. Takaaki Nakagami, Japan (Hon RC213V), 1:46.557
  16. Karel Abraham, Czech Republic (Duc GP18), 1:46.576
  17. Jorge Lorenzo, Spain (Hon RC213V), 1:46.661
  18. Miguel Oliveira, Portugal (KTM RC16), 1:46.800, crash
  19. Sylvain Guintoli, France (Suz GSX-RR), 1:46.803
  20. Andrea Iannone, Italy (Apr RS-GP), 1:46.969
  21. Tito Rabat, Spain (Duc GP18), 1:47.158
  22. Mika Kallio, Finland (KTM RC16), 1:47.312
  23. Hafizh Syahrin, Malaysia (KTM RC16), 1:47.974

 

 

More, from a press release issued by Red Bull KTM Tech3:

Exciting Friday for Red Bull KTM Tech3 duo in Japan

 

Miguel Oliveira got his first taste of the Twin Ring Motegi today aboard his KTM RC16. Following a decent start in FP1, he suffered a crash in the second session of the day, but luckily managed to go back on track again, plus lowered on his lap time from this morning to conclude Friday 1.079 seconds behind the top 10.

On the other side of the Red Bull KTM Tech3 garage, Hafizh Syahrin likewise went faster in the last minutes of Free Practice 2, although he struggled to get to grips with the Japanese circuit, finishing day one in P23. Yet, the Malaysian can’t wait to further refine his feeling from FP3 at 10.50 local time (3.50 CET) onwards.

Miguel Oliveira

Position: 19th

Time: 1:46.800

Laps: 34

“It was a tough Friday with a big crash in FP2. We couldn’t manage to make the medium tyre work, so I crashed, because I had no temperature on the left side. It was a small detail, but with big consequences. Let’s analyze everything this afternoon and see what we can do better for remainder of this weekend.”

Hafizh Syahrin

Position: 23rd

Time: 1:47.974

Laps: 34

“This first day here was really tough. I like the circuit, but at the moment, the bike is just not working well with me. We changed a lot of settings from FP1 to FP2, but we didn’t find the ideal solution we were hoping for. On the last run, it was getting better, also as I tried to give everything from my experience. At the moment, we struggle with stability at the entry and also at the exit of the corners, so I’m fighting a lot with spinning tyres. I was watching some other riders and apparently, they don’t suffer from that. I’m sure that I will be able to find something together with my team and improve our time significantly.”

 

 

 

More, from a press release issued by Aprilia Gresini Racing:

PROVISIONAL Q2 FOR ALEIX AFTER A GOOD FIRST DAY OF PRACTICE IN JAPAN

With the looming threat of rain conditioning practice strategies, the first two sessions on the Japanese Motegi circuit had all the riders pushing hard straight away, almost in a sneak peek of qualifying. This was especially the case in the afternoon FP2 session, fundamental for going straight through to Q2 in the event of a wet track tomorrow morning.

Aleix Espargaró managed to get into the top 10 on his final attempt with a time of 1’45.721, less than one second behind the leader. There were good sensations for the Spanish rider who, even on the Japanese track, is continuing the positive streak demonstrated in Aragón and Buriram.

Andrea Iannone had a bit more difficulty, lacking that extra punch in his time attack during FP2. Andrea complained of a certain aggressiveness in his RS-GP’s behaviour, exacerbated by the characteristics of the Japanese circuit.

ALEIX ESPARGARO’“I am very pleased with this first day, both for the top-10 position and for the final time that was very fast. In the last few races we found a good base setting and along with my crew chief, Antonio, we decided not to make too many drastic changes to the bike. The strategy seems to be working. I am able to get the most out of the technical package and that remains my goal in this season finale.”
ANDREA IANNONE “Today’s sessions, especially FP2, were a sort of qualifying. Unfortunately, in my final attempts I went long and lost time, but that is not what concerns me. Instead, I am still struggling to control the bike. Behaviour is not stable and that comes out particularly on a circuit like this one. We already have a few ideas of what to try, so I hope we are able to solve the problem.”

 

 

 

More, from a press release issued by PETRONAS Yamaha SRT:

Flying Fabio fastest on Friday at Motegi

Fabio Quartararo and Franco Morbidelli end opening day of Japanese GP first and sixth for PETRONAS Yamaha SRT

PETRONAS Yamaha Sepang Racing Team duo Fabio Quartararo and Franco Morbidelli made a flying start at the Grand Prix of Japan, finishing the day first and sixth on the timesheets at the Twin Ring Motegi. Vitally, with heavy rain forecast on Saturday morning at the Japanese track, it also means that the pair have already secured their places in Q2 tomorrow afternoon.

Making his MotoGP debut at the Motegi circuit, Quartararo took time to come to grips with the track this morning but was still able to finish second, before going one better at the end of FP2 to secure P1 with a time of 1min 44.764secs. 0.3 secs clear of his nearest rival, tomorrow’s forecast of heavy rain should give Fabio a chance to increase his understanding of the Yamaha YZR-M1 in wet conditions.

Team-mate Morbidelli also completed the first day of Japanese action strongly, finishing FP1 just behind Quartararo in third and ending the day in sixth, just 0.798secs behind. Taking positive steps forward with his bike setting and one of four Yamaha machines inside the top six, tomorrow’s weather should also provide a chance to work on a different aspect of his set-up to be prepared for any eventuality on Sunday.

MotoGP action at Motegi is scheduled to resume tomorrow with practice at 1050 local time (0950 Malaysian time) and qualifying at 1425 (1325 Malaysian time) ahead of Sunday’s 24-lap race.

Franco Morbidelli

“It was a positive Friday and we were fast in both sessions. I was expecting a little bit more from the rear tyre on the time attack and I’m not too satisfied with my time – but we have to be pleased with the work that we accomplished. It’s still only the first day but we’ve been able to try lots of things and we’ve gathered plenty of interesting data. There is rain forecast for tomorrow and to say that I’m already prepared to race in the dry would be a bit brave, but we’ve made the right steps today.”

Fabio Quartararo:

“This morning I struggled to find some reference points because there is a lot of heavy braking at Motegi; it wasn’t easy at first. Step by step I found my line and realised where I needed to improve. In the end, we did an amazing job not only with the time attack but on race pace as well – but there’s still more to come if it doesn’t rain. We completed 40 laps today, but the more you do the more you learn, and if the weather is good then for sure we’ll be able to go faster. If it does rain tomorrow, then I’ll just go out and do my best. I don’t have a lot of MotoGP experience in wet conditions yet so we’ll see what happens, but we’re already in Q2 so we can aim for the front three rows in qualifying.”

 

 

 

More, from a press release issued by Repsol Honda:

Positive progress for the Repsol Honda Team on Friday in Motegi

Eight-time World Champion Marc Marquez finished a consistent first day in Japan as the third fastest rider as Jorge Lorenzo made a step forward.

Cool conditions on Friday at the Twin Ring Motegi Circuit didn’t deter the local fans who filtered into the track from early in the morning.  A track temperature of 21°C kept riders some distance from the outright lap record in Japan but potential rain on Saturday meant they still had to push hard for a Q2 spot in the closing moments of Free Practice 2.

Fresh from being crowned the 2019 MotoGP World Champion, Marc Marquez showed no signs of relenting his fearsome work ethic. Working towards Sunday’s 24-lap race, Marquez was fourth in Free Practice 1 and improved his time by just under a second to go third on the combined time sheets. The World Champion is not resting on his laurels and is determined to find more speed on Saturday, whatever the conditions.

Jorge Lorenzo enjoyed a positive day aboard the Repsol Honda Team RC213V in Japan, spending the majority of it running inside the top 15 and cutting the gap to the top ten to just a few tenths. Ultimately ending the day in 17th, the five-time World Champion was unable to take full advantage of fresh tyres in the afternoon’s conditions. Continuing to close the gap to the front remains Lorenzo’s objective for the weekend after Friday’s positive start.

Action is scheduled to resume at 10:50 Local Time on Saturday with Free Practice 3, the session later in the day than usual due to Japan’s unique schedule.

Marc Marquez

3RD  1’45.100

“It’s nice to be on the bike again after Thailand! Today was not the best day for us because we missed a few things and it wasn’t our best FP2 of the year but still we are in a good position and close. At the moment we’re focusing on the race weekend and understanding a couple of ideas we have had with the geometry. We still need to understand the tyres a bit more so hopefully the weather will be OK tomorrow.”

Jorge Lorenzo

17TH  1’46.661

“Today was a positive day, maybe my best practice since I returned from injury. We changed something on the bike from earlier in the season and we had a good day. I improved my feeling and my speed; it wasn’t a full second improvement, but I felt better and could see the improvements on track. Our final position isn’t perfect because I couldn’t take the most from a new tyre like other riders but our pace is closer to the front.”

 

 

 

More, from a press release issued by Team Suzuki ECSTAR:

SUZUKI COMPLETES STEADY DAY ONE IN MOTEGI

Joan Mir: 9th – 1:45.641 (+ 0.877)
Alex Rins: 11th – 1:45.730 (+ 0.966)
Sylvain Guintoli: 20th – 1:46.803 (+ 2.039)

• Joan Mir finds good rhythm from the get-go.
• Alex Rins bumped out of Top 10 in closing seconds.
• Sylvain Guintoli tries 2020 prototype engine.

The first in a series of three back-to-back ‘fly-away’ races, Motegi welcomed the MotoGP riders for the opening day of action at the Japanese track.

The morning’s FP1 session saw everyone keen to make an impression and cement good pace ahead of the afternoon’s important FP2. Alex Rins and Joan Mir both put in runs of strong laps, with the rookie even sitting as high as 3rd place with just a few minutes to go. At the end of FP1, Rins was 5th and Mir 6th, both around half a second from the top spot.

With bad weather predicted for much of Saturday, one of the key aims for FP2 was to try and secure a place in the Top 10 and direct passage to Q2 – as well as the usual work with fine tuning settings ahead of race day. After getting to grips with the chilly track, both Rins and Mir kept themselves well within the Top 10. As the session drew to a close, many riders began putting in fast laps, and in the final seconds Alex Rins was knocked to 11th spot. Meanwhile, Mir managed to hold on to 9th place after a pacy last flying lap.

Team SUZUKI ECSTAR Test Rider, Sylvain Guintoli, rejoins the field this weekend. The experienced Frenchman is working towards 2020 and he closed Day 1 in 20th overall.

Davide Brivio – Team Manager:

“Today was important for gaining as much information as possible, because it looks like it will be wet for most of tomorrow. We did a good job and the riders tried different tyres and settings. Joan did really well and was able to keep his place within the Top 10, thus meaning that he will likely be already in Q2 if the forecasted rain will finally come tomorrow morning. Alex, by a tiny gap of just nine thousands of a second, was pushed into 11th place! But he is feeling confident. Sylvain has done well too, and he quite likes the rain! Let’s see how tomorrow goes, we feel positive and hopeful.”

Joan Mir:

“I’m really happy about today. I managed to improve my pace lap by lap, and that was great. In FP2 I didn’t put in a fresh front tyre at the end, but I was still able to stay within the Top 10, which is really important for tomorrow. We’ll keep working towards having a competitive race and good result.”

Alex Rins:

“Today has been very good, I’m so happy to be riding on this track again, I like it so much. I missed out on direct passage to Q2, but I will try again tomorrow and I’m still happy with my pace overall. In FP2 I tried a different set-up, but in the end I didn’t like the feeling as much, so I decided to switch back and I got knocked out of the Top 10. This track suits our bike and I hope for a good grid position tomorrow.

Sylvain Guintoli:

“It’s so nice to be back on the bike. We’re working on our 2020 engine and already we’re getting positive feelings, data, and feedback. Today my lap times weren’t bad, and I managed to set my best lap in Motegi, so that felt good.”

 

 

 

More, from a press release issued by Monster Energy Yamaha:

MONSTER ENERGY YAMAHA MAKE IT A DOUBLE TOP 5 ON OPENING DAY AT MOTEGI

Motegi (Japan), 18th October 2019

GRAND PRIX OF JAPAN
 
FREE PRACTICE

The Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP team got the Motul Grand Prix of Japan underway in promising form today at the Twin Ring Motegi circuit. Maverick Viñales and Valentino Rossi both worked on establishing a good base set-up and ended the day in second and fifth place respectively in the combined free practice timesheets.

2nd MAVERICK VIÑALES 1’45.085 (FP2) / 20 + 18 LAPS

5th VALENTINO ROSSI 1’45.466 (FP2) / 19 + 17 LAPS

Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP‘s Maverick Viñales made a very positive start to the Motul Grand Prix of Japan, taking first place in FP1 and following it up with a second position in FP2 and the combined times. Valentino Rossi kicked off the first of the overseas triple-header weekends focusing fully on riding on used tyres. He secured fifth place in the combined free practice results.

Viñales stuck his M1 in P1 early on in FP1 and then put his energy towards working on his bike‘s set-up to make it match the Twin Ring Motegi track‘s stop-start nature. He gradually improved his time, achieving provisional first place once more 25 minutes into the session, although it didn’t last long. But when a mini time attack started in the final five minutes, the number-12 rider was ready for the fight and reclaimed the top spot. Quartararo put in a late challenge, but the Factory team rider retaliated with a 1‘45.572s, ending the session in first place with a 0.258s advantage over second, for an early Yamaha 1-2-3.

The Spaniard also booked steady progress in the afternoon practice. He spent a large part of the session near the top of the provisional rankings, until the latter stages, when he put in a soft rear tyre for his final outing and dropped a fast time to top the session again for a short while. His best lap of 1’45.085s was 0.321s from the top and left him in second place in the FP2 and the combined free practice standings.

Rossi got off to a positive start at Yamaha‘s home GP. He briefly moved up to third place and started to work on race pace, like he announced he would before coming to the Japanese GP venue. He was eager to work on riding with used tyres, especially as the nine-time World Champion knows like no other how wearing the Motegi track can be. The Italian was so fixed on this task that he did not come in for a fresh set of tyres to put in a hot lap at the end of the morning session, like the majority of the rider field. He took 12th position, 0.848s behind his team-mate.

Rossi continued to test various setting options as well as some tyre specs in FP2, leaving it until the final seconds to put in a hot lap because of an issue with his first bike. Though the second bike had a different set-up, the nine-time World Champion quickly adjusted. The window of opportunity was extremely narrow when he started his fourth and final run just a couple of minutes before the end of the session, but the Doctor remained calm and collected. He crossed the start-finish line for his flying lap with 10s to spare, and gave it his all for a 1’45.466s, to take fifth in the FP2 and combined session results, 0.702s removed from first.

MASSIMO MEREGALLI

TEAM DIRECTOR

“We had a productive start to the Japanese GP, which is positive, especially since the weather for tomorrow predicts rain. We had quite a few things that we wanted to try here, so we had to work hard today to fit in most of it. Maverick showed good speed right from the start and is feeling confident overall, which shows in his placements: first and second in today’s sessions. Vale focused on riding on used tyres in both FP1 and FP2. When it was the right moment for the time attack, he had an issue with his first bike, which cost him a lot of time. Luckily, he was able to cross the line 10s before the chequered flag came out and then set the fifth time of the day. Overall, Maverick and Valentino had a good pace, even with a good number of laps on the tyre. Having both our riders firmly in the top 10 after today could be very important, especially considering the weather predicted for tomorrow. The fact that all Yamahas are in the top 6 at what‘s not naturally an easy track for us, shows the steps Yamaha has made. That said, it’s only Friday…”

MAVERICK VIÑALES

“I‘m really happy. Today I‘m feeling very positive. We‘ve tried many things on the bike, which is very positive, because we don‘t know what the weather will be like tomorrow. I actually felt really good with the bike all the way through FP1 and FP2. Now we have to make another step, but more mechanically. We need to try to understand the best way to improve. We will try to be fast on the wet. Normally that‘s one of our strong points, and we’re usually amongst the first places. So our main target for tomorrow will be the front row, also in the rain. I had a monitor showing my heart rate today. I can feel my heart beat faster sometimes, especially on braking, where I struggle the most. When you do about 10-11 laps you start to feel it.”

VALENTINO ROSSI

“We tried to save a bit of time to do the time attack at the end, because the forecast for tomorrow is very bad. Unfortunately, we had a problem with the brakes on the first bike, so we had to take out the tyres and put them on the second bike, which was set up a bit different, but at the end I was able to start my second lap of run 4 with just 10s to spare. I did a good lap and I‘m in the top 10, that‘s very important because it looks like tomorrow the weather will be bad. For the rest, it‘s not so bad. My pace is quite good. As always, we need to understand the tyres, because a lot of riders also use the soft rear, which looks like it‘s a bit faster. We‘ll see. We have to keep working, but my pace is quite good, and the first day was quite positive.”

 

 

 

More, from a press release issued by Pramac Racing:

#JapaneseGP FP. Positive start to Motegi weekend for Jack (P7) as Pecco (P14) improves lap by lap to find a good feeling in FP2

The free practice of the Grand Prix of Japan ended with the seventh time recorded by Jack Miller – who set the Top Speed (311.2 km/h) – and the fourteenth position of Francesco Bagnaia who lapped for the first time in MotoGP on the circuit of Motegi finding good confidence in the FP2.

FP1 (Practice Conditions: Dry. Air 18°. Ground 22°)

P7 Jack Miller (1’46.197, +0.625 from P1)

Jack started well and led the FP1 in the early laps, then conquering a precious 7th place, just two-tenths of a second from the hypothetical front row.

P20 Francesco Bagnaia (1’47.496, +1.207 from Top 10, +1.924 from P1)

Pecco could not find confidence, especially in the T4. The Italian worked on the race pace postponing to FP2 his time attack attempt.

FP2 (Practice Conditions: Dry. Air 18°. Ground 22°)

P7 Jack Miller (1’45.577, +0.813 from P1)

Jack secured the direct qualifying to Q2 in case of rain tomorrow. A crash at the end of the session did not compromise the Australian’s positive Friday.

P14 Francesco Bagnaia (1’46.330, +0.609 from Top 10, +1.566 from P1)

Pecco made significant progress on the race pace and in the time attack lowered by more than a second his best lap time set in the morning, also reducing the gap with the Top 10.

P14 – Pecco Bagnaia

It’s been a pretty hard day. We’re having problems especially in braking areas. We have worked a lot in Fp2 with used tyres and the feeling is positive. We are not far from the Top 10. The hope is that it won’t rain tomorrow to improve in Fp3.

P7 – Jack Miller

It’s a shame about the crash after my best lap. I made a mistake turning wider and crashed. It was a good day anyway: we worked hard on the tyres and the race pace is good. It was important to stay in the Top 10 ahead of tomorrow’s qualifying session.

 

 

 

More, from a press release issued by LCR Honda Idemitsu:

DIFFICULT START FOR NAKAGAMI AT HOME GP

It proved tough going for Takaaki Nakagami as free practice for the Japanese Grand Prix at Motegi got underway on Friday. The LCR Honda IDEMITSU rider is desperate to impress in front of his home fans this weekend in what will be his last MotoGP outing of the season due to imminent surgery.

However, his injured right shoulder hampered him throughout the day and he was unable to show the kind of speed that he’s produced all year. The 27-year-old was 15th fastest in both FP1 and FP2 and, with heavy rain forecast for Saturday, now looks unlikely to have the chance to secure an automatic spot in Q2 qualifying.

Takaaki Nakagami – 15th

(1’46.557 – lap 12 of 15)

“I can see from today that my shoulder is getting worse, it was not definitely helping when I was half-braking. But generally my whole body was struggling, right from FP1 I knew it was going to be a tough weekend. During the sessions I just tried to do a few laps and then understand in the debrief. The bike is improving little by little, but we’re still struggling in turning after the apex, in the second part of the corner. The weather forecast for tomorrow looks a bit unstable with rain, but we’ll try to be ready for any conditions and let’s see what happens in qualifying.”

 

 

 

More, from a press release issued by LCR Honda Castrol:

CRUTCHLOW WITH WORK TO DO AT MOTEGI

LCR Honda CASTROL rider Cal Crutchlow had to settle for 12th position after the opening day of free practice for the Japanese Grand Prix. In what is the home race of HRC, the Briton narrowly missed out on a top 10 spot at the Twin Ring Motegi and now has work to do ahead of qualifying.

With heavy rain forecast for Saturday, the chance to secure automatic entry into Q2 looks to have escaped Crutchlow. He claimed tenth spot in FP1 but, despite improving by nearly half a second in FP2, was pushed down into 12th position as he missed out by less than a tenth. Despite that setback, he remains hopeful of a good result at a venue where he finished second last year.

Cal Crutchlow – 12th

(1’45.084 – lap 17 of 17)

“It was a disappointing day here in Motegi. I missed out on the top 10 which is obviously disappointing not to go through to Q2 directly. We know that there is heavy rain forecast for tomorrow so this makes the situation and day very difficult. But I don’t have a great feeling with the bike, we are struggling to decelerate it and we have difficulties in turning the bike and turning the corner so it makes for a difficult lap around the Motegi circuit. As, I’ll endeavour to improve with my team and improve the feeling, but that can’t be done tomorrow with the weather that is due.”

 

 

 

More, from a press release issued by Dorna:

Quartararo can’t be stopped at Motegi

The rookie begins a pivotal weekend on top ahead of Viñales and newly-crowned Champion Marquez

Friday, 18 October 2019

Friday at the Motul Grand Prix of Japan saw Fabio Quartararo (Petronas Yamaha SRT) unleash his by-now traditional pace to top the combined timesheets, with the Frenchman ahead of the field by 0.321 seconds by the end of FP2 as he begins his bid to wrap up the Rookie of the Year title this weekend. The next man up was Maverick Viñales (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP), who had the tables turned on him in the afternoon after topping FP1, with Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) completing the top three after a classic last dash scramble for most near the end of action.

Dry but grey skies were the name of the game on Day 1 and the program was a full one as rain threatens the rest of the weekend, with places in Q2 seemingly up for grabs already. As a manufacturer, it was Yamaha who were quickest out the blocks, with Viñales leading a 1-2-3 for the Iwata marque in the morning and Quartararo strking late to take over as the first of four Yamahas in the top six after FP2. Valentino Rossi (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) was a late mover to take fifth overall on Day 1, ahead of Franco Morbidelli (Petronas Yamaha SRT) in P6.

So who spoiled the party? Only Marquez in third and Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team) in fourth were able put paid to Yamaha domination, although that ends up proving a good omen for both the Iwata marque and the two men who were able to join the upper echelons of the timesheets.

Jack Miller (Pramac Racing) was exceedingly close to the top six, however, with the Australian seventh overall by just 0.015. He also suffered a crash on his very final lap of the day, rider ok but bike needing a little T&C overnight. Danilo Petrucci (Ducati Team) was P8 and 0.042 off his fellow Ducati rider, with Joan Mir (Team Suzuki Ecstar) impressing to end Day 1 as top Suzuki once again – just as he did in Thailand. He was 0.022 off Petrucci despite a run off at Turn 5.

Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini) is the final man who stands to take an automatic place in Q2 if the expected weather closes in, with the Spaniard pushing out some high-profile hopefuls: Alex Rins (Team Suzuki Ecstar) was P11 by just 0.009, Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda Castrol) was 12th and Pol Espargaro (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) 13th. Both Rins and Crutchlow were on the podium last year behind winner Marquez, although in reverse order.

Rookie Francesco Bagnaia (Pramac Racing) was 14th on Day 1 and just ahead of Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda Idemitsu), who locked out the fastest 15. The home hero is scheduled to undergo surgery after Motegi and miss the final three races of the season, so a solid finish will be in his sights.

Miguel Oliveira (Red Bull KTM Tech 3) had a fast one at Turn 12 on Friday, but the Portuguese rider was given the all clear and will be back out on Saturday. He was 19th on Day 1.

That’s it from an interesting opening day at Motegi, as Quartararo’s Thursday assertion stands true: he doesn’t seem to pay much heed as to whether it’s meant to be a Honda or Yamaha track. But then, neither did the rest of the Iwata marque machines…can they keep that form on Saturday? Will Marquez blast back to take pole at the last venue he has yet to reign in the premier class? Or…will the weather steal the headlines? Find out who’s heading through to Q2 at 10:50 local time (GMT+9) as FP3 begins slightly later than normal, before qualifying from 15:05 to decide the grid for the Motul Grand Prix of Japan.

 

 

 

More, from a press release issued by Ducati:

Andrea Dovizioso fourth and Danilo Petrucci eighth at the end of day 1 of practice for the GP of Japan at Motegi

At the end of the first day of practice for the GP of Japan, to be held this weekend at the Twin Ring Motegi circuit, both Ducati Team riders were classified inside the provisional top 10, with Andrea Dovizioso in fourth position and Danilo Petrucci eighth.

In cloudy conditions but with a dry track surface, all the MotoGP top riders improved their times in the afternoon’s FP2 session to try and qualify inside the top 10 and go directly through into Q2, seeing as tomorrow rain is forecast for the Japanese circuit.

Andrea Dovizioso (#04 Ducati Team) – 1’45.414 (4th)

“Today we immediately started off on the right foot, because our bike works very well at Motegi and it’s always great to be here. We were fast but, as has often happened this year, there are a lot of us with a good pace and so we’ll have to work on the little details to get set up for the race. Unfortunately, this afternoon the air was quite cool and the tyres from this morning didn’t work in the same way, but in any case we’re working well and I believe I have a good margin to improve: I’m very confident for the rest of the weekend.”

Danilo Petrucci (#9 Ducati Team) – 1’45.619 (8th)

“It was a positive day for me: I’ve got a good feeling with the bike and, even though I wasn’t perfect on my fast lap in FP2, I feel really good and I’m happy to have finished inside the top 10, even though it looks like it’s going to rain tomorrow. In any case I think I can also be competitive in the wet and so I’m sure I can do a good qualifying session.”

The Ducati riders will be back on track tomorrow, Saturday 19th October, at 10.50 local time (03.50 CET) for the third free practice session, while qualifying will be held immediately after FP4 starting from 15.05 local time (08.05 CET).

 

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