Dovizioso fastest on Friday at Motegi

Marquez before he went over the handlebars and crashed hard
Marquez before he went over the handlebars and crashed hard

Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team) ended Day 1 at the Motul Grand Prix of Japan as the fastest man on track, but the Italian was only 0.043 ahead of his nearest challenger – Championship leader Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team). Marquez was fastest in the morning by some margin before ‘DesmoDovi’ hit back, and the reigning Champion ended his afternoon session prematurely with a crash at Turn 4 – rider ok.

Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini) was top Independent Team rider on Day 1, and impressed in both sessions – second in FP1 and third in FP2 to go third overall. He was just ahead of Ducati Team’s Jorge Lorenzo, who was fourth in both the morning and afternoon – despite an incident in which the Majorcan was collected up in a crash for Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda).

Johann Zarco (Monster Yamaha Tech 3) was the top Yamaha on Day 1 and completed the top five, 0.073 seconds clear of fellow Independent Team rider Danilo Petrucci (Octo Pramac Racing) – who was another 0.073 ahead of compatriot Andrea Iannone (Team Suzuki Ecstar).

Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda Team) managed to find something in the afternoon session to move up to P8, having struggled in FP1 with the combination of wet weather and relatively low temperature. He headed Crutchlow, with rookie Alex Rins (Team Suzuki Ecstar) completing the top ten as both Hamamatsu factory machines were amongst the potential Q2 graduates. Suzuki also had a new aero-fairing out on track.

Andrea Dovizioso in rain gear
Andrea Dovizioso in rain gear

As Pedrosa moved up the combined timesheets, it was a tougher first day for Maverick Vinales (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP) as he moved down from FP1 to FP2, ending Friday in eleventh and just over a tenth faster than his teammate Valentino Rossi.

0.018 seconds further back was one of the most impressive performances of the first day as Kohta Nozane (Monster Yamaha Tech 3 – replacing Jonas Folger – took thirteenth, ahead of Scott Redding (Octo Pramac Racing) and Karel Abraham (Pull&Bear Aspar Team).

The weather sadly looks unlikely to change too much, but it remains to be seen how the skies look for FP3 as graduation to Q2 is decided, and then the grid for the race on Sunday.

Marc Marquez
“This morning everything was perfect and I felt very, very good on the bike. That was the case until the last exit of FP2, despite having to go back from a change to the setup that hadn’t work as well as we hoped. At the end of the session we fit a new set of tires and I had a different feeling, less grip. I suffered a high-side, which is a bit uncommon in MotoGP now, but in the end, I’m fine. We need to check for why it happened, and we can certainly work a bit on the electronics to understand how to improve that side. Anyway, our speed was there and our lap times came out good, so our mentality will remain the same. I feel confident for the weekend."

Friday Times

Pos. Rider Num Nation Team Constructor Time/Gap
1 DOVIZIOSO Andrea 4 ITA Ducati Team Ducati 1'54.877
2 MARQUEZ Marc 93 SPA Repsol Honda Team Honda 0.043
3 ESPARGARO Aleix 41 SPA Aprilia Racing / Gresini Aprilia 0.184
4 LORENZO Jorge 99 SPA Ducati Team Ducati 0.357
5 ZARCO Johann 5 FRA Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Yamaha 0.591
6 PETRUCCI Danilo 9 ITA Octo Pramac Racing Ducati 0.664
7 IANNONE Andrea 29 ITA Team Suzuki Ecstar Suzuki 0.737
8 PEDROSA Dani 26 SPA Repsol Honda Team Honda 0.896
9 CRUTCHLOW Cal 35 GBR LCR Honda Honda 1.272
10 RINS Alex 42 SPA Team Suzuki Ecstar Suzuki 1.352
11 VINALES Maverick 25 SPA Movistar Yamaha MotoGP Yamaha 1.499
12 ROSSI Valentino 46 ITA Movistar Yamaha MotoGP Yamaha 1.558
13 NOZANE Kohta 31 JPN Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Yamaha 1.576
14 REDDING Scott 45 GBR Octo Pramac Racing Ducati 1.803
15 ABRAHAM Karel 17 CZE Pull&Bear Aspar Team Ducati 1.899
16 BAUTISTA Alvaro 19 SPA Pull&Bear Aspar Team Ducati 1.950
17 SMITH Bradley 38 GBR Red Bull KTM KTM 1.976
18 ESPARGARO Pol 44 SPA Red Bull KTM KTM 1.995
19 LOWES Sam 22 GBR Aprilia Racing / Gresini Aprilia 2.373
20 BAZ Loris 76 FRA Reale Avintia Racing Ducati 2.382
21 BARBERA Hector 8 SPA Reale Avintia Racing Ducati 2.663
22 AOYAMA Hiroshi 7 JPN EG 0,0 Marc VDS Honda 2.671
23 RABAT Tito 53 SPA EG 0,0 Marc VDS Honda 2.768
24 NAKASUGA Katsuyuki 21 JPN Yamalube Yamaha Yamaha 3.464

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