Alexi Espargaro 6th, Maverick Viñales 13th on day one at Motegi
A warm sun welcomed the MotoGP™ riders in their first day of practice at the Twin Ring circuit in Motegi and also marked a bright first day for Aleix Espargaro, who ended FP2 in sixth place with the positive lap time of 1’45.348.
Things, however, were a little bit more of a struggle for Maverick Viñales, who finished in P13 with a lap of 1’46.464s.
The morning session saw both the Team SUZUKI ECSTAR riders have a cautious approach, trying to understand the best way to interpret the circuit, which was supposed to be hard for the characteristics of the GSX-RRs to do well on. However, both managed to improve their lap times during the session, ending in eighth and 13th positions.
In the afternoon, Espargaro succeeded to find a more effective set-up, placing his machine constantly in the highest part of the classification. His speed in the middle part of the track was consistently one of the fastest, finally finding the sixth place that gives him virtual direct access to Q2.
Viñales on his side was still struggling to find an effective set-up that could allow him to brake properly. This prevented him being as effective as he wanted, although his improvements on the lap-times were consistent as he gained 13th place in the provisional classification.
“I’m very happy for this start, the day has been positive for me and I’m proud to be performing so well here in Japan. Almost the whole factory is coming to visit us at the circuit and it’s very nice to see how hard all the Suzuki people work for and trust in us. It’s an important day for the company, being the first race on the home soil after the comeback. The performance today was pretty good, finally with my crew we managed to find an effective approach, in Aragon I got some hints on how to be better performing in acceleration, we have analysed the data and finally came here with some good ideas for the electronics which proved to be effective. We found a way, we still need to refine it but the feeling so far is positive.”
“Honestly I’m not happy, there is something wrong with my feeling with the bike since the last two or three races and I can’t understand how to improve. My feeling at mid-season was so good, while now it looks like we can’t find a proper way to finalise the set-up. Here we’ve almost lost the Friday, my lap times are far away from where I think I could be and we still need to find a proper way. The base-setting is good, I still feel we have a good approach, but we need to work harder to be more effective for tomorrow.”
Source: Suzuki Racing