Japanese Grand Prix, Motegi: Day one roundup – MotoGP, Moto2, Moto3
Movistar Yamaha’s Lorenzo took advantage of ideal conditions (Track temp. 40˚C) at the Twin Ring Motegi to set a 1’44.731 in FP2 to top Friday’s practice. Lorenzo showed no ill effects from the shoulder injury he picked up earlier in the week as he completely dominated proceedings on Friday at the Motul Grand Prix of Japan. Lorenzo’s time was less than three-tenths off Andrea Dovizioso’s Pole Record from last year (1’44.502), as the Spaniard looks to close a 14-point gap to his teammate Valentino Rossi in the standings.
Repsol Honda’s Pedrosa (+0.128s) seemed buoyed by his podium finish at Aragon and ended the day in second overall after improving by over a second from FP1 to FP2. Ducati Team’s Andrea Iannone was third fastest on a day that saw 0.312s separate the provisional front row. The Italian finished ahead of his teammate Andrea Dovizioso in fourth as just 0.016s separated the two, despite Iannone also carrying a shoulder injury. The Ducati Team GP15’s made use of special cooling ducts to keep the front brakes cool, as did both the Movistar Yamaha team and Team Suzuki Ecstar.
Monster Yamaha Tech 3’s Bradley Smith (+0.519s) impressed as the leading Satellite rider in fifth overall, after he had finished fourth fastest in FP1. Team Suzuki Ecstar’s Aleix Espargaro (+0.617s) was sixth fastest with Repsol Honda’s Marc Marquez in seventh. The reigning MotoGP™ champion was using a modified handlebar to accommodate the broken fifth metacarpal on his left hand and at one point pulled off a remarkable save at turn 8 to stop him from doing any further damage.
Championship leader Rossi found himself down in eighth overall, after ending FP1 in third. Rossi was 0.823s off the pace of Lorenzo and will have work to do on Saturday to try and maintain his 14-point lead. Pol Espargaro (Monster Yamaha Tech 3) was ninth ahead of the leading Open Class rider, Hector Barbera on the Avintia Racing Ducati, who completed the top ten ahead of his scheduled 100th premier class appearance.
British riders Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda) and Scott Redding (EG 0,0 Marc VDS) were in 11th and 12th respectively. Australian Jack Miller (LCR Honda) was 15th fastest overall while Irishman Eugene Laverty (Aspar MotoGP Team) was in 19th, ahead of his teammate Nicky Hayden (20th). The 2006 MotoGP™ World Champion Hayden announced on Friday he will be leaving MotoGP™ for WorldSBK in 2016.
Wildcards Takumi Takahashi (Team HRC With Nissin) and Katsuyuki Nagasuka (Yamaha Factor Racing Team) ended the day in 18th and 23rd respectively despite the latter crashing late on in FP2, while Kousuke Akiyoshi, the replacement for the injured Karel Abraham in the AB Motoracing Team, was in 27th.
Ajo Motorsport’s Johann Zarco capped a day that saw him declared 2015 Moto2™ World Champion by topping the combined timesheets at the Twin Ring Motegi. The French rider lifted the title after the only man who could stop him from being crowned champion in Japan, Tito Rabat, was forced to withdraw from the Grand Prix due to injury. Rabat tried in vain to take to the track in FP1, before being declared unfit for the rest of the weekend, handing Zarco the title.
Zarco then set a 1’51.158 in FP2 to finish fastest overall, 0.039s ahead of Paginas Amarillas HP40’s Alex Rins. Rins crashed late on in the session at turn 10 but his time was good enough to end the day in second, ahead of the Derendinger Racing Interwetten of Thomas Lüthi (+0.194s), as less than two-tenths of a second separated the provisional front row.
Speed Up Racing’s Sam Lowes (+0.382s) was fourth fastest overall, ahead of Luis Salom (+0.552s) on the of the second Paginas Amarillas HP40 Kalex. Idemitsu Honda Team Asia’s Takaaki Nakagami ended the day in sixth at his home Grand Prix, despite being one of a number of riders to fall foul of turn 10 during the two sessions.
Jonas Folger (AGR Team) Sandro Cortese (Dynavolt Intact GP), Axel Pons (AGR Team) and Hafizh Syahrin (Petronas Raceline Malaysia) completed a top ten that was separated by just 0.941s. Josh Hook (Technomag Racing Interwetten), substituting for the injured Dominique Aegerter, was another one to crash during the day, finishing down in 28th overall. Wildcards Yuki Takahashi (Moriwaki Racing) and Tomoyoshi Koyama (NTS T.Pro Project) were in 24th and 30th respectively.
Ongetta-Rivacold’s Niccolo Antonelli set a 1’57.500 to top Friday’s practice in ideal conditions at the Twin Ring Motegi. The 19-year-old Italian recorded his best time in FP1, as track temperatures of 42˚C in FP2 meant most riders failed to improve in the afternoon. His time was less than a second off Danny Kent’s 2014 Pole Record (1’56.555) and saw him end the day 0.107s ahead of Red Bull KTM Ajo’s Miguel Oliveira. Oliveira, buoyed from his victory last time out at Aragon, also set his best time in the morning session as he ended the day in second overall.
Gresini Racing Team Moto3’s Enea Bastianini (+0.299s) ended the day in third despite a heavy crash at turn 9 during FP1. The Italian currently trails championship leader Kent by 55 points after they both crashed out on the last lap at Aragon.
RW Racing GP’s Livio Loi (+0.581s) headed out on fresh set of slicks at the start of FP2, unlike most riders who ran on used tyres from FP1, to set his fastest time and finish in fourth overall. Oliveira’s teammate Brad Binder (+0.613s) was fifth, with Alexis Masbou (+0.618s) on the SAXOPRINT RTG Honda in sixth despite crashing at turn 10 halfway through the session.
Leopard Racing’s championship leader Kent, who has his first chance to lift the Moto3™ title at Motegi, found himself down in seventh after he spent FP2 working mostly on used tyres.
Romano Fenati (Sky Racing Team VR46), Jorge Navarro (Estrella Galicia 0,0) and Francesco Bagnaia (Mapfre team Mahindra) completed the top ten.
Fabio Quartararo (Estrella Galicia 0,0) ended the day in 19th on his comeback from injury, while Scotsman John McPhee (SAXOPRINT RTG) was in 23rd.