At the AirAsia Grand Prix of Japan in Motegi it was Repsol Honda Team’s Dani Pedrosa who went quickest on the first day of free practice in the afternoon session on Friday ahead of Jorge Lorenzo and Andrea Dovizioso.
Pedrosa’s time in the low 1:46s set in sunny and dry conditions was sufficient to relegate Yamaha Factory Racing’s Lorenzo into second, who posted his best time on the hard rear tire, despite starting on the softer option.
“Today was a perfect day for practice,” Pedrosa said. “The track conditions were very good, the warm temperatures helped, as did the new surface, so we were able to do the job we wanted. The main target today was to test the tires and we completed some good laps on both hard and soft compounds. The asphalt is new and the grip is quite good, so the lap times are pretty fast from the beginning. We also did some work on the suspension and the mapping to will keep improving on this tomorrow.”
Pedrosa’s top time came late on in the session after a quick adjustment to the front end of his bike, after having briefly run into the gravel earlier in practice. Third place went to Monster Yamaha Tech 3’s Dovizioso, after the Italian upped his pace towards the end of practice, showing strong consistency throughout both sessions.
LCR Honda MotoGP’s Stefan Bradl set the fourth fastest time of the day despite a short run off track, with the German keen to make amends for his DNF last time out in Aragón. In fifth was Ducati Team’s Valentino Rossi, who jumped up the timesheets with an unexpected hot-lap towards the end, leaving him just half a second off the top. Behind him in sixth, Yamaha’s Ben Spies will be looking to improve for Saturday’s qualifying, being almost eight tenths down on his teammate.
Seventh spot is occupied by Repsol Honda’s Casey Stoner, who looked strong on his first day back from injury, despite pitting frequently to dial in his bike’s set-up. San Carlo Honda Gresini’s Álvaro Bautista finished the day in eighth, and will aim to jump further up the order tomorrow as he continues to work on his Showa suspension. In ninth, Tech 3’s Cal Crutchlow had a subdued session for his standards, while Ducati’s Nicky Hayden completes the top 10, with the American doing well to ride with a fractured right radius.
Top CRT spot went to Power Electronics Aspar’s Aleix Espargaró, who did well to overcome a crash in the morning session. His teammate Randy de Puniet crashed out of the session early on, but was able to re-join on his second bike, albeit with a contusion to his left knee. Other riders that crashed out were Cardion AB Racing’s Karel Abraham and Avintia Blusens’ Yonny Hernandez.
Team CatalunyaCaixa Repsol’s Marc Márquez put in a terrific performance in the second Moto2 free practice at the AirAsia Grand Prix of Japan in Motegi to go fastest ahead of Bradley Smith and Scott Redding.
Márquez left it until the chequered flag came out to post a new track record with a 1:51.834, which put Tech 3 Racing’s Smith back to second, after the Brit had broken the record earlier in the session. Smith spent much of practice on the rear wheel of Tuenti Movil HP 40’s Pol Espargaró, benefiting from the slipstream down the straights – with top speed an area known to be a problem on the Brit’s Mistral 610 machine. Marc VDS Racing Team’s Scott Redding consolidated his earlier form from the morning by once again putting in a good showing to complete the top three.
In the second free practice session in the Moto3 class Red Bull KTM Ajo’s Sandro Cortese topped the timesheets ahead of Maverick Viñales and Zulfahmi Khairuddin.
Cortese, who could mathematically clinch the Moto3 world title this weekend, was on scorching pace in the afternoon free practice session, setting a time of 1:59.448, over three tenths quicker than his Blusens Avintia rival Viñales. Viñales suffered a crash 13 minutes before the end, leaving him unable to improve his time in the final part of the session. AirAsia-SIC-Ajo’s Khairuddin was once again on good form as he completed the top three just fractionally off the Spaniard.