Thomas Luthi set the fastest ever Moto2 lap around Motegi to finish top of the pile in second practice for the Japanese Grand Prix. The Swiss rider went a mere 0.006s quicker than Julian Simon's 2010 record but that was more than enough to see off the challenge of Stefan Bradl in second.
The championship leader delivered his quickest lap of the day in the dying seconds but the real challenge to Luthi came from fellow countryman Dominique Aegerter. The Technomag-CIP rider snatched the fastest time away from morning pacesetter Bradley Smith with half an hour remaining and held onto it until Luthi struck five minutes from the end.
Luthi had 0.180s in his pocket over Bradl while Yuki Takahashi gave the home crowd something to cheer by going third with the very last lap of the session. Aegerter lost out as others made late improvements to finish fourth while Pol Espargaro fell from third at one point to an eventual fifth.
Bradley Smith lost ground in similar fashion but put in a 1:53.533 at the death to grab sixth, demoting Esteve Rabat to seventh and Marc Marquez to a disappointing eighth. The Spaniard appeared frustrated at one point as Raffaele de Rosa held him up and will surely have to work a lot harder than he did at Aragon if he is to beat Bradl once again.
Mika Kallio was ninth for Marc VDS, six places ahead of teammate Scott Redding, while Aleix Espargaro edged out Andrea Iannone for tenth.
Two weeks after the thrilling events of Aragon, Moto2 looks set for another thrilling spectacle with the top 15 riders covered by a second at the end of day one.