Maverick Vinales took over at the top of the timesheets in second practice for the Japanese Grand Prix as he wasted no time getting familiar with the Motegi circuit. The 16 year old has stunned many onlookers with the way he's performed in his rookie year, taking two victories, and will have high hopes of making it three after today's showing.
Championship frontrunners Johann Zarco and Nicolas Terol traded fastest times as the session unfolded but neither managed to go under the two minute barrier. Instead it was Vinales who stormed to the front seven minutes from time, clocking a 1:59.273.
Zarco finally closed the gap in the last minute to finish 0.246s behind in second while Terol was a tenth further back in third. Jonas Folger was the only other man to lap in the 1:59s, finishing an impressive fourth for Red Bull Ajo Motorsport on his return on board the Aprilia RSA machine.
With spots of rain falling late on, fewer riders improved than normal but Alberto Moncayo made it up to fifth ahead of Adrian Martin and Hector Faubel on the Aspar Aprilias. Luis Salom all but matched them in eighth while Sandro Cortese and Louis Rossi rounded out the top ten.
With Folger back on the RSA, Danny Kent will complete the year on the RSW bike that he started the season on. The difference in performance was clearly demonstrated by the 1.716s gap between the German and the Briton in 11th.
Danny Webb had another promising session for Mahindra in 16th while Harry Stafford ended the day in 20th, eight places ahead of Taylor Mackenzie.
The early stages of the session saw Efren Vazquez crash out at turn one with Brad Binder also coming unstuck. It is unconfirmed whether they came together but the Spaniard was stretchered away, putting his participation in the rest of the weekend in doubt.