Jorge Lorenzo set the fastest time in free practice ahead of the Japanese Grand Prix but the day’s headlines were dominated by dramatic crashes at Motegi. The reigning champion topped the timesheets ahead of Ducati’s Andrea Dovizioso but a high side at turn eleven for Dani Pedrosa was the big talking point as the 2015 race-winner was ruled out of the Grand Prix.
The latest misfortune to strike Pedrosa at Motegi occurred in this afternoon’s second session with the Spaniard overshooting the tight right-hander at the end of the back straight. As the RC213V found grip, Pedrosa was high-sided away from the machine, landing heavily on his shoulder, and the impact caused a fracture to his right collarbone, ending his weekend.
Team-mate Marc Marquez also had a spill as he embarks on the weekend which could see him crowned world champion, his causing no injuries, but there was one more sting in the tail during FP2 when Eugene Laverty fell at turn six. The Irishman was taken to hospital after the high-speed tumble but fortunately, he escaped serious injury and will return to action tomorrow.
Lorenzo enjoyed a straightforward day by comparison as he outpaced FP1 leader Dovizioso and Suzuki’s Maverick Vinales while Marquez recovered from his mishap to take fourth. Cal Crutchlow edged out the second Suzuki of Aleix Espargaro for fifth with Valentino Rossi, Marquez’s only realistic title threat, down in seventh.
Danilo Petrucci, Pol Espargaro and Stefan Bradl effectively complete the top ten in Pedrosa’s absence but one rider to receive positive news on the injury front was Bradley Smith who finally made his comeback after three races out. The Briton eased his way in cautiously and was 21st at the end of day one.
2016 Motul Grand Prix of Japan (Free Practice Classification)
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