Dovizioso Tops Motegi FP1 as Lorenzo Pulls Out

by Louis Suddaby
Andrea Dovizioso - Photo Credit:

Andrea Dovizioso made a strong start to the Japanese Grand Prix weekend for Ducati by topping first practice but the team are already a rider down after Jorge Lorenzo withdrew from the weekend. Dovizioso, who must outscore Marc Marquez by at least two points on Sunday to keep the championship alive, was lapping close to the race lap record on Friday morning, a stark contrast to his team-mate.

Lorenzo’s status for the weekend was already in doubt after revealing on Thursday that he was still suffering with a broken left radius, an injury sustained in his Buriram high-side. The Spaniard ventured out at the start of this morning’s session but after one lap at half-speed, Lorenzo already appeared to have admitted defeat, shaking his head to his mechanics. Within minutes of returning to the garage, his withdrawal was confirmed by race direction.

Dovizioso gave Ducati some positive news with four minutes remaining, clocking a 1:45.738, and by the time the chequered flag was flying, the Italian had closed to within eighth thousandths of Lorenzo’s circuit record. Cal Crutchlow rounded off a strong morning with the second fastest time, a tenth behind the Ducati, while 2017 polesitter Johann Zarco ensured three different manufacturers would fill the top three places, setting a 1:45.483 on the Tech 3 Yamaha.

Marquez had started the session the strongest, topping the timesheets for the entire morning until Dovizioso’s late burst, although a moment at turn seven showed that the champion-elect was riding close to the limit of his Honda. The Spaniard ended up fourth ahead of compatriot Maverick Vinales with Andrea Iannone completing the top six for Suzuki.

Alvaro Bautista was seventh despite a spill at turn one with Jack Miller close behind in eighth. Valentino Rossi jumped up to ninth in the latter stages with Aleix Espargaro holding the last provisional Q2 place in tenth, something that may prove significant with rain forecast this afternoon.


2018 Motul Grand Prix of Japan (Free Practice 1)

PosRiderConstructorTeamBest Time
14. Andrea DoviziosoDucatiDucati Team1:45.358
235. Cal CrutchlowHondaLCR Honda Castrol1:45.463
35. Johann ZarcoYamahaMonster Yamaha Tech 31:45.483
493. Marc MarquezHondaRepsol Honda Team1:45.498
525. Maverick VinalesYamahaMovistar Yamaha MotoGP1:45.640
629. Andrea IannoneSuzukiTeam Suzuki ECSTAR1:46.030
719. Alvaro BautistaDucatiAngel Nieto Team1:46.210
843. Jack MillerDucatiAlma Pramac Racing1:46.265
946. Valentino RossiYamahaMovistar Yamaha MotoGP1:46.329
1041. Aleix EspargaroApriliaAprilia Racing Team Gresini1:46.526
1126. Dani PedrosaHondaRepsol Honda Team1:46.568
1245. Scott ReddingApriliaAprilia Racing Team Gresini1:46.854
1330. Takaaki NakagamiHondaLCR Honda IDEMITSU1:46.856
1443. Pol EspargaroKTMRed Bull KTM Factory Racing1:46.859
1589. Katsuyuki NakasugaYamahaYamalube Yamaha Factory Racing1:46.872
1610. Xavier SimeonDucatiReale Avintia Racing1:46.998
179. Danilo PetrucciDucatiAlma Pramac Racing1:47.054
1838. Bradley SmithKTMRed Bull KTM Factory Racing1:47.137
1942. Alex RinsSuzukiTeam Suzuki ECSTAR1:47.187
2021. Franco MorbidelliHondaEG 0,0 Marc VDS1:47.428
2150. Sylvain GuintoliSuzukiTeam Suzuki ECSTAR1:47.537
2281. Jordi TorresDucatiReale Avintia Racing1:47.665
2317. Karel AbrahamDucatiAngel Nieto Team1:47.716
2455. Hafizh SyahrinYamahaMonster Yamaha Tech 31:47.726
2512. Thomas LuthiHondaEG 0,0 Marc VDS1:47.833
2699. Jorge LorenzoDucatiDucati TeamNo Time

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