Fabio Quartararo continued his fine form by topping the opening of action at the Japanese Grand Prix.
The Frenchman’s quickest time of 1:44.764 was +0.321s quicker than Maverick Viñales, who had topped Free Practice 1. Such was his dominance, Quartararo was the only rider to dip into the 1:44 lap-times.
It was the perfect start to the weekend for Quartararo, who is chasing down the Rookie of the Year Award. The Frenchman has a good record at Motegi, having won last year’s Moto2 race – on the circuit at least. He was later disqualified for a technical infringement.
Viñales ended the day in second spot, having led a Yamaha one-two-three in the morning. Franco Morbidelli complete the Yamaha domination in Free Practice 1, before ending the day in sixth overall.
Marc Marquez interrupted Yamaha’s clean sweep in the afternoon, finishing in third spot. The newly-crowned champion was only +0.015s behind Viñales, and managed to pull off another save late on.
Andrea Dovizioso was fourth overall, however he was some way off the pace of the top three. Valentino Rossi made it four Yamaha riders inside the top six, ending day one in fifth. The Doctor left it very late, having being outside the top 10 until his final lap.
Jack Miller narrowly missed out on the top six, just +0.015s behind Morbidelli. The Australian crashed out on the final lap of the day, but appeared to be okay.
Danilo Petrucci was next in eighth, with Joan Mir finishing as the top Suzuki once again. Aleix Espargaro impressed one more for Aprilia to complete the top 10. With mixed conditions forecast, he well may have secured the final spot in Qualifying 2.
Those hoping for the sunshine tomorrow include Alex Rins, who missed out on the top 10 by just +0.009s. Cal Crutchlow and Pol Espargaro were next up in 12th and 13th.
It was another frustrating day for Jorge Lorenzo on the Repsol Honda. The five-time champion was almost two second behind Quartararo.
Saturday Schedule – Pole for Quartararo?
Saturday’s (19 October 2019) action begins at 02:50 with Free Practice 3, with Free Practice 4 at 06:25. Qualifying 1 begins at 07:05, with Qualifying 2 at 07:30. Will Quartararo will able to clinch his fifth pole of the year?