Motegi FP1: Ducati one-two, Marc Márquez in P6 / MotoGP

Ducati Lenovo factory rider Jack Miller set the stage at Motegi in Friday’s only MotoGP session. Aragón winner Enea Bastianini missed the provisional top 10 after a fall.

After the logistical problems before the Argentine GP and in light of the small margin between the Grand Prix of Aragón and Motegi, the schedule for the first Japanese GP since 2019 was adjusted in June as a precautionary measure: the action at the Twin Ring only started this Friday at 13.15 local time.

The MotoGP aces even had to wait until 15.05 (08.05 CEST) before the traffic light changed to green for their only Friday practice. They were given 75 minutes to do this. It was cloudy over Mobility Resort Motegi, but the 4,801 km route was dry with an air temperature of 26 degrees and an asphalt temperature of 28.

After the first 20 minutes, Fabio Quartararo led with 1:45.807 min. This put the Yamaha star just above Marc Márquez’s 2019 pole time of 1:45.763min. “The lap time will be much faster”, the WC leader had already suspected on Thursday. “Because I think everyone has improved quite a bit – riders and bikes. And it’s one of those routes where you really want to feel the Rear Ride Height Device.”

However, the all-time lap record at the Twin Ring (six left and eight right corners; longest straight 762 m) has been 1:43.790 min since 2015, the lap record from the 2014 MotoGP race of 1:45.350 min – each time driven by Jorge Lorenzo .

After half an hour, the white flags with the red cross indicated: Drops fell from the sky for a short time. But the rain did not get heavier.

With 35 minutes left on the clock, Alex Rins was the first to leave the track on a fresh soft tire and took the lead in 1:45.738 min. But the new “Pokémon” wings on the back of his GSX-RR were more striking than his temporary best time.

Early hunt for the Q2 places

Because rain was forecast for Saturday, more and more soft rear tires were used half an hour before the end. Pramac-Ducati rider Johann Zarco and Aprilia spearhead Aleix Espargaró alternated first place with low times of 1:45. HRC wildcard Tetsuta Nagashima, on the other hand, crashed at Turn 11.

With 20 minutes left on the clock, Quartararo once again took over the top of the timesheets with a time of 1:45.029 minutes. However, the lead did not last long as Aragón winner Enea Bastianini stayed under the 1:45 mark a little later in 1:44.978 minutes as the first of the day. Twelve minutes before the end Rins started the next “time attack”, a 1:44.913 min gave him provisional first place.

However, the final minutes looked like an early qualifying session: Ducati factory rider Jack Miller distanced himself from the competition with a 1:44.509min five minutes from the end, although he had to overtake Suzuki replacement Tsuda on his fast lap.

Marc Márquez then came within 0.147 seconds of the Miller mark, which the competition struggled to achieve. Bastianini crashed at Turn 5 with three minutes remaining. He was unhurt, but his Gresini-Ducati overturned in the gravel trap, ending his pursuit of the fastest time.

His fellow Audi driver Pecco Bagnaia moved up behind Miller to 2nd, with Quartararo in 3rd – before Zarco delivered the next yellow flags at Turn 7. Darryn Binder also crashed at Turn 5.

Nevertheless, there were some improvements at the finish: Aleix Espargaró, third in the world championship, improved to fourth and VR46 Ducati rider Luca Marini fifth, also ahead of Marc Márquez, who finished Friday just ahead of teammate Pol Espargaró in sixth. .

The two Red Bull KTM factory riders Brad Binder and Miguel Oliveira and Aprilia rider Maverick Viñales completed the top 10. LCR rider Takaaki Nakagami finished a respectable twelfth just four days after finger surgery. However, whether he can continue his home practice doctor will only be decided after another medical check-up.

Notable: The top 4 are only separated by 0.068 seconds, 19 drivers around nine tenths of a second.

MotoGP result FP1, Motegi (September 23):

1. Miller, Ducati, 1:44.509 min
2. Bagnaia, Ducati, + 0.028 sec
3. Quartararo, Yamaha, +0.049
4. Aleix Espargaró, Aprilia, +0.068
5. Marini, Ducati, +0.136
6. Marc Marquez, Honda, +0.147
7. Pol Espargaró, Honda, +0.169
8. Brad Binder, KTM, +0.226
9. Oliveira, KTM, +0.234
10. Vinales, Aprilia, +0.288
11. Zarco, Ducati, +0.289
12. Nakagami, Honda, +0.377
13. Rins, Suzuki, +0.404
14.Bastianini, Ducati, +0.469
15. Martin, Ducati, +0.500
16. Morbidelli, Yamaha, +0.556
17. Crutchlow, Yamaha, +0.678
18. Darryn Binder, Yamaha, +0.857
19. Bezzecchi, Ducati, +0.917
20. Alex Marquez, Honda, +1,091
21. Raul Fernandez, KTM, +1,230
22. Nagashima, Honda, +1,336
23. Gardner, KTM, +1,482
24. Di Giannantonio, Ducati, +1,856
25. Tsuda, Suzuki, +2,209

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