Marco Bezzecchi topped the Saturday morning FP3 session by over three-tenths of a second from Pecco Bagnaia and Jack Miller. Bezzecchi’s 1m44.622 on Saturday morning was more than a second slower than the top 12 recorded on Friday afternoon when they were vying for spots in Q2. Those missing that cut on Friday included every rider on a Japanese machine.
With only 15-minutes to secure a spot in Q2 riders wasted no time exiting pit-lane and getting down to business in the Q1 session.
First across the stripe to lay down a marker was Fabio Quartararo, a 1m44.679 that was immediately bested by Marc Marquez with 1m44.364. The Repsol Honda man then backed that up with a 1m43.997, while Quartararo improved his standing to 1m44.138.
Riders then returned to the pits for fresh rubber, final minor tweaks and to check their standing on the leaderboard before heading out again for their second run. Marc Marquez and Fabio Quartararo exiting pit-lane together, the Yamaha man leading the #93 Honda around the circuit.
Raul Fernandez pushed Fabio Quartararo back to third place with less than two-minutes left on the shot clock. The CryptoData Aprilia rider then improved his time yet again on his next lap, a 1m44.049 strengthening his hold on that tentative spot in Q2.
On his final flying lap Marc Marquez was all over the back of Fabio Quartararo as the Frenchman strove to secure a spot in Q2.
Neither improved on their final attempt and GASGAS rider Augusto Fernandez actually pushed Quartararo further back, fourth for the session means that the Frenchman will start from 14th place on the grid in this afternoon’s Sprint Race.
Joan Mir crashed late in the session when trying to improve from fifth.
Cal Crutchlow didn’t join the fray until there were only a couple of minutes remaining in the session. Problems with the wildcard Yamaha had him stranded in the pit-box for the majority of the session and put the Brit behind the eight-ball. His frustration clearly evident for all to see…
MotoGP Q1 Results
Early on in the final 15-minute qualifying session Marco Bezzecchi lost the front just after the bridge on the change of direction to the left in what was a pretty big tumble. Despite going end over end in the gravel the VR46 rider though was straight up and running in order to try and make it back to the pits to get on the spare bike and set a time.
Pramac Ducati’s Jorge Martin set the early marker at 1m43.638 and the Spaniard immediately improved on that again to lower the target to 1m43.198, setting a new all-time lap record around Motegi.
Jack Miller then went P2 on the back of a 1m43.787, almost six-tenths slower than Martin’s new lap record but that was good enough to retain that second place at the end of the first run.
A dusted up Marco Bezzecchi made it back out on track with seven-minutes remaining in the session and the remaining 11 riders in this Q2 session joined him shortly thereafter as they all set-up for their last ditch attempts at improving their positions on the grid.
Bagnaia was on a good lap that might have been good enough for pole but a mistake late on cost him a lot of time and meant that lap was only good for third, but that only lasted seconds before Fabio Di Giannantonio went quicker to push the defending champion off the front row. Bagnaia made no mistake next time around though, a 1m43.369 promoting him back up to second place.
Jack Miller improved to 1m43.551 to strengthen his claim for a front row start, P3 with three-minutes to run…
Marco Bezzecchi had shrugged off any discomfort from that crash to get straight on the pace to claim fourth place ahead of Brad Binder, as that pair pushed Di Giannantonio back to sixth just ahead of Marc Marquez and Maverick Vinales.
Considering there could be heavy rain later this afternoon getting a good start and staying out of the spray will be important.
MotoGP Q2 Results
Fabio DI GIANNANTONIO
MotoGP Championship Points
Japanese Grand Prix Schedule
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