Dovizioso clear at the top as Marquez escapes light crash unhurt – Motegi MotoGP
On an extra soft rear tyre Dovizioso set the best time of the day towards the end of FP2 with a 1’45.140 lap of the Japanese circuit, which put him 0.440s ahead of the second best rider Lorenzo at the opening day of proceedings at Motegi MotoGP.
In FP1 Lorenzo led the way and although he improved in the afternoon he could not patch the pace of Dovizioso, with the Italian taking full advantage of the softer rubber. Third in FP2 was Bradl (LCR Honda MotoGP) with a similar time to Lorenzo’s, 0.497s adrift of P1.
Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda Team) survived a big moment in FP1 when he produced a remarkable stoppie at turn 11, as he hit the brakes going into the corner. He ended the day fourth best, just in front of Valentino Rossi (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP).
The overall Friday top ten was completed by Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team), Pol Espargaro (Monster Yamaha Tech3), Bradley Smith (Monster Yamaha Tech3), Andrea Iannone (Pramac Racing) and Yonny Hernandez (Energy T.I. Pramac Racing)
Marquez was unhurt in a crash early in FP1 as he could not brake in time at turn 5, meaning his title shot weekend got off to a tricky start. He will look to move up the timesheets on Saturday.
Local rider Hiroshi Aoyama (Drive M7 Aspar) suffered a crash in the final minutes of the FP2 session, able to walk away with minimal damage to the bike. Hector Barbera (Avintia Racing) also suffered a small off, but was able to remount and return to the pits. Both riders were unhurt.
Moto2: Opening day in Far East concludes with dominant Rabat in front
Rabat (Marc VDS Racing Team) leads the Moto2™ World Championship standings by 33 points and he was dominant in the afternoon practice, showing good rhythm and setting the fastest lap by a 0.323s margin over Frenchman Zarco (AirAsia Caterham).
Viñales (Paginas Amarillas HP 40) was third fastest but could not get within half a second of Rabat’s best time, trailing his compatriot by 0.583s.
Dominique Aegerter (Technomag carXpert) and Julian Simon (Italtrans Racing Team) were fourth and fifth respectively, ahead of Thomas Luthi (Interwetten Sitag) and Mika Kallio (Marc VDS Racing Team) who were sixth and seventh, all within a second of Rabat’s best time.
Axel Pons (AGR Team), Sandro Cortese (Dynavolt Intact GP) and Takaaki Nakagami (IDEMITSU Honda Team Asia) completed the top ten.
Wildcard Chalermpol Polamai (Singha Eneos Yamaha Tech 3) suffered a crash early in the session, as did Simon. Yuki Takahashi (Moriwaki Racing) fell with just ten minutes remaining, whilst Ratthapark Wilairot (AirAsia Caterham) crashed on his last lap. All the riders were unhurt.
Moto3: Record pace sees Kent lead the way in Motegi practices
Briton Kent, who won the 2012 Moto3 race in Japan, was the fastest rider in both Friday sessions, setting a rapid pace at Motegi. His 1’57.317 best lap of the day is a new record for the circuit wiping more than a second off his own previous record from two years ago – which was the lap that had given Kent pole for the 2012 race.
Rins (Estrella Galicia 0,0) and Oliveira (Mahindra Racing) trailed Kent by 0.058s and 0.101s respectively in second and third. The top five was completed by Brad Binder (Ambrogio Racing) and Enea Bastianini (Junior Team Go&FUN Moto3).
In perfect riding conditions, which contrasted with last years disruptively wet and misty weather on day one in Japan, all the riders remained upright in FP2, the majority improving their times over FP1.
Niccolo Antonelli (Junior Team GO&FUN), Alex Marquez (Estrella Galicia 0,0), Isaac Viñales (Calvo Team), Efren Vazquez (SaxoPrint-RTG) and Jakub Kornfeil (Calvo Team) rounded out the top ten.
Andrea Dovizioso got his Japanese weekend off to the best possible start, the Italian rider ending the opening day of free practice at the top of the timesheets. The Ducati Team man was quickest overall at the Twin Ring Motegi circuit, setting a time of 1’45.140, over four-tenths of a second quicker than Jorge Lorenzo in second place.
Dovizioso had already begun the day well with a third place in the morning’s opening free practice session behind Lorenzo and Marquez.
His team-mate Cal Crutchlow could only manage eleventh place in the first day’s timesheets, and was unable to improve his quickest lap due to traffic, but in any case he said he was happy with his pace.
Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team #04) – 1st (1’45.140) – “I am very happy because, apart from my fastest lap which I set with a soft tyre, I also had a good pace with the medium option. We immediately got off to a good start this morning with the set-up, both regarding the chassis and the electronics, and this enabled me to push hard right from the early laps. Today was a great day but tomorrow I’ll have to try and shave off some more tenths from my lap time.”
Cal Crutchlow (Ducati Team #35) – 11° (1’46.221) – “I’m not pleased with the result today but I am pleased with the speed. I thought we could have maybe been in the front five in that session but I got held up in my fast lap. I could have been a lot closer than what I was so I’m happy with this and it means we can work well for tomorrow. I had some problems in the session and didn’t get out in the first ten minutes due to a problem with the brake. Now I’m looking to rest because I’ve not been feeling well at all today due to a bit of flu, so maybe tomorrow I can have a better performance.”
Repsol HRC Report
The Grand Prix of Japan got underway today where Repsol Honda’s Marc Marquez will have his first opportunity to clinch the 2014 title.
With limited track time due to treacherous conditions in 2013, neither Marc or teammate Dani Pedrosa wasted any time taking to the track this morning to rediscover their feeling at this tricky circuit. Marc had a small crash after running on in turn five early in this morning’s FP1 session, with the Spanish duo finishing 2nd (Marc) and 8th.
In the afternoon, Dani found a good rhythm and was able to test both option rear Bridgestone tyres but is still looking for the best setup in the brake point. Marc also tested both rear tyres and worked on his overall setup after losing valuable time from the crash in FP1. Both riders recorded their fastest time on their final laps of FP2, Dani finishing 4th in the combined times with 1’45.727 (lap 18/18) and Marc in 6th with his lap of 1’45.939 (lap 19/19).
Dani Pedrosa – 4th – 1’45.727 – “I think we had a good day of free practices. The track conditions were good and we were able to try out different tyres. In the afternoon we tried riding with the hard rear tyre, but we didn’t use the hard front like others did. We will probably try that out tomorrow. Today we did some runs with a good pace, but we have to work harder to improve our lap times and be very focused on setting a good time in qualifying.”
Marc Marquez – 6th – 1’45.939 – “Today we struggled a bit compared to other circuits. We have not quite found the right setup yet, but thankfully it’s still only Friday and we have many practice sessions ahead and things to try out. The important thing is that I felt pretty good and, despite not being totally happy with the setup of the bike, we are not so far from the top. Let’s see if we can continue in this way, improving over the course of the weekend.”
Movistar Yamaha MotoGP riders Jorge Lorenzo and Valentino Rossi kicked off the first of the three overseas triple-header weekend’s with a flying start in the first practices for this Sunday’s Grand Prix of Japan.
Lorenzo remained calm and collected while he focused on staying ahead of his rivals. The Aragón race winner took his time at the start of the morning Free Practice session to warm up the bigger carbon brake disks, which are obligatory this year because of the Twin Ring Motegi circuit’s heavy braking character. Throughout the session the Spaniard was able to gradually improve his times and topped the standings with a 1’45.838 lap in the final minute.
The second 45 minutes session also saw him directly on the pace, posting multiple 1’45 laps to comfortably claim second place. His fastest lap of 1’45.580 was just four-tenths from the leader and leaves him second in the overall times.
Teammate Rossi showed that the heavy crash at Aragón has not slowed him down. Though heavy braking is challenging with his finger injury, the nine-time World Champion decided to ride without anesthetic injections and still managed to be at the top of the time sheets as the morning session began. The Doctor led the standings twice before finishing fifth with a lap of 1’46.184, just 0.346 behind his teammate.
Rossi had a similar session in the afternoon and was able to improve his time to a 1’45.890, less than 0.75 of a second from the top. The result leaves him in fifth place in the combined times ahead of tomorrow’s sessions.
Jorge Lorenzo – 2nd / 1’45.580 / 16 laps – “After the race win in Aragon we knew that here maybe we had a chance to go faster and be more competitive with this normal tyre on the rear. Also we knew that last year we were competitive and had good grip. From the beginning we’ve been on the pace and better than we expected. The bike is working very well, we can improve some small details in the settings, chassis and electronics but in general the pace of the bike is very good so I’m happy.”
Valentino Rossi – 5th / 1’45.890 / 19 laps – “I feel good on the bike and don’t have any particular problems. I have some small pain with the finger, especially when I brake there is a little bit of pain but I am optimistic, I can brake in a good way and I’m comfortable, I’m just in a little bit of pain. In general the first day was not so bad, it was good practice and I’m quite satisfied. We still have to work a lot, because we still haven’t found the right balance but fifth position is not so bad. I have a good pace and it looks like the Yamaha works well here in Motegi.”
Massimo Meregalli – “We are very satisfied with our start today. Both Jorge and Vale have no major issues with set up and have started with good pace and speed. Of course we have some small details as always to work through so I am confident we can make more steps over the weekend to be even more competitive on Sunday. All in all a good start to our proper ‘home’ Grand Prix! It looks like the typhoon won’t arrive until Monday so we might be lucky with the weather also.”
Motegi mission starts positively for Espargaro and Smith
Pol Espargaro returned to the scene of his Moto2 World Title accomplishment today to produce a strong start to round 15 of the 2014 World Championship at the Motul Grand Prix of Japan. The premier class rookie opened the day with a firm ride to seventh in the morning session having run at the front of the field straight from the beginning of the practice around the 4801 meter circuit. His best lap of 1’46.365 was barely over four tenths of a second from the leading time on his Monster Yamaha YZR-M1, after the announcement that Monster Energy will remain as the title sponsor for the Tech3 team for a further two seasons. In the later session, the young Spaniard continued his forward momentum at the stop and go Japanese circuit to storm to a best time of 1’46.041, putting him in seventh position at the close of the day. His performance today leaves the 23 year old rider fully primed for tomorrow where he will aim to qualify on the front two rows for Sunday’s 24 lap race.
On the other side of the Monster Yamaha Tech3 garage, Bradley Smith kick started his triple flyaway challenge in positive form to guide his Yamaha YZR-M1 to eighth position overall at the end of the day in Motegi. The young English rider began this morning by experimenting with setup options together with his Tech3 team in order to establish a strong base to work from for the rest of the weekend. He closed the first free practice by riding to 14th position as he remained full of optimism for the afternoon. When the latter session started, Smith progressed and produced a well calculated ride to confidently lay the foundations for Sunday’s action by snatching eighth place and producing a time of 1’46.105. His time was fractionally behind fifth by only 0.2 of a second as he remains poised for a successful qualifying tomorrow at the Motegi circuit in Japan.
Pol Espargaro – 7th / 1’46.041 / 20 laps – “In all honesty it was quite a demanding day today. The track is not an easy one to ride due to the hard braking, as well as working out where the references are for each corner and we are still learning step by step. However, the final result itself is not bad at all and I am convinced that we have a large degree of improvement to make. For tomorrow, I certainly need to work on my riding style and afterwards we will try to fix some minor issues with the bike. At the moment we are losing most of our time in the intermediate sectors of the circuit and this is where we will focus on for tomorrow. Once we make these improvements I am certain that I will be able to have a strong qualifying where I intend to score a top grid position for the race on Sunday.”
Bradley Smith – 8th / 1’46.105 / 18 laps – “I am happy with today’s final outcome even if it was tricky at the start, but we found a good setting which gave us a solid direction to work towards. My final run was a big step forward plus I was lapping with consistent times at the end so although we have some work to do to refine this setting further, I am pleased with the job we have done. It is a technical track and it appears as though the softer compound of tyres it is giving the Ducati’s and the open class riders an advantage so it’s vital that we progress with our hard work in order to get into the top ten and go straight into Q2. Moreover I think it will be crucial to get a perfect run in qualifying as some other riders are close and will certainly be in the hunt. Considering the tough start, the end result is positive and we will confidently continue to push onwards tomorrow.”
The NGM Forward Racing back on track at Motegi
The first day of the GP of Japan, 15th round of the 2014 MotoGP season, saw the NGM Forward Racing riders Aleix Espargaro and Alex De Angelis respectively in 13th and 17th position.
The Spaniard made a good start this morning finishing the FP1 in ninth position with a positive lap time of 1’46.404. In the afternoon, some electronics issues obliged him to spend some time in the garage, preventing him to use at the best the session to work on the bike set up. With a lap of 1.46.315, Espargaro finally closed 13th and tomorrow he will continue working in preparation for the race.
Teammate Alex De Angelis also started working in the right direction in the FP1 setting a good 1.47.285 and closing in 15th position. In the FP2 Alex suffered some technical issues that prevented him to further improve his lap times. Despite this, the rider from San Marino is confident for tomorrow’s qualifying session.
Aleix Espargaro – 13th / 1’46.315 / 10 laps – “I’m not completely satisfied of today’s result. This morning I lacked a bit of confidence on the front. We worked on this direction and in the FP2 the feeling was better. Unfortunately due to some electronic issues I had to enter the pits and lost some time. I couldn’t do so many laps and this will complicate the work on the set up in preparation of the qualifying. Anyway I’m very motivated to do my best to recover the gap from the other guys.”
Alex De Angelis – 17th / 1’47.285 / 19 laps – “This morning in the FP1 we made a good start although I lacked a bit of feeling on the rear under braking. In the afternoon we tested some different solutions and I could improve a bit. It’s a pity that at the end of the session I had some problems when I had the soft tyre on and I couldn’t improve my lap times. We will keep on working tomorrow and I’m confident that we can make another step forward.”
Successful Session for “YAMALUBE Racing Team with YSP” team
Regular wild card rider Katsuyuki Nakasuga had a positive outing during the first two Free Practice sessions in the Grand Prix of Japan, round 15 of the 2014 FIM MotoGP World Championship. His 1’46.973 lap around the Twin Ring Motegi circuit saw him finish 15th in the combined Free Practice times.
Katsuyuki Nakasuga – 15th/ 1’46.973 / 15 laps – “This will be my first time participating in the MotoGP class since last year’s Grand Prix of Japan, so I was really nervous during the first free practice session. And, when I started riding I was greatly surprised by the high level of riding the other competitors were showing. My personal goal this time is to get a lap time better than my personal best of 1’46.780 that I set the year before last, and since I was able to get my time down to a 1’46.973 in the first session and the machine felt good, I expect to have a good chance of reaching my goal in tomorrow’s qualifying. Like last year, the main purpose for my participation in the race this time will be the data collecting, etc., that I will be doing as the Yamaha YZR-M1 development rider, so I have to make absolutely sure not to have any falls or crashes during race week. I will have this responsibility firmly in mind during the race, but I will go all out and try to do my best within those limits.”
Gresini Honda Report
Today was a day of highs and lows for the Team GO & FUN Honda Gresini at Twin Ring Motegi, where is taking place this weekend the Grand Prix of Japan: Alvaro Bautista and Scott Redding, in fact, closed the combined classification of the first two free practice sessions in 12th and 19th position, respectively, nevertheless working methodically in order to improve for the rest of the weekend.
Bautista, especially, was feeling comfortable straight from the morning session: the Spaniard found a better feeling with the bike compared to the last few races using the softer compound available, then he struggled a little bit in the afternoon when he tried the harder tyre, therefore improving his morning lap time by only 0.4 seconds.
Also his teammate, Scott Redding, spent most of the day doing tyre testing, trying both options available with the aim of identifying the best one for the race. Tomorrow the British rookie will try some changes to the suspension setting to try to better exploit the softer tyre.
Alvaro Bautistsa (12th – 1’46″227) – “This morning I was feeling not so bad with the bike although track conditions were not perfect. Then, this afternoon we tried the hard rear tyre, but it was a bit more slippery compared to the softer one; in addition, at the same time I had a problem with the bike. At a certain point I started to feel a lot of vibration on the front end, on the straight and under braking; I don’t know if that was because of the tyre or the bike, we need to check it. For this reason I couldn’t improve my lap times and my final position is not so good, however I’m happy with the feeling: it’s not perfect, but it’s not as bad as in the last few races, so I’m confident for tomorrow. We have to work a little bit more and we need to fix the vibration issue, then we can do well”.
Scott Redding (19th – 1’47″586) – “I’m quite happy about today because in the afternoon we closed the gap to the fastest Production Racer Honda, which is positive. We used the hard tyre most of today and when we put the softer one we were expecting to be even closer, but we couldn’t get it to work good, therefore we need to change a little bit the suspension setting for tomorrow to better exploit it. Overall I’m quite happy also because we were working most of the time with the harder option: at Aragon we used the soft tyre in the race and it was not good for us, so now I’m trying to push in the harder direction. However, today I didn’t get the full potential of the softer tyre, so we will see better tomorrow which is the best option for the race, making more laps with that”.
Drive M7 Aspar Report
Last year’s Grand Prix of Japan winner Jorge Lorenzo started out on the front foot with the fastest time of the opening free practice session at Motegi this morning but it is Andrea Dovizioso who tops the overnight timesheets after the Italian overcame the Spaniard in this afternoon’s second session. The Ducati rider found four tenths on his final lap as he established his podium credentials for Sunday’s race; whilst there is still a long way to go his pace today was already close to the circuit record held by Lorenzo (1’44.969).
DRIVE M7 Aspar rider Hiroshi Aoyama has the responsibility of leading the home charge this weekend and it is one he is taking on with relish. The Japanese rider is determined to put on a good show in front of his friends, family and fans and he made solid progress with the set-up of his bike today, lapping sixteenth fastest before a small crash at the end of the afternoon. His team-mate Nicky Hayden continues his recovery from recent wrist surgery and after clocking a 1’47.829 this morning he was unable to improve in the afternoon as a series of small mistakes prevented him from demonstrating his true pace.
16th Hiroshi Aoyama 1.47.133 (33 laps): “The Grand Prix of Japan is always an exciting weekend for me and we made a pretty good start this morning. We’re struggling for rear grip here but we worked hard between sessions today to improve the feel on the rear and the front. We improved but we still haven’t found the balance to give me complete confidence. We put some new tyres in at the end of the session to try and drop the lap time. I pushed hard and loaded the front end so much that it washed out on me in turn one. I was lucky that the crash didn’t have any major consequences and now we have to look at the data and work out why it folded without any prior warning. In general it has been a positive first day and now we have to try and build on it.”
20th Nicky Hayden 1.47.829 (35 laps): “I made a few mistakes this afternoon that cost me at least half a second off my best lap. This is not the best circuit for my wrist and I am struggling quite a lot in some of the corners under braking. We knew this was going to be a tough weekend for us but I am trying to give it my best shot. I have more mobility in my hand here, which helps, but some of the braking zones are really hard and I’m suffering to the point that I ran wide in a few places. At this circuit if you get one corner wrong, especially in the downhill entries, you really compromise the next section of track. We’ll keep working and I am sure I will be more comfortable on the bike tomorrow.”
Bridgestone MotoGP Report
Bridgestone slick compounds available: Front: Soft, Medium & Hard. Rear: Extra-soft, Soft & Medium (Asymmetric)
Bridgestone wet tyre compounds available: Soft (Main) & Hard (Alternative)
Weather: FP1 – Dry. Ambient 22-22°C; Track 35-35°C (Bridgestone measurement)
FP2 – Dry. Ambient 24-23°C; Track 33-33°C (Bridgestone measurement)
Ducati Team’s Andrea Dovizioso was in ominous form on the first day of practice at the Japanese Grand Prix, the Italian rider setting a stunning a lap time of 1’45.140 in this afternoon’s Free Practice 2 session at Motegi to finish comfortably ahead of his closest competitor.
Taking advantage of the massive grip of the extra-soft rear slick that is available to the Ducati and Open-class riders this weekend, Dovizioso set a time that was four-tenths of a second under the current Motegi race lap record in this afternoon’s Free Practice 2 session to top the timesheets on day one. Second quickest in today’s practice sessions on combined times was Movistar Yamaha MotoGP’s Jorge Lorenzo, who after winning last year’s Japanese Grand Prix continued his affinity for the Motegi circuit with a personal best lap time of 1’45.580. LCR Honda’s Stefan Bradl was third quickest today with a time of 1’45.637 and apart from Lorenzo was the only rider to set a lap time within half a second of Dovizioso’s benchmark time.
Weather conditions at Motegi today were fine, although cloud cover in the afternoon resulted in lower track temperatures compared to the morning, with today’s peak measurement of 35°C being recorded during this morning’s FP1 session. The favourable conditions this morning meant that all three front slick options; the soft, medium and hard slicks were utilised by the riders in the first session, but the medium compound front slick emerged as the clear preference among the riders by the end of the day due to its balance of braking and cornering performance. For the rear tyre, all three slick options were evaluated by the riders today with the softer rear slick options – soft compound for the Factory Honda and Yamaha riders and extra-soft for the Ducati and Open-class riders – yielded the best performance. With cooler temperatures forecast for the rest of the weekend, the softer rear slick options are likely to be chosen by the majority of riders for the race.
Slightly cooler temperatures are forecast for tomorrow and the MotoGP™ riders will next be out on track for Free Practice 3 which starts at 0955 local time (GMT +9).
Shinji Aoki – Manager, Bridgestone Motorsport Tyre Development Department – “Today the conditions were quite favourable with the warm track temperatures allowing the riders to evaluate many different tyre options right from the first session. It was pleasing to see how quick the pace was today with both Dovizioso and Lorenzo setting times quicker than the Motegi race lap record, so I expect to see a new outright lap record for Motegi set during qualifying tomorrow. One of the most important considerations at Motegi for the riders is good braking stability, and it seems that the medium compound front slick provides the required front-end feel as well as high cornering performance, so this option was preferred by almost every rider today. At this point of the weekend, it looks like the riders prefer their softer rear slick options, and with cooler temperatures forecast for the rest of the race weekend these are likely to be chosen for the race.”