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Out of the shadows: Dovizioso fastest on Friday

Italian topped the dry FP1 session to take opening day honours in Japan as Pedrosa goes quickest in mixed FP2

Thanks to his FP1 time, Ducati Team’s Andrea Dovizioso ends Day 1 at the Motul Grand Prix of Japan as the man to beat as Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda Team) set the fastest FP2 time on a drying Twin Ring Motegi, with the likes of Dovi and Championship leader Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) opting to stay in the garage for the second session of the weekend.

Motul Grand Prix of Japan: MotoGP™ Free Practice 2

A sprinkling of rain at the beginning of the afternoon meant only 11 riders ventured out in the opening half an hour of FP2, with Jack Miller (Alma Pramac Racing) and Scott Redding (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini) the first riders to head out on slick tyres. By the end of the session it was the ‘Little Samurai’ who would set the quickest time – a 1:48.136 the benchmark, with Redding and Danilo Petrucci (Alma Pramac Racing) completing the top three in FP2.

However, with the times around three seconds slower in the afternoon, none of the riders were able to improve on their morning lap times. So, this means the combined practice times heading into qualifying day are as you were in FP1. Dovizioso leads the way by 0.105 ahead of Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda Castrol), the latter another rider who didn’t set a lap time in FP2, with Johann Zarco (Monster Yamaha Tech 3) third overall. The Frenchman completed a significant number of laps in FP2 to finish P5 and is looking strong in both the dry and wet conditions.

Aforementioned, Marquez decided it wasn’t worth heading out on track in FP2, the reigning Champion sits fourth overall after Free Practice Friday. Likewise to Zarco, Maverick Viñales (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP) completed a solid number of laps in FP2, all of which were on a wet set of Michelin tyres – P15 in the afternoon for the Spaniard and P5 overall.

Sixth overall and currently set to head straight into Q2 is Andrea Iannone (Team Suzuki Ecstar), the Italian another rider who didn’t go out in the afternoon session, with Alvaro Bautista (Angel Nieto Team) inside the top ten on Friday – P7 for the Spaniard on the combined times. Fellow Ducati rider Miller sits eighth overall, with Valentino Rossi (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP) and Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini) completing the current automatic Q2 places in P9 and P10 respectively.

Attention now turns to the weather forecasts to see if riders like Pedrosa, Petrucci, Rins and others can have a chance of penetrating the top ten in FP3 before qualifying commences on Saturday at 14:10 local time (GMT +9). So far it’s Dovi who holds the advantage, but you can never count out a certain number 93…

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