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World Championship leader Alex Marquez (EG 0,0 Marc VDS) found a late lap at the Motul Grand Prix of Japan to topple Red Bull KTM Ajo’s Brad Binder after the South African had set the pace for the majority of the day.
Marquez ended the opening day in Japan 0.181 clear of Binder, with the second of the Red Bull KTM Ajo riders, Jorge Martin, completing the top three, a quarter of a second adrift. SKY Racing Team VR46’s Luca Marini continued his Buriram form by sitting fourth on the timesheets, 0.008 of a second ahead of Sam Lowes (Federal Oil Gresini Moto2).
SKY Racing Team VR46 enjoyed a good day at the Twin-Ring Motegi after Nicolo Bulega ended sixth to mean both riders were inside the top six. MV Agusta Temporary Forward’s Stefano Manzi closed the day seventh overall, despite a crash late in FP2 at Turn 9.
Dynavolt Intact GP’s Tom Lüthi closed the day eighth fastest ahead of the only man inside the top 14 who failed to improve on their FP1 lap time, Tetsuta Nagashima (ONEXOX TKKR SAG Team). The home hero’s lap from earlier in the day, which secured him second on the FP1 timesheets, kept him provisionally in Q2 but the same couldn’t be said for his teammate Remy Gardner. The Australian crashed out not once but twice in a hectic FP2 session. First, the front end folded on him at Turn 11 before the front once again tucked moments later at Turn 5 having come down pitlane in between.
Lorenzo Baldassarri crashed out in the closing seconds of the session but held on to tenth. Riders eleventh to fourteenth and likely to move straight into Q2 if rain does end up falling tomorrow are Marcel Schrötter (Dynavolt Intact GP), Augusto Fernandez (FlexBox HP40), Iker Lecuona (American Racing) and Enea Bastianini (Italtrans Racing Team).
Will Marquez and Binder continue to go head-to-head tomorrow as the Championship fight begins to spice up? Tune in for FP3 in the intermediate class at 09:55 local time (GMT+9).
Top 10 combined:
1. Alex Marquez (EG 0,0 Marc VDS) – 1:50.647
2. Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Ajo) + 0.181
3. Jorge Martin (Red Bull KTM Ajo) + 0.254
4. Luca Marini (SKY Racing Team VR46) + 0.274
5. Sam Lowes (Federal Oil Gresini Moto2) + 0.282
6. Nicolo Bulega (SKY Racing Team VR46) + 0.317
7. Stefano Manzi (MV Agusta Temporary Forward) + 0.390
8. Tom Lüthi (Dynavolt Intact GP) + 0.393
9. Tetsuta Nagashima (ONEXOX TKKR SAG Team) + 0.460
10. Lorenzo Baldassarri (FlexBox HP 40) + 0.466
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