Motegi MotoGP practice: Business as Usual for Quartararo Despite Rain

Tricky and changing conditions in Japan have made for an intriguing, yet surprisingly calm set of practice sessions with Quartararo toping practice at Motegi. Friday’s weather ended up being the best for setting a representative time ahead of qualifying, and it was once again Fabio Quartararo leading the way by over three-tenths as we head into Q1 and Q2. 

A resurgent Maverick Viñales was able to split up the usual squabble between Fabio and Marc Marquez, the Yamaha factory rider edging out his Honda counterpart by 0.15s. The final practice session saw little in the way of drama, as riders gingerly  explored the drying Twin Ring layout. 

Jack Miller was the first man out on slick tires on Saturday, venturing out with 15 minutes left in Free Practice 4. The Ducati satellite rider has delivered a brave wet-weather pole lap in the past and clearly backed himself to get into Q2 early in FP4.  It took another eight minutes for the dry tires to do their work though, and Miller was only able to go 0.5 seconds faster than Maverick Viñales with 7 minutes remaining in the Motegi practice. 

By that time everyone was on the changeover and fast times began to flood in. Miller’s heroics were for naught as the Aussie was bumped out of the top 10, but that wouldn’t matter in the scheme of things anyway. Times never got better than those set in FP2, and it was that session that ended up setting the groups for Q1 and Q2. 

Fabio Quartararo and Maverick Vinales led the combined time sheets, with Honda’s Marc Marquez nipping at their heels behind. Ducati lead rider Andrea Dovizioso was fourth ahead of Valentino Rossi and Franco Morbidelli. Jack Miller and Danilo Petrucci can be happy to be in Q1 with the seventh and eighth quickest times in FP2. Joan Mir and Aleix Espargaro round out the confirmed starters for that session. 

The battle for the final two spots in Q2 looks like it could be down to Alex Rins, Cal Cruthlow and Pol Espargaro. That trio are the only men tickling the high 1m45s and there’s a 0.3 second gap back to Francesco Bagnaia, Taakai Nakagami and Karel Abraham who are all running in close quarters time wise.

Jorge Lorenzo has moved slightly further up the charts at the Motegi practice to recent history in 17th on his factory Yamaha while Andrea Iannone continues to struggle on his Aprilia. Perhaps most interesting is the lack of pace from KTM parachute rider Mika Kallio. He has failed to make any impact since taking over from the disgruntled Johann Zarco. Zarco will be returning to the MotoGP paddock for the final three rounds of the season, taking the place of Nakagami who needs surgery ahead of the 2020 season, where he will once again ride for LCR Honda. 

Tito Rabat was a non-starter in FP4 after crashing out of the Motegi practice and tweaking his wrist. The Ducati rider is expected to start from pit lane for tomorrow’s race as he will likely miss qualifying. Sylvain Guintoli had no time set for FP1 or 2 but did make it out for FP3 and FP4 so will be able to take part in qualifying later this afternoon local time.

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Pos.Num.RiderSessionTeamBikeTimeGap 1st/Prev.
120Fabio QuartararoFP2Petronas Yamaha SRTYamaha1’44.764 
212Maverick ViñalesFP2Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGPYamaha1’45.0850.321 / 0.321
393Marc MarquezFP2Repsol Honda TeamHonda1’45.1000.336 / 0.015
44Andrea DoviziosoFP2Ducati TeamDucati1’45.4140.650 / 0.314
546Valentino RossiFP2Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGPYamaha1’45.4660.702 / 0.052
621Franco MorbidelliFP2Petronas Yamaha SRTYamaha1’45.5620.798 / 0.096
743Jack MillerFP2Pramac RacingDucati1’45.5770.813 / 0.015
89Danilo PetrucciFP2Ducati TeamDucati1’45.6190.855 / 0.042
936Joan MirFP2Team SUZUKI ECSTARSuzuki1’45.6410.877 / 0.022
1041Aleix EspargaroFP2Aprilia Racing Team GresiniAprilia1’45.7210.957 / 0.080
1142Alex RinsFP2Team SUZUKI ECSTARSuzuki1’45.7300.966 / 0.009
1235Cal CrutchlowFP2LCR Honda CASTROLHonda1’45.8041.040 / 0.074
1344Pol EspargaroFP2Red Bull KTM Factory RacingKTM1’46.0201.256 / 0.216
1463Francesco BagnaiaFP2Pramac RacingDucati1’46.3301.566 / 0.310
1530Takaaki NakagamiFP2LCR Honda IDEMITSUHonda1’46.5571.793 / 0.227
1617Karel AbrahamFP2Reale Avintia RacingDucati1’46.5761.812 / 0.019
1799Jorge LorenzoFP2Repsol Honda TeamHonda1’46.6611.897 / 0.085
1829Andrea IannoneFP1Aprilia Racing Team GresiniAprilia1’46.7451.173 / 0.210
1988Miguel OliveiraFP2Red Bull KTM Tech 3KTM1’46.8002.036 / 0.139
2082Mika KallioFP1Red Bull KTM Factory RacingKTM1’46.8981.326 / 0.135
2153Tito RabatFP2Reale Avintia RacingDucati1’47.1582.394 / 0.189
2255Hafizh SyahrinFP2Red Bull KTM Tech 3KTM1’47.9743.210 / 0.662
2350Sylvain GuintoliFP2Team SUZUKI ECSTARSuzuki