Bastianini opens Motegi account on top
With near-perfect conditions at the Twin Ring Motegi, Enea Bastianini (Gresini Racing Moto3) took the top spot on Day 1, crossing the line late to take the lead from home hero Hiroki Ono (Honda Team Asia), who ended the day in P2 after rising to the top in FP2. Ono has a 3-place grid penalty for the event however, awarded for riding too slowly in some sectors of the track. On the final lap of the second session of the day, RW Racing GP BV rider Livio Loi moved up into P3 to make his mark on Friday, with laptimes lowering in the afternoon.
Fourth on Day 1 belonged to Jorge Navarro (Estrella Galicia 0,0), and the man currently P2 in the title had a solid opener as he looks to consolidate that position ahead of Bastianini. Fifth by the end of action on Friday was top rookie Nicolo Bulega (Sky Racing Team VR46), whose time from FP1 that saw him quickest out the blocks kept him in the top five; the Italian only a couple of tenths off his morning’s best in FP2.
Austrian GP winner Joan Mir (Leopard Racing) was sixth quickest, despite some run offs, with Francesco Bagnaia (Pull&Bear Aspar Mahindra) P7 as the Italian got back in with the frontrunners ahead of compatriot Andrea Migno (Sky Racing Team VR46).
2015 race winner Niccolo Antonelli (Ongetta-Rivacold) was another Italian making inroads back in the top echelons of the timesheets after a more difficult stint, signing off Friday in P9 ahead of Juanfran Guevara (RBA Racing), who closed out the top ten.
The big story of the first day at Motegi proved to be newly crowned Moto3™ World Champion Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Ajo), as the South African had an uncharacteristic crash in FP1 before suffering the same fate in FP2 – consequently ending Friday in P12. Unhurt and looking for solutions to explain the front end woes of the squad, Binder will be looking to move much further forward on Saturday.
FP3 is next as Moto3™ head out at 9:00 local time once again (GMT +9) on Saturday, with Binder looking to recover as the fight for P2 hots up between Navarro and Bastianini.