Nicolo Bulega blasts to the top on Friday
Nicolo Bulega (Sky Racing Team VR46) began the first day of the Japanese GP fastest in FP1 ahead of teammate Andrea Migno, and that’s how the top of the timesheets remained at the end of the day. With wet conditions throughout both sessions and the rain not showing any sign of stopping, the two Italians headed out in FP1 to do a long run and completed 18 consecutive laps, not returning to pitlane until the flag and fastest in a 1-2 for the team. Compatriot Romano Fenati (Marinelli Rivacold Snipers) locked out the top three overall with his laptime from FP1 and was the quickest in FP2 in the tough conditions, showing more good wet weather form following his win at Misano by 28 seconds.
One headline of note saw a tough first day for Joan Mir (Leopard Racing) as he searches to wrap up the Championship this weekend, with the Majorcan P17 overall and suffering a crash in the afternoon – only his fifth of the year.
Aron Canet (Estrella Galicia 0,0) was fourth quickest overall as he, like Fenati, prepares for a last stand in the title fight, with the top five on combined times completed by Niccolo Antonelli (Red Bull KTM Ajo) – the first of those able to improve in the afternoon.
Manuel Pagliani (CIP) had an impressive start to the Japanese GP in sixth, ahead of Fabio Di Giannantonio (Del Conca Gresini Moto3) and Malaysian Adam Norrodin (SIC Racing Team), who was one to crash on Day 1 but rider ok. Nakarin Atiratphuvapat (Honda Team Asia) improved his FP1 time to go ninth overall by the end of action, with Tatsuki Suzuki (SIC58 Squadra Corse) the leading home hero to lock out the top ten.
Bo Bendsneyder (Red Bull KTM Ajo) had an eventful Day 1 with a number of crashes but was eleventh fastest, with Japanese rider Ayumu Sasaki (SIC Racing Team), Albert Arenas (Aspar Mahindra Moto3), Enea Bastianini (Estrella Galicia 0,0) and John McPhee (British Talent Team) taking P12 to P15.
Now it’s time for FP3 and qualifying on Saturday as Mir faces down the chance at the crown.