Tom Luthi leads from the front in Japan
Wet and rainy was the forecast for Friday at the Motul Grand Prix of Japan, and the forecast turned out to be wholly accurate. It was Tom Luthi (CarXpert Interwetten) who mastered conditions best to top the combined timesheets with his best in FP2 despite a lowside, ahead of Alex Marquez (EG 0,0 Marc VDS) – fastest in the morning – and Miguel Oliveira (Red Bull KTM Ajo). Championship leader Franco Morbidelli (EG 0,0 Marc VDS), who leads Lüthi by an apt 21 points going into the race, was fifth quickest.
Fourth overall and impressive in both sessions was Hafizh Syahrin (Petronas Raceline Malaysia) despite a fall for the Malaysian, with Xavier Simeon (Tasca Racing Scuderia Moto2) showing some impressive wet weather pace in P6 behind Morbidelli. Francesco Bagnaia (Sky Racing Team VR46) was seventh on combined times and once again quickest rookie.
Sandro Cortese (Dynavolt Intact GP) was P8 overall after putting in his quickest lap in FP2, just edging Swiss rider and Misano winner Dominique Aegerter (Kiefer Racing) overall as the two switched order in the afternoon. Stefano Manzi (Sky Racing Team VR46) pulled off an impressive save in FP1 and completed the top ten on combined timesheets, another who was faster in the morning than the afternoon.
Tetsuta Nagashima (Teluru SAG Team) was the fastest Japanese rider on Friday at Motegi, with some impressive pace in FP2 especially to go eleventh ahead of Jorge Navarro (Federal Oil Gresini Moto2). Just 0.014 behind the Spaniard was Luca Marini (Forward Racing Team), who crashed at the end of FP2 – rider ok. The top fifteen was completed by his compatriot Andrea Locatelli (Italtrans Racing Team) and Xavi Vierge (Tech 3 Racing).
With weather uncertain going forward, it’s advantage Lüthi on Day 1.