Iker Lecuona (Swiss Innovative Investors) was Friday’s fastest man at the Motul Grand Prix of Japan, setting a 1:52.159 to head ever-consistent Championship leader Francesco Bagnaia (Sky Racing Team VR46) by 0.119 seconds. Augusto Fernandez (Pons HP 40) completed the top three in Motegi, 0.231 back, as the Spaniard continues to impress following his return to the Moto2™ World Championship.
After FP1 was hindered by rain, the intermediate class riders were able to get a solid session under their belts before another light shower in the afternoon then brought proceedings to a premature end with ten minutes remaining. Fabio Quartararo (MB Conveyors – Speed Up) completes Friday’s on track action with a solid P4, 0.358 from Lecuona’s benchmark after finish P10 in the morning, with Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Ajo) rounding out the top five – a significant leap up the timesheets for the number 41 rider after finishing FP1 in P16.
The South African finished 0.075 ahead of teammate and Championship protagonist Miguel Oliveira and it was P6 for the Portuguese rider, with Tetsuta Nagashima (Idemitsu Honda Team Asia) getting his home Grand Prix off to a solid start in P7 after finishing the damp session in P4, just 0.003 behind Oliveira. FP1’s quickest rider Marcel Schrötter (Dynavolt Intact GP) completes Friday in P8, just ahead of EG 0,0 Marc VDS’ Alex Marquez. The three-time Motegi winner recovered well after suffering a huge highside at Turn 8 at the end of FP1 to finish P9 in FP2, and Luca Marini (Sky Racing Team VR46) completed the top ten.
In terms of the Championship, it’s Bagnaia who heads into Saturday with the advantage over Oliveira, but the unpredictable Japanese weather could well spring a surprise or two come qualifying. Can Lecuona transfer Friday’s pace into a first front row start? Or will it be all change at the front once again? Find out from 15:05 local time (GMT +9).