Get Instant News Updates
Enable
x
Notification Settings X
Time Settings
Done
Clear Notification X
Do you want to clear all the notifications from your inbox?
Settings X

Japanese GP: Miller tops the rivals in Motegi

Jack Miller

Bengaluru, September 24: Jack Miller set the pace in a Ducati Lenovo Team one-two in an extended opening practice session at the Japanese GP in Motegi, but it could hardly have been closer at the top as the Australian rider headed the three closest in the title fight.

Francesco Bagnaia (Ducati Lenovo Team), Fabio Quartararo (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGPT) and Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing) - and all four were split by just 0.068sec.

Aragon GP winner Enea Bastianini (Gresini Racing MotoGP), on the other hand, was just 14th-fastest after a late crash and he'll be looking for more on Saturday.

Japanese GP: MotoGP caravan heads to the home turf of Yamaha, Honda and Suzuki Japanese GP: MotoGP caravan heads to the home turf of Yamaha, Honda and Suzuki

With a special timetable in place for the Japanese GP, the premier class's sole Friday practice session was an extended, 75-minute affair. While that gave teams and riders plenty of flexibility to work on race runs, the threat of rain in Saturday morning's FP2 session, the only other running before the starting order for Q1 is set, meant that there was always going to be a big emphasis on single-lap pace.

Even the appearance of the rain flag, 30 minutes in, for some very light showers was not enough to dissuade anyone, with riders coming on for fresh Michelin slicks at regular intervals.

Miller had a very brief spell at the top inside the first quarter-hour of the session, but it was not until his final run that he really laid down a marker. The 'Thriller' leapt from 17th to first with a 1:44.660 as he lapped Motegi with a brand-new soft front tyre and soft rear. Then, despite seemingly being held up by Team Suzuki Ecstar replacement Takuya Tsuda through the Hairpin, he went quicker again with the 1:44.509 which would not be beaten. Just for good measure, Miller clocked a 1:44.549 next time through which would be bettered only by Bagnaia.

By the time everyone had completed their time attacks, Miller was back on top, Bagnaia just behind, and Quartararo moved up with a 1:44.558. Aleix Espargaro, who was only 14th with a minute to go before the chequered flag came out, then pulled out a great lap to end the session fourth and just 0.068 seconds off the very best pace.

Fifth was also a fair bit to write home about as Luca Marini (Mooney VR46 Racing Team), who has never ridden around Motegi on a MotoGPTM bike before, rounded out the top five on a 1:44.645 and was top Independent Team rider to boot.

Then comes Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team). At Honda's home track, the number 93 claimed sixth with a 1:44.656 after also proving the initial pace-setter very early in the session. It was an encouraging result for the eight-time World Champion despite displaying obvious shoulder soreness when he got off his RC213V at the end of one run, in what is his second round back following surgery on his right arm.

There was one mishap for MM93 though, when he got his leathers snagged on the onboard camera as a crew member wheeled his bike back into the Honda box. Teammate Pol Espargaro finished seventh on a 1:44.678.

Red Bull KTM Factory Racing duo Brad Binder and Miguel Oliveira took eighth and ninth, respectively, while Maverick Viñales (Aprilia Racing) rounded out the top 10.

For Quick Alerts
ALLOW NOTIFICATIONS
For Daily Alerts
Story first published: Friday, September 23, 2022, 23:41 [IST]
Other articles published on Sep 23, 2022