andrea doviziso motegi motogp 2014Ducati’s Andrea Dovizioso was in ominous form on the first day of practice at the Japanese Grand Prix, the Italian rider setting a stunning a lap time of 1’45.140 in this afternoon’s Free Practice 2 session at Motegi to finish comfortably ahead of his closest competitor.

Taking advantage of the massive grip of the extra-soft rear slick that is available to the Ducati and Open-class riders this weekend, Dovizioso set a time that was four-tenths of a second under the current Motegi race lap record in this afternoon’s Free Practice 2 session to top the timesheets on day one. Second quickest in today’s practice sessions on combined times was Movistar Yamaha MotoGP’s Jorge Lorenzo, who after winning last year’s Japanese Grand Prix continued his affinity for the Motegi circuit with a personal best lap time of 1’45.580. LCR Honda’s Stefan Bradl was third quickest today with a time of 1’45.637 and apart from Lorenzo was the only rider to set a lap time within half a second of Dovizioso’s benchmark time. Weather conditions at Motegi today were fine, although cloud cover in the afternoon resulted in lower track temperatures compared to the morning, with today’s peak measurement of 35°C being recorded during this morning’s FP1 session. The favourable conditions this morning meant that all three front slick options; the soft, medium and hard slicks were utilised by the riders in the first session, but the medium compound front slick emerged as the clear preference among the riders by the end of the day due to its balance of braking and cornering performance. For the rear tyre, all three slick options were evaluated by the riders today with the softer rear slick options – soft compound for the Factory Honda and Yamaha riders and extra-soft for the Ducati and Open-class riders – yielded the best performance. With cooler temperatures forecast for the rest of the weekend, the softer rear slick options are likely to be chosen by the majority of riders for the race. Slightly cooler temperatures are forecast for tomorrow and the MotoGP riders will next be out on track for Free Practice 3 which starts at 0955 local time (GMT +9).

Andrea Dovizioso

“I am very happy because, apart from my fastest lap which I set with a soft tyre, I also had a good pace with the medium option. We immediately got off to a good start this morning with the set-up, both regarding the chassis and the electronics, and this enabled me to push hard right from the early laps. Today was a great day but tomorrow I’ll have to try and shave off some more tenths from my lap time.”

Jorge Lorenzo

“After the race win in Aragon we knew that here maybe we had a chance to go faster and be more competitive with this normal tyre on the rear. Also we knew that last year we were competitive and had good grip. From the beginning we’ve been on the pace and better than we expected. The bike is working very well, we can improve some small details in the settings, chassis and electronics but in general the pace of the bike is very good so I’m happy.”

Marc Marquez

“Today we struggled a bit compared to other circuits. We have not quite found the right setup yet, but thankfully it’s still only Friday and we have many practice sessions ahead and things to try out. The important thing is that I felt pretty good and, despite not being totally happy with the setup of the bike, we are not so far from the top. Let’s see if we can continue in this way, improving over the course of the weekend”.

Dani Pedrosa

“I think we had a good day of free practices. The track conditions were good and we were able to try out different tyres. In the afternoon we tried riding with the hard rear tyre, but we didn’t use the hard front like others did. We will probably try that outtomorrow. Today we did some runs with a good pace, but we have to work harder to improve our lap times and be very focused on setting a good time in qualifying”.

Valentino Rossi

“I feel good on the bike and don’t have any particular problems. I have some small pain with the finger, especially when I brake there is a little bit of pain but I am optimistic, I can brake in a good way and I’m comfortable, I’m just in a little bit of pain. In general the first day was not so bad, it was good practice and I’m quite satisfied. We still have to work a lot, because we still haven’t found the right balance but fifth position is not so bad. I have a good pace and it looks like the Yamaha works well here in Motegi.”

Pol Espargaro

“In all honesty it was quite a demanding day today. The track is not an easy one to ride due to the hard braking, as well as working out where the references are for each corner and we are still learning step by step. However, the final result itself is not bad at all and I am convinced that we have a large degree of improvement to make. For tomorrow, I certainly need to work on my riding style and afterwards we will try to fix some minor issues with the bike. At the moment we are losing most of our time in the intermediate sectors of the circuit and this is where we will focus on for tomorrow. Once we make these improvements I am certain that I will be able to have a strong qualifying where I intend to score a top grid position for the race on Sunday.”

Bradley Smith

“I am happy with today’s final outcome even if it was tricky at the start, but we found a good setting which gave us a solid direction to work towards. My final run was a big step forward plus I was lapping with consistent times at the end so although we have some work to do to refine this setting further, I am pleased with the job we have done. It is a technical track and it appears as though the softer compound of tyres it is giving the Ducati’s and the open class riders an advantage so it’s vital that we progress with our hard work in order to get into the top ten and go straight into Q2. Moreover I think it will be crucial to get a perfect run in qualifying as some other riders are close and will certainly be in the hunt. Considering the tough start, the end result is positive and we will confidently continue to push onwards tomorrow.”

Cal Crutchlow

“I’m not pleased with the result today but I am pleased with the speed. I thought we could have maybe been in the front five in that session but I got held up in my fast lap. I could have been a lot closer than what I was so I’m happy with this and it means we can work well for tomorrow. I had some problems in the session and didn’t get out in the first ten minutes due to a problem with the brake. Now I’m looking to rest because I’ve not been feeling well at all today due to a bit of flu, so maybe tomorrow I can have a better performance.”

Aleix Espargaro

“I’m not completely satisfied of today’s result. This morning I lacked a bit of confidence on the front. We worked on this direction and in the FP2 the feeling was better. Unfortunately due to some electronic issues I had to enter the pits and lost some time. I couldn’t do so many laps and this will complicate the work on the set up in preparation of the qualifying. Anyway I’m very motivated to do my best to recover the gap from the other guys.”

Katsuyuki Nakasuga

“This will be my first time participating in the MotoGP class since last year’s Grand Prix of Japan, so I was really nervous during the first free practice session. And, when I started riding I was greatly surprised by the high level of riding the other competitors were showing. My personal goal this time is to get a lap time better than my personal best of 1’46.780 that I set the year before last, and since I was able to get my time down to a 1’46.973 in the first session and the machine felt good, I expect to have a good chance of reaching my goal in tomorrow’s qualifying. Like last year, the main purpose for my participation in the race this time will be the data collecting, etc., that I will be doing as the Yamaha YZR-M1 development rider, so I have to make absolutely sure not to have any falls or crashes during race week. I will have this responsibility firmly in mind during the race, but I will go all out and try to do my best within those limits.”

Alex De Angelis

“This morning in the FP1 we made a good start although I lacked a bit of feeling on the rear under braking. In the afternoon we tested some different solutions and I could improve a bit. It’s a pity that at the end of the session I had some problems when I had the soft tyre on and I couldn’t improve my lap times. We will keep on working tomorrow and I’m confident that we can make another step forward.”

Andrea Iannone

“Today we had to solve some issues, I managed to do a few timed laps with the new bike because it still needed work so I had to use the GP14. There is still tomorrow to understand what needs to be done and to do some tests that we wanted to do today.”

Yonny Hernandez

“I had a good feeling this morning and we worked hard this afternoon. Too bad for the small mistake in T3 and a bit of traffic in the last few laps stopped me from improving myself. I’m in the top ten and this is tomorrow’s goal.”

MotoGP Motegi combined FP timings

1. Andrea Dovizioso (ITA) Ducati Team 1’45.140
2. Jorge Lorenzo (SPA) Movistar Yamaha MotoGP 1’45.580
3. Stefan Bradl (GER) LCR Honda MotoGP 1’45.637
4. Dani Pedrosa (SPA) Repsol Honda Team 1’45.727
5. Valentino Rossi (ITA) Movistar Yamaha MotoGP 1’45.890
6. Marc Marquez (SPA) Repsol Honda Team 1’45.939
7. Pol Espargarò (SPA) Monster Yamaha Tech3 1’46.041
8. Bradley Smith (GBR) Monster Yamaha Tech3 1’46.105
9. Andrea Iannone (ITA) Pramac Racing 1’46.107
10. Yonny Hernandez (COL) Energy T.I. Pramac Racing 1’46.113
11. Cal Crutchlow (GBR) Ducati Team 1’46.221
12. Alvaro Bautista (SPA) Go&Fun Honda Gresini 1’46.227
13. Aleix Espargaro (SPA) NGM Forward Racing 1’46.315
14. Hector Barbera (SPA) Avintia Racing 1’46.571
15. Katsuyuki Nakasuga (JPN) YAMALUBE Racing Team with YSP 1’46.973
16. Hiroshi Aoyama (JPN) Drive M7 Aspar 1’47.133
17. Alex De Angelis (RSM) NGM Forward Racing 1’47.285
18. Karel Abraham (CZE) Cardion AB Motoracing 1’47.406
19. Scott Redding (GBR) Go&Fun Honda Gresini 1’47.586
20. Nicky Hayden (USA) Drive M7 Aspar 1’47.829
21. Danilo Petrucci (ITA) Octo IodaRacing Team 1’48.264
22. Mike Di Meglio (FRA) Avintia Racing 1’49.105
23. Brok Parkes (AUS) Paul Bird Motorsport 1’49.159
24. Michael Laverty (GBR) Paul Bird Motorsport 1’49.321