Jorge Lorenzo shrugged off his shoulder injury to set the pace at Motegi in the opening Japanese Grand Prix practice session, with title rival Valentino Rossi four tenths back in third.
Lorenzo closed to within 14 points of Rossi following his dominant Aragon victory, with only four races now remaining.
He showed no sign of his recent sprained shoulder injury, incurred after he fell of a minibike at a barbecue last weekend, apart from grimacing when he puts his leathers on.
Story of the session
Rossi was the early pacesetter on 1m46.265s, 0.753s quicker than Lorenzo’s first flyer.
Lorenzo then found his groove with a 1m46.110s, to grab the top spot by 0.097s, as Rossi fractionally lowered his best time to 1m46.207s.
Lorenzo worked down to 1m45.654s on his first run, with Ducati’s Andrea Iannone – complete with recently dislocated shoulder – rising to second on 1m46.077s.
Bradley Smith ran longer than most of his rivals on his Tech 3 Yamaha, and went second fastest after 15 minutes, the second rider to breach the 1m46s barrier with a 1m45.937s. Those improvements dropped Rossi to fourth, ahead of Marc Marquez on the quickest Honda.
On his second run, Rossi immediately rose to third on 1m46.051s but Dani Pedrosa leapt to second on 1m45.896s.
Lorenzo produced a 1m45.731s despite a mistake, then showed what he could really do with a 1m45.455s to lower the P1 time to 0.441s clear of the rest.
Teammate Rossi retaliated with P2 on 1m45.844s, 0.389s off Lorenzo’s pace at the time.
Ducati’s Andrea Dovizioso jumped to fourth on 1m45.947s, with Marquez – who is riding with a broken finger after a mountain bike training mishap – working his time down to 1m45.965s but slipping down the order relative to his rivals.
Iannone rose to second on his third run, with a lap of 1m45.827s.
Lorenzo lowered the bar yet further with his final lap of the session, a 1m45.432s which was 0.395s clear of Iannone and 0.4s quicker than Rossi.
Smith was fourth after setting a late 1m45.888s, ahead of Pedrosa, Dovizioso and a sluggish Marquez, who was over half a second off the pace.
A couple of fallers
Incidents were few and far between: Pol Espargaro suffered a trip into the Turn 11 gravel, while Jack Miller had a slow-speed tumble at the Turn 10 hairpin.
Stefan Bradl jumped to ninth before binning his Aprilia at Turn 11. He slipped back to 10th by the end of the session.
|1||Jorge Lorenzo||Movistar Yamaha MotoGP||Yamaha YZR-M1||1:45.432||1:45.432|
|2||Andrea Iannone||Ducati Team||Ducati Desmosedici GP15||1:45.827||+0.395|
|3||Valentino Rossi||Movistar Yamaha MotoGP||Yamaha YZR-M1||1:45.844||+0.412|
|4||Bradley Smith||Monster Yamaha Tech 3||Yamaha YZR-M1||1:45.888||+0.456|
|5||Dani Pedrosa||Repsol Honda Team||Honda RC213V||1:45.896||+0.464|
|6||Andrea Dovizioso||Ducati Team||Ducati Desmosedici GP15||1:45.947||+0.515|
|7||Marc Marquez||Repsol Honda Team||Honda RC213V||1:45.965||+0.533|
|8||Aleix Espargaro||Team Suzuki ECSTAR||Suzuki GSX-RR||1:46.234||+0.802|
|9||Pol Espargaro||Monster Yamaha Tech 3||Yamaha YZR-M1||1:46.323||+0.891|
|10||Stefan Bradl||Aprilia Racing Team Gresini||Aprilia RS-GP||1:46.371||+0.939|
|11||Cal Crutchlow||CWM LCR Honda||Honda RC213V||1:46.551||+1.119|
|12||Hector Barbera||Avintia Racing||Ducati Desmosedici GP14||1:46.699||+1.267|
|13||Maverick Viñales||Team Suzuki ECSTAR||Suzuki GSX-RR||1:46.765||+1.333|
|14||Yonny Hernandez||Pramac Racing||Ducati Desmosedici GP14||1:47.073||+1.641|
|15||Takumi Takahashi||Team HRC with Nissin||Honda RC213V||1:47.079||+1.647|
|16||Scott Redding||Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS||Honda RC213V||1:47.171||+1.739|
|17||Nicky Hayden||Aspar MotoGP Team||Honda RC213V-RS||1:47.181||+1.749|
|18||Katsuyuki Nakasuga||Yamaha Factory Racing||Yamaha YZR-M1||1:47.184||+1.752|
|19||Alvaro Bautista||Aprilia Racing Team Gresini||Aprilia RS-GP||1:47.304||+1.872|
|20||Danilo Petrucci||Pramac Racing||Ducati Desmosedici GP14||1:47.364||+1.932|
|21||Mike di Meglio||Avintia Racing||Ducati Desmosedici GP14||1:47.503||+2.071|
|22||Jack Miller||CWM LCR Honda||Honda||1:47.539||+2.107|
|23||Toni Elias||Athinà Forward Racing||Yamaha Forward||1:47.626||+2.194|
|24||Loris Baz||Athinà Forward Racing||Yamaha Forward||1:48.083||+2.651|
|25||Eugene Laverty||Aspar MotoGP Team||Honda RC213V-RS||1:48.625||+3.193|
|26||Alex de Angelis||Octo IodaRacing Team||ART||1:49.277||+3.845|
|27||Kosuke Akiyoshi||AB Motoracing||Honda RC213V-RS||1:49.846||+4.414|