Jorge Lorenzo continued his dominant form at the start of the Grand Prix of Japan weekend, topping both of today‘s free practice sessions. Teammate Valentino Rossi the day in eighth place.
Movistar Yamaha MotoGP riders Jorge Lorenzo and Valentino Rossi kicked off the first flyaway race at Twin Ring Motegi, making the most of the perfect riding conditions in the first practice sessions ahead of this weekend‘s Grand Prix of Japan.
Lorenzo didn‘t let the slight shoulder injury, which he sustained last week whilst training, stop him reminding race fans of his strong form at the Japanese circuit. The Aragón race winner started the morning Free Practice session with a competitive pace and needed little time to position himself ahead of his rivals when he dropped under 1‘46 mark. He continued to improve his times and led for most of the session to ultimately top the FP1 standings with a 1‘45.432.
Obviously my shoulder isn‘t perfect, but even with my shoulder in this condition I‘m still able to ride and be quite consistent.
The Spaniard duplicated his strong performance in the second 45 minute session. Directly on the pace, he posted multiple 1‘45 laps and comfortably led the way. His fastest lap of 1‘45.426 remained unchallenged until the final minutes of the session. Having been pushed back one place by fellow Yamaha-rider Bradley Smith, Lorenzo felt encouraged to put his head down once more and quickly set a 1‘44.731 to reclaim the lead by 0.128s at the end of the session and top the overall times.
Teammate Rossi also showed his determination to fend off the competition and defend his lead in the world championship in FP1. He slowly brought heat into the bigger carbon brake disks, which are cooled with braking cooling ducts because of the Twin Ring Motegi circuit‘s heavy braking character, and soon topped the rankings with a 1‘46.265 until he was pushed down a place by his teammate. The Doctor went on to spend most of the morning practice perfecting his setup and finished third with a lap of 1‘45.844.
The nine-time World Champion also had a positive session in the afternoon. Once again making most of the perfect weather conditions, he held provisional fifth position with a best time of 1‘45.785 before the pace picked up at the end of the session. Rossi also gave another push and set a 1‘45.554 at the very end for eighth place, 0.823s from his teammate. The result also leaves him in eighth place in the combined times ahead of tomorrow‘s sessions.
This weekend Yamaha‘s usual rider line-up is joined by five-time All Japan Superbike Champion Katsuyuki Nakasuga, who won this year‘s Suzuka 8-Hour race alongside Bradley Smith and Pol Espargarò. He finished his first day as a wildcard for the Yamaha Factory Racing Team riding his special ’60th Anniversary‘-styled YZR-M1 to 23rd place in the combined free practice times.
"It was a surprising day, because I didn‘t expect to be so competitive, especially in the morning. I expected to improve little by little, but starting from the first run I was the fastest rider and I improved even more on the last outing, so I finished first in the morning and the afternoon. The bike is going better than last year and we have a great setup. Obviously my shoulder isn‘t perfect, but even with my shoulder in this condition I‘m still able to ride and be quite consistent.
I believe that with normal physical conditions I could have been even faster, but there‘s no point in thinking about what could have happened. It‘s better to focus on the current situation and take the maximum profit. For tomorrow we still have a margin to improve the bike to suit my riding. I hope it won‘t be raining on Sunday, so let‘s hope the weather forecasts improve."
"This morning was not so bad and also in the afternoon I felt quite good with the harder tyre. I expected to improve more when I put on the softer option at the end, but unfortunately this didn‘t happen because we‘re not good with the setting yet and have to work a bit further. We have to check the data and check which way we want to follow for tomorrow. It‘s always difficult to improve in MotoGP. At the end of the practice on the Friday everybody puts in new tyres and already the lap times are very quick and faster than last year, so we have to work hard and try to stay at the top."