Practice report

MotoGP Japanese GP: Martin fastest, then crashes in FP1

MotoGP title contender Jorge Martin set the pace in opening practice for this weekend's Japanese Grand Prix at Motegi, albeit crashing his Pramac Ducati shortly after setting his fastest time.

Jorge Martin, Pramac Racing

Martin, who arrives in Japan only 13 points behind fellow Ducati man Francesco Bagnaia, topped the timesheets with a best effort of 1m45.192s, which was enough to top the session by 0.138s from Augusto Fernandez.

That came at the end of a run of three successive improvements for the Pramac rider, who knocked Bagnaia off the head of the standings with a 1m45.509s before finding just over three tenths over his next two laps.

But Martin's run came to an abrupt end when he appeared to misjudge his braking for the Turn 3 left-hander, running into the gravel and suffering a relatively low-speed tumble with nine minutes to go.

He was able to return to action for the final minutes of the session, but didn't improve his time further.

Behind surprise package Fernandez on the Tech3 GasGas, Marco Bezzecchi made a late improvement on his VR46 Ducati to jump up to third, 0.318s off the pace established by Martin.

Factory Ducati rider Bagnaia was fourth-fastest with his early benchmark of 1m45.631s, going no quicker later on.

Joan Mir was an encouraging fifth fastest on the Honda, within half a second of Martin, having revealed his intentions on Thursday to try the 2024-spec chassis that was not available to him last weekend in India.

That was despite Mir suffering a crash at Turn 5 around halfway through the 45-minute session.

Next up was lead KTM man Brad Binder, Aprilia rider Maverick Vinales and last year's Japanese GP winner Jack Miller on the second of the KTMs.

Yamaha's lead representative was Fabio Quartararo in ninth place, 0.760s off the pace, while Marc Marquez was 13th on the second of the works Honda, more than eight tenths adrift.

Wildcard rider Cal Crutchlow was 18th-fastest on his Yamaha as he gears up for his first MotoGP race weekend since last year's Valencia GP.

LCR Honda's home hero Takaaki Nakagami was a low-key 19th, while Alex Rins, making his return from a long injury layoff this weekend, was 21st and last, 2.3 seconds off the pace and nearly half a second down on the next-slowest rider, Ducati replacement rider Michele Pirro.

MotoGP Japanese Grand Prix - First practice results:

Driver Info
Cla Rider # Bike Laps Time Interval km/h Speed Trap
1 Spain J. Martin Pramac Racing 89 Ducati 16 1'45.192   164.305  
2 Spain A. Fernandez Tech 3 37 KTM 19 +0.138 0.138 164.090  
3 Italy M. Bezzecchi Team VR46 72 Ducati 17 +0.318 0.180 163.810  
4 Italy F. Bagnaia Ducati Team 1 Ducati 18 +0.439 0.121 163.622  
5 Spain J. Mir Repsol Honda Team 36 Honda 15 +0.493 0.054 163.538  
6 South Africa B. Binder Red Bull KTM Factory Racing 33 KTM 17 +0.555 0.062 163.442  
7 Spain M. Viñales Aprilia Racing Team 12 Aprilia 18 +0.627 0.072 163.331  
8 Australia J. Miller Red Bull KTM Factory Racing 43 KTM 18 +0.710 0.083 163.203  
9 France F. Quartararo Yamaha Factory Racing 20 Yamaha 20 +0.760 0.050 163.126  
10 Spain R. Fernández RNF Racing 25 Aprilia 19 +0.774 0.014 163.105  
11 France J. Zarco Pramac Racing 5 Ducati 15 +0.826 0.052 163.025  
12 Italy F. Morbidelli Yamaha Factory Racing 21 Yamaha 20 +0.835 0.009 163.011  
13 Spain M. Marquez Repsol Honda Team 93 Honda 19 +0.841 0.006 163.002  
14 Italy F. Di Giannantonio Gresini Racing 49 Ducati 19 +0.968 0.127 162.807  
15 Spain P. Espargaro Tech 3 44 KTM 15 +0.989 0.021 162.774  
16 Portugal M. Oliveira RNF Racing 88 Aprilia 18 +1.006 0.017 162.748  
17 Spain A. Espargaro Aprilia Racing Team 41 Aprilia 16 +1.037 0.031 162.701  
18 United Kingdom C. Crutchlow Yamalube RS4GP Racing Team 35 Yamaha 16 +1.110 0.073 162.589  
19 Japan T. Nakagami Team LCR 30 Honda 16 +1.142 0.032 162.540  
20 Italy M. Pirro Ducati Team 51 Ducati 16 +1.940 0.798 161.329  
21 Spain A. Rins Team LCR 42 Honda 16 +2.395 0.455 160.647  
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