Motegi MotoGP: Marquez dominates wet first practice

Marc Marquez led a rain-soaked opening practice session for MotoGP's Japanese Grand Prix at Motegi, beating nearest rival Aleix Espargaro by almost nine tenths of a second.

In torrential conditions, Marquez was the rider to beat throughout Friday morning's 45-minute session, grabbing the top spot from title rival Maverick Vinales with a 1m58.303s around 15 minutes in.

The Repsol Honda rider proceeded to stretch his advantage at the head of the standings with a succession of hot laps, going 1.3s clear of the pack with a 1m57.194s and then opening the gap to almost two seconds with a 1m56.439s.

After a mid-session lull, Marquez's rivals started to close the gap, with Pramac Ducati rider Scott Redding surging to second with a time within two tenths of the Spaniard.

But after a fractional improvement to a 1m56.341s, Marquez ended the session with a best lap of 1m55.418s, putting him 0.875s up on Aprilia rider Espargaro, another late improver.

Redding held on to third, 1.099s off the pace, followed by the works Ducatis of Jorge Lorenzo and Andrea Dovizioso, who were split by 0.011s in fourth and fifth places.

Lorenzo's session came to a premature halt when he was collected at Turn 9 by Cal Crutchlow, who was seen remonstrating with the three-time champion in the gravel trap.

The LCR Honda rider was seventh-fastest, a place behind top Yamaha rider Johann Zarco in sixth, while Alex Rins - boosted by a new aerodynamic fairing on his Suzuki - Vinales and KTM's Bradley Smith completed the top 10.

Vinales' factory Yamaha teammate Valentino Rossi struggled to 19th place, 3.200s off the pace, while the second works Honda of Dani Pedrosa likewise endured a session to forget in 20th.

Tech 3 Yamaha rookie Kohta Nozane, deputising for an unwell Jonas Folger, held his own inside the top six in the early part of the session, but ended up dropping to 15th.

Fellow Japanese riders Katsuyuki Nakasuga (Yamaha) and Hiroshi Aoyama (standing in for Jack Miller at Marc VDS Honda) propped up the timesheets in 23rd and 24th places.

Tito Rabat (Marc VDS) and Andrea Iannone (Suzuki) both crashed during the session, while Danilo Petrucci suffered mechanical trouble with his Pramac Ducati early on but resumed on his second bike.

Practice results:

1 93 spain Marc Marquez  Honda 1'55.418  
2 41 spain Aleix Espargaro  Aprilia 1'56.293 0.875
3 45 united_kingdom Scott Redding  Ducati 1'56.517 1.099
4 99 spain Jorge Lorenzo  Ducati 1'56.653 1.235
5 4 italy Andrea Dovizioso  Ducati 1'56.664 1.246
6 5 france Johann Zarco  Yamaha 1'56.865 1.447
7 35 united_kingdom Cal Crutchlow  Honda 1'56.875 1.457
8 42 spain Alex Rins  Suzuki 1'56.906 1.488
9 25 spain Maverick Viñales  Yamaha 1'56.917 1.499
10 38 united_kingdom Bradley Smith  KTM 1'57.305 1.887
11 44 spain Pol Espargaro  KTM 1'57.548 2.130
12 9 italy Danilo Petrucci  Ducati 1'57.633 2.215
13 29 italy Andrea Iannone  Suzuki 1'57.746 2.328
14 8 spain Hector Barbera  Ducati 1'57.748 2.330
15 31 japan  Kohta Nozane  Yamaha 1'57.849 2.431
16 76 france Loris Baz  Ducati 1'58.280 2.862
17 19 spain Alvaro Bautista  Ducati 1'58.373 2.955
18 22 united_kingdom Sam Lowes  Aprilia 1'58.504 3.086
19 46 italy Valentino Rossi  Yamaha 1'58.618 3.200
20 26 spain Dani Pedrosa  Honda 1'58.706 3.288
21 53 spain Tito Rabat  Honda 1'58.921 3.503
22 17 czech_republic Karel Abraham  Ducati 1'59.098 3.680
23 21 japan Katsuyuki Nakasuga  Yamaha 1'59.188 3.770
24 7 japan Hiroshi Aoyama  Honda 1'59.205 3.787
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About this article
Series MotoGP
Event Japanese GP
Track Twin Ring Motegi
Drivers Andrea Dovizioso , Marc Marquez , Maverick Viñales
Article type Practice report