Pedrosa sets the pace in Motegi

The MotoGP championship got underway at the AirAsia Grand Prix of Japan, where it was Repsol Honda Team's Dani Pedrosa who went quickest on the first day.

MotoGP News: Dani Pedrosa, Repsol Honda

Pedrosa's time in the low 1.46s set in sunny and dry conditions was sufficient to relegate Yamaha Factory Racing's Jorge Lorenzo into second, who posted his best time on the hard rear tyre, despite stating that he preferred the softer option he tried out before. Pedrosa's top time came late on in the session after a quick adjustment to the front end of his bike, after having briefly run into the gravel earlier in practice. Third place went to Monster Yamaha Tech 3's Andrea Dovizioso, after the Italian upped his pace towards the end of practice, showing strong consistency throughout both sessions.

LCR Honda MotoGP's Stefan Bradl set the fourth fastest time of the day despite a short run off track in the afternoon, with the German keen to make amends for his DNF last time out in Aragón. In fifth was Ducati Team's Valentino Rossi, who jumped up the timesheets with an unexpected hot-lap towards the end, leaving him just half a second off the top. Behind him in sixth, Yamaha's Ben Spies will be looking to improve for tomorrow's qualifying, being almost eight tenths down on his teammate with the hard tyre.

Seventh spot is occupied by Repsol Honda's Casey Stoner, who looked strong on his first day back from injury, despite pitting frequently to dial in his bike's set-up. He had a less than ideal start in the morning, as his number one bike stopped with a technical issue just two corners into his out-lap. San Carlo Honda Gresini's Álvaro Bautista finished the day in eighth, and will aim to jump further up the order tomorrow as he continues to work on his Showa suspension, which continues to cause his front tyre to jump heavily under braking. In ninth, Tech 3's Cal Crutchlow had a subdued session for his standards, while Ducati's Nicky Hayden completes the top ten, with the American doing well to ride with a fractured right radius.

Top CRT spot went to Power Electronics Aspar's Aleix Espargaró, who did well to overcome a crash in the morning session. His teammate Randy de Puniet crashed out of the afternoon practice early on, but was able to re-join on his second bike, albeit with a contusion to his left knee. Other riders that crashed out were Cardion AB Racing's Karel Abraham and Avintia Blusens' Yonny Hernández.

Team CatalunyaCaixa Repsol's Marc Márquez put in a terrific performance in the second Moto2TM free practice at the AirAsia Grand Prix of Japan in Motegi to set the fastest time of the day ahead of Bradley Smith and Scott Redding.

Márquez left it until the chequered flag came out to post a new track record with a 1.51'834, which put Tech 3 Racing's Smith back to second, after the Brit had broken the record earlier in the session. Smith spent much of practice on the rear wheel of Tuenti Movil HP 40's Pol Espargaró, benefiting from the slipstream down the straights - with top speed an area known to be a problem on the Brit's Mistral 610 machine. Hit was however a day of two halves, after crashing heavily in the morning session and sitting it out with concussion. Marc VDS Racing Team's Scott Redding consolidated his earlier form from the morning by once again putting in a good showing to complete the top three.

Espargaró's teammate Esteve Rabat, who had led the morning practice, did not improve on his time and finished fourth overall in front of Espargaró, who at times looked frustrated with Smith. He could not place his Kalex higher than fifth, yet managed to keep Interwetten-Paddock's Tom Lüthi at bay in sixth, with the Swiss rider improving drastically from the morning, where he suffered a low-side. Mapfre Aspar Team Moto2's Nico Terol had a good day at the Japanese track and ended the sessions closely behind in seventh. Italtrans Racing Team's Takaaki Nakagami, who had a crash in the morning, did well to recover and place his bike in eighth overall, with Blusens Avintia's Julián Simón and Redding's teammate Mika Kallio completing the top ten.

In the free practice sessions in the Moto3TM class at the AirAsia Grand Prix of Japan in Motegi it was Red Bull KTM Ajo's Sandro Cortese who topped the timesheets in the afternoon ahead of Maverick Viñales and Zulfahmi Khairuddin.

Cortese, who could mathematically clinch the Moto3TM world title this weekend, was on scorching pace in the second free practice session, setting a time of 1.59'448, over three tenths quicker than his Blusens Avintia rival Maverick Viñales. Viñales suffered a crash 13 minutes before the end, leaving him unable to improve his time in the final part of the session. AirAsia-SIC-Ajo's Zulfahmi Khairuddin was once again on good form as he completed the top three just fractionally off the Spaniard.

Team Italia FMI's Romano Fenati continued to learn the track at record speed as his fastest time placed him fourth, although he also suffered a crash towards the end of the day. Not having lost any confidence after his morning practice crash, Racing Team Germany's Louis Rossi stormed to the fifth place, ahead of RW Racing GP's Luis Salom, who is still receiving pain-killing injections in his shoulder after his Aragón crash two weeks ago.

Mapfre Aspar Team Moto3's Jonas Folger, who was fastest in the morning, could not repeat his feat and finished seventh overall. Estrella Galicia 0,0's Miguel Oliveira posted the eighth quickest time just under eight tenths off the top, ousting Cortese's teammate Danny Kent into ninth, ahead of Fenati's teammate Alessandro Tonucci.

San Carlo Gresini Moto3's Niccolò Antonelli was an early crasher in the second practice, and was joined on the list by TT Motion Events Racing's Niklas Ajo and Salom's teammate Brad Binder, who both crashed in the final stages of practice.

Speed Master's Andrea Iannone looked off-colour almost all day, and crashed early in the second practice, managing to head back out for the finale few minutes, while Came IodaRacing Project's Simone Corsi suffered a similar situation shortly after. Espargaró's teammate Axel Pons also fell towards the end of the afternoon session.



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