MotoGP Motegi Friday practice: Dovizioso quickest

Andrea Dovizioso uses latest Desmosedici GP14.2 version racebike and soft tire option to set quick time; Jorge Lorenzo second, Stefan Bradl third, Marc Marquez crashes in morning

motogp motegi friday practice dovisioso

On a day with somewhat unusually perfect conditions in October at the Twin Ring Motegi circuit in Japan, Ducati's Andrea Dovizioso took advantage of the team's decision to run in the Open class for the season that allows them to use the softest compound option tires, and set the quickest time during the afternoon session on Friday. Dovizioso's time knocked Movistar Yamaha's Jorge Lorenzo off the top spot that he'd held for most of the afternoon session, and the Yamaha rider was feeling confident after setting the quickest time in the morning as well. LCR Honda's Stefan Bradl was third quickest for the day, with Repsol Honda's Dani Pedrosa, Lorenzo's teammate Valentino Rossi, and Pedrosa's teammate Marc Marquez filling out the rest of the top six. Marquez suffered a crash early in the morning session when he suffered a nasty wobble coming out of turn four that knocked his brake pads out of adjustment, causing him to lose braking power and run off in turn five. Marquez has a chance to clinch his second consecutive MotoGP World Championship at Motegi, provided he finishes ahead of both Pedrosa and Lorenzo this weekend.

Although he used the ultra-soft option tire to set his quick time, Dovizioso was also consistently fast on race rubber during practice, and he hopes to carry that momentum into Saturday's qualifying. "I feel really comfortable. We were second until the last five minutes when everybody had the same tires and I was able to make a similar lap time and pace so I’m a little bit surprised, I’m happy about our speed. We started with a good setup with the chassis and electronics side this morning and this helped me to be fast from the beginning. It is a good start, but we have to improve the speed a little bit tomorrow to try to fight for the podium."

Dovizioso is riding the latest "GP14.2" version of the Desmosedici with different frame, but gave most of the credit to all-around bike improvements for his speed. "The new chassis didn’t change how I ride the bike. It’s just the bike is better steering so I’m able to push more on braking, we accelerate more, also the electronics side improve a little bit. Everything improve and give me the possibility to be fast."

Lorenzo was feeling confident after posting the quickest time in the morning session, and being the quickest in the afternoon before Dovizioso decided to set a quick time on the ultra-soft tire. He also was happy that Bridgestone was providing the "older" rear tires that he preferred, instead of the newer generation tires that didn't agree with his riding style. "We knew that here maybe we have more chance to go faster and be more competitive with this, um, let’s say 'normal tire,' on the rear. And also on a track last year we were competitive, that has very good grip with the tarmac. In the beginning the conditions were even a little bit better than we expected. This morning I was very competitive in first position, this afternoon I wasn’t in first position at the end because Andrea switched to the new extra soft at the end. But normally it’s a real first position. We are competitive, the bike is working very well, it’s the best the Yamaha has been for 2014 so I’m glad to be here with it."

Bradl often uses the larger 340mm front brake discs which are mandatory for Motegi because of its very heavy braking zones that caused problems in the past, so he was already up to speed and set third quickest time. "We found a really good setting from the morning to the afternoon, we improved rear traction which is obviously quite important here. Also, the brake, I think we found a good setting to be late on the brakes and to have good corner speed. Overall the bike seems to be working good, and I’m happy with the opening day. It’s not the first time I’ve been using the bigger 340mm discs, already in Barcelona and a few races I was always having the tendency to go to the bigger disc, they give me better brake performance and support, for me they are really good and I quite like them."

Rossi thankfully didn't suffer any major injuries in his nasty crash at Aragon, and was glad that to be back without any lingering problems other than the index finger on his right hand that was injured in the fall. "I’m happy because especially my head is in normal condition," Rossi said, regarding the fact that he apparently was knocked unconscious for a short time in the crash. "I feel good on the bike, I don’t have any particular problem. I have some small pain in the finger, especially when I brake there’s a little bit of pain. But essentially I’m optimistic I can brake in a good way, I have good feeling, I just have a little bit of pain. The first day is not so bad, it was a good practice, I’m quite satisfied. We have to work a lot because we still have not found the right balance but fifth position is not so bad, I have a good pace, and it looks like the Yamaha is working well around Motegi."

MotoGP Motegi Friday practice results:

Pos. Rider Country Team Machine Time
1 Andrea Dovizioso ITA Ducati Team Ducati 1:45.140
2 Jorge Lorenzo SPA Movistar Yamaha MotoGP Yamaha 1:45.580
3 Stefan Bradl GER LCR Honda MotoGP Honda 1:45.637
4 Dani Pedrosa SPA Repsol Honda Team Honda 1:45.727
5 Valentino Rossi ITA Movistar Yamaha MotoGP Yamaha 1:45.890
6 Marc Marquez SPA Repsol Honda Team Honda 1:45.939
7 Pol Espargaro SPA Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Yamaha 1:46.041
8 Bradley Smith GBR Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Yamaha 1:46.105
9 Andrea Iannone ITA Pramac Racing Ducati 1:46.107
10 Cal Crutchlow GBR Ducati Team Ducati 1:46.221
11 Alvaro Bautista SPA GO&FUN Honda Gresini Honda 1:46.227
12 Yonny Hernandez COL Energy T.I. Pramac Racing Ducati 1:46.297
13 Aleix Espargaro SPA NGM Forward Racing Forward Yamaha 1:46.315
14 Hector Barbera SPA Avintia Racing FTR/Kawasaki 1:46.571
15 Hiroshi Aoyama JPN Drive M7 Aspar Honda 1:47.133
16 Katsuyuki Nakasuga JPN Yamalube Racing Team w/YSP Yamaha 1:47.180
17 Karel Abraham CZE Cardion AB Motoracing Honda 1:47.406
18 Alex De Angelis ITA NGM Forward Racing Forward Yamaha 1:47.513
19 Scott Redding GBR GO&FUN Honda Gresini Honda 1:47.586
20 Nicky Hayden USA Drive M7 Aspar Honda 1:47.975
21 Danilo Petrucci ITA Octo Ioda Racing Ioda/Aprilia 1:48.264
22 Mike Di Meglio FRA Avintia Racing FTR/Kawasaki 1:49.105
23 Broc Parkes AUS Paul Bird Motorsport ART/Aprilia 1:49.159
24 Michael Laverty IRL Paul Bird Motorsport ART/Aprilia 1:49.321