Jorge Martin drew first blood in the reignited 2023 MotoGP World Championship title fight by claiming the top spot in first free practice for the Japanese MotoGP at Motegi.
The Spaniard, who arrives in Japan with renewed vigour after a win and a second place at last weekend’s Indian MotoGP - coupled with a fall for Pecco Bagnaia - puts him just 13 points behind the overall lead, was the rider to beat for much of the morning.
The Pramac Ducati rider posted a series of quick laps over the course of the session, peaking with a table topping 1m 45.192secs to get the better of Augusto Fernandez, the GasGas Tech3 rookie impressing just over +0.15secs adrift of his countryman.
The only VR46 Ducati on the grid following the withdrawal of injured team-mate Luca Marini, Marco Bezzecchi got his weekend off to a strong start with third quickest, while embattled series leader Pecco Bagnaia was in the mix too in fourth.
Despite a fall at Turn 18 early in the session, Joan Mir continued his uptick in form on the Repsol Honda to complete the top five, ahead of Brad Binder, who gave KTM’s new carbon fibre chassis a positive first outing in sixth place.
Maverick Vinales led the Aprilia challenge in seventh, ahead of Jack Miller on the second of the KTMs, while Fabio Quartararo was the lead Yamaha on the manufacturer’s home soil in ninth and Raul Fernandez completed the top ten on the RNF Aprilia.
In a depleted field after Alex Marquez was also forced to join Marini on the injury sidelines following his crash in Buddh, Cal Crutchlow made his first appearance of 2023 as a wild-card for Yamaha.
On the special YAMALUBE RS4GP Yamaha M1, which runs a 2023-spec engine but features larger wings and a long exhaust as part of the Japanese firm’s 2024 evolutions, Crutchlow turned in the 19th fastest time, +1.2secs down on the top spot.
Finally, Alex Rins made a welcome return to action after a seven-event lay-off, though he brought up the rear on the LCR Honda in 21st and last.
|2023 Japanese MotoGP | Twin Ring Motegi, Japan | Free Practice 1 Results | Round 14 of 20|
|1||Jorge Martin||🇪🇦||Prima Pramac Racing||Ducati GP23||1m 45.192|
|2||Augusto Fernandez||🇪🇦||GasGas Factory Racing Tech3||KTM RC16||1m 45.330|
|3||Marco Bezzecchi||🇮🇹||Mooney VR46 Racing||Ducati GP22||1m 45.510|
|4||Pecco Bagnaia||🇮🇹||Ducati Lenovo Team||Ducati GP23||1m 45.631|
|5||Joan Mir||🇪🇦||Repsol Honda Team||Honda RC213V||1m 45.685|
|6||Brad Binder||🇿🇦||Red Bull KTM Factory Racing||KTM RC16||1m 45.747|
|7||Maverick Vinales||🇪🇦||Aprilia Racing||Aprilia RS-GP||1m 45.819|
|8||Jack Miller||🇦🇺||Red Bull KTM Factory Racing||KTM RC16||1m 45.902|
|9||Fabio Quartararo||🇨🇵||Monster Energy Yamaha||Yamaha M1||1m 45.952|
|10||Raul Fernandez||🇪🇦||CryptoData RNF Racing||Aprilia RS-GP||1m 45.966|
|11||Johann Zarco||🇨🇵||Prima Pramac Racing||Ducati GP23||1m 46.018|
|12||Franco Morbidelli||🇮🇹||Monster Energy Yamaha||Yamaha M1||1m 46.027|
|13||Marc Marquez||🇪🇦||Repsol Honda Team||Honda RC213V||1m 46.033|
|14||Fabio di Giannantonio||🇮🇹||Gresini Racing MotoGP||Ducati GP22||1m 46.160|
|15||Pol Espargaro||🇪🇦||GasGas Factory Racing Tech3||KTM RC16||1m 46.181|
|16||Miguel Oliveira||🇵🇹||CryptoData RNF Racing||Aprilia RS-GP||1m 46.198|
|17||Aleix Espargaro||🇪🇦||Aprilia Racing||Aprilia RS-GP||1m 46.229|
|19||Takaaki Nakagami||🇯🇵||LCR Honda IDEMITSU||Honda RC213V||1m 46.302|
|19||Cal Crutchlow||🇬🇧||YAMALUBE RS4GP||Yamaha M1||1m 46.334|
|20||Michele Pirro||🇮🇹||Ducati Lenovo Team||Ducati GP23||1m 47.132|
|21||Alex Rins||🇪🇦||LCR Honda IDEMITSU||Honda RC213V||1m 47.587|