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MotoGP Motegi: Dovizioso leads the way on Friday

Ducati’s Andrea Dovizoso has topped the wet Motegi MotoGP Friday timesheets after late run from title rival Marc Marquez ended in the gravel with a couple of minutes left as the Spaniard crashed at turn four with only a couple of minutes left to run.

Dovizioso set a 1’54.877 on his seventh lap of the session and no-one got close to the Italian until right at session end when Marquez put in a 1’54.920 to leap into second place with Aprilia’s Aleix Espargaro making good on his Wednesday promise that the RS-GP is now ‘truly competitive’.

It was again disaster for the factory Yamaha men as their wet weather grip woes saw Maverick Vinales finish in 11th place and 1.499s off the pace while Valentino Rossi, who is struggling a little with his broken leg in the cold and wet conditions, is one place and 0.059s in arrears.


Jorge Lorenzo picked himself up from a free practice one nerfing at the hands of Cal Crutchlow and subsequent trip to the medical centre with a swollen hand to end in fourth place with a final lap of 1’55.234 which pushed Johann Zarco down to fifth.

The Frenchman is far and away the fastest Yamaha, putting in a 1’55.468 to be the business end of a second quicker than Vinales while Danilo Petrucci - a master in the rain - set a 1’55.541 for sixth place.

Andrea Iannone was on good form for the whole of the second session, ending his day in seventh with Dani Pedrosa a surprise in eighth. The little Spaniard usually struggles in cold, wet conditions as he struggles to get heat into the front tyre but had found something with the Michelins as he was just under nine-tenths off the pace.

Crutchlow ended in ninth place with Alex Rins in tenth. The Ecstar Suzuki man has debuted a new aero package on the GSX-RR which has ben dubbed ‘the moustache’ by his team (see below).

No-one has yet tried Michelin’s super-soft wet as there are only two per rider in the allocation, so they will be reserved for qualifying tomorrow should the forecast rain become a reality. It could prove a godsend for the likes of Vinales who may need it to get through qualifying one.

Jonas Folger’s stand-in and local her Kohta Nozane finished his day in a very creditable 13th place while Scott Redding slipped back from a top-three slot this morning to 14th and a crash at the same time as Marquez meant he didn’t improve on his time.

Karel Abraham completed the top 15 with Aspar Ducati team-mate Alvaro Bautista one place further behind. Bradley Smith suffered a crash early doors and had to push his KTM back from turn 11 before using his second version. He finished in 17th and just ahead of team-mate Pol Espargaro with Sam Lowes next along.

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