MT Helmets’ rookie Diogo Moreira quickly got to grips with the Mobility Resorts Motegi layout by topping Friday’s Moto3 practice.
A 1’57.252 led the way after 40 minutes on track in Japan as Leopard’s Dennis Foggia and Sterilgarda Husqvarna’s Ayumu Sasaki completed the top three, with the trio covered by a quarter of a second.
A revised Friday schedule kicked off with Moto3 on track for a one-off session at the Motegi venue. A cloudy start providing a dry circuit after a damp morning but with the threat of rain remaining in the air.
Honda Team Asia’s Taiyo Furusato was the first to succumb to his home layout as Red Bull KTM’s Jaume Masia took charge of the opening times. A 1’58.069 leading the standings from home heroes Sasaki and Tatsuki Suzuki for the series’ first look in three years, with many on track for the first time.
VisionTrack’s Scott Ogden was the next to fall at turn three as Tech3’s Deniz Öncü arrived to the top three. Leopard’s Dennis Foggia trailing the KTM for fourth with another Austrian representative closely behind as freshly re-signed Daniel Holgado completed the top five.
John McPhee began his return to Asia from 13th in the times with fellow Brits Ogden and Josh Whatley sitting 25th and 28th respectively. The pair both in the box at the halfway stage having circulated two seconds adrift of the outright pace.
The target was raised in quick succession as the second half counted down. MT Helmets’ Ryusei Yamanaka losing out to GasGas Aspar’s Izan Guevara as the championship leader took charge with a 1’57.664. Sic58’s Ricardo Rossi splitting the pair next time around as he tested the edge of the 1’58 margin.
McPhee improved into the top 10 with 15 minutes left to run. His Sterilgarda teammate sitting fifth overall with Suzuki, David Muñoz, Sergio Garcia and Kaito Toba holding the final top 14 places before the Leopard rider swept through to second. The weekend’s changeable forecast leaving potential for Q2 promotion to be decided in the closing stages of Friday’s solo session as the pack prepared for its final run.
Öncü was the first to improve as he claimed the runner-up spot just a tenth adrift of the leader. Garcia boosting himself into potential promotion in 12th as McPhee and Stefano Nepa dropped into the danger zone.
Sasaki was on the move in the closing three minutes with a 1’57.493. A revitalised Andrea Migno into third on the Rivacold Snipers before Lorenzo Fellon crashed out.
The time continued to shuffle as the penultimate minute played out. Suzuki joining his countryman at the top before McPhee claimed second for a Husqvarna one-two. The Max Racing pair were split by 0.9s before a final trio crossed the line to spoil the show. Rookie Diogo Moreira took charge overall with a 1’57.252 from Foggia and Sasaki with Muñoz splitting the teammates in fourth.
McPhee rounded out the top five as the session drew to a close from Suzuki, Guevara and Rossi with Migno and Yamanaka completing the tenth fastest finishers. Öncü, Kaito Toba, Adrian Fernandez and Masia claimed the final provisional Q2 entries with Xavi Artigas and Holgado the first adrift. Ogden and Whatley concluding their first taste of the Japanese venue from 26th and 27th.