Andrea Dovizioso and Ducati responded to Marc Marquez’s blistering first practice pace by ending a wet Friday at Motegi fastest of all as the Spaniard crashed.
After a steady start to proceedings this morning in fifth, Dovizioso went top of the pile in the afternoon immediately with a 1m55.837s, which put him nine tenths clear of the field.
Marquez cut the gap to half a second 15 minutes in, though the Italian soon responded to the Honda rider’s advances and set a 1m54.877s.
The Ducati rider remained largely unchallenged for the next 20 minutes, but Marquez did begin to apply pressure with eight minutes to go with a 1m54.920s, which put him to within five hundredths of a second of his nearest championship rival.
Pushing to try and reclaim top spot in the final few minutes, Marquez was flicked from his RC213V at Turn 4. The championship leader was unscathed and remained second when the chequered flag fell.
Twitter: This time @marcmarquez93 pushes the limits a little too far! #RiderOK #JapaneseGP https://t.co/rFhhZ1mEbY (@MotoGP)
Dovizioso was unable to improve on his laptime in the closing stages, while Aprilia’s Aleix Espargaro completed the top three after a 1m55.061s lap riddled with small moments as the Spaniard pushed hard.
Jorge Lorenzo brushed off his shunt with Cal Crutchlow this morning to go fourth fastest ahead of Tech3’s Johann Zarco, who ended Friday as the only Yamaha rider inside the top 10.
Danilo Petrucci suffered no repeat of his technical issue from this morning and was sixth quickest ahead of Andrea Iannone who, like team-mate Rins in 10th, tried Suzuki’s new aerodynamic fairing.
Honda’s Dani Pedrosa was well over two second off the pace of team-mate Marquez this morning, as the four-time Motegi race winner struggled in the cooler temperatures.
The afternoon session proved far more positive for Pedrosa, who was eighth fastest with a 1m55.773s ahead of LCR Honda’s Crutchlow.
Maverick Vinales was 1.5s adrift of Dovizioso in 11th ahead of Yamaha team-mate Valentino Rossi – both seemingly still struggling to get the 2017 YZR-M1 to work in wet conditions.
Jonas Folger’s replacement Kohta Nozane ended his first day as a MotoGP rider a respectable 13th and just 0.018s slower than nine-time champion Rossi ahead of him. Scott Redding – who crashed at Turn 11 late on – and Karel Abraham rounded out the top 15.
Bradley Smith was the only other faller this afternoon, the KTM rider coming off at Turn 11 15 minutes into the session. He still headed team-mate Pol Espargaro in 17th.