Tom Luthi ended the opening day of action from a wet Motegi ahead of the Japanese Grand Prix fastest of all despite crashing in the afternoon session.
The first 45-minute session was topped by Marc VDS rider Alex Marquez with a 2m05.460s, while Luthi was just under half a second adrift in second with championship leader Franco Morbidelli down in fifth.
Morbidelli‘s afternoon got off to a tricky start when his bike stopped as he was exiting pitlane for his first laps. His session failed to improve from there and he ended the day almost a second adrift of his nearest championship rival in fifth.
Marquez led the early stages of the second session with a 2m06.736s, but was soon deposed by Luthi – the Swiss rider posting a 2m05.885s despite a small moment at the final corner, before improving to a 2m05.282s.
The Interwetten rider – who sits 21 points adrift of Morbidelli in second in the championship – was unable to improve on his best lap in the closing stages, however, as he crashed at Turn 3.
Marquez was able to improve his pace to a 2m05.478s to end a wet Friday in Japan second on the combined times, with KTM’s Miguel Oliveira third quickest ahead of Hafizh Syahrin – who remained fourth on the combined times despite failing to improve in the afternoon.
Twitter: A rare crash for ＠ThomasLUTHI leaves the Swiss a little dirty! #JapaneseGP https://t.co/VwG4rc8ret (@MotoGP)
Xavier Simeon brushed off a tumble in the final nine minutes of the second session to end the day sixth fastest, with Francesco Bagnaia, Sandro Cortese, Misano race winner Dominique Aegerter and Stefano Manzi completing the top 10.
Tetsuta Nagashima enjoyed a strong day in front of his home crowd, the Japanese rider guiding his SAG Kalex to 11th on the combined times ahead of Jorge Navarro, who crashed at the final corner in the closing stages of the second session.
Luca Marini crashed right at the end of the second session at Turn 11, so was unable to improve on 13th spot. Andrea Locatelli, who fell twice today, and Xavi Vierge completed the top 15, while home hero Takaaki Nakagami made a low-key start to his Japanese Grand Prix down in 16th.