The Japanese and Honda fans provided a welcome boost as Marc Marquez and Pol Espargaro powered into the top ten on a unique Friday in Motegi.
A busy Thursday saw the Repsol Honda Team work diligently to prepare everything just a few days after action concluded in Aragon. Due to the schedule of the events, just a single afternoon Free Practice 1 session of 75 minutes awaited the Repsol Honda Team on the opening day of the Japanese Grand Prix. Despite near constant threats of rain throughout the day, the track remained dry for the entirety of the extra-long session.
Returning to the circuit in which he has claimed three of his six premier class titles, Marc Marquez was immediately on the pace. Ending Friday in sixth with a best time of 1’44.656 provided positive reinforcement that both Marquez himself and the RC213V are making steps in the right direction since his recent return to competition. There was no relenting for the #93 who immediately went about setting a quick lap time to beat Saturday’s looming weather. With 75 minutes of track time, Marquez was also able to continue assessing his right arm in more intense scenarios.
After several difficult races, Pol Espargaro’s Grand Prix weekend started on the correct foot as he ended Friday seventh fastest. 0.022s back from his teammate and within 0.2s of the fastest time, the #44 was able to continually improve the setup of his RC213V over the course of the session. The 4.8-kilometre-long track had Espargaro return to his early season form of consistently running in the top ten as the RC213V immediately gelled with its home circuit. An evening of deep analysis for Espargaro and his team is scheduled as they aim to take the data gathered today and apply it to all remaining races.
Both riders’ performance on Friday puts the Repsol Honda Team pair in a strong position to advance directly into Q2 with heavy rain predicted on Saturday morning. Saturday’s schedule begins with Free Practice 2 at 10:50 Local Time with Free Practice 3 becoming the untimed session just ahead of Qualifying.