Dominant Dovizioso sets the pace on the opening day at Motegi
Ducati Team’s Andrea Dovizioso was in ominous form on the first day of practice at the Japanese Grand Prix, the Italian rider setting a stunning a lap time of 1’45.140 in this afternoon’s Free Practice 2 session at Motegi to finish comfortably ahead of his closest competitor.
Taking advantage of the massive grip of the extra-soft rear slick that is available to the Ducati and Open-class riders this weekend, Dovizioso set a time that was four-tenths of a second under the current Motegi race lap record in this afternoon’s Free Practice 2 session to top the timesheets on day one. Second quickest in today’s practice sessions on combined times was Movistar Yamaha MotoGP’s Jorge Lorenzo, who after winning last year’s Japanese Grand Prix continued his affinity for the Motegi circuit with a personal best lap time of 1’45.580. LCR Honda’s Stefan Bradl was third quickest today with a time of 1’45.637 and apart from Lorenzo was the only rider to set a lap time within half a second of Dovizioso’s benchmark time.
Weather conditions at Motegi today were fine, although cloud cover in the afternoon resulted in lower track temperatures compared to the morning, with today’s peak measurement of 35°C being recorded during this morning’s FP1 session. The favorable conditions this morning meant that all three front slick options; the soft, medium and hard slicks were utilized by the riders in the first session, but the medium compound front slick emerged as the clear preference among the riders by the end of the day due to its balance of braking and cornering performance. For the rear tire, all three slick options were evaluated by the riders today with the softer rear slick options - soft compound for the Factory Honda and Yamaha riders and extra-soft for the Ducati and Open-class riders - yielded the best performance. With cooler temperatures forecast for the rest of the weekend, the softer rear slick options are likely to be chosen by the majority of riders for the race.
Slightly cooler temperatures are forecast for tomorrow and the MotoGP riders will next be out on track for Free Practice 3 which starts at 0955 local time (GMT +9).
Shinji Aoki - Manager, Bridgestone Motorsport tire Development Department
“Today the conditions were quite favorable with the warm track temperatures allowing the riders to evaluate many different tire options right from the first session. It was pleasing to see how quick the pace was today with both Dovizioso and Lorenzo setting times quicker than the Motegi race lap record, so I expect to see a new outright lap record for Motegi set during qualifying tomorrow. One of the most important considerations at Motegi for the riders is good braking stability, and it seems that the medium compound front slick provides the required front-end feel as well as high cornering performance, so this option was preferred by almost every rider today. At this point of the weekend, it looks like the riders prefer their softer rear slick options, and with cooler temperatures forecast for the rest of the race weekend these are likely to be chosen for the race.”