The man who challenged the 2019 MotoGP Champion Marc Marquez throughout the Thailand Grand Prix two weeks ago, Fabio Quartararo, was untouchable Friday during the opening practice of the Grand Prix of Japan at Motegi.The rookie of France – the only other French rider in 2019 MotoGP besides Sylvain Guintoli – couldn’t catch Monster Energy Yamaha’s Maverick Vinales during free practice 1.
But Petronas Yamaha’s Quartararofound improved his performance by nearly a second from a 1:45.830 in the opening practice to a 1:44.764 in free practice two. This became the fastest lap at Motegi Twin Ring, though still over a second off the lap record set by Jorge Lorenzo in 2015 (1:43.790, Yamaha YZR-M1).“This morning I struggled to find some reference points because there is a lot of heavy braking at Motegi; it wasn’t easy at first,” Fabio Quartararo says.“Step by step I found my line and realized where I needed to improve. In the end, we did an amazing job not only with the time attack but on race pace as well – but there’s still more to come if it doesn’t rain.“We completed 40 laps today, but the more you do the more you learn, and if the weather is good then for sure we’ll be able to go faster. If it does rain tomorrow, then I’ll just go out and do my best. I don’t have a lot of MotoGP experience in wet conditions yet so we’ll see what happens, but we’re already in Q2 so we can aim for the front three rows in qualifying.”When Friday’s practice sessions ended, Quartararo finished 0.321 of a second ahead of Vinales. Repsol Honda’s Marquez – the man who clinched the GP Championship in Thailand – was third, 0.336 of a second behind.Ducati Team’s Andrea Dovizioso was fourth quickest, 0.650 of a second behind. The Italian GP19 pilot was followed by Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP’s Valentino Rossi and Quartararo’s teammate, Franco Morbidelli.Rounding out the top 10 were Pramac Racing Ducati’s Jack Miller; Ducati Team’s Danilo Petrucci; Team Suzuki Ecstar’s Joan Mir; and Aprilia Racing Team’s Aleix Espargaro.The conditions were dry Friday, but heavy rain is forecasted for Saturday’s qualifying session.Photos by Luciano Bianchetto
Aprilia Tuono 660 Factory + Steve ’Stavros’ Parrish
byMotos and Friends by Ultimate Motorcycle
Hello everyone and welcome once again to Ultimate Motorcycling’s weekly podcast—Motos and Friends. My name is Arthur Coldwells.
Our first segment features the new Aprilia Tuono 660 Factory. Senior Editor Nic de Sena brings us his report on the flagship version of Aprilia’s upright middleweight machine. He gives us insight into whether it’s worth spending the extra money on the Factory version, and also of course, whether this sporting Aprilia is really the motorcycle for you.
The next guest segment of Motos and Friends is brought to you by the faster and most technologically advanced, 2023 Suzuki Hayabusa—one of the most iconic sportbikes ever. Check it out in person at your local Suzuki dealer now, or visit suzukicycles.com to learn more.
In this segment, Associate Editor Teejay Adams chats with (arguably) one of the most interesting Suzuki race riders of all time. the iconic RG500 alongside teammate double World Champion Barry Sheene. The two were almost as famous for their exploits off-track, as for their success on it. Those were the days! Steve also raced the Isle of Man TT for about ten years where he won 13 Silver Replicas, and got a podium finish. His insight into that particular brand of mayhem are fascinating.
But there’s waaay more to Steve Parrish than his motorcycle racing. He is also the most successful Semi-Truck racer ever, and, little known piece of useless trivia—he’s my birthday twin: 24th February. He is a natural entertainer and you can’t miss his recounting of the world’s most entertaining—and arguably terrifying—double-decker bus ride ever. If any of you were actually on that hell-ride then we’d love to hear from you!