Yamaha’s Quartararo Untouchable Friday at Motegi MotoGP Practice

Yamaha's Quartararo at Motegi MotoGP Friday
Yamaha's Fabio Quartararo

2019 Motegi MotoGP Friday Practice Results

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.

Yamaha's Quartararo at Motegi MotoGP Friday
Yamaha’s Fabio Quartararo

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.”

Maverick Vinales at Motegi MotoGP Friday 2019
Yamaha’s Maverick Vinales

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.

Honda's Marc Marquez at Motegi MotoGP Friday 2019
Honda’s Marc Marquez

Photos by Luciano Bianchetto

2019 Motegi MotoGP Friday Practice Results

Pos. Rider Time
1 Fabio Quartararo 01’44.764
2 Maverick Viñales 01’45.085
3 Marc Marquez 01’45.100
4 Andrea Dovizioso 01’45.414
5 Valentino Rossi 01’45.466
6 Franco Morbidelli 01’45.562
7 Jack Miller 01’45.577
8 Danilo Petrucci 01’45.619
9 Joan Mir 01’45.641
10 Aleix Espargaro 01’45.721
11 Alex Rins 01’45.730
12 Cal Crutchlow 01’45.804
13 Pol Espargaro 01’46.020
14 Francesco Bagnaia 01’46.330
15 Takaaki Nakagami 01’46.557