MotoGP Japan: Ducati's Dovizioso leads Marquez in first practice

Ducati MotoGP rider Andrea Dovizioso set the pace in first practice for the Japanese Grand Prix at Motegi

MotoGP Japan: Ducati's Dovizioso leads Marquez in first practice

Dovizioso did not sit atop the times during the regular 45 minutes of running, only recording his 1m45.786s lap after the chequered flag had been shown.

Before becoming the only rider to lap in the 1m45s barrier, Dovizioso had moved up from the bottom half of the top 10 to second place with five minutes remaining.

Championship leader Marc Marquez led the way for the bulk of the morning, after eclipsing early pacesetter Valentino Rossi.

Marquez set a 1m46.183s lap then improved to a 1m46.031s halfway through the session on his Honda, several tenths clear of the pack before Dovizioso's initial improvement.

He had to settle for second, 0.245 seconds behind Dovizioso, ahead of Yamaha pair Jorge Lorenzo and Rossi.

Dani Pedrosa was fifth on the other factory Honda, ahead of Suzuki's Maverick Vinales and Aleix Espargaro.

Vinales struggled at times with Turn 1, and took a run through the gravel trap with 15 minutes remaining, while Espargaro was set to move to the top after the chequered flag, until he ran off late in the lap.

LCR Honda's Cal Crutchlow crashed at Turn 9 moments later and finished the session in eighth, ahead of Aprilia's Alvaro Bautista.

Hector Barbera, standing in for Andrea Iannone, rounded out the top 10 on his first run for the factory Ducati outfit, 1.067s behind his temporary team-mate Dovizioso.

Injury returnees Jack Miller and Bradley Smith wound up 16th and 21st for Marc VDS Honda and Tech3 Yamaha respectively.

Smith reportedly struggled with flexibility in his injured knee, and could only manage a 1m51.415s lap, 5.629s off the pace in his first MotoGP running since the Brno race in August.

Debutant Mike Jones, the Australian Superbike Championship rider replacing Barbera at Avintia Ducati for the weekend, finished at the foot of the timesheets, a further two seconds slower than Smith.

FIRST PRACTICE RESULTS:

Pos Rider Team Time Gap Laps
1 Andrea Dovizioso Ducati 1m45.786s - 16
2 Marc Marquez Honda 1m46.031s 0.245s 18
3 Jorge Lorenzo Yamaha 1m46.181s 0.395s 18
4 Valentino Rossi Yamaha 1m46.222s 0.436s 20
5 Dani Pedrosa Honda 1m46.314s 0.528s 19
6 Maverick Vinales Suzuki 1m46.349s 0.563s 18
7 Aleix Espargaro Suzuki 1m46.406s 0.620s 15
8 Cal Crutchlow LCR Honda 1m46.590s 0.804s 17
9 Alvaro Bautista Aprilia 1m46.721s 0.935s 19
10 Hector Barbera Ducati 1m46.853s 1.067s 17
11 Pol Espargaro Tech3 Yamaha 1m46.998s 1.212s 16
12 Danilo Petrucci Pramac Ducati 1m47.125s 1.339s 19
13 Stefan Bradl Aprilia 1m47.426s 1.640s 17
14 Scott Redding Pramac Ducati 1m47.641s 1.855s 18
15 Yonny Hernandez Aspar Ducati 1m47.704s 1.918s 17
16 Jack Miller Marc VDS Honda 1m47.777s 1.991s 15
17 Eugene Laverty Aspar Ducati 1m47.988s 2.202s 16
18 Katsuyuki Nakasuga Yamaha 1m48.058s 2.272s 17
19 Tito Rabat Marc VDS Honda 1m48.409s 2.623s 23
20 Loris Baz Avintia Ducati 1m48.914s 3.128s 16
21 Bradley Smith Tech3 Yamaha 1m51.415s 5.629s 13
- Mike Jones Avintia Ducati 1m53.473s 7.687s 18

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