Motegi MotoGP: Dovizioso leads Crutchlow in first practice

Andrea Dovizioso led the way in opening practice for MotoGP's Japanese Grand Prix, heading Cal Crutchlow by a little over a tenth of a second.

Motegi MotoGP: Dovizioso leads Crutchlow in first practice

Ducati rider Dovizioso left it until the final five minutes of the 45-minute session to move atop the timesheets, posting a 1m45.738s lap to depose long-time leader and champion-elect Marc Marquez.

The Italian then lowered the bar to 1m45.358s, which Marquez couldn't match in the closing stages, the Honda man falling 0.140s short of Dovizioso on his last attempt.

LCR Honda rider Crutchlow slotted into second shortly after, besting Marquez by just 0.035s, while Johann Zarco demoted Marquez a further place aboard the Tech 3 Yamaha as the chequered flag fell.

Maverick Vinales was the best of the works Yamahas in fifth, 0.282s off the pace and four tenths clear of sixth-placed Andrea Iannone (Suzuki).

Satellite Ducati riders Alvaro Bautista (Nieto) and Jack Miller (Pramac) were next up, followed by the second works Yamaha of Valentino Rossi, who wound up 0.971s off the pace and 0.7s slower than Vinales.

Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia) edged out Dani Pedrosa (Honda) for the final place in the top 10.

Local hero Takaaki Nakagami was 13th quickest aboard the second LCR Honda, two places ahead of Yamaha wildcard Katsuyuki Nakasuga, who briefly headed the times in the early exchanges.

The other Motegi wildcard, Sylvain Guintoli, was 21st fastest on the third Suzuki, two places behind Alex Rins, who was nearly rear-ended by Marquez in the opening stages of the session.

Bautista crashed late in the session at Turn 1, while Franco Morbidelli (Marc VDS Honda) went down at Turn 10 early on.

Jorge Lorenzo completed just two laps on the second works Ducati before returning to the pits and withdrawing from the remainder of the weekend, still in pain from the injuries he suffered in Thailand.

It reduces the field to 25 bikes, with Nakasuga and Guintoli having originally bumped up the entry to 26.

First practice times:

Pos. # Rider Bike Time Gap
1 4 Italy Andrea Dovizioso  Ducati 1'45.358  
2 35 United Kingdom Cal Crutchlow  Honda 1'45.463 0.105
3 5 France Johann Zarco  Yamaha 1'45.483 0.125
4 93 Spain Marc Marquez  Honda 1'45.498 0.140
5 25 Spain Maverick Viñales  Yamaha 1'45.640 0.282
6 29 Italy Andrea Iannone  Suzuki 1'46.030 0.672
7 19 Spain Alvaro Bautista  Ducati 1'46.210 0.852
8 43 Australia Jack Miller  Ducati 1'46.265 0.907
9 46 Italy Valentino Rossi  Yamaha 1'46.329 0.971
10 41 Spain Aleix Espargaro  Aprilia 1'46.526 1.168
11 26 Spain Dani Pedrosa  Honda 1'46.568 1.210
12 45 United Kingdom Scott Redding  Aprilia 1'46.854 1.496
13 30 Japan Takaaki Nakagami  Honda 1'46.856 1.498
14 44 Spain Pol Espargaro  KTM 1'46.859 1.501
15 89 Japan Katsuyuki Nakasuga  Yamaha 1'46.872 1.514
16 10 Belgium Xavier Simeon  Ducati 1'46.998 1.640
17 9 Italy Danilo Petrucci  Ducati 1'47.054 1.696
18 38 United Kingdom Bradley Smith  KTM 1'47.137 1.779
19 42 Spain Alex Rins  Suzuki 1'47.187 1.829
20 21 Italy Franco Morbidelli  Honda 1'47.428 2.070
21 50 France Sylvain Guintoli  Suzuki 1'47.537 2.179
22 81 Spain Jordi Torres  Ducati 1'47.665 2.307
23 17 Czech Republic Karel Abraham  Ducati 1'47.716 2.358
24 55 Malaysia Hafizh Syahrin  Yamaha 1'47.726 2.368
25 12 Switzerland Thomas Luthi  Honda 1'47.833 2.475
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