MotoGP Buriram: Sasaki fastest on Friday in Moto3| Christina Bulpett | MotoGP
Sterilgarda Husqvarna Max’s Ayumu Sasaki maintained his Motegi podium momentum by setting Friday’s Moto3 pace at Buriram.
Leopard’s Tatsuki Suzuki sat a close second as FP2 drew to a close, 0.191s shy of his countryman’s 1’43.503 best, with SIC58’s Ricardo Rossi completing the fastest trio.
The lightweight class was met with tricky conditions as the action first rolled out at the Chang International Circuit on Friday. Early morning rain had stopped but the track remained wet with Suzuki rising to the challenge to top the times. The Japanese rider sat over half a second clear as the session bedded in before solidifying control with a 1’51.520 in the dying seconds. Red Bull KTM Ajo’s Jaume Masia and a rejuvenated Rivacold Snipers’ Andrea Migno best of the rest in second and third.
Championship leader Izan Guevara circulated 15th, just outside of provisional promotion with Dennis Foggia, and the injured Deniz Öncü also adrift in 20th and 29th respectively. Husqvarna’s John McPhee completed FP1 in 12th while VisionTrack’s Scott Ogden and Josh Whatley got their first taste of the Thai track in 22nd and 25th.
Rain arrived again as the afternoon session prepared. Suzuki back in charge but over a second slower than his earlier efforts with a 1’53.028, KTM’s Adrian Fernandez and Aspar’s Sergio Garcia the next to challenge.
With the rain eased and the track drying out, the Leopard continued to refine the session’s pace. Tech3’s Öncü gritting his teeth through the obvious pain for second in FP2 - and inside the top ten overall - before Ayumu Sasaki raised the bar with a 1’52.331. The pack returning to pitlane for dry tyres ahead of the final 15 minutes.
Sasaki’s 1’51.643 set the target with his ninth effort of the afternoon, teammate McPhee running sixth before Rossi bettered overall with a 1’51.513, despite still circulating on wet tyres.
Suzuki returned to the top 4.8 seconds clear of the pack with the first dry lap of the Moto3 class - a 1’46.616 - before improving immediately with a 1’44.9. MT Helmets’ Diogo Moreira was the first to join the Leopard, albeit a second adrift, before Sasaki got close and the Brazilian rookie bettered overall. The trio covered by just under three tenths as the final five minutes counted down.
A dry and bright finish to the first day of practice found Rossi in charge with three to go before Sasaki and Suzuki reignited their battle with 1’43 pace. Öncü continuing to challenge despite his damaged hand before Masia and Guevara joined the fight.
Final shuffles as the chequered flag dropped saw Ogden improve into the top ten as Sasaki claimed the session honours with a 1’43.503. McPhee making a brief appearance in the Q2 promotion places before his time was deleted due to track limits and he returned to 16th.
Suzuki and Rossi headed KTM’s Daniel Holgado and Masia in the top five with Öncü, Guevara, MTA’s Ivan Ortola and Foggia bettering the rookie Brit. CIP Green Power’s Kaito Toba held 11th from Migno, Garcia and CFMoto’s Xavi Artigas with Moreira the first to miss out, in 15th.