With severe weather warnings in place for tomorrow at Motegi, this afternoon’s second MotoGP turned into a scrap for the qualifying two places and Petronas Yamaha’s Fabio Quartararo was top of the sheets, the only rider to get under the 1’45s barrier.
The Frenchman used a medium front/soft rear for his best time of 1’44.764 which fellow but factory Yamaha rider Maverick Vinales couldn’t match, putting in a best of 1’45.085 with soft Michelins all round.
Marc Marquez, crowned 2019 champion at Buriram, did a lot of work on the soft rear during the session, briefly changing to a hard before going back to the soft for third place on a 1’45.100.
Ducati’s Andrea Dovizioso saved his day with a 1’45.414 to secure fourth place while Valentino Rossi had only one lap on a new rear to book his place, setting a 1’45.466 on the Monster Yamaha.
Franco Morbidelli, on the second Petronas bike, slipped from second to sixth but is still in a provisional Q2 spot.
Jack Miller is also safe in seventh place despite lobbing his Desmosedici at the turn-nine scenery with only a couple of minutes left to run. He finished eight-tenths off the leader, also on softs all round.
Danilo Petrucci was behind Miller again while a lap from Suzuki’s Joan Mir meant the exit of not only Cal Crutchlow from the combined top ten but also team-mate Alex Rins. Aleix Espargaro somehow put the Aprilia in tenth place.
Pol Espargaro was the fastest of the KTMs in 13th with Pecco Bagnaia in 14th. The injured Taka Nakagami, who said he had no feeling in his damaged shoulder for the last ten laps in Buriram, completed the top 15.
Jorge Lorenzo got as high as 11th place but faster men pushed him back down to 17th with Karel Abraham in 16th. Miguel Oliveira had another crash, cartwheeling through the gravel at turn 12.
It was a decent day for Sylvain Guintoli, though, who has the first iteration of the 2020 Suzuki GSX-RR to use this weekend.