MOTEGI, Japan – It will be a Ducati, Yamaha, Honda front row for Sunday’s (Oct 12 2014) Japanese MotoGP with Andrea Dovizioso taking Ducati’s first pole in four years.
NEVER TOO LATE: It's four years - at Valencia - since Andrea Dovizioso started a MotoGP on pole but that's where he'll be at Motegi 2014. Image: AFP
Back then, however, he was riding for Honda.
Second will be Valentino Rossi (Yamaha) and third Honda’s Dani Pedrosa – despite his falling during the final seconds of his bid to improve his time. He was unhurt.
TOP 12 ON GRID
Fourth, after what looked like a wild ride on his Honda, was Marc Marquez who will find himself in a very strange place when the lights change on Sunday.
So, the top 12 on the Motegi grid on Sunday will be
1 Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati) 1min44.502
2 Valentino Rossi (Yamaha) 1min44.557
3 Dani Pedrosa (Honda)1min44.755
4 Marc Marquez (Honda) 1min44.775
5 Jorge Lorenzo (Yahama) 1min44.784
6 Andea Iannone (Ducati) 1min44.854
7 Pol Espargaro (Yamaha) 1min44.867
8 Cal Crutchlow (Ducati) 1min44.998
9 Stefan Bradl (Honda) 1min45.005
10 Bradley Smith (Yamaha) 1min45.044
11 Aleix Espargaro (Yamaha) 1min45.315
12 Alvaro Bautista (Honda) 1min45.677
The AFP correspondent at Motegi reported that Marquez, current championship leader, also struggled to get on top of things during Friday practice, with his crew battling to find the correct set-up for his bike.
The Spaniard had a minor crash early on Friday; he was also having problems with vibration on his Honda. The 21-year-old Honda was up quickly after the fall and hopped on a scooter to confer with his team.
He said after practice: “I was not able to work well with the set-up."
If he wins on Sunday he will walk away with his second MotoGP title in his pocket..
FASTER THAN MARQUEZ
Ducati’s Andrea Dovizioso, who eventually scored pole on Saturday, also put in a stellar performance on Friday, benefiting from an extra-soft rear tyre to set the best time of that day - 1min45.140, 0.440sec faster than former champion Jorge Lorenzo who won at Motegi in 2013.
They were followed on Friday by Stefan Bradl and Dani Pedrosa (Hondas) and Yamaha’s Valentino Rossi. Marquez was sixth, 0.799sec slower than the leading Italian.
Dovizioso also set faster practice time than Marquez ahead of the Aragon MotoGP two weeks earlier.
Marquez complained about his bike shaking during the Friday morning practice session, when he could not brake in time at Turn 5. He said: "When I arrived at the braking point there was no brake, zero. Then I tried to brake in two, three, four times but it was becoming too late.
"In the end I was able to brake a little bit but I saw that the wall was coming, and I fell down," he said with a chuckle. "I hope tomorrow we will improve a little bit.”
He did – but not by enough…
'SOME GOOD RUNS, GOOD PACE...'
Marquez could, with his 75-point margin over second-placed team mate Dani Pedrosa, use the Motegi race to lock the championship with a win or even worse depending on how his rivals finish.
Pedrosa, who Marquez has to beat to claim the season crown in Motegi, showed off superb braking moves and said was happy with the Friday practice.
“We did some runs with a good pace but we have to work harder to improve our lap times and be very focused on setting a good time in qualifying.”
Teams were keeping a close watch on forecasts about another typhoon approaching southern Japan. It might bring some rain on Sunday – though forecast only warn of an overcast sky.
The storm is expected to hit the Japanese islands on Monday (Oct 13).
1 Esteve Rabat (Spain) Kalex 1min50.854
2 Thomas Luethi (Switzerland) Suter 1min50.887
3 Johann Zarco (France) Caterham Suter 1min51.157
4 Maverick Vinales (Spain) Kalex 1min51.222
5 Mika Kallio (Finland) Kalex 1min51.312
6 Takaaki Nakagami (Japan) Kalex 1min51.317
7 Julian Simon (Spain) Kalex 1min51.454
8 Franco Morbidelli (Italy) Kalex 1min51.524
9 Axel Pons (Spain) Kalex 1min51.543
10 Marcel Schroetter (Germany) Tech 3 1min51.555
1 Danny Kent (Britain) Husqvarna 1min56.555
2 Niccolo Antonelli (Italy) KTM 1min56.899
3 John McPhee (Britain) Honda 1min56.907
4 Miguel Oliveira (Portugal) Mahindra 1min57.049
5 Jack Miller (Australia) KTM 1min57.081
6 Isaac Vinales (Spain) KTM 1min57.100
7 Alex Marquez (Spain) Honda 1min57.114
8 Brad Binder (South Africa) Mahindra 1min57.170
9 Alex Rins (Spain) Honda 1min57.212
10 Juanfran Guevara (Spain) Kalex 1min57.230