20 RIDERS WITHIN ONE SECOND, CHAMPIONSHIP TITLE CONTENDERS WITHIN 40 THOUSANDTHS, AND APRILIA IS IN THE MIX!
ALEIX FOURTH AND MAVERICK TENTH FOR DIBS ON A SPOT IN Q2
The Friday practice format changed at Motegi, but the extremely balanced competition typical of MotoGP 2022 was the same. At the end of the single 75-minute session, 20 riders were all within one second of one another, with those in the top 10 all within 3 tenths.
In any case, the Aprilias shone throughout, with Aleix and Maverick working skilfully in preparation for the race (in what could be the only dry practice session) without missing a beat when it was time to push to the limit for a time attack. Espargaró, despite two yellow flags during his flying laps, stopped the clock at an outstanding 1'44.577, which earns him a provisional fourth place and a time that basically overlaps those of the riders at the top.
Viñales had no trouble finding confidence on a track that he is tackling for the first time astride the RS-GP, demonstrating a good pace and reporting good sensations. There is room for improvement, especially on the flying lap, but his tenth place today means that he’ll be able to focus on tomorrow’s sessions with peace of mind.
"I’m happy to be back racing on this track in a country that I absolutely love. The atmosphere is fantastic and I must say that the session also went well. We struggled a bit at the beginning because the only points of reference we had for the settings were from 2019 when I was riding an extremely different RS-GP, but everyone on the team did a great job, quickly finding the right direction we needed to go. I was also lucky on the last time attack because only one of my three attempts wasn’t cancelled by a yellow flag, but it was enough to get me fourth place. There are a few places on this track where I lose a bit of ground and I’m very fast at others, but the bike is working pretty well and that makes us optimistic."
"After so many top-10 spots slipping through my fingers by a matter of a few thousandths, my luck finally changed this time! Given the weather forecast, doing a good lap today was important and I managed to do just that. The bike is working well here. I think that the base settings are already at a promising level but we have a few ideas that will help us improve further. I’m pleased with the pace I maintained in race configuration. We were able to work well, taking full advantage of the single, long session."