Cham­pion Lorenzo sets pace in Ja­pan

Kuwait Times - - SPORTS -

World cham­pion Jorge Lorenzo lapped fastest in prac­tice on a crash-filled yes­ter­day ahead of this week­end’s Ja­panese Mo­toGP Grand Prix as Dani Pe­drosa frac­tured his col­lar­bone in a nasty spill. Cham­pi­onship leader Marc Mar­quez was fourth quick­est for Honda but much of the fo­cus was on Pe­drosa, who de­cided to fly back to Spain for surgery af­ter a heavy fall in Fri­day’s af­ter­noon ses­sion that broke his col­lar­bone into four pieces.

Yamaha’s Lorenzo clocked 1min 45.151sec in cool and dry con­di­tions at Motegi, fol­lowed by Du­cati’s An­drea Dovizioso, who lapped 0.053sec slower with ris­ing Suzuki star Mav­er­ick Vi­nales third. “The bike is work­ing quite well and I’m in good shape, so I’m very mo­ti­vated to make it a good race,” Lorenzo said. Mar­quez suf­fered a mi­nor fall in the af­ter­noon as he tested the limit of the hard front tire at the hair­pin but was still good enough for fourth, while his closest cham­pi­onship ri­val Valentino Rossi was sev­enth.

“We are very close,” said Spain’s dou­ble world cham­pion. “At the mo­ment Lorenzo is the fastest guy. But me, Vi­nales, Valentino, Dovizioso-we more or less have the same pace.” The hard tyre also caused trou­bles for Rossi, as tem­per­a­ture quickly dropped in the af­ter­noon in moun­tain­ous Motegi, send­ing sev­eral rid­ers to crash. “It was a mixed day. This af­ter­noon it was dif­fi­cult prac­tice be­cause we tried the hard tire,” said the Ital­ian. Along with Pe­drosa, As­par’s Eu­gene Laverty also wiped out at turn six.

Both men man­aged to walk to the cir­cuit’s med­i­cal cen­tre. Laverty de­cided to seek fur­ther tests at a lo­cal hospi­tal, while Honda de­cided to send Pe­drosa home. He will be re­placed by test rider Hiroshi Aoyama, team of­fi­cials said. “I was on the out-lap of my last run in (af­ter­noon prac­tice) when I mo­men­tar­ily lost the rear en­ter­ing turn 11, and when the tire found grip again it launched me in the air,” Pe­drosa, who is set to un­dergo surgery in Barcelona on Satur­day, said in a state­ment.

Mar­quez, mean­while, can math­e­mat­i­cally claim his third Mo­toGP ti­tle in Ja­pan on Sun­day. With four races to go, Rossi is bat­tling to close a 52-point gap against Mar­quez, who has never won at the Motegi cir­cuit but his sec­ond-place fin­ish in 2014 se­cured that sea­son’s cham­pi­onship. Sun­day’s race kicks off three week­ends of suc­ces­sive races in an Asian “triple-header”, which also takes the rid­ers to Aus­tralia and Malaysia, be­fore the sea­son fi­nale in Spain af­ter a topsy-turvy sea­son that has yielded eight dif­fer­ent grand prix win­ners so far.


MOTEGI: Mo­vis­tar Yamaha Mo­toGP’s Span­ish rider Jorge Lorenzo drives his mo­tor­cy­cle dur­ing the Mo­toGP-class sec­ond free prac­tice ses­sion at the Ja­panese Grand Prix in the Twin Ring Motegi cir­cuit.

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