Grand prix

Japanese MotoGP: Fabio Quartararo ‘on the limit’, margin Ducati have ‘is amazing’ | MotoGP

The reigning MotoGP champion was the early pacesetter ahead of Miller and Repsol Honda’s Marc Marquez, before ultimately finishing in third.

And although Quartararo appeared comfortable throughout FP1 at Motegi, the Yamaha rider felt he was having to push his M1 to the limit on every lap, a common theme of the 2022 season. 

Speaking after FP1, which was the only practice session of the day, Quartararo said: “Intense [day] but it was quite good. Our pace doesn’t look too bad. But to see the margin the others have compared to us is amazing because I was on the limit from the first lap and our margin is not so high. 

“So it’s actually quite tough because out of the acceleration [low speed corners] and with the holeshot device, aerodynamics [compared to what] Ducati have, was quite tough. I feel like we did our best today and that was quite okay.”

Quartararo’s main championship rivals Francesco Bagnaia and Aleix Espargaro were also within a tenth of Miller after finishing second and fourth respectively.

Miller a big fan of ‘longer’ MotoGP sessions

With Friday practice consisting of just one session in order to make sure all the freight would arrive from Aragon in time, riders had the unusual situation of FP1 being over an hour long.

While leading the way in FP1 was certainly an indication that he enjoyed himself at Motegi, Miller alluded to the extended track time giving him more of a chance to find the best race set-up for his GP22 machine, as opposed to 30 minutes of a traditional practice session which is then followed by the final 15 minutes which are usually where time attacks take place. 

“I really enjoyed the longer session and was able to do a fair bit of work,” said Miller. “It’s nice to be able to change the bike a little bit and then go back out with the same tyres, without them going through a heat cycle, same weather conditions and really getting an understanding of what the changes have done to the bike. 

“Also, being able to focus and work on your pace and set-up without constantly looking up at the timer and having to throw a tyre at it. 

“But no, it was really, really nice and I enjoyed it. The track is in really good condition and the bike is working really well around here. The time could have been a little bit better but we left more in it for tomorrow.” 

Ride height making a huge difference around Motegi – Miller

Since holeshot devices were introduced to MotoGP, teams and riders haven’t been able to test it on most of the flyaway circuits due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which added another element of intrigue to FP1.

And when asked about the difference from riding with and without holeshot devices at Motegi, Miller added: “For sure with the ride height device. When the ride height device was invented it was invented for places like here. It’s made it a lot better, acceleration is a lot better and the bike has improved. 

“Just the initial roll out – I don’t know [the turn number] but the uphill chicane where I think Zarco binned it today; well that section before was always a nightmare to get the timing right on the change of direction and to get the thing to actually react after the change of direction rather than pushing wide and then finally coming back around. 

“It was really reactive and receptive through there and the bike was really precise.”

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