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Akiyoshi, Ito, Cudlin talk Motegi practice

"I can guarantee that if we leave it like this we will lower our lap times tomorrow morning" - Damian Cudlin.
Kousuke Akiyoshi was the fastest of the three 'new' faces in the MotoGP paddock for this weekend's Japanese Grand Prix, at Motegi.

The Japanese, making his second MotoGP appearance of the season after a substitute ride at Assen, has been granted a wild-card ride alongside Toni Elias at LCR Honda.

Akiyoshi finished Friday's pair of free practice sessions in 17th place, just 0.159sec behind the slowest of the full time riders, Karel Abraham (Ducati).

“Well, I know this track like the back of my hand and I am very happy to race in Motegi in front of my fans," said Akiyoshi, who lapped 2.6sec from pace setter Dani Pedrosa. "I would like to thank Honda and LCR staff for this great opportunity.

"I feel in a good form and today I made my first run out on this bike working through a number of various set-up changes especially in the engine management. With some hard work we can make the bike perform better and improve our lap-time."

Compatriot Shinichi Ito is making his first grand prix start since 2007. The 44-year-old wild-card, being run by a special Honda Racing team, was 0.209sec slower than Akiyoshi.

"Today I returned to the MotoGP Paddock after four years away, it's a very special atmosphere that I like very much," said Ito, a former podium finisher in 500cc.

"After two sessions I'm more confident with 800 machine and I get a better feeling lap by lap but at this moment my lap time on the MotoGP machine is slower than my best lap time with a Superbike.

"Today I made almost two second progress from FP1 to FP2, but tomorrow I will try to make another step".

Unlike Akiyoshi and Ito, Damian Cudlin - brought in to replace the injured Loris Capirossi at Pramac Ducati - had no previous experience of an 800cc MotoGP bike or the Motegi track.

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Oli - Unregistered

September 30, 2011 7:40 PM

I can't believe Itoh is still riding. I remember Foggy saying he should get the sack in about 1996 and he seemed old then! I recall even earlier back when he was teammate to Doohan at HRC and ran the fuel injected 500 at Hockenheim. His bike was nutty fast, like 10kph quicker than anything else down those long straights. Amazing the random crap a you remember from being like 9 or 10 years old. Oli

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