Moto3 World Championship leader Sandro Cortese set the pace during day one of the Japanese Grand Prix at Motegi.

The Red Bull KTM star, who has a slim chance of wrapping up the inaugural Moto3 title this weekend, was the first rider to break the two-minute barrier before peaking at a 1m 59.448s on his penultimate lap.

Cortese had been 0.7s clear of the field with 15mins to go, but Maverick Vinales then jumped to within just 0.08s of the German. Vinales then lost the front of his Blusens FTR-Honda and spent the rest of the session on the sidelines.

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Vinales remained second, 0.351s from Cortese, with Malaysian Zulfahmi Khairuddin just 0.007s slower on his Air Asia Ajo KTM.

Rookie race winner Romano Fenati took fourth ahead of Luis Rossi, with early session leader and last weekend's Aragon winner Luis Salom slipping back to sixth.

Cortese is 51-points ahead of Salom with four rounds and a maximum of 100 points remaining. Vinales has dropped to third in the standings after his FTR Honda stopped on the warm-up lap at Aragon.

Jonas Folger, recently announced as a full-time Aspar rider for 2013, had set the pace in the morning session with a 2m 0.219s.

The young German was ninth in FP2 with countryman and new team-mate Luca Amato, replacing Hector Faubel, 30th at the end of his first day in grand prix.

Free practice (2):

1. Sandro Cortese GER (KTM) 1m 59.448s
2. Maverick Vi?ales SPA (FTR Honda) 1m 59.799s
3. Zulfahmi Khairuddin MAL (KTM) 1m 59.806s
4. Romano Fenati ITA (FTR Honda) 1m 59.938s
5. Louis Rossi FRA (FTR Honda) 1m 59.944s
6. Luis Salom SPA (Kalex KTM) 2m 0.020s
7. Miguel Oliveira POR (Suter Honda) 2m 0.246s
8. Danny Kent GBR (KTM) 2m 0.278s
9. Jonas Folger GER (Kalex KTM) 2m 0.409s
10. Alessandro Tonucci ITA (FTR Honda) 2m 0.418s
11. Alex Rins SPA (Suter Honda) 2m 0.462s
12. Niklas Ajo FIN (KTM) 2m 0.799s
13. Alberto Moncayo SPA (FTR Honda) 2m 1.048s
14. Jakub Kornfeil CZE (FTR Honda) 2m 1.061s
15. Alex Marquez SPA (Suter Honda) 2m 1.112s
16. Alan Techer FRA (TSR Honda) 2m 1.262s
17. Kenta Fujii JPN (TSR Honda) 2m 1.308s
18. Jack Miller AUS (Honda) 2m 1.328s
19. Hyuga Watanabe JPN (Honda) 2m 1.334s
20. Efren Vazquez SPA (FTR Honda) 2m 1.462s
21. Brad Binder RSA (Kalex KTM) 2m 1.470s
22. Niccol? Antonelli ITA (FTR Honda) 2m 1.472s
23. Adrian Martin SPA (FTR Honda) 2m 1.493s
24. Isaac Vi?ales SPA (FTR Honda) 2m 1.555s
25. Yuudai Kamei JPN (Honda) 2m 1.579s
26. Arthur Sissis AUS (KTM) 2m 1.655s
27. Toni Finsterbusch GER (Honda) 2m 1.661s
28. Giulian Pedone SWI (Suter Honda) 2m 1.906s
29. John Mcphee GBR (KRP Honda) 2m 2.329s
30. Luca Amato GER (Kalex KTM) 2m 2.403s
31. Josep Rodriguez SPA (FGR Honda) 2m 3.238s
32. Danny Webb GBR (Mahindra) 2m 3.678s
33. Armando Pontone ITA (Ioda) 2m 3.836s
34. Riccardo Moretti ITA (Mahindra) 2m 6.641s