Movistar Yamaha's Jorge Lorenzo kicked off the Japanese MotoGP at the Twin Ring Motegi circuit in encouraging style to settle into second place on the Friday practice leaderboard.

Lorenzo was 0.440 seconds behind early pacesetter Andrea Dovizioso on the Ducati GP14.2 evolution machine, who set his fastest lap on the extra soft tyre only available to Open class riders.

The two-time premier class champion - who won at Motegi in 2013 - finally registered his first victory of the season at the previous weather-hit round of the championship at Motorland Aragon and is aiming for another points maximum on Sunday.

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Lorenzo, who topped FP1 with a time of 1m 45.838s before improving to a 1m 45.580s lap in the afternoon, said: "After the race win in Aragon we knew that here maybe we had a chance to go faster and be more competitive with this 'normal' tyre on the rear.

"Also we knew that last year we were competitive and had good grip. From the beginning we've been on the pace and better than expected: This morning I was in first position. This afternoon Andrea used the extra soft at the end, so really we were first again.

"We can improve some small details, but in general the base set-up of the bike is very good. It's probably the best base for the bike that we've had all year. So I'm very happy."

Lorenzo set six laps under 1m 46s. Stefan Bradl and Dani Pedrosa set five, with four by Dovizioso, three by Valentino Rossi and two by reigning champion Marc Marquez.

Motegi is the first of three fly-away rounds on consecutive weekends, with Phillip Island in Australia and Sepang in Malaysia following swiftly before the season finale at Valencia on November 9.


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Positive signs for Jorge.
The win last time out must have boosted his confidence and he is the biggest points scorer in the second half of the season so far.
It would be good for the sport if he could take it to the Repsol Honda's and win in a dry race.