Hector Barbera is finding his feet with the factory Ducati GP16 after being granted the opportunity to replace the injured Andrea Iannone in the Japanese MotoGP at Motegi.
Iannone had targeted a comeback in Japan but is not quite ready for a return and misses a third consecutive MotoGP race after suffering a fracture to his T3 vertebra at Misano. The Italian now hopes to compete in next weekend's MotoGP round at Phillip Island.
Rumours suggested Australian star Casey Stoner had turned down the chance to replace Iannone this weekend, while Ducati's test rider Michele Pirro was unavailable as he is testing the GP17 in a private test at Valencia in Spain. Pirro filled in for Iannone at Misano and Aragon.
Pramac's riders Scott Redding and Danilo Petrucci were also ruled out of the equation as they continue to fight it out in a points battle for the chance to earn a GP17 ride next year, paving the way for Barbera to seize his chance.
“It's a different bike obviously for me; all is different – the suspension, braking – everything is new. This morning was not so bad but this afternoon my feeling with the front tyre and front suspension is not very good,” Barbera said.
“When I go to enter every corner my feeling is that the front tyre will close, but I am working and I think I have maybe the line for tomorrow. The bike is incredible. The engine has a lot of power and the revving is different, it's completely new but it is difficult to compare with my old bike because at the moment I don't understand well.”
Barbera ended FP2 in 14th place with a lap in 1m 46.876s, which left him 1.7 seconds off the pace of fellow factory Ducati rider Andrea Dovizioso in second place.
Australian Mike Jones has joined Loris Baz in the Avintia Racing team on Barbera's 2014 bike for Motegi, where he is making his MotoGP debut.