In the end it came down to the two title protagonists. Andrea Dovizoso and Marc Marquez made the early running on a soaking wet Friday at Motegi, with just 0.043s separating the pair come the flag.

Conditions had barely improved from morning to afternoon with riders sticking with a full wet set-up with lap times coming in some eleven seconds off the outright circuit record.

That was not to deter Dovizioso however, who set about the early stages of the 45 minutes with clear resolve. Having established an early advantage of over one second, it was then left to his rivals to whittle that gap away.

After falling as low as eighth at one point, FP1 pace setter Marquez set about lowering his times. Going third then second – less than half a tenth off Dovizioso’s quickest time - in the final five minutes, the championship leader was flicked off his RC213V on the exit of turn four, his afternoon prematurely coming to an end.

As witnessed in FP1, Aleix Espargaro is enjoying the feel of the Aprilia RS-GP in the rain, with the Catalan ending the day an impressive third overall. The elder Espargaro brother’s was on course to challenge Dovizioso on his final lap, only to lose time through the circuit’s final sector. He ended the day 0.184s back.

Jorge Lorenzo completed a solid day for Ducati by posting the fourth quickest time, a place ahead of the impressive Johann Zarco, second for much of the session before getting shuffled back to fifth.

Danilo Petrucci shrugged off the mechanical issues that hampered his morning by setting this sixth fastest time, and was marginally quicker than fellow Italian Andrea Iannone, who showed a decent turn of pace of Suzuki’s GSX-RR.

FP1 suggested Dani Pedrosa had a long weekend ahead while suffering from similar issues with tyre temperature to Misano. The afternoon brought about some much-needed improvements however, and the Spaniard – second last time out at Aragon – was eighth. Cal Crutchlow was ninth.

Alex Rins ensured it was a largely positive day for Suzuki by rounding out the top ten, ahead of a trio of Yamahas. Maverick Viñales (eleventh) will surely know that the manufacturer needs to take further strides if he wants to maintain his title hopes, after ending the day 1.499s off Dovizioso’s pace.

Valentino Rossi was a satisfactory twelfth, with Jonas Folger’s late stand in Kohta Nozane an impressive 13th.

Aside from Marquez’s late fall, there were crashes for Bradley Smith (17th) and Scott Redding (14th), both of which came at turn eleven.


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