Aleix Espargaro says it was a case of job done during opening practice at the Twin Ring Motegi circuit in Japan as he slotted into the top ten.

The Spanish rider hailed the Aprilia RS-GP’s braking stability as a big plus as Espargaro lapped in 1m 46.526s, leaving him 1.1 seconds behind early pacesetter Andrea Dovizioso.

The afternoon session saw rain, and Espargaro was satisfied with his time in FP1, which should see him through to Q2 should the weather prove damp again on Saturday morning.

“I am pleased to be in the top 10, because if it rains tomorrow or if the track is not in perfect condition, this would mean going straight through to Q2,” he said.

“Overall, I felt good in the saddle. Braking stability has always been a quality of the 2018 bike and it is a very handy characteristic here. In FP2 there was no point going out with the rain and lapping with slicks would not have been useful, so we decided to stay in the garage.”