Aleix Espargaro declared himself “very pleased” with his day of work on Friday at Motegi, where he posted the tenth fastest time in FP2, guaranteeing a place in Saturday’s Q2, if the day’s rain arrives as expected.

The Catalan put his strong Friday performance down to a strong base setting that he and crew chief Antonio Jimenez have established over the previous race weekends, meaning less set-up changes are required mid-session.

“The strategy seems to be working,” said an upbeat Espargaro, whose fastest lap of 1m 45.721s was 0.9s off Fabio Quartararo’s benchmark time from FP2.

“I am very pleased with this first day, both for the top ten position and for the final time that was very fast,” Espargaro said. “In the last few races we found a good base setting and along with my crew chief, Antonio.

“We decided not to make too many drastic changes to the bike. The strategy seems to be working. I am able to get the most out of the technical package and that remains my goal in this season finale.”

With heavy rain forecast throughout Saturday, securing a top ten slot at the close of FP2 took on added importance. Espargaro likened it to “a qualifying” session, and said his recent performances aboard the RS-GP have been more than satisfactory.

“It’s always important [to be inside the top ten],” he said. “But even more this weekend because we know tomorrow it could rain. You could feel during the session it was like a qualifying.

“Everyone was throwing tyres and everybody was pushing like hell. Many riders were waiting on the track so I knew that everybody today was giving the 100 percent to be in the top ten so I’m satisfied with the lap time we did and I think the level I’m putting on the Aprilia is good.”



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