Qualifying is a tricky business at the best of times. Having qualifying just half an hour after FP4 – that is, if you don't have to pass through Q1 – makes it even more complicated. That final session of practice is the only chance to work on setup without worrying about getting through to Q2 – and in my book, makes it the most interesting session of practice all weekend. But that also means that if you want to compare two different setups, FP4 is the session you do it. After FP4, you have thirty minutes to get two bikes ready for qualifying, with identical setups.
There is little room for error. Should you, say, crash in FP4 on the bike with your preferred setup, as Marc Márquez did at Motegi, then it makes qualifying complicated. Even if you get the bike back to the pits quickly, your team probably won't be able to get the bike back ready to race in time for the start of Q2. And if your second bike uses a very different setup – some combination of a different rear link, a different offset, different rear shock, say – then your team might not have time to change it all back again to the way you want it.
Results and summary of qualifying for the Moto2 class in Motegi:
Results and summary of qualifying for the MotoGP class in Motegi:
Dark clouds were still gathering around the track but posted only fleeting concern to the riders heading out for the final practice outing. Bright sunshine showed them the way to the line and the one to find the fastest line was predictably but for the first time this weekend Marc Marquez. The Spaniard posted consistently fast mid 1:45s on medium rubber and kept the lead at the top of the timesheets despite a late tumble at turn 7 writing off one machine for the upcoming Q2 session.
Results and summary of qualifying for the Moto3 class in Motegi:
With 10 minutes left in FP3 Saturday at the Motegi circuit, Fabio Quartararo seized control of the timesheet with a 1'51.293 that put him at the top for the rest of the dry, sunny session. The fast lap topped Miguel Oliveira's FP3-leading time by four-tenths of a second and it continued Quartararo's late-season surge.
Andrea Dovizioso, winner here in Japan last year, seems ready for a redux in 2018. The factory Ducati rider and second-place holder in the championship finished the third dry practice in the same way he finished the first: the top of the timesheet.
Dovizioso's llate charge to a 1'45.107 at the Motegi circuit in Japan on Saturday put him just clear of second-fastest Cal Crutchlow but left him almost two-tenths of a second in front of championship leader Marc Marquez (4th). Johan Zarco continued a strong weekend as the top Yamaha in third.
Championship leader Jorge Martin sent a message to the other riders Saturday at the Motegi Twin Ring circuit in Japan: Catch me if you can.
Martin, under a sunny sky and in fine form, became the only Moto3 rider to drop into the 1'56s in Saturday's FP3 with a 1'56.911 that put him one tenth clear of the field and left him as the odds-on favorite for another pole position in the lightweight class. Marcos Ramirez grabbed second followed closely by early session leader Marco Bezzecchi (3rd).