Another day in Japan, another round of rain hit the track as the action unfolded. A bit less spray was getting kicked up by the lightweight machines but a touch of drizzle ensured that the track conditions were constant and more useful to the teams.
Niccolo Antonelli had a typical morning, the Italian crashing out in turn four after the first fifteen minutes of the session just as he placed himself on top of the pile. While his leathers got a bit of a rinse and the bike got a service, compatriot Manuel Pagliani picked up the pace and went on to steal top spot. The Mahindra rider was clearly happy with the grip available, posting increasingly fast laps as if he was on rails, putting half a second’s gap into his pursuers – and as soon as someone got close, the Italian would just improve further to become the only rider to drop into the 2:09s.
Tatsuki Suzuki brought a smile to the local crowd by putting his Honda in the top two, only nine hundredths of a second keeping him away from the top achievement in the session. Nicolo Bulega overcame some technical niggles in the start of the session to go and challenge for top honours but the SKY rider only managed to cut the deficit to three tenths of a second, despite being Pagliani’s most consistent challenger.
Romano Fenati didn’t show his cards from the beginning but eventually made the jump into fourth place, three tenths down on the leader. Joan Mir was also appreciative of the less extreme conditions and dragged himself into fifth, another three tenths behind his main title rival. Aron Canet is still technically into the fight as well, the Spaniard trailing the world championship leader by a tenth of a second in the morning session.
Albert Arenas and Juanfran Guevara were the final two men to post a time within a second of Pagliani’s, with Enea Bastianini and Philipp Oettl completing the top ten close behind.
Jorge Martin picked up some pace late into the session to make the jump to eleventh position. With the damage to his bike, Antonelli was unable to rejoin for the rest of the session but the KTM rider’s initial five laps were good enough to secure him thirteenth place.
|21||21||Fabio DI GIANNANTONIO||Honda||2'11.669||1.734||0.029|
|29||48||Lorenzo DALLA PORTA||Mahindra||2'12.790||2.855||0.025|