Johann Zarco showed his formidable form in the wet by closing the opening day of the Motul Grand Prix of Japan in 5th position. With rain expected for the entire weekend, Zarco got straight into gear and began undertaking the key setup work in preparation for Sunday’s race. He notably finished the day only 0.407 back from the top three and as the leading independent rider.
Meanwhile, Kohta Nozane, who is stepping in for Jonas Folger at this round, lit up the Twin Ring Motegi circuit with a highly promising display on his MotoGP debut. The young Japanese rider delighted his home crowd by powering to 13th in the afternoon and now he confidently awaits the second day of action, which begins with FP3 at 09:55 local time or 02:55 in central Europe.
Position: 5th – Time: 1’55.468 – Laps: 31
“I am feeling good and I’m happy to be in Japan. It’s a shame to have the bad weather, however, I think that it could be an advantage for me. FP1 went well but then it was even better this afternoon. The others riders were really fast and Dovizioso rode an incredible lap time, yet I am not far back from him so I am pleased. I still need to work more with the team in order to feel as strong as possible on the bike because you can be fast for one lap, but the most important thing is to be quick on every lap, especially if it rains. I am working on it and I need to keep focused so let’s see if we can improve in FP3 tomorrow, however, to be in the top ten at the moment is the main point. When it rains, it can be quite tough on a full power MotoGP bike because of the water on the track and there’s a lot of spinning. Yet, we can see that the tyres are working really well and, along with the suspension and the bike, we have a strong feeling because this circuit has very good grip. If it stays like this for Sunday, it will be advantageous but we are working positively already.”
Position: 13th – Time: 1’56.453 – Laps: 35
“Day one went quite well and it was enjoyable as well as exciting to compete against the fast MotoGP riders and this is good. I am confident in myself and although it is only the first day and it’s too early to say which position I will finish in, I feel positive. Motegi is my local racetrack as my home is not so far from here. Tomorrow, it will be cloudy and the conditions could be dry, so the other riders will be faster. However, I am really enjoying this moment and I will try my best for the race on Sunday.”