The Grand Prix of Japan maybe the first opportunity for Marc Márquez to secure the MotoGP World Championship title but the headlines were dominated today by his team-mate Dani Pedrosa, who broke his collarbone after a heavy crash in the second free practice session and is on his way back to Barcelona for surgery. Pedrosa finished with the ninth fastest lap of the day, a second off pacesetter Jorge Lorenzo, who headed a top four from four different manufacturers. Andrea Dovizioso was just 0.05 seconds behind the leader, with a similar gap back to Maverick Viñales in third place, with Marc Márquez in fourth but comfortably three positions ahead of his main title rival Valentino Rossi.
— Watch MotoGP on BT Sport (@btsportmotogp) October 14, 2016
Pedrosa’s injury wasn’t the only bad news today, with Pull&Bear Aspar rider Eugene Laverty also suffering a big crash on the first flying lap of his final run of the day. The Irishman had just switched to a soft rear tyre but was struggling to get it up to temperature when he crashed. Medical checks at the circuit and later at the Dokkyo Medical University Hospital have ruled out any injuries although Laverty must wait for confirmation of his fitness from the circuit medics. Meanwhile Yonny Hernández finished both of today’s free practice sessions in fifteenth position, the Colombian lapping 1.8 seconds shy of Lorenzo after finding an improved setting in the afternoon. Hernández’s day was cut slightly short when he lost some power from the engine at the end of the final session.
— Pippa Laverty (@PippaLaverty) October 14, 2016
13th Eugene Laverty 1.46.853 (12 laps): “The afternoon practice went very well. I started the session with the hard rear tyre, I was doing really good lap times with good rhythm and was up in thirteenth position. So at the end we tried the soft rear tyre and I noticed it was taking more time to warm up so I tried to be careful. But on the first lap I crashed at the fast turn six when the rear tyre spun up. I was quite lucky in some ways because it was a huge crash. Thankfully the scan results were all clear and I will look to ride tomorrow. I’d like to thank the staff from the circuit at Motegi, the MotoGP doctors and the Clinica Mobile staff for taking care of me.”
15th Yonny Hernández 1.46.981 (30 laps): “The first session wasn’t bad, my pace was fairly decent and we were already up to fifteenth position. In the second session I felt more comfortable with the changes we made to the bike but when I went to push the lap time the engine started to lose power and I had to come back into the box. The good thing is that we improved our feeling with the bike so tomorrow we will start work from that point.”