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Movistar Yamaha MotoGP's #jorgelorenzo and #valentinorossi shaped up for an intense battle at the Twin Ring #motegi track today, in preparation for Sunday's Grand Prix of Japan. The teammates took first and seventh place respectively in the combined free practice times.
Lorenzo was quick to find a solid pace around the Japanese track during the sunny morning practice. He rode his #yzrm1 to second early on in FP1 and spent the majority of the session working on a good dry set-up before posting a best lap of 1'46.181s for third place on his third stint, 0.395s from the front.
The afternoon saw more of the same smooth riding from the Mallorcan. He set the provisional fastest time of 1'46.111s early on in the second 45-minute session. He continued his form as the pace quickened and was the fourth rider dropping into the 1'45s with a 1'45.911s for provisional third place, which he further improved at the very end of the session, dropping a 1.45.151s to wrap up the day at the top of the time sheets with a 0.053s margin to his closest rival.
Teammate Rossi was also on the pace right from the word go. The nine-time World Champion made the most of the first free practice session and put in a total of 20 laps to find a solid race set-up that suits Motegi's stop-start nature. The Italian held second place for a large part of the session and rode a best lap of 1'46.222s, just 0.463s off the front, for fourth place.
The Doctor lost a little bit of time at the start of the afternoon session due to a loose dummy tank, but he was soon back on his way to continue the search for the perfect balance of his bike. Throughout the session he worked through a couple of set-up changes and tried various tyres specs and improved his time to a 1'45.684s for provisional first place in the final stages, to ultimately finish the day in seventh position with a best lap of 1'45.532s, 0.381s behind his teammate.
Similar to last year, Yamaha's usual rider line-up is joined by Katsuyuki Nakasuga, four-time consecutive premier JSB1000 class (All Japan Road Race Championship) winner, who also won the Suzuka 8-Hour race two years in a row in 2015 and 2016. He finished his first day as a wildcard for the Yamalube Yamaha Factory #racing Team, riding his #yzrm1 to 17th place in the combined free practice times, with a 1'47.135s best lap.
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