The amended Grand Prix of Japan schedule for the Friday meant it was all hands on deck for the Yamaha VR46 Master Camp Team to give riders Manuel Gonzalez and Keminth Kubo a comfortable bike set-up despite changeable weather conditions. The duo balanced their priorities, using the one 40-minute Friday free practice session to both work on their bike settings and get to know the track on a Moto2 machine. They secured 17th and 28th place respectively.
Completely new to the Motegi track, Gonzalez used FP1 to get familiar with the circuit lay-out, learning the right lines and braking points. The Spaniard is known for his ability to pick this up quickly, and today was now exception. Fifteen minutes into the session, he went into the top 12. With the pace picking up in the second half, he kept at it until four minutes before the end when it started to rain. Manugasss secured 17th place thanks to a 1’52.147s set on lap 14/16.
Kubo showed how happy he was to be back in Asia with a strong start to FP1. He knows the Motegi circuit, and it showed when ten minutes into the session he was holding provisional seventh place. It instilled confidence into the Thai rider. However, with 25 minutes to go of the only Friday Moto2 opportunity to practise, he suffered a small crash that cost him valuable track time. He ultimately ended Day 1 in Japan in 28th place, with a 1’53.422s set on lap 6/10.