Brad Binder topped Friday’s running at the Mobility Resort Motegi by just 0.029s over Francesco Bagnaia, while Fabio Quartararo and Marc Marquez will have to contest Q1.

Binder came out the blocks quickly at the start of the session as he banged in a 1:45.060s to lead the field, an effort just over a tenth of a second faster than Jorge Martin’s FP1 benchmark.

Times would continue to tumble as the test progressed though, Binder’s later time of 1:44.255s was smashed by Gresini’s Fabio Di Gianantonio as the Italian became the first man to lap in the 1:43’s.

His time would be beaten by Aprilia’s Aleix Espargaro as the final time attack efforts took place as the session wound down, though it would be Binder that ultimately claimed Friday honors with a stunning last gambit of 1:43.489s.

The factory KTM racer’s lap put him over three-tenths clear of anyone else, though series leader Bagnaia got close to ending the day just 0.029s adrift of the scratch time. Binder’s electric final split saved his top position as Bagnaia tracked just over a tenth faster for the bulk of the tour.

Espargaro ended the day third overall ahead of FP1 leader Martin and VR46 Ducati’s Marco Bezzecchi, with Di Gianantonio bagging a direct-to-Q2 spot thanks to his earlier effort in sixth overall.

Johann Zarco followed on the second Pramac-run Ducati in seventh ahead of the sister Aprilia of Maverick Vinales, while GasGas’ Pol Espargaro claimed an impressive ninth ahead of Jack Miller, who took the final guaranteed pole shootout berth.  

The Aussie denied RNF Aprilia’s Miguel Oliveira an early Q2 graduation by just over half-a-tenth, while Fabio Quartararo and Marc Marquez also failed to make it into the top ten on Friday in Japan.

Quartararo ended up 13th fastest after his session was curtailed by a nasty crash while tipping his Yamaha into Turn 6 late on, the Frenchman limping away from the scene of the crash. He headed back out for a final attempt but was unable to further improve on the time he set before his incident.

Marquez meanwhile crashed at turn 1 on his last attempt, leaving him 14th behind Honda team-mate Joan Mir, the 2020 MotoGP world champion ending the day 12th overall as he continues to show improved form on the RC213V.

Yamaha wildcard Cal Crutchlow claimed 16th on Friday, the Brit lapping just over a tenth adrift of race rider Franco Morbidelli and 1.2 seconds down on Binder’s benchmark.

Raul Fernandez showed encouraging pace throughout FP2 but eventually ended up a lowly 17th thanks to a pair of crashes at Turn 10 across the outing, which ended a pair of fast-looking attempts.

The returning Alex Rins spent Friday trying to get race fit after several months out of action, the LCR Honda rider ending the day 21st and 3.7 seconds down on Binder’s time.

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