Binder blitzes Lorenzo’s Motegi lap record, Marquez misses cut
By Kyle White
Friday 29th September, 2023 - 6:06pm
Red Bull KTM’s Brad Binder set the fastest ever lap at Motegi as he surpassed Jorge Lorenzo’s eight-year-old Japan MotoGP benchmark in second Practice.
The South African rider recorded a blistering time of 1:43.489s to head off championship leader Francesco Bagnaia by 0.029s, with Aprilia’s Aleix Espargaro third-quickest, just under three tenths off Binder.
Championship challenger Jorge Martin was fourth fastest on the Pramac Ducati, although Repsol Honda’s Marc Marquez and Yamaha’s Fabio Quartararo – who had a big crash at Turn 6 – finished outside the top 10 as they missed automatic progression to Q2.
Binder eclipsed Martin’s top time from Free Practice 1 with a 1:45.060s inside the first 10 minutes of the one-hour session.
Martin soon responded, dipping into the 1:44s bracket for the first time this weekend for a 1:44.724s as he went 0.155s up on Binder.
Bagnaia was gesturing to his team after pulling into the pits, with the Italian clearly unhappy with the feeling he had with the rear of the factory GP23.
The championship leader, 13 points ahead of Martin, was 19th and 1.348s down on his chief title rival after 20 minutes.
After returning to the track, Bagnaia gained some time to move up a few places to 14th, seven tenths outside Martin’s benchmark
Raul Fernandez crashed at the Turn 10 hairpin on the RNF Aprilia when the Spanish rider was on course for a fast lap.
Fabio Di Giannantonio upped his pace on the Gresini Ducati as he went third, 0.223s adrift of Martin. Di Giannantonio’s team-mate, Alex Marquez, is absent this weekend through injury.
Inside the last half-hour, positions at the top changed when Miguel Oliveira posted the fastest lap on the RNF Aprilia in 1:44.498s in an early time attack, while Quartararo improved to second on the Yamaha, 0.052s behind. Martin was bumped down to third with Binder fourth.
Jack Miller fell at Turn 11 on the Red Bull KTM moments before Johann Zarco ran on at Turn 10 into the gravel without falling off the Pramac Ducati.
Marquez found some good pace to go third on the factory Honda after fitting a new soft rear, 0.076s off Oliveira with 18 minutes on the clock.
Aleix Espargaro then set the quickest time inside the final 15 minutes in 1:44.387s on the factory Aprilia to climb above Oliveira briefly, before Binder raised the bar with a 1:44.255s.
Quartararo went down hard at the fast Turn 6 and limped away after a strange crash, with the Frenchman’s front wheel washing just as he prepared to tip into the right-hand corner.
Di Giannantonio went close to Lorenzo’s all-time lap record as he posted the first 1:43s lap of the weekend in 1:43.947s, which was three tenths up on Binder.
Inside the final five minutes, Espargaro momentarily smashed the lap record before Binder’s 1:43.489s put him in control.
Raul Fernandez fell at Turn 10, bringing out a yellow flag as the time attacks continued.
Marquez was chasing Ducati test rider Michele Pirro and Bagnaia in pursuit of a fast lap but went wide, forcing the Spaniard to go again. Marquez, though, crashed at Turn 1 on his final lap after losing the front of his Honda.
Bagnaia was on a hot lap and slotted into second behind Binder, with Espargaro slipping to third as the session concluded.
Martin in fourth was 0.345s adrift of Binder, while Indian GP winner Marco Bezzecchi was fifth on the VR46 Ducati and the impressive Di Giannantonio sixth.
Zarco took seventh ahead of Viñales (Aprilia Racing) and Pol Espargaro (GasGas Tech 3 KTM).
Miller went 10th on the Red Bull KTM in the dying seconds as he clung on to the final automatic Q2 position, with one-time pacesetter Oliveira finishing 11th ahead of Joan Mir (Repsol Honda), who will also have to participate in Qualifying 1.
Yamaha test rider Cal Crutchlow was 16th on the Yamalube RS4GP behind Franco Morbidelli (Monster Energy Yamaha), who was 1.2s off Binder’s time.
Alex Rins, back in action on the LCR Honda for the first time since suffering leg fractures at Mugello in Italy, was 23rd, 3.747s behind Binder.