Miller and Hanika get acquainted with Motegi


The Japanese Grand Prix starts with the Red Bull KTM Ajo riders thirteenth and nineteenth on the combined timesheets, after the first two practice sessions.


The flyaway rounds of the Moto3 World Championship began this Friday at the Japanese circuit of Motegi, on an uncommonly sunny autumn day. The Red Bull KTM Ajo riders improved their times in the second free practice session in the afternoon, ending with Jack Miller in thirteenth position and Karel Hanika in nineteenth on a combined timesheet tighter than ever –18 riders were separated by just one second.

Unlike last year, the three free practice sessions for the lower cylinder category were canceled due to the weather, a sunny day and temperatures of around 22ºC allowed the Moto3 riders to go fast from the start. These were the first laps on this track for Hanika, who steadily improved his times until placing 25th with his final lap –a 1:59.764. Miller, seventh with a time of 1:58.344, started the weekend using the same strategy that brought such good results at Aragon.

With two completely different goals, the Red Bull KTM Ajo riders went into the final session of the day. Hanika spent the 40 minutes learning the nuances of the track, lowering his top time by more than a second –1:58.348– for eighteenth. He was just a second off the best time of the session. Meanwhile, his Australian teammate wanted to experiment with the setup of his KTM with used tyres, setting good times with the focus on Sunday’s race. His 1:58.045 lap put him thirteenth.

Tomorrow will see the qualifying session held, from 12.35pm local time. Last year, Jack Miller managed a creditable fifth position which allowed him to start from the second row.

Results (Combined practice time FP1-FP2)
1. Danny Kent (Red Bull Husqvarna Ajo) 1:57.317
2. Alex Rins (Honda) 1:57.375 +0.058
3. Miguel Oliveira (Mahindra) 1:57.418 +0.101
4. Brad Binder (Mahindra) 1:57.418 +0.313
5. Enea Bastianini (KTM) 1:57.685 +0.368
13. Jack Miller (Red Bull KTM Ajo) 1:58.045 +0.728
19. Karel Hanika (Red Bull KTM Ajo) 1:58.348 +1.031


Jack Miller >> Audio (solely for radio use)

“I am very satisfied with the work we did today. We set good times with used tyres. In the morning I did not feel entirely comfortable with the bike, but in the afternoon we made significant progress on each run. I can’t wait for the qualifying session to see what happens. We aren’t in a bad position now, although it isn’t really what we want, but we are really happy.”

Karel Hanika >> Audio (solely for radio use)

“The first day was not bad. We struggled a bit in the first free practice, but what was important to me was getting to know the track, and now I know more or less how it is. During the second session we took a big step forward, as we greatly improved our times also developed the setup. I felt much more comfortable than in the morning, so the day was positive. My current position is not what I want, but the gap to the top is small. I know that tomorrow we can be better, because we can change the engine to take another step forward and have a good qualifying session. I can’t wait to get back on the bike tomorrow. I hope everything goes well.”