Eugene Laverty admits he had a lucky escape following a massive high-side during opening practice on Friday at Motegi ahead of this weekend’s Japanese MotoGP round.
The Aspar Ducati rider fell heavily in the second free practice session in the afternoon. He was able to walk unaided into the medical centre, but the Toomebridge man was later flown to the Dokkyo Medical University Hospital for precautionary checks, which revealed he had not suffered any injuries.
The 30-year-old is now awaiting clearance from the circuit medics at Motegi before he is passed fit for Saturday’s final practice and qualifying sessions in the Far East.
Laverty, who nonetheless ended the day in a strong 13th place, had fitted a soft rear Michelin tyre and was struggling to bring it up to temperature when the incident occurred at Turn 6.
“The afternoon practice went very well. I started the session with the hard rear tyre, I was doing really good lap times with good rhythm and was up in 13th position,” he said. “So at the end we tried the soft rear tyre and I noticed it was taking more time to warm up so I tried to be careful. But on the first lap I crashed at the fast turn six when the rear tyre spun up. I was quite lucky in some ways because it was a huge crash.
“Thankfully the scan results were all clear and I will look to ride tomorrow. I’d like to thank the staff from the circuit at Motegi, the MotoGP doctors and the Clinica Mobile staff for taking care of me.”
Laverty is preparing for his final four races in MotoGP ahead of his move back to the World Superbike Championship in 2017, when he will ride a factory-supported Aprilia for Shaun Muir Racing with title backing from Milwaukee.
A number of MotoGP riders were caught out on day one at Motegi, including factory Repsol Honda rider Dani Pedrosa, who sustained a broken collarbone following a big high-side on the RCV. The Spaniard has been replaced by HRC test rider Hiroshi Aoyama in the team for Sunday’s race. Pedrosa’s team-mate and world championship leader, Marc Marquez, also slid off at slow speed but escaped unharmed.
Marquez finished the day fourth fastest behind pacesetter Jorge Lorenzo on the Movistar Yamaha, who knocked Ducati’s Andrea Dovizioso off the top spot in the final minute of FP2. Suzuki rider Maverick Vinales was third fastest on the GSX-RR.
Nine-time world champion Valentino Rossi was sixth overall on day one on the Movistar Yamaha. The Italian is aiming to claw back ground on Marquez in the title standings, who leads the championship by 52 points and holds an outside mathematical chance of clinching his third premier class crown on Sunday.