Ducati rider Andrea Dovizioso set the early pace in wet conditions

Motegi (Japan) (AFP) - Ducati’s Andrea Dovizioso posted the quickest time over Friday’s two rain-soaked free practices for the Japanese MotoGP Grand Prix as world champion Marc Marquez took an afternoon spill.

The Italian clocked one minute, 54.877 seconds at Motegi with championship leader Marquez 0.2 seconds slower despite losing control of his Honda in the wet conditions.

Aleix Espargaro steered his Aprilia to the afternoon’s third fastest time, posting a late lap of 1:55.061, while Yamaha’s seven-time premier class world champion Valentino Rossi was 12th quickest as he continues his return from a double leg fracture.

Spaniard Marquez went quickest in a morning session made treacherous by the rain, his time of 1:55.418 still the best until Dovizioso produced his fastest lap a quarter of an hour into the afternoon run.

Ducati’s Jorge Lorenzo was fourth quickest, the triple world champion pipping Yamaha’s Johann Zarco and Danilo Petrucci’s Ducati.

Marquez clinched his third world title in Japan last year after Rossi and Lorenzo both crashed out.

He opened up a 16-point lead over Dovizioso in this year’s championship with his fifth win of the season at the Aragon race last month.