Viñales and Rins face off on Day 1

Another surprise on Saturday came from the fastest Honda: Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda Idemitsu). The Japanese rider showed more top pace and put in 45 laps. Teammate Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda Castrol) spent some time testing parts for HRC and finished the session in P18. Reigning Champion Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team), whose shoulder remains less than 100% after surgery, ended the day in tenth and, like in Sepang, put in only 34 laps. But he was positive and said he’s now back to riding in his more natural style, and he had his first crash of the season with no consequence. On the other side of the garage, the return of Jorge Lorenzo saw the ‘Spartan’ struggle in braking as he comes back from a broken scaphoid, and he focused on understanding the bike. Despite not so many laps and not too many new things to try as yet, the five-time World Champion did mention his desire to modify the seat in an effort to make his new machine a little more ergonomic. Repsol Honda Team Manager Alberto Puig said work on engine and aero is continuing until the last moment for the team – because every possibility is something worth trying – and a new exhaust was one thing spotted.

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