Honda Asia Dream’s Zaqhwan Zaidi was at his best for most of free practice, combining an apparently sweet machine set-up with his extensive experience of Suzuka to make getting around the circuits 5.8 kilometres of curves and contours look easy. His best time of 2’09.874 was two hundredths clear of Yamaha Thailand’s Apiwat Wongthananon, whose pace improved through the day and was good enough to top FP3.

The Malaysian headed the first two sessions from Yamaha Racing ASEAN’s Yuki Ito, then crashed heavily, without injury, in FP3. Yuki himself had a hard crash in FP2, but managed to dust himself off and get the R1 straightened out in time for FP3. His best time in FP2 placed him third overall.

Fourth was Ratthapong Wilairot, whose acclimatisation to the R1 is improving exponentially, while Broc Parkes, who is no stranger to Yamaha superbikes and Suzuka Circuit placed fifth on the day with a best lap of 2’10.299.

Round three double race winner, Azlan Shah also improved through the day on the ONEXOX TKKR SAG BMW. His best of 2’10.849 left him seventh, sandwiched between wildcards Koji Teramoto, and Shinichi Nakatomi.

Australian Bryan Staring, making his third stand-in appearance for Kawasaki Thailand’s injured Thitipong Warakorn and his first ever appearance at Suzuka, wrecked his machine in FP1 and missed FP2 while it was being put back together. Nevertheless, his best time of 2’12.657 gave an indication that he’ll improve further in tomorrow morning’s qualifying session.