Czech GP, Brno: Friday roundup – MotoGP, Moto2, Moto3
Marc Marquez’ (Repsol Honda Team) Friday in Brno looked set to be defined by a stunning save in FP2, before the championship leader went back out on a fresh tyre and decimated his previous laptime – taking the top spot from reigning champion Jorge Lorenzo (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP) and moving up from an anonymous P6 in the morning session. The championship leader saved the crash just before the entry to pitlane, heading back to the garage in the aftermath and then preparing another assault – the one that saw him drop his previous laptime dramatically to go fastest on Friday.
In the final few seconds, Austrian GP winner Andrea Iannone (Ducati Team) put in a final dash to knock reigning champion Lorenzo into P3 after also showing good pace in the morning and topping FP1, as both Iannone and teammate Dovizioso (P6) made sure the momentum from their team’s stunning return to winning ways continued to push them forward.
Jorge Lorenzo was the fastest Yamaha on Day 1, as the 3-time MotoGP™ world champion built on a good morning to improve in the afternoon and challenge at the very front. Topping the session – characteristically – with more than one hot lap, Lorenzo was only a small margin down after Marquez and Iannone struck back and will be hoping to build on a good Friday to find the same form that saw him dominate the 2015 Czech GP from lights to flag.
Hector Barbera (Avintia Racing) used his Ducati horsepower wisely and was P4 and top independent rider on Friday, ahead of 9-time world champion Valentino Rossi (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP) as the ‘Doctor’ completed the top five after a solid first two sessions in Brno. Aleix Espargaro (Team Suzuki Ecstar) was seventh behind Dovizioso with an impressive effort despite a finger broken at the Red Bull Ring, with Monster Yamaha Tech 3’s Bradley Smith having a good day at the office in P8.
Maverick Viñales (Team Suzuki Ecstar) and Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda Team) completed the top ten in P9 and P10 respectively, with one more practice session remaining to determine direct entry to the Q2 qualifying session.
FP3 sees the lights go out at 9:55 local time (GMT+2) as the MotoGP™ grid head back on track, with the familiar terrain of Brno setting the scene for another spectacular qualifying showdown from 14:10.
Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS were aptly-named on Friday morning in Brno, as 2014 Moto3™ world champion Alex Marquez proved the star of FP1 at the Czech venue as his return to form continues. The afternoon then saw the pack shuffle slightly once again as reigning champion Johann Zarco (Ajo Motorsport) upped the pace to take to the top, after Italian Lorenzo Baldassarri had taken Forward Racing to the front for much of the session. Zarco’s margin at the top was tiny, however, as the Moto2™ grid prepare for another incredibly close weekend in the intermediate class.
Behind the French reigning Moto2™ world champion was key 2016 rival Tom Luthi (Garage Interwetten Plus), who missed out on the top spot by only two thousandths, with a resurgent Lorenzo Baldassarri then pushed back into P3 on an impressive day for the Italian.
Takaaki Nakagami (Idemitsu Honda Team Asia) was fourth quickest on Friday as the Japanese rider enjoyed a great start to the HJC Helmets Grand Prix České Republiky, ahead of the rookie Leopard Racing pairing of Danny Kent and Miguel Oliveira in P5 and P6 respectively.
Seventh quickest was championship contender Sam Lowes (Federal Oil Gresini Moto2), who showed a huge improvement in the final half of FP2, ahead of Alex Marquez (EG 0,0 Marc VDS) as the former world champion continued his presence in the top echelons of the timesheets. Hafizh Syahrin (Petronas Pacelin Malaysia) had a positive FP2 to end Friday in P9, with Jonas Folger (Dynavolt Intact GP) completing the top ten on day 1.
Alex Rins (Paginas Amarillas HP 40) was the surprise of the day as the title contender suffered a tough day 1, ending track action in P16 on the combined timesheets.
Rins will be back out for FP3 at the Automotodrom Brno hoping to improve, ahead of qualifying practice for the Moto2™ grid on Saturday afternoon at 15:05 local time (GMT +2).
It was Enea Bastianini (Gresini Racing Moto3) who topped FP1 at the Automotodrom Brno, as the Italian continues his return to front-running form after injury – but championship leader Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Ajo) hit back in the afternoon to head the combined timesheets. The South African points leader continues to pull away from his rivals in the standings, and continues to show the ominous form that saw him take victory from the back of the grid in Jerez.
Sky Racing Team VR46 rider Andrea Migno was second fastest by the end of play on Friday as the Italian found more pace in the afternoon, ahead of compatriot Bastianini in P3. Bastianini has been on the podium twice in the past two years at the track however, and looks to be off to a good start in the Czech Republic.
Assen winner Francesco Bagnaia (PULL&BEAR Aspar Mahindra Team) was fourth fastest, ahead of the second Sky Racing Team VR46 bike of rookie Nicolo Bulega. Bulega had a lowside crash in FP2 with little consequence, but lost track time for repairs before heading back out and leaping up into the top 5 in another impressive showing.
Fabio DiGiannantonio (Gresini Racing Moto3) was P6 in another quietly impressive performance in 2016, with PULL&BEAR Aspar Mahindra rider Jorge Martin in P7 ahead of Phillip Oettl (Schedl GP Racing). Aron Canet (Estrella Galicia 0,0) was ninth quickest, ahead of Livio Loi (RW Racing GP BV) as the Belgian rider completed the top ten.
Binder’s key rival Jorge Navarro (Estrella Galicia 0,0) was eleventh quickest on Day 1, with room to improve ahead of qualifying. Navarro is Binder’s closest challenger in the points table, and has some margin to remain that way after fellow title contender Romano Fenati parted ways with the Sky Racing Team VR46.
Local riders Jakub Kornfeil (Drive M7 Sic Racing Team) and wildcard Karel Hanika (Freundenberg Racing Team) had a solid start to their home GP as they were P12 and P13 on Friday.
Moto3™ will be back out for FP3 on Saturday morning, before the lighter class are the first to head into their qualifying shootout early in the afternoon.