#SpanishGP Jerez, day one roundup: MotoGP, Moto2, Moto3
After Day 1 of the Gran Premio Red Bull de España, it’s an increasingly familiar name on top: Francesco Bagnaia (Ducati Lenovo Team). After some explosive flashes of speed so far this season and last year at Jerez – a track not known for best suiting Borgo Panigale machinery of late – the Italian was top of the pile once again to deny double 2020 Jerez winner Fabio Quartararo (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) by 0.168. Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini) completes the top three as the Noale factory continue to impress with the nearly all-new RS-GP.
In FP1, it was Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) quickest out the blocks as the South African pulled out nearly two tenths on Aleix Espargaro to go fastest, with KTM showing a step forward early on at the venue and Aprilia retaining impressive pace. Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) was third in FP1, ahead of Bagnaia and Quartararo, with five factories in the top five and 17 riders split by just eight tenths of a second as action began.
FP2 saw more pulling the pin for a time attack, however, with FP3 expected to be dry but nevertheless many pushing early to at least end the day in the provisional top ten. That saw Bagnaia blast to the top late on as the Italian cut chunks off the previous best, once again showcasing his impressive step forward this season as his riding style continues to shine. Quartararo tried to reply but the Frenchman was forced to settle for second, on Friday at least.
Aleix Espargaro’s speed leaves him beaming and expecting to carry it into Saturday too, although it got a lot closer from third down. Franco Morbidelli (Petronas Yamaha SRT) slots into fourth as the Italian retains his Portuguese momentum, half a tenth off the Aprilia ahead, with Maverick Viñales (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) completing the top five.
Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda Idemitsu) was reportedly spotted on the 2020 chassis without the carbon fibre insert and took a big step forward as he ended the day in sixth and not just by virtue of a single push. Miguel Oliveira (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) turned the tables on teammate Binder to take P7 overall on Friday too, with Binder nevertheless still within that top ten and provisional Q2 graduation zone as the South African slipped into P10 late on, denying HRC wildcard and test rider Stefan Bradl.
Between the two KTMs, Alex Rins (Team Suzuki Ecstar) was eighth and Johann Zarco (Pramac Racing) ninth, with that leaving a few key names outside that top ten…
The first is Joan Mir (Team Suzuki Ecstar). The reigning Champion ends Friday in P13, right behind Jack Miller (Ducati Lenovo Team) as both look for more, although Mir has so far taken more MotoGP™ podiums from outside the front two rows of the grid than from on them. Marc Marquez, meanwhile, ends the day in P16 but seemingly didn’t push for a fast lap, leaving everyone guessing on what he’ll have in store for qualifying… especially when it’s a single lap for glory and less a question of stamina for the recovering Spaniard. Valentino Rossi (Petronas Yamaha SRT) finds himself down in P21, looking for much more as his struggles continue despite being the venue where he took his most recent podium.
Sam Lowes (Elf Marc VDS Racing Team) left it late on Day 1 at the Gran Premio Red Bull de España, but the Brit’s last lunge in FP2 sees him end Friday on top of the combined timesheets by just over a tenth and a half ahead of Championship leader Remy Gardner (Red Bull KTM Ajo). Jake Dixon (Petronas Sprinta Racing) leapt up the timesheets in FP2 to complete the top three, denying Marco Bezzecchi (Sky Racing Team VR46) and Joe Roberts (Italtrans Racing Team) by hundredths.
FP1 saw Gardner rule the roost and the Australian was back on top in FP2 until that last lunge from Lowes, showing consistency across both sessions once again – and it’s actually Gardner’s marginally quicker FP1 time that was his best, although his FP2 lap would also have put him P2. Dixon’s FP2 push, meanwhile, made it two Brits who moved up as crunch time for the crucial Q2 provisional places hit, moving from outside the top 20 to sit second in the session and then third as Lowes took over at the top.
Bezzecchi is another whose FP1 lap was quicker, the Italian’s by a few tenths to put him fourth overall on the combined timesheets but just 0.012 behind Dixon. Roberts completes the top five by another tiny margin as the American’s FP2 best was just 0.016 off Bezzecchi’s fastest from FP1.
Portugal winner Raul Fernandez (Red Bull KTM Ajo) is within a tenth to take P6, beginning a run of riders whose best efforts were set in FP1. The rookie sensation just pipped veteran Jorge Navarro (Lightech Speed Up) by an infinitesimal 0.008, Federal Oil Gresini Moto2’s Fabio Di Giannantonio is even closer in P8 and only 0.006 back, with Augusto Fernandez (Elf Marc VDS Racing Team) 0.030 in arrears in ninth. All four were faster in FP1, with Nicolo Bulega (Federal Oil Gresini Moto2) completing the top ten and the next rider with a fastest lap from FP2. The Italian also has a Long Lap Penalty to serve in the race for causing a crash last time out on the Algarve.
Somkiat Chantra (Idemitsu Honda Team Asia), Xavi Vierge (Petronas Sprinta Racing), Marcel Schrötter (Liqui Moly Intact GP) and Stefano Manzi (Flexbox HP 40) complete the fastest 14 so far, currently set to move through to Q2.
Aron Canet (Inde Aspar Team), rookie teammate and reigning Moto3™ World Champion Albert Arenas, and Flexbox HP 40’s Hector Garzo are next on the timesheets, currently all set to miss the cut by just hundredths. Canet and Garzo also crashed, as did Celestino Vietti (Sky Racing Team VR46), Cameron Beaubier (American Racing), Tom Lüthi (Pertamina Mandalika SAG Team) and Tommaso Marcon (MV Agusta Forward Racing), riders all ok.
Gabriel Rodrigo (Indonesian Racing Gresini Moto3) was once again the fastest rider on Friday as the Gran Premio Red Bull de España got in gear at the Circuito de Jerez-Angel Nieto, the Argentinean ending the day 0.256 clear of 2019 Spanish GP winner Niccolo Antonelli (Reale Avintia Moto3) on the combined timesheets. It was another tenth a half back to another former Jerez winner in the form of Romano Fenati (Sterilgarda Max Racing Team) in third too, with Rodrigo once again showing some serious speed on Day 1.
Friday at Jerez was cooler than the usual for the time of year but it remained largely sunny with a few clouds, and it very much remained a serious step down in temperature compared to the 2020 events. This time around, most therefore improved in the afternoon and FP2 saw a good few late lunges up the timesheets, including for Fenati as he took third in the combined standings late on. The top two remained the same in FP1 and FP2 however, with Antonelli topping FP1 from Rodrigo and the Argentinean reversing the order in the afternoon and overall.
A few riders who would go on the end the day within the provisional Q2 graduation zone also showed their first flashes of speed in FP1, with Jason Dupasquier (CarXpert PrüstelGP) starting the day in P3 and ending it fourth overall by the close of FP2. His teammate Ryusei Yamanaka likewise impressed, ending the day in sixth. Splitting the two CarXpert PrüstelGP riders was Championship challenger Darryn Binder (Petronas Sprinta Racing), who ends Friday in fifth overall despite an FP2 crash, rider ok.
Andrea Migno (Rivacold Snipers Team) showed more consistent speed as he ends Friday in seventh, ahead of Championship leader Pedro Acosta (Red Bull KTM Ajo) in P8. Both Acosta and teammate Jaume Masia improved in the latter part of FP2 to take provisional places in Q2 and put in some laps together during the session, with the number 5 completing the top ten as Deniz Öncü (Red Bull KTM Tech3) managed to split the two Ajo machines to take ninth.
Currently on to join them in Q2 are Ayumu Sasaki (Red Bull KTM Tech3) as he gained nearly two and a half seconds in FP2, Dennis Foggia (Leopard Racing) by virtue of his best lap from FP1, Filip Salaç (Rivacold Snipers Team) and Jeremy Alcoba (Indonesian Racing Gresini Moto3). Alcoba in P14 has the exact same laptime as the rider currently set to miss the cut – Tatsuki Suzuki (SIC58 Squadra Corse) – as both set a 1:46.000. The Spaniard, with his second best effort, just makes it through and the Japanese rider is left to rue an FP2 crash.
Suzuki will be one contender looking to hit back in FP3, as will the rider he just beat to the Andalucia GP win last year: John McPhee (Petronas Sprinta Racing). The Scotsman and ended the day in P17 and will want to make his mark on Saturday to move straight through to Q2.