#SpanishGP Friday roundup: MotoGP, Moto2, Moto3
Aprilia Racing made it a Friday to remember at the Gran Premio MotoGP™ Guru by Gryfyn de España, with Aleix Espargaro heading teammate Maverick Viñales on the combined timesheets by just 0.002. Stealing some serious headline space, however, is the rider in third: wildcard and MotoGP™ Legend Dani Pedrosa (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing). It was a stunning return to action for the number 26 as he topped P1 and remained the third quickest overall by the close of play.
The morning saw Pedrosa quickest in the final few minutes before other fast laps started to fly in, but the Little Samurai struck back with a 1:36.770. Only two faster laps would come in by the end play, and from only one machine: the Aprilia. Somewhat dampening the fairy-tale for Pedrosa, Aleix Espargaro and Viñales instead add another chapter to that of Aprilia after a tougher run of late despite some seriously threatening speed from one of the big story-makers of the last couple of seasons.
LAST DASH FOR Q2
With track temperatures soaring in the afternoon, the track became much slicker than the morning and the pressure was on for the fastest motorcycle racers in the world to book their place in Qualifying 2. As ever, the opening stages of P2 were used for fine-tuning race pace, and it wasn’t until the end of the session that we saw the soft rubber go in for the riders to put the hammer down for their final time attacks.
One bit of drama saw Iker Lecuona (Repsol Honda Team) crash out with 36 minutes remaining, seeing the red flags come out as the air fence needed repairing – rider ok. As the green flag dropped though, it was crunch time to secure an automatic place in Q2.
Miguel Oliveira (CryptoDATA RNF MotoGP™ Team) was the first to improve in the latter stages with a minute and a half remaining, as the Portuguese rider slotted himself into P4, with Alex Marquez (Gresini Racing MotoGP™) following closely and putting himself into P5.
A flying lap from Jack Miller (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) came in just after, putting the Aussie into P3 and bumping Oliveria and Marquez back down the order. But then, the two factory Aprilias were locked together and came flying over the line to reshuffle the order once again, taking over on top in the session and overall on Friday.
Still, Pedrosa’s P1 best and Jorge Martin‘s (Prima Pramac Racing) morning effort see them slot into third and fourth, just ahead of Miller. Next up it’s Johann Zarco (Prima Pramac Racing) ahead of Oliveira and Alex Marquez, with a really good day at the office for Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda Idemitsu) seeing the Japanese rider take ninth. First time podium finisher last time out, Luca Marini (Mooney VR46 Racing Team), completes the top ten and automatic entrants to Q2… leaving some huge names looking for a way through Q1!
ALL EYES ON Q1
With only two Q2 spots up for grabs, a bunch of big hitters in Q1 sets the stage perfectly for a dramatic morning on Saturday.
Reigning Champion Francesco Bagnaia (Ducati Lenovo Team) crossed the line with just over a minute left of P2, but despite setting a personal best the Ducati top dog didn’t have enough in the tank for Qualifying 2, and finished the day in 13th place. The Italian did get one more bite at the cherry but a yellow flag in sector 2 halted the progress for the number 1.
Marco Bezzecchi suffered different drama as his Mooney VR46 Racing Team Ducati went up in smoke with 25 minutes to go, forcing the Championship leader pull to the side of Dani Pedrosa corner and make his way back to the pitlane. Having jumped onto his 2nd bike, the Italian pushed on but it wasn’t enough and he only managed 12th.
Americas GP victor Alex Rins (LCR Honda Castrol) also suffered misfortune at Pedrosa corner, as the Spaniard went down and out of the session with 4 minutes to go. Placed down in 15th, the Honda rider will have to fight Bagnaia and Bezzecchi in Q1, as well as 2021 Champion Fabio Quartararo (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP™) after a tough day at the office for the Frenchman.
Another slightly awkward Q1 appearance from a multiple Grand Prix winner is that of Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) as the South African ended the Day in P11… and Pedrosa stole some of the thunder. Having won the Tissot Sprint in Argentina from P15 on the grid, however, and taken his first ever Grand Prix in Moto3™ at this very track… and from the very back, the number 33 will likely have plenty in the locker once the lights go out regardless.
Sam Lowes (Elf Marc VDS Racing Team) is the fastest rider on Friday in Jerez, pulling out two tenths ahead of Somkiat Chantra (Idemitsu Honda Team Asia) and Alonso Lopez (CAG SpeedUp) on a hot Day 1. Nearly the entire field set their best laps in the morning as the temperatures rose in the afternoon.
Americas GP winner Pedro Acosta (Red Bull KTM Ajo) is fourth, just 0.008 behind Lopez and after having topped P2, whereas Texan sparring partner and Championship leader Tony Arbolino (Elf Marc VDS Racing Team) ended the day in tenth.
Between Acosta and Arbolino there are some familiar fast faces: Jake Dixon(Autosolar GASGAS Aspar) in fifth, Albert Arenas (Red Bull KTM Ajo) in sixth, Celestino Vietti (Fantic Racing) in seventh and Aron Canet (Pons Wegow Los40) – with Barry Baltus ( Fieten Olie Racing GP) impressing in ninth.
A veteran duo topped the timesheets on Day 1 in Jerez, but it was Turkish rider Deniz Öncü with the best hand of all. The Red Bull KTM Ajo rider ended Friday action in Andalucia a whopping four tenths clear of the rest, with Jaume Masia(Leopard Racing) first on the chase in second. Sophomore sensation and Championship leader Dani Holgado (Red Bull KTM Tech3) took third.
Those three laps were all set in P1 as temperatures soared in the afternoon, but veteran Ayumu Sasaki (Liqui Moly Husqvarna Intact GP) ends the day in fourth thanks to his P2 best. Rookie Jose Antonio Rueda (Red Bull KTM Ajo) was back at the sharp end on more familiar turf in fifth, ahead of COTA winner Ivan Ortola(Angeluss MTA Team).
Fellow Americas GP podium finisher Xavier Artigas (CFMOTO Racing PruestelGP) is next up, ahead of replacement rider Andrea Migno (CIP Green Power), rookie Filippo Farioli (Red Bull KTM Tech3) and, in 10th looking for more, title challenger Diogo Moreira (MT Helmets – MSI), who is equal with Holgado on points.
Moto3™ action continues on Saturday, with more practice in the morning before qualifying at 12:50 local time (GMT +2)