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MotoGP Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) ended Day 1 of the myWorld Motorrad Grand Prix von Österreich in P1 overall, but the reigning Champion was... Austrian Grand Prix, Red Bull Ring – Friday roundup: MotoGP, Moto2, Moto3

MotoGP

Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) ended Day 1 of the myWorld Motorrad Grand Prix von Österreich in P1 overall, but the reigning Champion was run close. Maverick Viñales (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) got within just 0.066 of the number 93, with FP1’s fastest man, Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team), ending the day third overall. The Italian failed to improve his laptime due to a late tip off, but his FP1 fastest keeps him in P3 at the venue where he won in 2017.

Marquez came out the blocks all guns blazing at the start of FP2 as he sported a soft rear tyre, and immediately the number 93 was able to better his time from the morning session and went to the top of the combined standings, pushing FP1 pacesetter Dovizioso down to P2. Danilo Petrucci (Ducati Team) was also going well in the opening stages of FP2 too, after the Italian had a quiet FP1 and lingered down in P14 ahead of the afternoon’s running.

As so often happens, however, it all came down to a frantic last 10 minutes. The day was sunny, hot and, potentially, quite different to what may greet the grid on Saturday – meaning it was weapons free in a bid to take a provisional place in Q2. Dovizioso was the first who looked under threat as he uncharacteristically crashed at Turn 3 just after setting a red first sector. Would he keep the place or could his rivals leap up the timesheets?

One of the big improvers was Takaaki Nakagami, the LCR Honda Idemitsu rider having finished FP1 in ninth and finding time in the afternoon. First Nakagami went to P5 overall but on the next lap, the Honda man shot to P3 on the combined times, second in FP2. Viñales, third fastest in FP1, was also ramping his pace up and sure enough, the Yamaha man went second quickest – just 0.066 behind Marquez’ early session time. Marquez, Viñales and Nakagami would remain the quickest of the session, with ‘DesmoDovi’ slotting into third overall.

Behind Nakagami was a familiar face at the front: Fabio Quartararo (Petronas Yamaha SRT). The Frenchman was within a tenth of the Japanese rider ahead of him and finished the day in an impressive fifth overall, just ahead of a key rival: Jack Miller (Pramac Racing). The Australian flipped his formbook at the venue to complete the top six.

Miguel Oliveira (Red Bull KTM Tech 3), meanwhile, had a stunning Friday. The Portuguese rookie built on his 10th place in FP1 to move up to seventh on the combined standings, fastest KTM on the Austrian factory’s home turf – just 0.018 off Miller and 0.004 ahead of Petrucci by the end of play. Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda Castrol) was equally close in an incredibly tight gaggle of riders, 0.006 off Oliveira, and he moved up into ninth overall on his last flying lap despite finishing outside the top 10 in FP1.

The man who completed those who’ll be heading through to Q2 should the rain come down was Pol Espargaro (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing), who made it two KTMs in the top ten on home turf. And the Austrian factory achieved that at the expense of some key contenders: Valentino Rossi (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) was P11 by mere thousandths and will be hoping for a dry FP3 on Saturday to improve his time, and Alex Rins (Team Suzuki Ecstar) was just behind the ‘Doctor’ looking for the same. Will the two be heading head to head in Q1?

Moto2

Red Bull KTM Ajo’s Brad Binder has given Austrian factory KTM Friday honours in the Moto2™ class after setting a 1:29.029 in FP2 at the myWorld Motorrad Grand Prix von Österreich, the South African deposing Tetsuta Nagashima (ONEXOX TKKR SAG Team) on his final flying lap. Second in the Championship, Tom Lüthi (Dynavolt Intact GP) completes a top three covered by just 0.118.

The sun was shining as temperatures soared in Spielberg, but that meant improving FP1 times came a little difficult. Championship leader Alex Marquez (EG 0,0 Marc VDS) was the early pacesetter in FP2 after the Spaniard had completed the opening Free Practice session down in ninth place, but he wouldn’t stay at the summit for long. Binder, fourth quickest in FP1, soon found himself at the top of the timesheets in FP2, but Jorge Navarro (Beta Tools Speed Up) and Jorge Martin (Red Bull KTM Ajo) were the only riders to go fastest than their FP1 times halfway through the session. Soon enough though, the reigning Moto3™ World Champion was second in FP2 behind teammate Binder.

Nagashima and Lüthi were about to move the goalposts, however, as they took over at the top in the session and on the combined times as the first big movers from FP1. Other riders like Luca Marini (Sky Racing Team VR46) were improving as personal best overall times started to file in, but Binder was setting overall best sectors. With the chequered flag about to drop, the South African came across the line to go 0.090 faster than Nagashima, but the session did end with MotoGP™-bound Binder pulling off the track at Turn 3 with a mechanical issue.

Behind the top three Navarro ended Friday in fourth place, the Spaniard setting his best time on his penultimate lap to improve by four places from FP1, with Czech GP podium finisher Enea Bastianini (Italtrans Racing Team) in P5 and the rookie just 0.187 adrift of Binder. Thanks to their FP1 times, Friday morning pacesetter Augusto Fernandez (FlexBox HP 40) sits sixth ahead of Iker Lecuona (American Racing KTM), a crasher in FP1, and Marcel Schrötter (Dynavolt Intact GP) – a crasher in both the morning and afternoon. Marini improved his time to sit ninth on the combined times.

Somkiat Chantra (Idemitsu Honda Team Asia) drastically jumped up the timesheets from P22 in the morning to P10 at the end of Friday, impressively completing the top ten ahead of Martin, Mattia Pasini (Tasca Racing Scuderia Moto2), Lorenzo Baldassarri (Flexbox HP40) and Remy Gardner (ONEXOX TKKR SAG Team).

Championship leader Marquez, meanwhile, couldn’t find improvements in the afternoon as he finished down in P15 on the combined times, slipping from P9 in FP1. The Spaniard will have to find some speed on Saturday morning if he wants to climb into the top 14 to progress straight into Q2 – but it won’t be that simple. Riders like teammate Xavi Vierge, Nicolo Bulega (Sky Racing Team VR46) – who both slip outside top 14 places in Q1 – and Sam Lowes (Federal Oil Gresini Moto2) all currently sit just off the top 14 spots, so Moto2™ FP3 looks set to be an intriguing session…and if it’s wet, everything will be on the line in Q1.

Moto3

Sky Racing Team VR46’s Celestino Vietti laid down the marker on Friday at the myWorld Motorrad Grand Prix von Österreich, ending the day fastest with his final lap in FP2 – but not by much. The Italian was only 0.031 ahead of Petronas Sprinta Racing’s John McPhee, with the Scot, in turn, only 0.022 clear of SIC58 Squadra Corse’s Tatsuki Suzuki. The close timesheets didn’t end there, with 20 riders covered by a second at the end of a Friday that saw riders push hard in the closing stages to make it into the provisional Q2 graduation zone. Why? Adverse forecasts for Saturday’s FP3 session mean Friday could prove crucial…

The day began with Jakub Kornfeil (Redox PrüstelGP) going quickest in FP1, and the Czech rider was one of only a handful who didn’t improve. He remains fifth overall, however, with only the top three and Ayumu Sasaki (Petronas Sprinta Racing) the only riders able to overhaul him in FP2. VNE Snipers’ Tony Arbolino ended the day sixth, just ahead of Bester Capital Dubai’s Jaume Masia in seventh.

Niccolo Antonelli (SIC58 Squadra Corse), fresh from his stunner of a comeback from pitlane to top five at Brno, was P8 on Day 1, with Ai Ogura (Honda Team Asia) just behind the Italian as the Japanese rider looks for another impressive top six finish in his rookie season. Filip Salač (Redox PrüstelGP) completed the top ten.

Championship rivals Aron Canet (Sterilgarda Max Racing Team) and Lorenzo Dalla Porta (Leopard Racing) had a more muted first day, but both have a provisional place in Q2. Dalla Porta was 11th fastest and just ahead of teammate Marcos Ramirez, with Canet in P14 behind rookie Raul Fernandez (Sama Qatar Angel Nieto Team). The Championship leader didn’t improve in the afternoon and seemed like he could be heading for Q1 before a lap for Dennis Foggia (Sky Racing Team VR46) was cancelled, boosting Canet into 14th.