#AustrianGP Red Bull Ring, day one roundup: MotoGP, Moto2, Moto3

 In MotoGP, News

MotoGP

Pol Espargaro (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) was the fastest man on Friday in the myWorld Motorrad Grand Prix von Österreich, the KTM rider bouncing back from the disappointment of his Czech GP to take P1 by a small but apt 0.044. Second place went to an Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team) on a mission as the Italian shot back up the timseheets after a difficult weekend in Brno, with Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda Idemitsu) completing a top three split by less than two tenths. FP1 was dry and FP2 rain affected, with the weather so far in Styria proving a key protagonist.

FP1
Pol Espargaro’s best lap was his fastest effort from the morning, with the Spaniard exchanging P1 with Dovizioso in the final five minutes but coming out on top. Nakagami also propelled himself into the top echelons in the closing exchanges, taking third in another ultra-competitive MotoGP™ session that saw five manufacturers in the top five.

Alex Rins (Team Suzuki Ecstar) continued to impress as he took fourth despite still being on the road back from a dislocated/fractured shoulder, with Franco Morbidelli (Petronas Yamaha SRT) following up his first premier class podium in Brno as the top Yamaha in FP1. Then, from Johann Zarco (Esponsorama Racing) in sixth to Fabio Quartararo (Petronas Yamaha SRT) in tenth there was only a tenth in it – with seventh, eighth and ninth taken by Miguel Oliveira (Red Bull KTM Tech 3), Jack Miller (Pramac Racing) and Joan Mir (Team Suzuki Ecstar) respectively.

Bradley Smith (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini) was the sole crasher of the session despite many pushing to set a banker lap due to the weather forecast, with the Brit going down at Turn 4. He headed to the Medical Centre for a check up and was given the all clear to continue.

FP2
After rain began during Moto3™ FP2, conditions were far from ideal by the time the premier class headed out in the afternoon and it wasn’t until the final few minutes that a flurry of riders went for it on slicks. First it was left to Miguel Oliveira and Aleix Espargaro to set laps, although Joan Mir was the true guinea pig as he headed out in the conditions first.

Once it started to dry out, the last dash rush saw most of the field try their hand at improving, but the gap to Pol Espargaro’s fastest lap in FP1 remained over two seconds. Jack Miller was the closest and he topped the afternoon session, ahead of an impressive showing from rookie Iker Lecuona (Red Bull KTM Tech 3) in second and another top performance from Oliveira as the Portuguese rider took third. Rins and Zarco were up there once again, this time in fourth and fifth respectively.

The two Red Bull KTM Tech 3 machines were out with Pol Espargaro on track at the end of the session, which made for an impressive visual armada at their home race.

No one crashed in FP2 and all in all, the weather putting paid to any improvements in the afternoon means it’s FP1 times that all count towards Q2 graduation as it stands: KTM end Friday fastest with Espargaro, ahead of Dovizioso, Nakagami, Rins, Morbidelli, Zarco, Oliveira, Miller, Mir and Quartararo – leaving a good few famous faces praying for better weather in FP3…

Maverick Viñales (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) is the first looking to the skies to hold clear on Saturday as he took P11, as well as Danilo Petrucci (Ducati Team) and Valentino Rossi (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP), who were 12th and 13th respectively. Brno winner Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) is also currently set to miss out on Q2 as the South African ended Friday in P16, but it’s his first MotoGP™ race weekend in Spielberg, so panic in the number 33’s box is unlikely – and he didn’t even head out in FP2.

That’s it from Friday, come back for more on Saturday morning as the field fight it out in FP3 at 9:55 (GMT +2). What will the skies bring? The likes of Monster Energy Yamaha, Petrucci and Brad Binder especially will be hoping the hills are alive with the warmth of sunshine.

Moto2

Sam Lowes (EG 0,0 Marc VDS) ended Friday at the myWorld Motorrad Grand Prix von Österreich as the fastest man in Moto2™, but the Brit had to work for it as he duelled Jorge Martin (Red Bull KTM Ajo) for the honour late in an FP2 characterised by improving conditions. In the end it’s just 0.010 that separates the two, with Marco Bezzecchi (Sky Racing Team VR46) another tenth and a half back in P3 overall.

FP1
It was Lowes who took the first spoils of the weekend, the Brit ending FP1 at the top – but even then, it was by only 0.016. Bezzecchi was the man just behind him in the morning after a late lunge up the timesheets, with Augusto Fernandez (EG 0,0 Marc VDS) completing a top three split by just 0.044.

Jorge Martin and Jorge Navarro (Beta Tools Speed Up) completed the top five in FP1, ahead of Remy Gardner (ONEXOX TKKR SAG Team), rookie Aron Canet (Inde Aspar Team), Tetsuta Nagashima (Red Bull KTM Ajo), Lorenzo Baldassarri (Flexbox HP 40) and Luca Marini (Sky Racing Team VR46), who locked out the top ten in a session that saw most of the field pushing early doors, spooked by the threat of rain later in the day.

Marcos Ramirez (Tennor American Racing) had a technical problem in the session, and the sole faller was Lorenzo Dalla Porta (Italtrans Racing Team).

FP2
After a sunny morning, it looked like the rain could ruin everyone’s chances of improving but that didn’t quite hold true for Moto2™. After the MotoGP™ field did a solid job of drying up the track just before, the conditions were good enough for riders to really push towards the end, with Lowes going even faster than his own benchmark from the morning. Martin made him work for it though and lost out by an infinitesimal few thousandths as the two traded fast laps at the end.

Jake Dixon (Petronas Sprinta Racing) was third in FP2 as the Brit impressed to end the session just two tenths off his compatriot Lowes, with Augusto Fernandez taking fourth and up at the sharp end once again. Brno podium finisher Joe Roberts (Tennor American Racing) completed the top five with a lap that proves valuable on the combined timesheets as he’d finished FP1 outside the top 14 – and therefore outside the Q2 graduation zone.

Kasma Daniel (ONEXOX TKKR SAG Team) crashed twice in FP2, and Nicolo Bulega (Federal Oil Gresini Moto2) had a run off.

After a day of changeable weather then, it’s Lowes in the driving seat on the combined timesheets ahead of Martin, both with laps from FP2. Bezzecchi takes third ahead of Fernandez, their laps set in the morning, with Jake Dixon’s afternoon heroics meaning the Brit completes the top five overall on Friday. Navarro, Gardner, Canet and Nagashima slot in from sixth to ninth courtesy of their FP1 laptimes, with Roberts’ FP2 best meaning he completes the top ten overall on Day1.

Baldassarri, Marini, Xavi Vierge (Petronas Sprinta Racing) and Stefano Manzi (MV Agusta Forward Racing) are the final four heading straight through to Q2 as it stands, and that leaves one unexpected name out of the graduation zone: Andalucia and Brno winner Enea Bastianini (Italtrans Racing Team), who was P16 overall…

Can the ‘Beast’ bounce back on Saturday? And will the weather afford him the chance? FP3 is the last opportunity for the field to get an automatic place in Q2, before qualifying from 15:10 (GMT +2).

Moto3

Tony Arbolino (Rivacold Snipers Team) topped the overall Moto3™ timesheets on Day 1 at the myWorld Motorrad Grand Prix von Österreich, his FP1 time enough to keep him ahead of the game after rain interrupted action mid-way through FP2. John McPhee (Petronas Sprinta Racing) ends the day second overall although three tenths down, with Jaume Masia (Leopard Racing) taking P3, just a few hundredths off the Scot.

FP1
Arbolino took the baton in FP1, the Italian ending the session three tenths clear and looking dominant, although his best lap was also set behind Gabriel Rodrigo (Kömmerling Gresini Moto3) as he tucked into the Argentinean’s slipstream. McPhee was second, pipping Masia as it tightened up.

A few of the key contenders had laps interrupted after Red Bull KTM Ajo’s Raul Fernandez tucked the front at Turn 3 in the closing stages, causing some to have their final laps of the session cancelled as is now automatic under a Yellow Flag. In the end, Celestino Vietti (Sky Racing Team VR46) and Niccolo Antonelli (SIC58 Squadra Corse) completed a top five split by half a second, although Fernandez, his teammate Kaito Toba, Ai Ogura (Honda Team Asia), Andrea Migno (Sky Racing Team VR46) and Championship leader Alberto Arenas (Valresa Aspar Team) made sure fourth to tenth was split by less than a tenth.

Rodrigo joined Fernandez as a crasher in the session, with BOE Skull Rider Facile Energy’s Riccardo Rossi also taking a tumble. There was also an incident for Jason Dupasquier (CarXpert PruestelGP) as he was passed by Carlos Tatay (Reale Avintia Moto3) before the latter had a moment, leaving the Swiss rider nowhere to go as he tagged the back of him and went down in a stroke of early bad luck in Austria.

FP2
As the skies and forecasts had been threatening, the afternoon saw the rain come down. Although it was lightly enough at first for the lightweight class, the flag flew to warn the riders just after half way through the session. McPhee was fastest at the time and remained so, but half a second down on Arbolino’s quickest lap from FP1.

Behind McPhee came Rodrigo, and he was one of the few to improve as he knocked half a second off his FP1 best early in the session. Masia was up there once again, with Czech GP winner Dennis Foggia (Leopard Racing) in fourth; another to improve in FP2. The fastest man in the morning, Arbolino, locked out the top five.

Despite the sketchy conditions, no one came off in FP2, with the lighter rain and then localised downpour on part of the track putting paid to any risk-taking.

Heading into Saturday morning with a provisional place in Q2 are therefore Arbolino, McPhee, Masia, Vietti, Antonelli, Fernandez, Toba and Ogura from their FP1 times, with Rodrigo next up in P9 overall courtesy of his afternoon best. Migno, Arenas and Tatsuki Suzuki (SIC58 Squadra Corse) are tenth, 11th and 12th respectively, with Foggia slotting into 13th with his FP2 lap. Filip Salač (Rivacold Snipers Team) completes the provisional Q2 graduates.

What will Saturday bring? Will FP3 shakes things up again or see the field face more rain? Moto3™ head back out at 9:00 (GMT +2), before qualifying decides the grid from 12:35.

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