#ThaiGP Buriram, Friday roundup: MotoGP, Moto2, Moto3
Fabio Quartararo (Petronas Yamaha SRT) was up to his usual timesheet-topping tricks on Day 1 of the PTT Thailand Grand Prix, leading a Yamaha 1-2-3 but nearly two tenths clear at the top. Maverick Viñales (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) was second overall after topping FP1, with Franco Morbidelli (Petronas Yamaha SRT) completing the top three. But Yamaha’s pace – Valentino Rossi (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) made it all Iwata machines in the top five on Friday – wasn’t the only headline at Buriram, with reigning Champion Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) taking a huge tumble in FP1.
Initially, the number 93 seemed to hold all the cards as action opened in the stifling heat, but towards the end of FP1 the Spaniard had only recently exited pitlane when he suffered a huge crash at Turn 7. From there Marquez headed to the circuit Medical Centre for a first check up before he was taken to Buriram hospital for further examination. Ultimately, the reigning Champion was declared fit and suffered no fractures – even heading back out in the afternoon. He wasn’t quite able to get into the top five, however, ending the day just behind Rossi, in P6.
There was one man who managed to fight off the Yamaha lockout in the top five though: Jack Miller (Pramac Racing). Fresh from the podium at Aragon, the Australian put in another impressive performance to end the first day in fourth, just pipping Rossi by 0.035. Miller was also within three tenths of Quartararo, no mean feat when the Frenchman’s advantage over second is already 0.193, and he makes it an impressive three Independent Team riders in the top four.
Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini), meanwhile, also shone on Day 1. The Spaniard kept the momentum from his impressive performance at MotorLand to go seventh quickest on Friday and was only a tenth off Rossi – that at a venue he said in the Press Conference would be tougher going. It was tight in the fight for P7, however, with Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team) losing out by just 0.020 as he was shuffled down to eighth.
Team Suzuki Ecstar completed the top ten, with rookie Joan Mir impressing to get the better of his more veteran teammate Alex Rins in Thailand so far – although just 0.008 was the final gap between the two Hamamatsu factory machines. Will Rins turn the tables on Saturday?
That leaves Danilo Petrucci (Ducati Team), currently only a point behind Rins in the standings, outside the top ten after the opening day, which could be a worry for the Italian come qualifying. The weather has so far played ball, but the forecast remains far from guaranteed and if rain comes down in FP3, the Mugello winner will definitely be heading through Q1. And he could be joined by Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda Castrol) after the Brit was 13th fastest on Friday.
Pol Espargaro (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing), meanwhile, took P15 as he returns – and continues to impress – just a couple of weeks after fracturing his wrist.
What will Saturday bring? Rain? Shine? Shocks? Comebacks? Find out who’s heading through to Q2 at 9:55 local time (GMT+7) as FP3 begins, before qualifying from 14:10 for the spectacular PTT Thailand Grand Prix.
Luca Marini (Sky Racing Team VR46) was the quickest man out the blocks at Buriram on Day 1 of the PTT Thailand Grand Prix, but it wasn’t by much. A stunning performance from Thai rookie Somkiat Chantra (Idemitsu Honda Team Asia) put him second overall by only 0.008, with Tetsuta Nagashima (ONEXOX TKKR SAG Team) rounding out a top three split by an infinitesimal 0.013 on Day 1.
Hot but dry, at least barring the typical humidity, Friday was one of the closest opening days of the season as the top 24 were all within a second. With the weather a question mark for much of the event, getting the most from that track time and trying to secure a place in Q2 was high on the agenda – and it’s less than four tenths that cover those who’ll provisionally go through.
Behind the top three it’s still hundredths deciding the timesheets as Remy Gardner (ONEXOX TKKR SAG Team) finished the day just 0.036 behind his teammate; the Australian taking P4 and just ahead of Championship leader Alex Marquez (EG 0,0 Marc VDS). The number 73 was fifth but only 0.077 off Marini.
Sixth belonged to Italian rookie Enea Bastianini (Italtrans Racing Team), with ‘The Beast’ just getting the better of KTM riders Iker Lecuona (American Racing KTM) and Aragon GP winner Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Ajo). Key title challengers Augusto Fernandez (Flexbox HP 40) and Jorge Navarro (Beta Tools Speed Up) completed the top ten in P9 and P10 respectively, although Navarro remains just two and a half tenths off the top.
Andrea Locatelli (Italtrans Racing Team) was P11, ahead of Jorge Martin (Red Bull KTM Ajo) and Marco Bezzecchi (Red Bull KTM Tech 3), with Tom Lüthi (Dynavolt Intact GP) the last man who currently stands to move through should the weather worsen conditions in FP3 on Saturday morning.
There were a few surprise names further down including Lorenzo Baldassarri (Flexbox HP 40) in P18, just ahead of Sam Lowes (Federal Oil Gresini Moto2), who crashed in FP2. Marcel Schrötter (Dynavolt Intact GP) returned from injury and was 20th despite an FP1 crash, with Mattia Pasini (Tasca Racing Scuderia Moto2) another faller in the afternoon as he ended the day just behind the German.
Moto2™ FP3 begins at 10:55 local time (GMT+7), before qualifying from 15:05. It’s going to be hot – whether the weather is or not…
Andrea Migno (WWR) ends Friday at the PTT Thailand Grand Prix as the fastest man in Moto3™, with the Italian quickest in FP1 by over a quarter of a second and nobody able to better his laptime in the afternoon. The two men who completed the top three also set their fastest laps in FP1: Tony Arbolino (VNE Snipers) and Tatsuki Suzuki (SIC58 Squadra Corse), who were second and third respectively.
Conditions at Buriram were as scorching as ever on Day 1 and with weather looking likely to change as the weekend goes on, every bit of dry track time was valuable in the fight for a provisional place in Q2. But despite a flurry of activity at the end of FP2 as the majority of the field pushed to improve, the heat and different track conditions leave the overall timesheets a mixture of best efforts from both sessions.
Behind the top three, all from FP1, the next four all set their best efforts in FP2: Gabriel Rodrigo (Kömmerling Gresini Moto3) was quickest in the afternoon and fourth overall, with Dennis Foggia (Sky Racing Team VR46) – who took his first Grand Prix podium at the venue last year -completing the top five. Jakub Kornfeil (Redox PrüstelGP) was sixth, and by just 0.006, although the Czech rider is now on damage limitation in practice and qualifying after having been given a 12-place grid penalty for slow sectors in FP1. Makar Yurchenko (BOE Skull Rider Mugen Race) was only another 0.004 further back as he impressed to take P7 on Friday.
Eighth overall went the way of Alonso Lopez (Estrella Galicia 0,0) as the Spaniard headed up another gaggle of riders who set their best laptimes in FP1. That group comprised Ayumu Sasaki (Petronas Sprinta Racing) in ninth, Albert Arenas (Gaviota Angel Nieto Team) in tenth and Marcos Ramirez (Leopard Racing) in P11. Sasaki, however, is another who received a penalty for slow sectors on Friday and his is a back of the grid start.
So where are the Championship leaders? Lorenzo Dalla Porta (Leopard Racing) ended the day 12th overall, just ahead of Kaito Toba (Honda Team Asia) as the Japanese rider separated him from key title rival Aron Canet (Sterilgarda Max Racing Team). After missing the event through injury last season, this is Canet’s first race weekend at Buriram and he was able to at least secure himself a provisional place in Q2 should the weather change in FP3. The Spaniard was P14 and the last of those who could stand to gain from worsening conditions.
John McPhee (Petronas Sprinta Racing) was a surprise name to miss out as he was 17th, just behind Aragon podium finisher Ai Ogura (Honda Team Asia). Meanwhile Celestino Vietto (Sky Racing Team VR46), who currently leads Ogura in the fight for Rookie of the Year, was 20th on Day 1.
Will the weather close in on Saturday at Buriram? When it rains it Thailand, it really rains – so it could prove a serious shake up of the status quo so far. See if the lightweight class have another shot at shuffling the combined standings in FP3 at 9:00 (GMT +7), before qualifying from 12:35.