FP1 pacesetter Fabio Quartararo (Petronas Yamaha SRT) made it double trouble for his rivals on Friday at the Gran Premio Motul de la Comunitat Valenciana, topping the timesheets again in the afternoon for dominion on Day 1. He has a tenth and a half in hand over fellow Yamaha rider Maverick Viñales (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP), with World Champion Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) placing P3 so far.
After a chillier start, conditions were slightly warmer in the afternoon and allowed some riders to head out and post their best times of the day early in FP2, one of whom was Marquez as he sat on top of the standings in the opening exchanges. He and Viñales had got the better of Quartararo’s FP1 time fairly early on and leapfrogged the Rookie of the Year on the combined times, with Joan Mir (Team Suzuki Ecstar) putting in some impressive laps to claw his way up to P2 overall with around 10 minutes left to play as well. But the clock was ticking down and that meant a shuffle on the way.
Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda Castrol) moved himself into the top 10, Jack Miller (Pramac Racing) and Franco Morbidelli (Petronas Yamaha SRT) took P2 and P3 on the combined times respectively and at this stage, FP1 leader Quartararo hadn’t improved. So it was instead Viñales who first displaced Marquez from P1, but the Frenchman was on a charge and made his first gains to get up into second and then go top with an even better effort.
That sees him top so far from Sepang winner Viñales and Champion Marquez, with Miller in fourth at the end of the day despite a crash – and the Australian was second in FP1. Morbidelli takes P5, ahead of Alex Rins (Team Suzuki Ecstar). The two-time premier class race winner got the better of rookie teammate Mir in the end, but not by much as the number 36 ends Friday in seventh.
Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini) impressed in P8, with late times from Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team) and Johann Zarco (LCR Honda Idemitsu) seeing them grab a top 10 place in ninth and tenth respectively. Zarco’s temporary teammate Crutchlow was the man to lose out as he ended the day in 11th.
He’ll be a big name hoping to improve in FP3, and perhaps the biggest name has the same task ahead of him on Saturday: after crashing in FP1 at Turn 4, Valentino Rossi (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) was unfortunately in the gravel again in FP2. This time it was the fast right-hand Turn 10 that caught ‘The Doctor’ out and thankfully the nine-time World Champion was ok, but the same couldn’t be said for his YZR-M1. He was 14th and will be aiming to leapfrog Michele Pirro (Ducati Team), Danilo Petrucci (Ducati Team) and Crutchlow as a minimum before qualifying…
Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Ajo) wasn’t hanging around in FP2 as he set a new lap record to sit over half a second clear on Day 1 at the Gran Premio Motul de la Comunitat Valenciana. The South African’s 1:34.622 was unmatchable on Friday afternoon, with Augusto Fernandez (FlexBox HP 40) and Fabio Di Giannantonio (MB Conveyors Speed Up) getting the closest but still over half a second back.
For Binder, it was suns out, guns blazing as the KTM rider laid waste to Johann Zarco’s previous lap record set in 2016, making a serious statement of intent in his final Friday in the intermediate class – despite a wobble just beforehand. Will anyone be able to catch the South African on Saturday? It certainly seems a tall order…
Behind Fernandez and rookie Di Giannantonio, fourth went the way of Sam Lowes (Federal Oil Gresini Moto2), with the Brit putting in a late lunge to displace Stefano Manzi (MV Agusta Temporary Forward). Manzi had an incredible day on track, topping FP1 and completing the top five overall – with an improved lap.
Tetsuta Nagashima (ONEXOX TKKR SAG Team) was sixth after initially proving Binder’s closest challenger earlier in FP2, with Jorge Navarro (MB Conveyors Speed Up) in P7 on home turf. Mattia Pasini (Tasca Racing Scuderia Moto2) put in a solid day for eighth overall, with Tom Lüthi (Dynavolt Intact GP) facing an uphill struggle in ninth: he’ll need to beat Binder on Sunday if he’s to finish the season second overall…
Nicolo Bulega (Sky Racing Team VR46) was tenth and the second fastest rookie, although he’s out of the fight for Rookie of the Year – ensuring ‘Diggia’ an advantage in that battle so far as the next man in the running is Jorge Martin (Red Bull KTM Ajo) in P15. Marcel Schrötter (Dynavolt Intact GP) took P11 ahead of Luca Marini (Sky Racing Team VR46).
So where’s the reigning Champion? Alex Marquez (EG 0,0 Marc VDS) ended Friday in 13th, but the gaps behind Binder were infinitesimal. He’s within four tenths of Fernandez but 11 places further back, although he is in line for a provisional place in Q2, as is Lorenzo Baldassarri (Flexbox HP 40) in P14.
Jaume Masia (Mugen Race) was fastest on Day 1 at the Gran Premio Motul de la Comunitat Valenciana, the KTM man heading rookie and fellow Valencian Sergio Garcia (Estrella Galicia 0,0) by just 0.069 on Friday. Marcos Ramirez (Leopard Racing) rounded out the top three, only another 0.086 in arrears.
A chilly day was at least a sunny day at the Circuit Ricardo Tormo, with the gaps in Moto3™ predictably and tantalisingly close. That continued outside the top three with the man in fourth only 0.089 in arrears, and that man was impressive wildcard Xavier Artigas (Leopard Impala Junior Team). From European Talent Cup winner in 2018 to third overall – as a rookie – in the FIM CEV Repsol Moto3™ Junior World Championship this season, the Spaniard is on a serious roll.
The same can be said of three-in-a-row winner Lorenzo Dalla Porta (Leopard Racing) too. Aiming to become the first to take four Moto3™ victories in a row on Sunday, he began his final race weekend in the lightweight class in fifth and only 0.019 off Artigas. Romano Fenati (VNE Snipers) was only another 0.020 off in sixth. Andrea Migno (Mugen Race) and Niccolo Antonelli (SIC58 Squadra Corse), the latter improving from P24 in FP1, were seventh and eighth respectively.
Thanks to a late lap and despite a crash at Turn 6 – his second of the day – John McPhee (Petronas Sprinta Racing) ends Friday in ninth, with Tony Arbolino (VNE Snipers) rounding out the top 10 as he aims to take second overall from home hero Aron Canet (Sterilgarda Max Racing Team). Canet was 12th, pipped to P11 by rookie Raul Fernandez (Valresa Angel Nieto Team).
Albert Arenas (Valresa Angel Nieto Team), who crashed on Friday, lost out on P12 to the tune of just two thousandths, with Celestino Vietti (Sky Racing Team VR46) currently the last of the provisional Q2 graduates in 14th despite two crashes for the Italian rookie.
Ayumu Sasaki (Petronas Sprinta Racing) was another who crashed in FP2, as well as Makar Yurchenko (BOE Skull Rider Mugen Race).
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