Round 11 – Red Bull Ring, Austria – Day One
Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team) was the fastest man on Friday at the eyetime Motorrad Grand Prix von Österreich and the only rider into the 1:23 bracket in FP1, moving two-tenths clear of teammate Jorge Lorenzo.
Andrea Dovizioso – P1
“We got off to a very good start today and right from the morning session the bike was all set to go, mainly because we’ve just come from a race where we went very well and so we didn’t have to change the set-up very much. Even though we only did one session in the dry, our times are already very good and we have already completed a large part of the work load for the race. Unfortunately, in the afternoon we were unable to continue working on the tyres because of the rain, but what counts is that we were quick right from the start. Tomorrow let’s hope that the weather conditions allow us to work on the final details for the race.”
Jorge Lorenzo – P2
“Today we weren’t able to draw many conclusions for the race, but in the few laps we did we were always amongst the quickest and we were competitive both in the morning when it was dry and in the afternoon with the rain. Finishing the day in second place behind Andrea is a good sign, but we will have to try and improve even more, especially under braking, and so I hope that the weather conditions tomorrow will allow us to work on this. In any case we’ve begun this weekend well.”
And just behind the two at the top, the Ducati attack continued – with top Independent Team rider Danilo Petrucci (Alma Pramac Racing) locking out the top three on the combined timesheets and pipping reigning Champion Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) to the honour.
Danilo Petrucci – P3
“It was a good day. I was able to finish in third place in both dry and wet conditions. I hope it doesn’t rain tomorrow because we did a really good job with the team as the bike in the FP1 went very well and the feeling was extremely positive”.
Marc Marquez – P4
“It was a good day for us. This afternoon, we actually had some doubts about going out in the rain, because it should be dry tomorrow afternoon and Sunday. Anyway, we decided to try, and we just did a few laps to check the electronics and a little bit the setup. I immediately felt very good and confident, but the most important thing is that I also had a good feeling this morning in the dry. We knew there was the possibility of rain later but we decided to go on with the same tyre, the medium spec, for the entire session, working for the race as we normally do. Tomorrow we’ll try the other tyre specs. Sure, the Ducatis are very fast here, especially Dovizioso, but we’re not far off.”
FP1 saw some big time attacks as doubts about the weather forecast continued, and they were proved right as the dry and pleasant conditions of FP1 were a distant memory come FP2.
A downpour delayed the session and conditions remained very wet when action continued, with Scott Redding (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini) looking like he was going to end FP2 on top. But Marquez struck back and the Brit was relegated to second…ahead of the familiar trio of Petrucci, Lorenzo and Dovizioso, who also showed great pace in the wet.
Overall, however, it’s Andrea Iannone (Team Suzuki Ecstar) who completes the top five from his FP1 time, ahead of Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda Team) and fellow Honda rider Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda Castrol).
Andrea Iannone – P5
“This morning the feeling with the bike was good, despite the fact that we were losing out a bit on acceleration. In any case, in the corners we could recover and the grip wasn’t bad. The first corner, especially this morning, was good. But in the wet the front was slipping on the left hand corners. Tonight we’ll look at the data and tomorrow we’ll have some new ideas.”
Dani Pedrosa – P6
“The track was completely dry in the morning, so we tried to be as fast as possible because of the high chance of rain in FP2. We also hoped to take full advantage of the session, to understand as much as possible the track and the tyres. This afternoon I did just a couple of laps, just to check the tyres and the grip in wet conditions, and it was better than I expected. Clearly, it would be a problem if the rain gets really hard. The weather here changes very quickly, so it was important to try and understand the feeling we were able to get, but anyway the conditions should be better tomorrow.”
Cal Crutchlow – P7
“Some tracks give fantastic grip in the rain, but here it’s quite slippery. This is track is not most safe in the dry, let alone in the rain. But it is what it is, you have to go out because you don’t want to be at a disadvantage to the other riders. Overall, it was a positive day, I felt good in the dry and the rain and we have to look forward to tomorrow now and try and improve the setting for Sunday’s race. I want to try and improve the sliding feeling I have in the middle of the corner, which happens at three corners in the dry and the wet. But we can work on the settings to improve that.”
Tito Rabat (Real Avintia Racing) took P8 on yet another Borgo Panigale machine as Ducati dominated the top ten – with Johann Zarco (Monster Yamaha Tech 3) the top Yamaha in P9.
Johann Zarco – P9
“I’m disappointed about the first day. On the track this morning I enjoyed the circuit, but my feeling on the bike was not good. We lost quite a lot time, nine tenths behind the fastest is too much on a small track like this. I still believe in the work we are going to do this evening in order to really improve in the dry. Later with the rain, I was very careful because we don’t know this venue in the wet. Therefore, I did many laps to gain confidence and then we made a good improvement on the bike, but when I went out the rain was heavier, so I couldn’t improve my lap time. But I feel that in the rain we quite good.”
It was a more difficult morning for Movistar Yamaha MotoGP, although Maverick Viñales ended the day in P10 and Valentino Rossi in P11. For Viñales the day began much further down the timesheets, but for Rossi it began almost off them. An early technical problem for the ‘Doctor’ saw him forced to pull over and then head out on his second bike, costing him some time. Right at the end of FP1 Viñales pipped him to provisional graduation to Q2, leaving Rossi at risk of not making it through if the rain pays another visit to Spielberg in FP3…
Maverick Vinales – P10
“Especially the morning was difficult, we had some problems, but we kept working and tried to solve everything we could. For the afternoon we had many things planned to try, but finally it was wet and we didn‘t have really good feelings, so we need to keep pushing.”
Valentino Rossi – P11
“For me the biggest issue is that I’m not inside the top-10 on the dry. Unfortunately, I had a problem with one bike and had to stop. I had to use the other bike, but it had some things that were different, and I wasn’t able to arrive inside the top-10. This can create a problem to improve the lap time tomorrow morning if the conditions aren’t 100%. On the wet I’m not very fast, but the spray deflector worked well. We tried to take some water away from the tyre. Especially at this track we have a lot of aquaplaning, also on the straight, which makes it difficult to control the bike. But now we have to try to understand and improve, and we’ll see tomorrow.”
Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini) was P12 overall and fastest Aprilia in the dry, ahead of Alvaro Bautista (Angel Nieto Team), Alex Rins (Team Suzuki Ecstar) and KTM’s lone home team representative Bradley Smith (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing), who was P6 in the wet to impress, too.
Jack Miller struggled to get a good feeing from his Ducati Desmosedici GP in the dry but did a little better in the wet. On combined times though Miller is down in 18th place and with rain forecast on Saturday he is somewhat behind the eight-ball.
Jack Miller – P18
“In the FP1 I could not find the conditions to be performing. We will have to do a lot of work on both set-up and electronics. Things went better in the afternoon but it’s clear that we will have to improve a lot on dry track in order to do well in sight of Sunday’s race”.
With the rain falling heavily in FP2, Francesco Bagnaia (SKY Racing Team VR46) ended the opening day at the eyetime Motorrad Grand Prix von Österriech at the summit after going quickest in the dry FP1 session, finishing 10th in monsoon-like conditions in FP2. The Italian’s 1:30.441 in the morning was enough to beat Lorenzo Baldassarri (Pons HP40) by 0.063, who finished down in P20 in FP2, with Marcel Schrötter (Dynavolt Intact GP) third on the combined times – 0.081 behind Bagnaia and P16 in the afternoon.
It was a great afternoon for NTS RW Racing GP as Steven Odendaal and teammate Joe Roberts were P1 and P2 in the wet conditions, the South African heading the American by 0.233 seconds to give the team a great boost heading into Saturday. Both riders will be doing their rain dances ahead of qualifying.
Meanwhile, Alex Marquez (EG 0,0 Marc VDS) remains fourth quickest on the overall times after finishing fourth in FP1, 0.127 off the top, with the Spaniard 17th fastest in the wet conditions. Fifth fastest on Friday was Fabio Quartararo (+ Ego – Speed Up Racing), setting an identical time to Marquez in the dry and finishing seventh in FP2.
Gunning for his third consecutive podium is Luca Marini (Sky Racing Team VR46), who looks quick in both the dry and the wet conditions. The Italian is sixth on the combined time sheets and ended FP2 in third, 0.239 back from Odendaal’s benchmark. Italtrans Racing Team’s Andrea Locatelli is seventh on the combined times, one place above his wet weather pace, which saw him finish eighth in FP2.
Sam Lowes (Swiss Innovative Investors) sits eighth overall, with the British rider crashing at the penultimate corner in FP2 after looking like he would set the quickest time in wet conditions, eventually finishing 12th – rider ok. Jorge Navarro (Federal Oil Gresini Moto2) heads into Saturday at the Red Bull Ring ninth on the overall times, with Mattia Pasini (Italtrans Racing Team) rounding out the top ten on the opening day – the Italian, though, didn’t set a time in FP2.
Championship leader Miguel Oliveira (Red Bull KTM Ajo) ends the day 16th fastest overall, 0.479 off his main title rival in the dry, while finishing a damp FP2 down in 30th.
Isaac Viñales (Forward Racing Team), Joan Mir (EG 0,0 Marc VDS) and Tetsuta Nagashima (Idemitsu Honda Team Asia) – who spectacularly surfed on top of his bike – crashed in the wet, riders ok, with Remy Gardner (Tech 3 Racing) stopping out on track with a mechanical issue.
Remy Gardner – P24
“We struggled a bit in the dry, but we found the direction we need. Hopefully we can have a dry FP3 to be better prepared in the race as I think we can be strong in the dry. In the rain, we’ve been good. In the beginning the conditions were quite ok, but then the rain got heavier, so it was a lot harder to go fast and a lot riskier. Anyway, in the rain I have confidence, but we need it to dry to be set better in the race.”
FP1’s quickest man Jaume Masia (Bester Capital Dubai) ends day one at the eyetime Motorrad Grand Prix von Österreich on top of the time sheets in a rain affected FP2 session, with Championship leader Marco Bezzecchi (Redox PrustelGP) remaining second quickest overall as neither of the top two improved on their times from the morning.
One rider who did improve before the heavy rain came down right at the end of the session was John McPhee (CIP – Green Power), who topped FP2 with a 1:37.329 to put himself third on the combined timesheets. Lorenzo Dalla Porta (Leopard Racing) was third in the morning but finished the day in fourth after McPhee’s time bumped the Italian down a place, but Dalla Porta the only Honda rider in the top six.
Gabriel Rodrigo (RBA BOE Skull Rider) improved his time in FP2 to finish the afternoon session in third and fifth quickest overall, as Philipp Oettl (Sudmetal Schedl GP Racing) finished Friday in Austria as the sixth fastest rider – the German dropping two places from his fourth place in FP1. He also announced he’ll be moving into the intermediate class next year with Tech 3, partnering current Moto3 Championship leader Bezzecchi.
Seventh quickest after the opening two Free Practice sessions was Enea Bastianini (Leopard Racing), improving his time in FP2 by 0.049 seconds, with Kaito Toba (Honda Team Asia) eighth on the combined timesheets – the Japanese rider was 22nd after FP1 and improved his time by over a second in the afternoon.
Albert Arenas (Angel Nieto Team Moto3) also improved his time in the afternoon to finish the day ninth quickest, with Nicolo Bulega (Sky Racing Team VR46) rounding out the top 10.
The Italian highsided at the end of the session on the exit of Turn 1 as the rain started to fall, with Nakarin Atiratphuvapat (Honda Team Asia) also going down after being collected by Bulega’s KTM – both riders headed to the Medical Centre for check ups. Niccolo Antonelli (SIC58 Squadra Corse) also crashed at Turn 1 just behind – rider ok.