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.
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.
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 but neither recorded a full lap for a time to be registered in FP2.
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.
Andrea Dovizioso – P2
“I’m happy with this first day because we were able to be fast right away. Today I felt much more comfortable riding the bike, and I was able to improve especially in braking and in exiting the corners. Of course, there is still work to be done and, unlike the other years, many riders will be competitive on this track. We only finished one session today, but we are also among the first riders, so we are confident for tomorrow. We hope that the weather will hold up and allow us to do tomorrow’s sessions in the dry.”
Takaaki Nakagami – P3
“I’m pretty happy about today because my feeling on the bike was really good. Lap-by-lap and with each outing we were improving the lap-time. It’s really important for this weekend because the weather forecast is changing all the time and we have to prepare for any conditions. It looks like we’ve found quite a good path in the dry conditions, but you never know about wet conditions. P3 for today is not bad, I’m happy and now we’ll prepare for tomorrow and we’re ready to fight for a good position.”
Alex Rins – P4
“I feel good on the bike, the pain has changed a bit since last week. It still hurts but I can manage it better. This morning we worked on setup and did good work. Then this afternoon was tricky because some of the corners were very wet, so we chose not to go out until the very end. Let’s see how conditions are tomorrow, I’m satisfied with my pace today so I’ll be hoping for a strong qualifying.”
Franco Morbidelli – P5
“It was a good Friday for us. We didn’t ride as many laps as we wanted to because of the tricky conditions on track this afternoon. This morning I struggled a little in the beginning with the medium tyre; I found it difficult to get the pace, but then it started getting better and better. Then when we put the soft tyre on the gap to the front was smaller and we could finish fifth, which I’m happy about. Hopefully the weather tomorrow will be a bit kinder to us and we’ll try to do a good job then as well.”
Miguel Oliveira – P7
“After all, this has been a positive day. With the weather conditions being so unstable, for sure we wanted to be inside the top 10 for both sessions and finally we managed to do it in the morning. I felt like I could have been a little bit faster in the first session, despite a minor issue on the brakes, but finally, it was ok. I’m looking forward to tomorrow a lot, targeting to do a good result.”
Jack Miller – P8
“I am happy with the bike, this morning immediately the feeling was good, we have some changes to make but we are on the right direction. During the FP1 I ended up in the middle of the yellow flag, and I didn’t have the chance to improve my lap time, but we are still in the Top Ten and this is very important. I feel confident for tomorrow.”
Joan Mir – P9
“This morning I had a lap cancelled, but it doesn’t really affect anything because I felt super good on the bike. I didn’t expect to be fast straight away like this, but I’m happy about it. I really like this track, especially with the MotoGP bike which I haven’t ridden here before. I feel good with my GSX-RR and I’m ready for tomorrow.”
Fabio Quartararo – P10
“We struggled a little bit in FP1 but looking back after FP2 it seems like we have found some good things for tomorrow and for our race pace in general. We had some ideas after Brno and they seem to work. One lap pace is important but race pace is even more so, that’s why we are focusing so much on that. I’m hoping FP3 and qualifying are dry, because we think we have a good setting for dry conditions. Let’s see what tomorrow is like but I’m really looking forward to it because I think it’s going to be good and that we can do well.”
Maverick Vinales – P11
“Basically, I think we’re having the same struggles as we had in Brno. We’re missing something overall to make the tyres work, and we and Michelin are working very hard to try to understand what we need to do to improve the bike and the feeling with the tyres. So, tomorrow we are going to try something new on the bike to see if we can do better. If it’s wet in FP3 tomorrow, we’ll go into wet mode and try to understand which are the best tyres for the wet, because also for the wet tyre allocation we have a soft and medium option. At this track you have hard braking, so that plays a role in the decision making. If it’s dry tomorrow morning, we’ll do a time attack to try to get into Q2.”
Danilo Petrucci – P12
“Unfortunately today we only had a dry session to be able to work, but in general it doesn’t look bad, although we still have to improve on some aspects. I am confident for tomorrow because we have some ideas that I think will allow us to make a good qualification. As usual, the session tomorrow morning will be decisive, and my goal will be to get into the top ten. I’m optimistic, and now I hope the weather improves for tomorrow.”
Valentino Rossi – P13
“This morning’s FP1 was a fully dry session and we were able to work. This track is very particular, and it’s particularly important to be strong in braking, so you need to balance the bike especially for that. But what I saw this morning was that this year everybody is very strong. We have to improve, especially in sector 3. We had planned to try something different this afternoon, but unfortunately it was very difficult to get any work done because of the mixed conditions. So, in conclusion, the FP2 session wasn’t very helpful for our understanding. Tomorrow we need to do a good FP3, because it will be crucial to be in the top 10. I don’t think that will be easy, because everybody is there. At the moment the forecast for tomorrow afternoon predicts rain, not a lot, similar to what we had today. For sure, if that’s the case, anything is possible.”
Cal Crutchlow – P14
“Obviously it seemed a difficult day again today. Riding the bike at this circuit I had a great result in 2018 and I was looking to try and find that feeling again. We worked in a good way this morning I felt as we needed to improve the speed and we had something to try in the afternoon that obviously we couldn’t because of the situation with the track conditions being half-wet and half-dry. In those conditions we didn’t really learn too much, so let’s look forward to tomorrow and hopefully get in the top 10 in FP3 and have a good qualifying for Sunday’s race.”
Iker Lecuona – P15
“About today I’m really happy, first because in FP1 I finished very close to the top riders in 15th position. It’s my first time here in the MotoGP class and I truly like the way we are working inside the garage and also outside of it. Finishing second in FP2 gives me a huge boost of confidence, although I already was very confident for this weekend before! I hope we can continue like that.”
Michele Pirro – P17
“During the FP1 I tried to get more confident with the track and the bike, we understood the weak points and tomorrow we will try to make another step. The first impact was definitely positive, the bad weather didn’t allow us to use like we wanted the FP2. I would like to thank the Pramac Racing Team for all the support and this will help me a lot to improve in these days.”
Aleix Espargaro – P18
“The position in the combined standings stems from the fact that I was unable to do a flying lap, first because of traffic and then due to a yellow flag. That aside, I am pleased. I confirmed that the RS-GP works decidedly well here too. Even though we still have room for improvement in acceleration, I am confident that I’ll be able to battle consistently in the top ten. As already happened in Brno, here in Austria we did not have the problems we remember from last year, and that is positive. Hopefully, we’ll be able to work on a dry track tomorrow and demonstrate our level.”
Alex Marquez – P19
“In the morning I was feeling quite good and I was able to learn the braking points and lines of the MotoGP bikes here quite quickly. But when I put in a new tyre at the end, there was a yellow flag and with the new rules you can’t improve your time. Hopefully it will be dry for FP3, because I think the position doesn’t show our true potential. I was hoping that it would either be fully wet or fully dry this afternoon, but we were left in half and half. I only did a couple of laps early to see the track, later it was drier, so I tried to push more if these are the conditions for tomorrow.”
Bradley Smith – P20
“We knew we would need to take full advantage of the dry session this morning, given the forecast. That’s why I decided to use two soft tyres, and I was demonstrating good potential with the second one. Unfortunately, I pushed a bit too hard on turn 4 and went down. It’s a pity because it would have been a good lap. The afternoon, on the other hand, was frustrating, with the track in mixed conditions that didn’t let us improve. Tomorrow we’ll work primarily on managing the power coming out of the slower turns and on downhill braking – the situation in which I crashed. Hopefully, the weather will cooperate and let us move forward with our programme.”
Stefan Bradl – P21
“The gaps are really, really close this weekend, I checked my times from FP1 and compared to last year where I had been riding the bike more, I was 0.3s faster today. So, I am happy because we’re starting in a good position and another small step can gain you a lot of positions. It’s a shame that FP2 had the strange conditions where we couldn’t do more than a few laps because we were looking to try something and the more laps I can do, the better it is for everyone. Everything feels more comfortable this weekend compared to Brno. The plan is to work on a good setting tomorrow and keep reducing the gap to the front.”
Friday MotoGP Combined Practice Times
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.
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).
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…
Friday Moto2 Combined Practice Times
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.
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.
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.
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