He’s done it again: seven days after topping Friday in the Austrian GP, Pol Espargaro (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) returned to the top of the timesheets on Day 1 of the BMW M Grand Prix of Styria, giving KTM yet more to smile about in Spielberg. The Spaniard was two tenths clear at the top courtesy of his FP2 best, with Jack Miller (Pramac Racing) slotting into second from his fastest effort in the morning. Fresh from the top step of the Red Bull Ring podium, Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team) completed the top three – an infinitesimal 0.004 off Miller.
It was Miller who took to the top of FP1 as action began again, but the Australian retained the shadow he’d had for much of his time in the lead of the Austria GP, with Dovizioso just that aforementioned 0.004 off the Aussie’s best. The timesheets in FP1 were so tight that the top five – completed by Miguel Oliveira (Red Bull KTM Tech 3), Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda Idemitsu) and Joan Mir (Team Suzuki Ecstar) – were covered by just 0.102. Not, that’s not a typo.
Franco Morbidelli (Petronas Yamaha SRT) extends it to five manufacturers in the top six as he was next up on the FP1 timesheets, just a couple more tenths down, ahead of a much improved Friday for tookie Brno winner Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) in P7. Fellow rookie KTM rider Iker Lecuona (Red Bull KTM Tech 3) picked up with the form he’d left off with too as he was eighth, ahead of Austrian GP polesitter Maverick Viñales (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) and Championship leader Fabio Quartararo (Petronas Yamaha SRT), who completed the top ten in the morning.
FP2 saw Pol Espargaro hit back, and by the end of play he was the only rider able to dethrone Miller and Dovizioso’s FP1 efforts, courtesy of a 1:23.638. With pace all the way through the Austrian GP weekend before the race ended in disappointment in a crash, the Spaniard remains a force to be reckoned with at the Red Bull Ring. Nakagami was the closest man to him in the afternoon but could only home in to within two and a half tenths, with Mir just 0.003 off the Japanese rider to take third.
Alex Rins (Team Suzuki Ecstar) – another looking for a comeback after a crash on Sunday – was a tenth behind his teammate despite his continued recovery from his shoulder injury, with Viñales completing FP2’s top five.
Overall, the headlines remain in KTM’s court as Pol Espargaro keeps his hold on Friday honours in Styria from that FP2 lap, with Miller and Dovizioso’s FP1 times putting them in hot pursuit, fresh from the podium. Oliveira’s FP1 best makes it two KTMs in the top four as the Portuguese sophomore – and Austrian factory – continue to impress.
Nakagami was once again top Honda as he completed the top five courtesy of his fastest effort in FP2, and the Japanese rider says they’ve improved braking stability and front end feel – sounding very positive about his prospects on Sunday. Mir and Rins, meanwhile, stack the Suzukis up in P6 and P7 as the Hamamatsu factory continue their warning shots for the field. Viñales emerges from the Friday shuffle in eighth as the fastest Yamaha, but not by much as Morbidelli ended the day just half a tenth in arrears.
The final man set to move through as it stands is Binder, who was P10 overall. Last Friday the rookie said he’d struggled to manage even one decent lap, but what a difference a week – and a fourth place in the Austria GP – make. Lecuona was just 0.050 off the South African too as he took 11th, missing out but keeping that strong form after a tougher start to his MotoGP career.
Valentino Rossi (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP), despite fifth in the Austrian GP, ended the second Friday in Styria in P13 and will want to move forward and grab a place in Q2 – and Championship leader Fabio Quartararo (Petronas Yamaha SRT) most definitely will as he ended the day just behind the ‘Doctor’. Last weekend it was braking that caused some drama for the Frenchman, this week he says it’s more the drop in pace that’s bothering him… but the weekend remains young and Quartararo has finished two Fridays outside the top ten and two within it so far in 2020.
Jack Miller – P2
“A good first day, we did a fantastic FP1 this morning, we were very fast. I did quite several laps, we tried the medium tires this morning and the soft this afternoon. I’m satisfied about today and ready for tomorrow.”
Andrea Dovizioso – P3
“It has been a very positive day, and I am pleased with the work we’ve completed today. This morning we did a very quick lap time, and this allowed us to dedicate the afternoon session to try to understand how to manage the tyres better in the race. Since we had been racing here last week, we know where do we need to focus our work on. The feeling with the bike is good, and we are among the fastest riders. We hope that the weather will hold up, allowing us to continue our programme tomorrow.”
Miguel Oliveira – P4
“Today has been a positive first day. We managed to be very fast already in the morning. In the afternoon, the pace was very good with very used tyres and then we made some changes to the bike, that didn’t work out with the new tyre, but still we made a decent job in the morning and we are confident, that we can also improve further tomorrow morning.”
Takaaki Nakagami – P5
“I’m pretty happy with the first day. FP1 and FP2 were completely different conditions, this afternoon the temperature increased a lot, the track temperature was close to 50 degrees. It was a different feeling from morning to afternoon, but by the end of the session we had a good package and the lap time was quite consistent this morning and also this afternoon. The team has done a really great job today and hopefully we can maintain this performance from today into qualifying tomorrow.”
Joan Mir – P6
“In FP2 I tried some laps with a used tyre, because the track temperature increased a lot compared to the morning. I managed to improve my lap time, and I felt great even on the used tyre. I knew I could be fast in the final two sectors on the lap, but I needed to improve my performance a little bit in the first two in order to be more competitive during the race. I’m happy with the way things are going and I’m looking forward to tomorrow.”
Alex Rins – P7
“The main focus today was to find the differences between the medium and soft compound rear tyres, so I used FP1 to try the tyre life and adjust a few things. In FP2 I started with a new tyre to see how it would feel in a sort of semi race simulation situation. Overall I’m in seventh, and I feel good about that; it’s a nice start to the weekend. My shoulder feels a bit better compared to last week, so I’m hoping for a strong qualifying.”
Maverick Vinales – P8
“We tried to work a lot on the race set-up today, because last time we suffered a lot during the race compared to the practice sessions. Last Sunday, I didn’t really have a good feeling, especially in the beginning of Race 2, so today we were trying to find ways to be better and focus less on our position in the practice. We found some positive things. We’re not completely where we want to be yet, but little by little we are moving forward, and this is the most important. For tomorrow, we will concentrate on securing a pass into Q2, and then in FP4 we will work again in preparation for the race. Here it’s very important to start from the front row. Last week I secured pole position, and this was very good for the race, so that’s what we need to do again – being on the front row is our main objective for tomorrow.”
Franco Morbidelli – P9
“It was really good to jump back on the bike today. In the first laps of FP1 I was just trying to understand how I was physically. I was pleasantly surprised by how good I felt; I had a good feeling on the bike and there were no major issues. I’m lucky in some respects as this isn’t the most demanding of tracks, so that helps. Overall it was a good day; the pace was good, although it could be better. We’ve been working with the medium tyre, aware that there could be less grip here this weekend and trying to adapt to those conditions. We’ve collected a lot of data today and I’m sure we’ll be able to use it to improve more tomorrow. I think adapting to the grip conditions here is going to be the most important thing this weekend.”
Iker Lecuona – P11
“I’m really happy about today. I didn’t only finish in P8 this morning, but also had a really good lap time and went alone, I improved a lot compared to last week. This afternoon, we were working more towards the race and later we tried to put in a new set of tyres to go faster, but finally, we missed out on the provisional Q2 by just 0.050. Anyway, I’m really satisfied about this day one.”
Aleix Espargaro – P12
“Overall, they were two good sessions. We worked a lot with used tyres in light of what happened last Sunday. In fact, I didn’t even do a time attack in FP1. In the afternoon, I knew that with the higher temperatures it would be difficult to get below the 1’24 mark, but I was able to finish in the top 10 of the session and that is important. I feel good and I think that there is still room for improvement on our part on this track as well.”
Valentino Rossi – P13
“The bigger problem today was that we tried to do the time attack in the afternoon, but the asphalt was more than 50 degrees, and it was difficult to improve on the lap time from this morning. We did only one time attack in FP2, because we are always at the limit with the tyre quantity, like everyone else. We hope that tomorrow in FP3 we will have a dry session. Usually the morning is a bit colder, so you can go faster. So, tomorrow morning it will be crucial to try to stay inside the top 10. We will try! About my pace, we’re not so bad, but as always there are many riders who are very strong. Today we worked on improving compared to last week, but we weren’t able to find something that gave us a better pace.”
Fabio Quartararo – P14
“Today we struggled with the brakes a bit in the morning, but the afternoon was much better in this aspect, so we found something that could be a solution. The problem in FP2 was with the bike setting, because we don’t fully understand why the tyres are dropping off that much. We need to analyse deeply how to work in this aspect. We worked on the race pace in FP2, but it isn’t where we want it to be. I’m not so happy about today but we still have FP3 and FP4 tomorrow to work on what we need to in order to improve. At the moment we are not in Q2 so we will have to make a time attack tomorrow morning, but we’re confident that we can do this. We know our one-lap pace is good but we need to focus on our race pace.”
Alex Marquez – P15
“Today was an important day for us, we tried a new setup and this started our day very well. It was positive and it took a few laps to change my style, but in the afternoon we made a really good step. I have some very good partial times, but I still need to work a bit to improve over one lap and put them all together. Our rhythm, especially with the used tyres, is good. I’m really happy with how today went in Austria and tomorrow we know what areas we need to work on, I’m feeling positive.”
Michele Pirro – P16
“I’m happy about today, this morning I was faster than last weekend, which means that my confidence with the bike and the track has improved. I’m not far from the top ten, today we focused on race pace but tomorrow we have to try to get into the top ten.”
Danilo Petrucci – P17
“Unfortunately both this morning, and this afternoon we were unable to make the most of the time available due to some problems, which forced us inside the garage, especially in the last part of FP2. We had several tests planned for today, but now we have to postpone them to tomorrow morning. Of course, the main goal of FP3 will be to improve our lap time, to be able to get into the top ten. I am confident as we still have a session to recover.”
Cal Crutchlow – P18
“Today again was a tough day with the bike. It seems that we tried something this morning that worked better in the morning, but in the afternoon session the feeling of the bike felt exactly the same as last weekend. It’s the same with any set-up we try with the bike, it’s difficult to find any improvement and I have no real idea why. Also when we put the new tyre on, we go one tenth fastest when you should be going a lot faster than this and that seems to be the problem that me and the other 2020 Honda riders are struggling with. We need to work this out and assess this situation more and, once we do, we can be more competitive. I feel like I’m riding the bike in a good way, the best I can to give the information to improve, but, at the moment, we’re a bit lost as to which direction to take.”
Bradley Smith – P19
“Definitely a positive day. The time this morning was better than my best from last week. In the afternoon, I didn’t put on the new tyre for a time attack. Our goal was to analyse the tyre over race distance. It seems like some of the ideas we’re testing will be able to help my riding style. Since we just raced here a few days ago, we took the liberty of making a few more drastic changes than we usually do. I am at the same level as the riders I want to be competing with in the race and that is our goal for the weekend.”
Tito Rabat – P20
“In the morning it was a good day, it was a good training, I went out on the track and I threw, finishing 0.9 of the first classified. But in the afternoon is has cost us a little more, although anyway we will try to see if they can help me with the electronics and so be able to accelerate more in the first meters that is what I lack.”
Stefan Bradl – P21
“It was a tough day today honestly. We have improved a lot of things, but the position is not where we want to be, I’m not satisfied with it. Aside from this, it’s been a busy and productive day trying a lot of things and we are aiming to make a step tomorrow. We’ve been trying some different settings and pieces and tomorrow hopefully we can combine them all to find something more. The times are very close again, so there is potential.”
“About today, the positive thing is that I’m declared fit to ride tomorrow and this is really important. It’s true that my wrist is improving very fast and I’m happy with this. So clearly, it’s a good opportunity to ride tomorrow to have some feelings, some confidents and to enjoy on the bike. I think I will have some pain, and I will see how I can control this pain but is good to try. I’m happy with the medical check they said that I can ride, and also, I’m happy with the penalty. I was thinking to make an appeal by the FIM, but then it’s a bit tricky and it will be again to push the problem even and even later. And in the case, maybe my appeal is not accepted, then the situation will be not good, so I prefer to solve this penalty and start on the pit lane this weekend and close the history. Better do in that way and then put my best on the races in Misano.”
Friday MotoGP Combined Practice Times
Sam Lowes (EG 0,0 Marc VDS) has repeated his Friday heroics on take two as the Briton topped the combined timesheets on Day 1 of the BMW M Grand Prix of Styria. It was far from lonely at the top though, with Austrian GP polesitter Remy Gardner (ONEXOX TKKR SAG Team) just 0.016 down and most recent race winner Jorge Martin (Red Bull KTM Ajo) completing the top three… still within 0.060. As ever, the intermediate class is close!
Lowes topped the sunny FP1 session despite some late threats from those just behind him, the Brit putting in a 1:28.733 to get the better of the competition. Gardner and Martin took second and third with those tiny gaps to the top, and fourth? Fourth was still within a tenth of Lowes’ best, with Nicolo Bulega (Federal Oil Gresini Moto2) 0.081 down. Championship leader Luca Marini (Sky Racing Team VR46) was fifth, just over a tenth in arrears.
There were two incidents in the session, one a Turn 1 crash for Jake Dixon (Petronas Sprinta Racing), rider ok, and the other a run off for Marcel Schrötter (Liqui Moly Intact GP). Schrötter headed through the gravel but kept it upright and rejoined.
The weather remained sunny in FP2 but no one could quite get in the ballpark of the morning’s best laptimes. Marco Bezzecchi (Sky Racing Team VR46) topped the session in the 1:29s, with Gardner again close – this time just 0.042 off – and Jorge Navarro (+Ego Speed Up) third, two tenths off Bezzecchi. Somkiat Chantra (Idemitsu Honda Team Asia) and Hector Garzo (Flexbox HP 40) both put in top sessions in the afternoon to end FP2 in P4 and P5 respectively.
Impressive rookie Aron Canet (Openbank Aspar Team) had a blip in FP2 and was the sole crasher in the afternoon after he went down at Turn 1 – rider ok.
Looking through the fastest 14, most of the riders heading through – provisionally – to Q2 after Friday set their best in FP1, with Lowes, Gardner, Martin, Bulega and Marini the top five. Sixth went the way of Augusto Fernandez (EG 0,0 Marc VDS) as his improved form of late continues, with Bezzecchi in seventh overall.
Despite his crash, Canet’s FP1 time is enough to put the rookie in eighth, the Speed Up rider the only non-Kalex in the top ten, with former points leader Enea Bastianini (Italtrans Racing Team) slotting into ninth. Austrian GP podium finisher Schrötter completes that top ten despite his morning run off.
Currently, the final four set to move through are Marcos Ramirez (Tennor American Racing) – who had one of his best Fridays in some time – Navarro courtesy of his FP2 time, Tom Lüthi (Liqui Moly Intact GP), and Garzo… leaving the likes of Brno podium finisher Joe Roberts (Tennor American Racing) outside the graduation zone in P17, and Qatar GP winner Tetsuta Nagashima (Red Bull KTM Ajo) in P20.
Friday Moto2 Combined Practice Times
Celestino Vietti (Sky Racing Team VR46) is the fastest man on Friday in the BMW M Grand Prix of Styria, setting the only 1:35 of the day in FP1 and no one able to depose him in the afternoon. Championship leader Albert Arenas (Valresa Aspar Team) is second, three tenths down by virtue of his FP1 time too, with Tatsuki Suzuki (SIC58 Squadra Corse) in third from his fastest lap in FP2.
Vietti was the fastest out the blocks, topping the first session of the weekend with a 1:35.997 and the only man in the 1:35s then and, ultimately, all day. That said, he also crashed at Turn 1 the end of the session, rider ok. Championship leader Arenas was second quickest as he is overall, three tenths down, ahead of Kömmerling Gresini Moto3’s Jeremy Alcoba as the reigning Moto3 Junior World Champion took third in the morning.
Tony Arbolino (Rivacold Snipers Team), Raul Fernandez (Red Bull KTM Ajo), Deniz Öncü (Red Bull KTM Tech 3), Dennis Foggia (Leopard Racing), Darryn Binder (CIP – Green Power), Jaume Masia (Leopard Racing) and Ayumu Sasaki (Red Bull KTM Tech 3) completed the top ten – which is pretty much the front group from the Austrian GP…
John McPhee (Petronas Sprinta Racing), who is second in the Championship heading into the Styrian GP, suffered an early spill at Turn 10 and ended the session in P11, rider ok.
The other crasher was Romano Fenati (Sterilgarda Max Racing Team), who finished the session in P17.
Suzuki took over in the afternoon to head the timesheets, quickest in FP2 ahead of Gabriel Rodrigo (Kömmerling Gresini Moto3) but by just 0.011. Arbolino was third, still within 0.060, with McPhee turning the tables on key rival Arenas to beat the Spaniard to fourth.
In typical Moto3 style, much of FP2 was spent with many in the field seeming to almost be racing a little early – with one big group out on track putting on an impressive but slightly premature show. With the slipstream so important for a laptime in Spielberg, the riders were certainly searching for it.
Alonso Lopez (Sterilgarda Max Racing Team) was the sole crasher in the afternoon session, rider ok.
Overall, it’s Vietti who heads the provisional Q2 graduates ahead of Arenas, both courtesy of their FP1 times. Suzuki, Rodrigo and Arbolino’s best laps in FP2 see them complete the top five in that order, ahead of Alcoba and Fernandez in P6 and P7, respectively. McPhee beats Masia to eighth overall, with Deniz Öncü completing the top ten.
Foggia, Filip Salač (Rivacold Snipers Team), Binder and Sasaki are currently the final four set to move through, but with better weather forecasts this weekend, it remains anyone’s game in FP3. That’s what Ai Ogura (Honda Team Asia) will certainly be counting on, as he ended Friday in 16th and with title rivals Arenas and McPhee well ahead of him.
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