Gran Premi Monster Energy de Catalunya
Friday FP1 & FP2
Fabio Quartararo has taken top honours on Friday at Catalunya, topping the timesheets and leading the way following arm pump surgery, proving fast in FP1 and fastest in FP2, with a three-tenths lead in Saturday. That competition made it an impressive four factories in the top four, however, with Andrea Dovizioso in P2, Takaaki Nakagami in third and Pol Espargaro in fourth – with all three within 0.033 on the chase.
“Today was a great day. We were first on the combined timesheets and I had a great feeling. I didn’t know how my arm would react after my operation, but things went very well. I had some pain to deal with, but I feel good. The first run was hard, but after a while everything went better. It was a matter of getting used to the pain, but I didn’t expect to go so well at this Grand Prix. We have to stay calm, which is the most important thing. We have a lot of work to do tomorrow morning and of course we will do our best to get onto the front row, but right now our goal is to be on the first three rows and go straight into Q2. We’ll see if we can have a good qualifying.”
The morning session was a fairly quiet one by MotoGP standards, with a bit of a hairy entrance into Turn 10 for Jack Miller and a little snap at the same place for Marquez two of the stand outs. But it would nevertheless prove a crucial session for the reigning Champion as he was the only rider in the top ten who didn’t improve his laptime in the afternoon. He didn’t fit a new soft tyre but was able to stay in ninth, so the ‘extra’ tyre on Saturday could prove a masterstroke.
Marquez also ran with the Ducatis in the afternoon – much to their mild chagrin – as Dovizioso and teammate Danilo Petrucci had headed out in tandem. They kept the advantage on the combined timesheets though, with ‘DesmoDovi’ in second and ‘Petrux’ taking P8, just ahead of the number 93.
“I’m satisfied with our performance in this first day of practice, I had a good feeling with the bike and we’ve been fast. As it often happened here in the past, grip is very low and the track’s layout makes tyre management particularly difficult, especially considering the higher temperatures forecast for the rest of the weekend. However, I believe everyone is struggling under this aspect. We have work left to do ahead of the race: we’re still evaluating the different tyre compounds available and we need to improve the front-end feeling, but my sensations are good and so are the lap times, so I’m confident.”
“My feeling on the bike is quite good, even though this morning we encountered an atypical issue with rear grip, which slowed our program down a little bit. In FP2 we made a big step forward, even though there is still room for improvement. We’re not far from the front in terms of pace, while we’re still not at our best on the flying lap because I struggle in corner entry as I feel little support from the rear. We have clear ideas about what changes to make on the bike and we defined our work program for tomorrow, so I’m optimistic.”
So behind the four-factory fight at the top and those standout performances from the likes of Nakagami and Pol Espargaro, who impressed next? Second rookie Francesco Bagnaia put his Ducati in fifth and would doubtless have been the rookie talking point of the day if not for the Frenchman at the top, and Franco Morbidelli took P6 to again make it both the Independent Team Yamahas ahead of the Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP bikes.
“It’s been a good day for us. In the morning we found things a little harder, but we improved a lot in the afternoon. The grip level was not fantastic, so we suffered in that aspect, but our speed and pace were good, and I felt strong when going for a fast time. I finished sixth, which is not bad. We will have to see what the weather is like on Saturday, but so far I have a good feeling. Tomorrow morning will be different, because it will be colder. Speed is going to be the main aspect for us to improve, and then in the afternoon we’ll have to see what our pace is like.”
It wasn’t by much at Catalunya, however, with Valentino Rossi an infinitesimal 0.003 behind compatriot and VR46 Riders Academy member Morbidelli. After a tougher run of late, especially on Friday and Saturday, it was a big step forward for the ‘Doctor’ at a venue he’s reigned more than anyone.
“The track is good, I like it a lot and, sincerely, today was a positive day for us, because I felt good with the bike and could ride quite well. My pace is not so bad, and I was able to stay inside the top-10 in the morning and in the afternoon. In FP2 it was already hot, but I didn’t feel so bad. It’s true that it wasn’t very, very hot, so we’ll have to see. The first thing is that we’ll try to improve tomorrow, we still have a lot of work to do. Today we worked well and in the afternoon we were able to improve the bike. The most important thing is to stay inside the top-10 tomorrow morning so we can get into Q2, and after that we’ll see what happens in the afternoon in qualifying.”
Cal Crutchlow, meanwhile, completes the top ten to slot in behind Petrucci and Marquez. The Brit was only 0.010 behind Marquez, too, with those two Hondas trailing Nakagami’s best lap by a couple of tenths. But then the number 93, as aforementioned, didn’t pop in a fresh soft tyre.
“Not a bad day today. We had to change our strategy from the last GP a little bit because it’s important to understand the tyres. If you check the FP2 times, we look like we are far but we were able to do a lot of work and try many tyres and some setup changes. We’re not bad and the position isn’t our real one. I’m happy with all the information that we were able to get.”
And neither did Alex Rins, who finishes Friday in P11 and therefore outside the automatic graduation zone to Q2. The Suzuki rider also suffered a crash, but the weather forecast is fine for the weekend and Saturday is another day, so both he and Marquez will be gunning for a hot lap in FP3.
The likes of Jorge Lorenzo in P14 and Maverick Viñales in P15 will be rushing to join them too, with Viñales one who, along with Jack Miller, dropped down the timesheets in the afternoon.
“In general a positive day. The feeling with the bike is very good even if in the second part of the FP2 the soft tires used did not allow me to push. However, we have collected important data for the race. However, there is great confidence in tomorrow’s qualifications.”
See how the cards play out in FP3 as it decides those heading straight through to Q2 at 9:55 (GMT +2) before qualifying begins at 14:10 and the grid for Round 7 is decided.
MotoGP Combined Practice
FP1 pacesetter Tom Lüthi kept Moto2 Day 1 honours at the Gran Premi Monster Energy de Catalunya after his 1:44.673 went unbeaten in the afternoon, with Alex Marquez and HDR Heidrun Speed Up’s Jorge Navarro completing the top three and just 0.067 between them. The afternoon’s quickest man was Augusto Fernandez and he took P4 overall as one of only three men in the top ten to go faster in FP2.
Enea Bastianini continued his impressive season in fifth, with the rookie just 0.068 off Fernandez on Friday and ahead of veteran Xavi Vierge. Second rookie honours went to Nicolo Bulega, with the Italian taking P7 as well as putting in a miracle save in the afternoon.
Remy Gardner took P8 despite a crash in the afternoon, with Championship leader Lorenzo Baldassarri down in ninth. He, along with tenth-placed Luca Marini, joined Fernandez in the afternoon improvers’ club. Brad Binder was P11, ahead of rookie Fabio Di Giannantonio, Andrea Locatelli and Simone Corsi.
There were a few key incidents on Friday, one of which was a crash for Navarro as he lost the front at Turn 5, and an off for 15th quickest Marcel Schrötter, who’s left as the first of those needing to improve in FP3 to head straight through to Q2. Sam Lowes and Philipp Öttl also crashed.
The intermediate class will be back out on track for FP3 from 10:55 (GMT +2) on Saturday, with Q1 qualifying starting to decide the grid from 15:05.
Moto2 Combined Practice
|12||F.Di Giannanto||SPEED UP||1’45.472||1’45.151||0.478|
Alonso Lopez led rookie teammate Sergio Garcia to an Estrella Galicia 0,0 1-2 on Day 1 at the Gran Premi Monster Energy de Catalunya, with the two Spaniards having topped FP1 and no one able to overturn them in the afternoon. FP2’s quickest man was Lorenzo Dalla Porta, and he slots into third on the combined timesheets as he chases the Championship lead this weekend.
Brief spots of rain affected FP2 but the weather was largely fine on Friday, although conditions didn’t see everyone improve in the latter session. So it’s a mix of FP1 and FP2 best efforts that decides the Friday combined timesheets, with the top three followed by Gabriel Rodrigo from his FP1 time and Tatsuki Suzuki from his FP2 time.
Next up it was a solid opening day for Darryn Binder in sixth, ahead of rookie Can Öncü in a much improved performance for the Turk. Romano Fenati was P8, with Albert Arenas and Niccolo Antonelli completing the top ten.
Kaito Toba, Kazuki Masaki, Marcos Ramirez and Makar Yurchenko complete the fastest fourteen, denying Jaume Masia and John McPhee provisional graduation to Q2.
Lopez was one crasher, down in FP2, and Toba and Dennis Foggia suffered falls in the morning. The fastest 14 on the combined timesheets after FP3 go straight through to Qualifying 2. Tune in to see how it shuffles on Saturday morning from 9:00 (GMT +2), before qualifying begins from 12:35.
Moto3 Combined Practice
|3||L.Dalla Porta Ita||HONDA||1’50.626||1’49.213||0.046|