Andrea Dovizioso keeps Ducati domination rolling at the Red Bull Ring
2017 MotoGP content on brought to you by Honda Genuine Oils
2017 MotoGP content on brought to you by Honda Genuine Oils

After just being pipped to the post in FP1, Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team) hit back in the afternoon at the NeroGiardini Motorrad Grand Prix von Österreich as action ended in a shootout, coming out on top by two tenths to keep Ducati’s stranglehold on the venue. Maverick Viñales (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP) was second quickest after a late lap, ahead of Repsol Honda rider Dani Pedrosa as the number 26 impressed on Day 1.

FP1 was dry and topped by Hector Barbera (Reale Avintia Racing) by a few thousandths ahead of Dovizioso, after the Italian exceeded track limits on what had been his fastest lap. A shootout also ended that session as doubts about the weather circulated, with provisional qualification to Q2 at the forefront of everyone’s minds. But FP2, despite beginning with some damp patches, soon dried out – and the majority of the field made good use of the good conditions to improve their times.

Johann Zarco (Monster Yamaha Tech 3) was another threat for the top in the latter stages of FP2, and the French rookie ended Day 1 in fourth – very much in line for entry to Q2 should the bad weather return for FP3. Jorge Lorenzo (Ducati Team) was another big hitter in the second session of the day, and the ‘Spartan’ completed the top five after taking four tenths off his morning’s best.

Hector Barbera was one who didn’t go faster in FP2, and the Spaniard is therefore seventh on the combined timesheets with his laptime from the first session – only 0.015 off Lorenzo. Behind him was reigning Champion Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team), who was seventh quickest on Day 1 and only a further 0.018 behind Barbera. Marquez also had a run off in FP2, but remained upright and got back on track.

Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda) kept the incredibly tight timesheets taught in P8, just 0.019 off seventh, ahead of a solid first day for Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini). Scott Redding (Octo Pramac Racing) completed the top ten, edging out Pull&Bear Aspar Team’s Alvaro Bautista.

P12 was another incredible performance from Pol Espargaro as Red Bull KTM Factory Racing take part in their first home Grand Prix, ahead of nine-time World Champion Valentino Rossi (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP) – the biggest name who could be at risk of heading through Q1 should the weather set in on Saturday morning. Loris Baz (Reale Avintia Racing) and Danilo Petrucci (Octo Pramac Racing) locked out the fastest fifteen.

The picturesque Spielberg track is dominated by hard braking zones, high-speed straights and demanding acceleration points, and it is a lack of corner exit grip that Miller will seek to improve from his P20 on day one as the weekend progresses.

Andrea Dovizioso  P1

“I’m very pleased with the way things went today and we couldn’t have had a better start to the weekend. The Ducati Corse engineers have done a really good job with the new fairing, which on this track is working very well, and we have managed to get close to the effect of last year’s winglets, confirming our speed in two different conditions, both this morning and this afternoon, when there wasn’t much grip. But now we have to work on some details because it’s the tyre wear that will make all the difference in the race rather than sheer speed, just like last year.”

Maverick Vinales – P2

“We are really pleased, because we’re starting with a good feeling again. Today we did a really good job, I was feeling quite good on the bike. Especially after the Brno test we improved the set-up a lot. For tomorrow, I think it will be very important to work further on the electronics and also on the acceleration, which is really crucial here.”

Dani Pedrosa – P3

“Today we worked well. We thought we would have to deal with rainy conditions but luckily we were able to start in the dry, and overall we had more dry track time available than expected. We’re happy because the first feeling was good and generally we felt better than the last year. We still have work to do on the bike’s setup and on the mapping. We must improve our race pace and make a good tyre choice for Sunday, but so far we’re happy with how we started the weekend.”

Jorge Lorenzo – P5

“Today we weren’t able to fully get the best out of the two free practice sessions because in the morning and the afternoon some parts of the track were still damp because of the rain that fell during the day. For this reason I’m not entirely satisfied, even though in the end we were fifth and our times are not so far from the front guys. With respect to last year, when the Ducatis made all the difference on this track, now our rivals have improved and the lap times are all pretty close, but if we succeed in finding a solution that allows me to brake with more confidence and stability I believe that tomorrow we will be considerably quicker.”

Marc Marquez – P7

“We’re satisfied with how it went today. We started the weekend with a completely different setup from last year and it worked quite well. We’ve definitely made a step forward with the acceleration and with the general settings of the bike. Of course we must wait and see how it goes tomorrow, as we have a few details we still need to work on. The others also will improve, but so far we’re happy with what we’ve done and with our race pace. At the end of FP2 I decided to continue with a used medium rear tyre in order to focus on preparing well for Sunday. The weather forecast shows possible rain conditions for tomorrow morning, but I decided to take that gamble because I wanted to prepare well for the Sunday race.”

Valentino Rossi – P13

“It wasn’t a very good day, we had some problems, especially this morning was a difficult practice. When I woke up this morning I also didn’t feel very well, I didn’t have energy, it felt like the flu, so this morning was difficult. This afternoon, unfortunately, in the end my position was not in the top-10, which was the target, but we improved the bike and we improved the feeling. We’re not strong, we need to make some other modification to try to be faster, but we’re all very close and we are there. We need to improve, but for tomorrow we have a lot of things to try. Braking is very important, but also acceleration. I suffer a bit on acceleration because I spin a bit too much and lose time. Also in sector 3, where last year I was strong, this year I am very bad because we don’t have the right balance of the bike, so for tomorrow we will try something different.”

Jack Miller – P20

“Coming to this track we knew it was going to be a difficult challenge for us with the circuit dominated by hard acceleration points, which is not the strong point of our package. We are doing our best to extract the maximum we can out of what we have got and I think we have done that. My rhythm is not too bad but we can see from the lap times and my position that it is not fast enough right now. We’ll be back tomorrow for another go but we have to make some improvements to have a good qualifying.”

Ramon Aurin – Jack Miller Chief Engineer

“We knew from last year that this track does not ideally suit the characteristics of our package, so we were prepared for today to not be the easiest. There is a lot of hard acceleration here and we are behind in that area, and we must improve in the last two sectors. That is where we lose a lot of time. We tried the soft rear tyre this morning to consider it as an option for the race and the pace was not so bad. But we have a lot to improve to be more competitive in qualifying.”

MotoGP 2017 – Red Bull Ring – Friday Combined Practice Times
  1. DOVIZIOSO Andrea 4 ITA Ducati Team Ducati 1’24.046
  2. VINALES Maverick 25 SPA Movistar Yamaha MotoGP Yamaha 0.234
  3. PEDROSA Dani 26 SPA Repsol Honda Team Honda 0.428
  4. ZARCO Johann 5 FRA Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Yamaha 0.476
  5. LORENZO Jorge 99 SPA Ducati Team Ducati 0.570
  6. BARBERA Hector 8 SPA Reale Avintia Racing Ducati 0.585
  7. MARQUEZ Marc 93 SPA Repsol Honda Team Honda 0.603
  8. CRUTCHLOW Cal 35 GBR LCR Honda Honda 0.622
  9. ESPARGARO Aleix 41 SPA Aprilia Racing Team Gresini Aprilia 0.680
  10. REDDING Scott 45 GBR Octo Pramac Racing Ducati 0.719
  11. BAUTISTA Alvaro 19 SPA Pull&Bear Aspar Team Ducati 0.734
  12. ESPARGARO Pol 44 SPA Red Bull KTM Factory Racing KTM 0.813
  13. ROSSI Valentino 46 ITA Movistar Yamaha MotoGP Yamaha 0.837
  14. BAZ Loris 76 FRA Reale Avintia Racing Ducati 0.879
  15. PETRUCCI Danilo 9 ITA Octo Pramac Racing Ducati 0.889
  16. FOLGER Jonas 94 GER Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Yamaha 0.946
  17. IANNONE Andrea 29 ITA Team Suzuki Ecstar Suzuki 1.172
  18. LOWES Sam 22 GBR Aprilia Racing Team Gresini Aprilia 1.224
  19. KALLIO Mika 36 FIN Red Bull KTM Factory Racing KTM 1.274
  20. MILLER Jack 43 AUS Team EG 0,0 Marc VDS Honda 1.289
  21. ABRAHAM Karel 17 CZE Pull&Bear Aspar Team Ducati 1.323
  22. RINS Alex 42 SPA Team Suzuki Ecstar Suzuki 1.406
  23. RABAT Tito 53 SPA Team EG 0,0 Marc VDS Honda 1.570
  24. SMITH Bradley 38 GBR Red Bull KTM Factory Racing KTM 1.618
MotoGP 2017 - Red Bull Ring - Friday Combined Practice Times
MotoGP 2017 – Red Bull Ring – Friday Combined Practice Times

Morbidelli back in control as the Austrian GP gets in gear

Moto2 FP1 was interrupted by a dramatic downpour on Day 1 of the Austrian GP, but a fully dry FP2 gave the field one good session of time on track at least. In the final minutes, it was points leader Franco Morbidelli (EG 0,0 Marc VDS) who hit the top, taking over from key title rival Tom Lüthi (CarXpert Interwetten) by only 0.031 seconds. Another key frontrunner, Miguel Oliveira (Red Bull KTM Ajo), was third.

Mattia Pasini (Italtrans Racing Team) was a crasher in FP2 – rider ok – but takes fourth overall from his best lap, ahead of an impressive performance from Isaac Viñales (BE-A-VIP SAG Team) to complete the top five. Fabio Quartararo (Pons HP 40) was sixth on combined times and fastest rookie.

Alex Marquez (EG 0,0 Marc VDS) was seventh quickest from his FP2 time, and the rider from Cervera made some headlines in FP1 after a crash in the wet session that saw his bike collect Dynavolt Intact GP replacement rider Danny Kent – both riders ok and Marquez quick to apologise. FP1 saw more than ten incidents in the tricky and drenched track conditions, with a host of riders sliding out at Turns 1 and 3 – two of the hardest braking points on the track – including Marquez and teammate Morbidelli.

Francesco Bagnaia (Sky Racing Team VR46) was another crasher in the morning but eighth by the end of action, ahead of Sandro Cortese (Dynavolt Intact GP) and Takaaki Nakagami (Idemitsu Honda Team Asia), who locked out the top ten.

Hafizh Syahrin (Petronas Raceline Malaysia) was P11, ahead of Dominique Aegerter (Kiefer Racing) in P12. The Swiss rider was also in the top three in the morning, ahead of the deluge. Luca Marini (Forward Racing) followed up his best ever result in Brno to begin the Austrian GP in thirteenth, ahead of Simone Corsi (Speed Up Racing) and Jorge Navarro (Federal Oil Gresini Moto2), who crashed twice on Day 1.

MotoGP 2017 - Red Bull Ring - Friday Moto2 Combined Practice Times
MotoGP 2017 – Red Bull Ring – Friday Moto2 Combined Practice Times

Joan Mir remains the ringmaster on Day 1 in Austria

FP1 at the NeroGiardini Motorrad Grand Prix von Österreich was reigned by Joan Mir (Leopard Racing), and the combined timesheets told the same story by the and of action as FP2 was interrupted by rain. The Majorcan’s best from the morning was unthreatened, with Aron Canet (Estrella Galicia 0,0) the closest challenger a few tenths back. Marcos Ramirez (Platinum Bay Real Estate) was third.

Canet was the master of the afternoon session as conditions changed from damp patches to drying and then back to rain, with Adam Norrodin (SIC Racing Team) second in the tricky conditions and Enea Bastianini (Estrella Galicia 0,0) taking third.

On the combined timesheets, Bastianini was P4 from his FP1 time, with Dutchman Bo Bendsneyder (Red Bull KTM Ajo) completing the top five. Jules Danilo (Marinelli Rivacold Snipers) was sixth in a solid session for the Frenchman.

John McPhee (British Talent Team) opened his Austrian GP account with a good performance to go seventh, and also proved his pace in wetter conditions in the afternoon. Fabio Di Giannantonio (Del Conca Gresini Moto3) took P8 on combined times, in close company with McPhee and only 0.002 off the Brit’s best.

Nicolo Bulega (Sky Racing Team VR46) set the ninth fastest time overall, staying clear of Brno polesitter Gabriel Rodrigo (RBA BOE Racing Team) by only 0.013 as the Argentinean completed the top ten. Rodrigo was also fifth fastest in the afternoon.

Livio Loi (Leopard Racing) was eleventh ahead of a solid time from Marco Bezzechhi (CIP), who in turn headed compatriot Tony Arbolino (SIC58 Squadra Corse). Jorge Martin (Del Conca Gresini Moto3) was fourteenth as he comes back from a broken leg sustained at the German GP, and the Spaniard played it safe in the tricky conditions of FP2, not venturing out.

Nakarin Atiratphuvapat (Honda Team Asia) locked out the fastest fifteen, also showing great pace in the wettest conditions of FP2.

MotoGP 2017 - Red Bull Ring - Friday Moto3 Combined Practice Times
MotoGP 2017 – Red Bull Ring – Friday Moto3 Combined Practice Times