The number 41 did the business in Barcelona with a scintillating lap as a Noale factory 1-2 denies Bagnaia.
Friday at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya has set the stage for a potential stunner at the Gran Premi Monster Energy de Catalunya! Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing) had the bit between his teeth in Practice as he put down a stunning 1:38.686 to lead the field by 0.362s on his home hunting ground. His teammate Maverick Viñales made it an Aprilia 1-2 on Day 1 too, and the number 12 pulled off quite a save on his way to second overall. Francesco Bagnaia (Ducati Lenovo Team) was in hot pursuit however, as he kept the Noale manufacturer in his sights, finishing 3rd but just 0.013s shy of Viñales.
The rush for Q2
With Friday afternoon’s Practice session deciding who goes through to Q2, the riders spent the majority of the session working on their race packages before turning up the wick for their late time attacks.
The top 10 go through to Q2, and it was a mad rush as the soft tyres went in with fifteen minutes to go. The times then really began to tumble and it was a late charge in the final moments that saw Aleix Espargaro crush the hearts of his competitors as he became the first rider of the weekend to put down a 1:38s lap – a new record.
Both Bagnaia and Viñales spent their fair share on the top spot as the fast laps came in from every direction, but neither could get the better of the number 41.
Johann Zarco (Prima Pramac Racing) was one of those threatening the top spots as well. Red sectors and a superb final split saw the Frenchman hit the top towards the end until he was bumped down to P4 ahead of a late-charging Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing), who completes the top five.
Fine margins decide the Q2 cut
It was looking as if Marco Bezzecchi (Mooney VR46 Racing Team) had something up his sleeve when the soft rubber went in, but the Italian was unable to compete with the flurry of fast laps and found himself almost a second adrift of the top spot in P7, just behind Alex Marquez (Gresini Racing MotoGP™), who heads through to Q2 in sixth.
Fabio Di Giannantonio (Gresini Racing MotoGP™) bagged an important top 10 in P8 as he snapped up a Q2 spot. The Italian’s race pace is looking strong as well. As the clock dipped under 40 minutes remaining, the Gresini rider had been sat at the top of the timing screens with a strong run of low 1:40s.
The final two Q2 spots went to the two riders who were scrapping it out last season for the 2023 factory Ducati ride. Enea Bastianini (Ducati Lenovo Team) and Jorge Martin (Prima Pramac Racing), who finished in 9th and 10th respectively. Bastianini will be content with a good sign of progress whilst Martin will be hoping for more on Saturday…
Let battle commence in Q1!
It’s anyone’s guess as to who will take the top two spots in Q1. Pol Espargaro (GASGAS Factory Racing Tech3) was the first to miss out after finishing Practice in P11. The local rider – from Granollers right next to the track – will be eager to join his brother in Saturday’s Q2 session.
It won’t be an easy task, however, as he’ll have to compete with the likes of Jack Miller (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing), the two CryptoDATA RNF Aprilias of Raul Fernandez and Miguel Oliveira, as well as Luca Marini (Mooney VR46 Racing Team).
The struggles continued for Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP™ teammates Fabio Quartararo and Franco Morbidelli, as well as Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) and his teammate Joan Mir as all failed to make the top 15.
Will Yamaha and Honda find something on Saturday? Can Aprilia keep their form as we head into qualifying and the Tissot Sprint? Or do Ducati and KTM have something up their sleeves? Make sure you don’t miss a single detail as the action unfolds on super Saturday!
The stage is set for Qualifying and then the Tissot Sprint at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya. Make sure you tune in:
MotoGP™ FP2: 10:10
MotoGP™ Q1: 10:50
MotoGP™ Q2: 11:15
Tissot Sprint: 15:00
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