Three riders within half a tenth and the top five within 0.131? Moto3™ must be back from summer break!
The Michelin® Grand Prix of Styria is underway and Moto3™ remained close as ever on Day 1 as Petronas Sprinta Racing made it a 1-2 by the end of play, with Darryn Binder heading the timesheets from teammate John McPhee by an apt 0.040. An equally fated 0.017 split the Scotsman from third place, which went to Sergio Garcia (Santander Consumer Bank GASGAS Aspar Team). Second in the standings, the Spaniard was consistently quick on Friday.
In the morning, Niccolo Antonelli (Avintia VR46) was on a charge and he led for much of the session. Red Bull KTM Ajo’s Jaume Masia homed in in the latter stages though, the Spaniard getting to within 0.010 before the Spaniard struck back. And then Garcia made his dash for the top, the Championship challenger pulling out a tenth and a half on Antonelli. The Italian tried to fight back and was up again on his next lap before sliding out at Turn 6, rider ok.
Garcia, meanwhile, only got quicker and after McPhee was next to take over on top, the Spaniard still found an answer. The number 11 ended the session 0.046 ahead, and then McPhee’s lap got cancelled. So Championship leader Pedro Acosta (Red Bull KTM Ajo), another putting in a late lunge, moved up to second, with McPhee dropped to third in FP1.
Ayumu Sasaki (Red Bull KTM Tech 3), who returns from injury this weekend, impressed immediately to end the session in fourth, ahead of Romano Fenati (Sterilgarda Max Racing Team) as the 2019 winner locked out a top five split by just 0.155.
The afternoon belonged to Petronas Sprinta Racing as Binder hit the top and McPhee retained his speed to sit second. Garcia likewise kept his early momentum, and Fenati moved up a place to fourth. Dennis Foggia (Leopard Racing) went from P11 to fifth as he aims to keep his roll of recent frontrunning form going, making gains in the standings over the last few rounds.
Acosta was one name that dropped down the timing screens on Friday afternoon, the points leader and record-breaker taking P11 in the session. There were no incidents to report, making Antonelli’s low drama Turn 6 crash in the morning the only one of the day in the lightweight class.
The top ten correlates to FP2 as they all improved in the afternoon: Binder, McPhee, Garcia, Fenati and Foggia are the top five, with Andrea Migno (Rivacold Snipers Team) in P6 to pip compatriot Antonelli. Masia was eighth, ahead of Filip Salač as he gets back on track with CarXpert PrüstelGP. Rookie Izan Guevara (Santander Consumer Bank GASGAS Aspar Team) had a good start to the weekend as the 2019 ETC Champion and 2020 FIM Moto3™ Junior World Champion completed the top ten in FP2 and therefore overall.
Acosta just missed out on that top ten by 0.007, slotting in behind his fellow rookie in P11, with Sasaki taking P12. Neither Acosta nor Sasaki improved in the afternoon, but they were both fast enough in FP1 to retain a place in the provisional Q2 graduation zone.
The final two riders currently set to take a place in Q2 are Adrian Fernandez (Sterilgarda Max Racing Team) and Carlos Tatay (Avintia Esponsorama Moto3), but will it shuffle again on Saturday morning in FP3? We’ll find out from 9:00 (GMT +2) before qualifying from 12:35.
Moto3™ Friday top five:
1 Darryn Binder – Petronas Sprinta Racing – Honda – 1:36.809
2 John McPhee – Petronas Sprinta Racing – Honda – +0.040
3 Sergio Garcia – Santander Consumer Bank GASGAS Aspar – GASGAS – +0.057
4 Romano Fenati – Sterilgarda Max Racing Team – Husqvarna – +0.125
5 Dennis Foggia – Leopard Racing – Honda – +0.131
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