Binder pulls the pin on home turf

Binder pulls the pin on home turf 1South African leads Nagashima and Lüthi on a tough day for Marquez.

Red Bull KTM Ajo’s Brad Binder has given Austrian factory KTM Friday honours in the Moto2™ class after setting a 1:29.029 in FP2 at the myWorld Motorrad Grand Prix von Österreich, the South African deposing Tetsuta Nagashima (ONEXOX TKKR SAG Team) on his final flying lap. Second in the Championship, Tom Lüthi (Dynavolt Intact GP) completes a top three covered by just 0.118.

The sun was shining as temperatures soared in Spielberg, but that meant improving FP1 times came a little difficult. Championship leader Alex Marquez (EG 0,0 Marc VDS) was the early pacesetter in FP2 after the Spaniard had completed the opening Free Practice session down in ninth place, but he wouldn’t stay at the summit for long. Binder, fourth quickest in FP1, soon found himself at the top of the timesheets in FP2, but Jorge Navarro (Beta Tools Speed Up) and Jorge Martin (Red Bull KTM Ajo) were the only riders to go fastest than their FP1 times halfway through the session. Soon enough though, the reigning Moto3™ World Champion was second in FP2 behind teammate Binder.

Nagashima and Lüthi were about to move the goalposts, however, as they took over at the top in the session and on the combined times as the first big movers from FP1. Other riders like Luca Marini (Sky Racing Team VR46) were improving as personal best overall times started to file in, but Binder was setting overall best sectors. With the chequered flag about to drop, the South African came across the line to go 0.090 faster than Nagashima, but the session did end with MotoGP™-bound Binder pulling off the track at Turn 3 with a mechanical issue.

Behind the top three Navarro ended Friday in fourth place, the Spaniard setting his best time on his penultimate lap to improve by four places from FP1, with Czech GP podium finisher Enea Bastianini (Italtrans Racing Team) in P5 and the rookie just 0.187 adrift of Binder. Thanks to their FP1 times, Friday morning pacesetter Augusto Fernandez (FlexBox HP 40) sits sixth ahead of Iker Lecuona (American Racing KTM), a crasher in FP1, and Marcel Schrötter (Dynavolt Intact GP) – a crasher in both the morning and afternoon. Marini improved his time to sit ninth on the combined times.

Somkiat Chantra (Idemitsu Honda Team Asia) drastically jumped up the timesheets from P22 in the morning to P10 at the end of Friday, impressively completing the top ten ahead of Martin, Mattia Pasini (Tasca Racing Scuderia Moto2), Lorenzo Baldassarri (Flexbox HP40) and Remy Gardner (ONEXOX TKKR SAG Team).

Championship leader Marquez, meanwhile, couldn’t find improvements in the afternoon as he finished down in P15 on the combined times, slipping from P9 in FP1. The Spaniard will have to find some speed on Saturday morning if he wants to climb into the top 14 to progress straight into Q2 – but it won’t be that simple. Riders like teammate Xavi Vierge, Nicolo Bulega (Sky Racing Team VR46) – who both slip outside top 14 places in Q1 – and Sam Lowes (Federal Oil Gresini Moto2) all currently sit just off the top 14 spots, so Moto2™ FP3 looks set to be an intriguing session…and if it’s wet, everything will be on the line in Q1.

Will the skies stay dry for the third session of the weekend? FP3 goes green at 10:55 local time (GMT+2) before qualifying from 15:05.

Friday’s fastest:
1 – Brad Binder (RSA – KTM) 1’29.029
2 – Tetsuta Nagashima (JPN – Kalex) +0.090
3 – Tom Lüthi (SWI – Kalex) +0.118
4 – Jorge Navarro (SPA – Speed Up) +0.133
5 – Enea Bastianini (ITA – Kalex) +0.187

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