Aprilia lead the way in FP1 before rain affects play, with the reigning Champion extremely hot on their heels.
Maverick Viñales (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini) made some headlines when he first tested the RS-GP at Misano and on Day 1 at the Gran Premio Octo di San Marino e della Riviera di Rimini he made a few more. The number 12 was quickest out the blocks in FP1 before the rain came down in the final few minutes, and with conditions remaining damp in FP2 he remains the fastest on Friday. Reigning Champion Joan Mir (Team Suzuki Ecstar) was in close attendance, however, 0.080 off the top as he prepares to make his 100th Grand Prix start on Sunday, with MotorLand winner Francesco Bagnaia (Ducati Lenovo Team) starting his home GP in third.
Viñales was hovering third in FP1 before the number 12 pulled the pin further and went top, and with only just over 10 minutes left of the opening session, the rain then came down in droves. That put paid to that for the rest, and the Spaniard’s 1:32.666 was enough for him to take the honours, 0.080 clear of Mir and just under a tenth and a half ahead of Bagnaia.
Bagnaia was the first in a Borgo Panigale 3-4 as Jack Miller (Ducati Lenovo Team) was less than half a tenth off the number 63, with Alex Rins (Team Suzuki Ecstar) finding some speed on Friday to complete the top five.
Pol Espargaro (Repsol Honda Team) was sixth and the number 44 was one of a few who headed out after the heavens opened, along with teammate and eight-time World Champion Marc Marquez and the two Suzukis.
Championship leader Fabio Quartararo (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) was P7 in FP1, ahead of HRC test rider and wildcard Stefan Bradl, who reportedly has some chassis comparing to do. Marc Marquez was ninth, with Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini) completing the top ten.
On his return following knee surgery, Franco Morbidelli put his new Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP machine into P16, only just over half a second off new – and former – teammate Quartararo. Andrea Dovizioso (Petronas Yamaha SRT), meanwhile, eased into it with a best of a 1:35.211 on his return to the grid and to Yamaha.
There were no crashes in the morning.
The afternoon was wet, wet, damp and it was Johann Zarco (Pramac Racing) who rose to the fore. The Frenchman topped the timesheets after having taken P11 in FP1, and he had a huge half-second margin in hand over Bagnaia in P2. Miller was his teammate’s shadow once again, the Australian 0.069 in further arrears.
Mir had a solid showing, with laptimes hovering around ten seconds off those set in FP1, and the number 36 slotted it into fourth. Marc Marquez was just 0.011 further behind, and the number 93 had a good three tenths to spare ahead of Miguel Oliveira (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) as the Portuguese rider leapt into the limelight in FP2.
Danilo Petrucci (Tech3 KTM Factory Racing) was next up on the second KTM, 0.095 further back, and the Italian had a bigger gap back to Aleix Espargaro.
Iker Lecuona (Tech3 KTM Factory Racing) put in a solid session on the timesheets but the Spaniard also suffered a big highside at Turn 1, rider ok but a little bruised. Rookie Enea Bastianini (Avintia Esponsorama) was the only other faller, down at Turn 2.
Alex Marquez (LCR Honda Castrol) completed the damp-affected FP2, just pipping Rins.
FP1 is the same as the combined timesheets after the weather came down, so it’s some interesting reading from the so-far slightly limited running. Viñales and Aprilia grab the headlines, and with the venue one where the number 12 holds the all-time lap record, the RS-GP has tested and where Viñales has tested the RS-GP, it will be interesting to see what happens if the sun returns…
Mir’s strong start in both sessions sends a good warning shot as he arrives fresh from the podium, and Bagnaia’s continued pace, on the back of his first win, likewise. The Italian also had some serious speed at Misano last season…
Miller will want to turn the tables on his teammate on Saturday as he’s fourth, with Rins back in the top five after a tougher Aragon GP outside the top ten on race day. Pol Espargaro is top Honda and pipped Quartararo to sixth by just 0.005, although the Championship leader will surely have more in the locker at a venue Yamaha have dominated eight times.
Bradl impressed to pip Marc Marquez, and Aleix Espargaro is the final rider set to move through to Q2 as it stands. For some, there could be a rain dance for FP3 as they look to move through, but with the weather changing quickly it’s anyone’s guess.
Morbidelli and Dovizioso will definitely want dry skies as they settle in, and FP3 will reveal all at 9:55 (GMT +2). Qualifying then start from 14:10, with the grid for a pivotal race in the title fight sure to prove hard-fought.
MotoGP™ Friday top five:
1 Maverick Viñales* – Aprilia Racing Team Gresini – Aprilia – 1’32.666
2 Joan Mir – Team Suzuki Ecstar – Suzuki – +0.080
3 Francesco Bagnaia – Ducati Lenovo Team – Ducati – +0.135
4 Jack Miller – Ducati Lenovo Team – Ducati – +0.193
5 Alex Rins – Team Suzuki Ecstar – Suzuki – +0.219
*Independent Team rider
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