Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) topped the timesheets on Day 1 of the HJC Helmets Motorrad Grand Prix Deutschland, but the reigning Champion had some competition at the venue he’s reigned nine times in a row. Alex Rins (Team Suzuki Ecstar) was second quickest, but Fabio Quartararo (Petronas Yamaha SRT) stole a few headlines in both sessions. The French rookie was fastest in FP1, and in the latter stages of the day he was denied the chance to improve his lap first as he got held up by teammate Franco Morbidelli (Petronas Yamaha SRT) and second as he caught Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda Idemitsu) at the end of his final push. Does the rookie sensation have more in the tank for Saturday?
Conditions were warmer in the afternoon and almost the entire premier class field were able to improve their FP1 times within ten minutes of FP2 on a day of good weather in Germany – sometimes easier said than done – and two action-packed sessions, including 66 degrees of lean for Marquez and Quartararo’s determination to try and dethrone the king of the Sachsenring didn’t disappoint. And although the Frenchman didn’t manage that in the end, Quartararo’s rookie run of form in recent sessions is akin only to Marquez’ speed in 2013 – with the rookie now in the top three for 16 sessions in a row; a good omen for the rest of the weekend.
Assen winner Maverick Viñales (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP), who finished on the podium here last season, was the man in P4 after the first day and just over a tenth off Quartararo, with Pol Espargaro (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) next up to complete the top five; the Spaniard putting in another stunner of a performance for Austrian factory KTM.
Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda Castrol) was P6 despite struggling through the pain barrier after a cycling mishap, just ahead of the fastest Ducati on Day 1: Jack Miller (Pramac Racing). Miller led a Borgo Panigale 7-8-9 as he headed Danilo Petrucci (Ducati Team) by half a tenth, with Petrucci’s teammate Andrea Dovizioso only a further 0.005 in arrears. Valentino Rossi (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) completed the top ten on Friday and therefore currently holds the last of the provisional places in Q2. The ‘Doctor’ was also in the top three in the morning.
Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini) was an infinitesimal 0.005 off that fastest ten, and he’ll be the first pushing to try and crack it on Saturday morning in FP3, ahead of Franco Morbidelli (Petronas Yamaha SRT), rookie Joan Mir (Team Suzuki Ecstar) and home hero Stefan Bradl (Repsol Honda Team), who is standing in for the injured Jorge Lorenzo. Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda Idemitsu) completed the fastest fifteen.
It was a day with low rates of attrition and only Francesco Bagnaia (Pramac Racing) suffered a crash, the Italian going down in FP1. He missed FP2 as he headed for a check up in Chemnitz in the afternoon, rider ok.
That’s it from Day 1! The top ten after FP3 will go through to Q2, and that final chance to move up the timesheets starts at 9:55 (GMT+2) on Saturday morning at the Sachsenring. Does Quartararo have an ace up his sleeve? Can Marquez move the benchmark once again? Qualifying begins at 14:10 to decide the grid.
1 – Marc Marquez (SPA – Honda) 1:20.705
2 – Alex Rins (SPA – Suzuki) +0.341
3 – Fabio Quartararo* (FRA – Yamaha) +0.360
4 – Maverick Viñales (SPA – Yamaha) +0.488
5 – Pol Espargaro (SPA – KTM) +0.560
*Independent Team rider