Nakagami Edges Out Mir As Action Opens In AustriaThe Japanese rider pips the reigning Champion in FP1 before rain slows play in the afternoon.

Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda Idemitsu) got the best start to the Michelin® Grand Prix of Styria, the Japanese rider fastest on a mixed Friday after ending FP1 on top. The weather turned just in time to stop the MotoGP™ class improving in the afternoon, leaving his 0.076 advantage over the field to stand as we head into Saturday.

Reigning Champion Joan Mir (Team Suzuki Ecstar) was the man in second by the flag as his Austria skills proved sharp as ever, and he also said he’ll try the new Suzuki ride height device on Day 2 after Friday proved such a positive first day on track. Third went to Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini) after a late lunge from the number 41 in FP1, with his teammate Lorenzo Savadori then fastest in the damp-affected and drying FP2 to make it a good start to Styria for Aprilia.

FP1
Nakagami struck late in the morning, his final push of the session enough to deny reigning World Champion Mir by 0.076. Mir had been fast throughout and led the middle half hour of FP1 too, with Aleix Espargaro making a late lunge to take over in third, 0.378 off the top.

Alex Rins (Team Suzuki Ecstar) made it two Hamamatsu machines in the top five, 0.038 off Aleix Espargaro, with Pol Espargaro (Repsol Honda Team) locking out the top five and also within a few hundredths.

The incident sheet was an all-KTM affair in the morning, with the home heroes suffering three issues. Iker Lecuona (Tech3 KTM Factory Racing) crashed at Turn 3, a lowside, before a technical problem saw wildcard and MotoGP™ Legend Dani Pedrosa pull his Red Bull KTM Factory Racing machine over between Turns 3 and 4. The exit of Turn 3 also saw drama for Miguel Oliveira (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) as the Portuguese rider got flicked off his KTM, subsequently heading to the Medical Centre. He was judged fit to continue and initial check ups found no fractures, although as the weather changed in the afternoon he sat the session out.

At the end of FP1, it was Pedrosa – despite being over two years on from retirement – who was the fastest KTM, starting his weekend in P11.

FP2
The afternoon began wet for the MotoGP™ runners, although a drier line had emerged by the last few minutes. And that’s when Savadori struck, the Italian timing it perfectly to top the session by a tenth and a half from Zarco. Mir was third, with Francesco Bagnaia (Ducati Lenovo Team) in fourth and Aleix Espargaro locking out the fastest five.

Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) had been the fastest man for much of the afternoon, before the final push saw him leapfrogged by Rins, Alex Marquez (LCR Honda Castrol), Lecuona and Viñales, the eight-time World Champion ultimately ending the session in P10.

Lecuona suffered the only incident, the Spaniard running on at Turn 1.

Combined timesheets
FP1 times rule the roost on Friday, so Nakagami leads Mir ahead of Aleix Espargaro, with Rins and Pol Espargaro up next. His teammate, Marc Marquez, was a couple more tenths in arrears and only 0.017 ahead of the fastest Yamaha.

That was Maverick Viñales, as the number 12 pipped Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP teammate Fabio Quartararo by just under a tenth… and El Diablo’s closest challenger by the same margin as Johann Zarco (Pramac Racing) slotted into ninth with an identical laptime to his compatriot. Jack Miller (Ducato Lenovo Team) completes the top ten.

The rain leaves Pedrosa outside the top ten as he remains P11 but fastest KTM, ahead of Bagnaia, who will also be looking for more in FP3. So too will Oliveira down in P15 just ahead of Valentino Rossi (Petronas Yamaha SRT), and Binder to boot. The South African heads the remaining KTMs from P18 down, and for a track where only Ducati and KTM have won, they’ll all be eager to make up some ground on Saturday morning.

The fight for a place in Q2 picks up again at 9:55 (GMT +2), with FP3 giving the grid a final chance to book a guaranteed place in the qualifying shootout. That starts at 14:10, with the first grid of the second half of the season soon to be decided.

MotoGP™ Friday top five:
1 Takaaki Nakagami* – LCR Honda Idemitsu – Honda – 1:23.805
2 Joan Mir – Team Suzuki Ecstar – Suzuki – +0.076
3 Aleix Espargaro* – Aprilia Racing Team Gresini – Honda – +0.378
4 Alex Rins – Team Suzuki Ecstar – Suzuki – +0.416
5 Pol Espargaro – Repsol Honda Team – Honda – +0.449

*Independent Team rider

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Nakagami Edges Out Mir As Action Opens In Austria
Mir began the weekend in second place with serious pace

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