It was close at the top on Friday in the HJC Helmets Motorrad Grand Prix Deutschland, with Ayumu Sasaki (Petronas Sprinta Racing) just edging out Raul Fernandez (Sama Qatar Angel Nieto Team) for P1, with the Japanese rider fastest in FP2 and the Spaniard in FP1. They were split by just 0.065, with Marcos Ramirez (Leopard Racing) completing the top three despite a crash in FP1 for the Catalan GP winner.
The top 21 riders were within a second on Day 1, and the biggest gap amongst them was back to Ramirez in third as Sasaki and Fernandez ended the day with some breathing space at the top. Only 0.029 kept Assen podium finisher Jakub Kornfeil (Redox PrüstelGP) out of the top three, and it was an even smaller 0.002 back to Kaito Toba (Honda Team Asia) as he completed the top five.
Championship leader Aron Canet (Sterilgarda Racing Team) was sixth quickest overall, just under a tenth off Toba, with Alonso Lopez (Estrella Galicia 0,0) 0.060 behind him. John McPhee (Petronas Sprinta Racing) had a solid first day in eighth, ahead of Romano Fenati (VNE Snipers) and Dennis Foggia (Sky Racing Team VR46), who completed the top ten. The Italian also took the famous ‘Waterfall’ side-by-side with Filip Salac (Redox PrüstelGP) in one stunning moment on Friday.
Tony Arbolino (VNE Snipers) was P11 and didn’t improve in the afternoon, although the now two-time winner was only 0.015 off the top ten, with Kazuki Masaki (BOE Skull Rider Mugen Race) half a tenth in arrears. Foggia’s sparring partner Salac took P12 and showed some impressive form on Friday, ahead of Tatsuki Suzuki (SIC58 Squadra Corse), who completed the fastest 14 and the provisional list of riders heading straight through to Q2.
Gabriel Rodrigo (Kömmerling Gresini Moto3), who was a crasher on Day 1, is the first man who stands to lose out and will be hoping to move forward in FP3, as will Championship challengers Lorenzo Dalla Porta (Leopard Racing) – down in P16 – and Niccolo Antonelli (SIC58 Squadra Corse) in P19. Their last chance for direct Q2 entry starts at 9:00 (GMT +2) on Saturday morning, before qualifying begins from 12:35.
1 – Ayumu Sasaki (JPN – Honda) 1’26.526
2 – Raul Fernandez (SPA – KTM) +0.065
3 – Marcos Ramirez (SPA – Honda) +0.257
4 – Jakub Kornfeil (CZE – KTM) +0.286
5 – Kaito Toba (JPN – Honda) +0.288