Too hot to handle: Marquez masters MotorLand on Day 1 1Reigning Champion fastest overall after searing pace in FP1, Viñales top in FP2.

Marc Marquez’ (Repsol Honda Team) incredible 1:46.869 in FP1 sees the reigning World Champion sit over a second clear of the field after Day 1 at the Gran Premio Michelin® de Aragon, with the number 93 pushing for a hot lap early in the day and that proving unassailable thereafter. Maverick Viñales was fastest from Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP teammate Valentino Rossi in FP2 as the duo complete the top three on the combined standings, but the headlines remained Marquez’ awesome show of speed in the first session of the weekend – despite a crash in the afternoon, rider ok.

So why the push for pace? Marquez abandoned his MO as rain threatens to disrupt proceedings on Saturday, with a place in that all-important provisional Q2 graduation zone seemingly up for grabs on Friday given the forecast. And joining the top three in that top ten as it stands were many a usual suspect – with Alex Rins (Team Suzuki Ecstar) one surprising name to be left out. If it’s wet in FP3, the Silverstone winner may have his work cut out.

There were no such issues for Fabio Quartararo (Petronas Yamaha SRT) as the French rookie showed off his now customary impressive pace by taking fourth and ending the day as top Independent Team rider. ‘El Diablo’ slotted in just behind the Monster Energy Yamaha duo of Viñales and Rossi in FP2, with the Iwata marque dominating the afternoon…although Marquez’ morning hot lap remained out of reach.

Viñales spent much of that afternoon chipping away at his rival’s advantage and a few positions chopped and changed in the top five and ten, but a late rush for provisional graduation to Q2 soon changed the tone again. Rossi was one who needed a boost up the order after finishing FP1 outside the top 15, and Quartararo was on the edge too. Ultimately, both would shoot up the timesheets and safely end the day in P3 and P4 respectively, just ahead of another stunning performance from Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s man of the moment Pol Espargaro. After a solid FP1 within the top ten, the Spaniard ends the day in an ever-impressive P5 overall.

Jack Miller (Pramac Racing) slipped from fifth to sixth overall, although the KTM ahead only got the better of him by an infinitesimal 0.050, with LCR Honda Castrol’s Cal Crutchlow then even closer in seventh – only 0.008 in further arrears. Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team) kept the trend going as he ended the day only 0.027 off Crutchlow; the Italian eighth by the end of play after ending FP1 in P4.

Joan Mir (Team Suzuki Ecstar) impressed on Friday to take ninth and give himself a shout of a place in Q2, and he could be the only Suzuki rider there after Rins just lost out. A late lunge from Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini) was what got the Silverstone winner and the older Espargaro brother ends Friday in tenth to make it every manufacturer in the top ten on Day 1 in Aragon.

Rins is joined by the likes of Danilo Petrucci (Ducati Team) and Franco Morbidelli (Petronas Yamaha SRT) in looking up at the sky on Saturday morning and hoping it’s dry. Will the weather hold for FP3? Find out at 9:55 local time (GMT+2), before qualifying from 14:10.

Friday’s fastest:
1 – Marc Marquez (SPA – Honda) 1’46.869
2 – Maverick Viñales (SPA – Yamaha) +1.145
3 – Valentino Rossi (ITA – Yamaha) +1.202
4 – Fabio Quartararo* (FRA – Yamaha) +1.248
5 – Pol Espargaro (SPA – KTM) +1.523

*Independent Team rider





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