Just 0.053 covers the three men at the top of the combined timesheets after Day 1.

Sky Racing Team VR46’s Celestino Vietti laid down the marker on Friday at the myWorld Motorrad Grand Prix von Österreich, ending the day fastest with his final lap in FP2 – but not by much. The Italian was only 0.031 ahead of Petronas Sprinta Racing’s John McPhee, with the Scot, in turn, only 0.022 clear of SIC58 Squadra Corse’s Tatsuki Suzuki. The close timesheets didn’t end there, with 20 riders covered by a second at the end of a Friday that saw riders push hard in the closing stages to make it into the provisional Q2 graduation zone. Why? Adverse forecasts for Saturday’s FP3 session mean Friday could prove crucial…

The day began with Jakub Kornfeil (Redox PrüstelGP) going quickest in FP1, and the Czech rider was one of only a handful who didn’t improve. He remains fifth overall, however, with only the top three and Ayumu Sasaki (Petronas Sprinta Racing) the only riders able to overhaul him in FP2. VNE Snipers’ Tony Arbolino ended the day sixth, just ahead of Bester Capital Dubai’s Jaume Masia in seventh.

Niccolo Antonelli (SIC58 Squadra Corse), fresh from his stunner of a comeback from pitlane to top five at Brno, was P8 on Day 1, with Ai Ogura (Honda Team Asia) just behind the Italian as the Japanese rider looks for another impressive top six finish in his rookie season. Filip Salač (Redox PrüstelGP) completed the top ten.

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Championship rivals Aron Canet (Sterilgarda Max Racing Team) and Lorenzo Dalla Porta (Leopard Racing) had a more muted first day, but both have a provisional place in Q2. Dalla Porta was 11th fastest and just ahead of teammate Marcos Ramirez, with Canet in P14 behind rookie Raul Fernandez (Sama Qatar Angel Nieto Team). The Championship leader didn’t improve in the afternoon and seemed like he could be heading for Q1 before a lap for Dennis Foggia (Sky Racing Team VR46) was cancelled, boosting Canet into 14th.

See who heads into Q2 as FP3 gets in gear at 9:00 local time (GMT +2) on Saturday, before qualifying from 12:35. Will the bad weather stay away?

Friday’s fastest:
1 – Celestino Vietti (ITA – KTM) 1’36.585
2 – John McPhee (GBR – Honda) +0.031
3 – Tatsuki Suzuki (JPN – Honda) +0.053
4 – Ayumu Sasaki (JPN – Honda) +0.352
5 – Jakub Kornfeil (CZE – KTM) +0.382