Zarco Comes Out Swinging In SpielbergA new all-time lap record sees the Frenchman end Friday a whopping eight tenths clear of Mir.

Johann Zarco (Pramac Racing) is the new fastest ever MotoGP™ rider at the Red Bull Ring. The Frenchman’s 1:22.827 set in FP1 is a new all-time lap record and one serious benchmark after a tougher Styrian GP, leaving him eight tenths clear after Day 1 of the Bitci Motorrad Grand Prix von Österreich. Reigning Champion and Styrian GP podium finisher Joan Mir was second, just ahead of his Team Suzuki Ecstar teammate Alex Rins.

Zarco absolutely blasted out the blocks in FP1, the Frenchman already fastest before slamming in that new lap record to go eight tenths clear of the field in the final couple of minutes, over three tenths quicker than his previous best as he pushed early for a fast lap. The field in this case meant Mir, the number 36 adding that the position is good but they nevertheless need to work on braking, with Rins finding some better form to end the session just a tenth off his teammate.

Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda Idemitsu) was fourth in FP1, leading the mid-part of the session for some time and maintaining his status as top Honda in Austria, with Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini) enjoying a solid start in fifth.

The only drama was a technical problem for Fabio Quartararo (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) at Turn 9 at the end of the session, the Frenchman putting his hand up and pulling off.

The rain came down in a big way just before the end of Moto3™ FP2, and that left the premier class with a very wet Red Bull Ring for their FP2 too. Consequently, no one improved but one person did set an incredible benchmark: Iker Lecuona (Tech3 KTM Factory Racing). The Spaniard ended the session a whopping 3.397 seconds clear after putting slicks in for a final charge, the only rider to push near the end of the session as the track dried.

Lecuona reigned in the rain early on too, before Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) took over on top mid-session for some time. But the number 27 KTM hit back with his run on slicks, only competing with himself for P1.

Zarco was second in the session behind Lecuona, with Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini) a few tenths further back in third. Marc Marquez ended up fourth after leading part way through, with Jack Miller (Ducati Lenovo Team) completing the top five.

Francesco Bagnaia (Ducati Lenovo Team) suffered a run off at Turn 4, and Joan Mir headed wide at Turn 10… as Marc Marquez got a little close for comfort up the inside.

Combined timesheets
FP1 is the same as the combined times given change in the weather, with Zarco retaining his eight tenths of advantage into Saturday. Mir is second ahead of Rins, with Nakagami the last man within a second. Aleix Espargaro completes the top five.

Quartararo was sixth, ahead of more good Spielberg speed from Alex Marquez (LCR Honda Castrol) in seventh. Bagnaia was the second Borgo Panigale machine in P8, with Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) and Styrian GP winner Jorge Martin (Pramac Racing) round out a top ten split by 1.217. Which would sound a lot, except Zarco’s laptime is such that Mir in second to Martin in tenth is covered by only 0.419, and Zarco has the rest of that gap to himself.

With the weather forecast for Saturday making for interesting reading, that top ten could leave a few usual suspects looking for a way into Q2. They include both Red Bull KTM Factory Racing riders Miguel Oliveira and Brad Binder, who ended the day in P15 and P16, respectively, as well as Jack Miller just behind them in 17th.

They’ll be looking for a way through as FP3 begins at 9:55 (GMT +2)… and for better grid positions in qualifying, which starts at 14:10. Tune in to see who can reign the Red Bull Ring on take two!

MotoGP™ Friday top five:
1 Johann Zarco* – Pramac Racing – Ducati – 1:22.827
2 Joan Mir – Team Suzuki Ecstar – Suzuki – +0.798
3 Alex Rins – Team Suzuki Ecstar – Suzuki – +0.903
4 Takaaki Nakagami* – LCR Honda Idemitsu – Honda – +0.963
3 Aleix Espargaro* – Aprilia Racing Team Gresini – Honda – +1.014

*Independent Team rider

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