Five riders in less than a tenth and the top ten within 0.444? Sounds about right for the incredibly competitive 2020 MotoGP™ season, and that was the case on Day 1 of the Gran Premio TISSOT dell'Emilia Romagna e della Riviera di Rimini. Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) is the man on top as action draws to a close on Friday, just 0.002 ahead of Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda Idemitsu), with Fabio Quartararo (Petronas Yamaha SRT) slotting into third. Covering the three is an infinitesimal 0.071...
Quartararo began the day as the man to beat, but San Marino GP winner and teammate Franco Morbidelli (Petronas Yamaha SRT) made for close company as he ended the session within 0.090. Pol Espargaro (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) was third quickest as KTM's promised step forward in Tuesday testing started to materialise early.
It was a rapid start to proceedings on Friday morning for the premier class riders, with Quartararo’s quickest time just three tenths away from Maverick Viñales’ (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) lap record set in Q2 last weekend. A mini time-attack in the final few minutes is when the Frenchman unleashed his speed, although second place Morbidelli set his best time on the hard rear tyre, which could bode well for the Italian if he's planning to race it.
Joan Mir (Team Suzuki Ecstar), third at Misano last Sunday, was fourth fastest behind Pol Espargaro as the Suzuki rider continued to shine. Mir was 0.205 off Quartararo’s pace, with Miguel Oliveira (Red Bull KTM Tech3) making it two RC16s inside the top five in FP1 with a best time of a 1:31.965 – 0.244 away from Quartararo, in fifth.
It was a tougher session for Mir's teammate Alex Rins, who escaped a highside as he got spat out his seat a couple of times on the exit of Turn 5, lucky to stay on. The Spaniard did then crash later in the session – rider ok.
In the opening stages of FP2, Quartararo was the pacesetter on the hard front, medium rear tyre and was setting very impressive lap times – as he did this morning. The Frenchman’s fastest time was a 1:32.320 before he then improved to a 1:32.273 soon after in the opening 15 minutes, with Nakagami sitting second already – 0.099 off the pace.
The two Red Bull KTM Tech 3 riders of Miguel Oliveira and Iker Lecuona were going well as the duo sat P3 and P5, with Pramac Racing’s Jack Miller splitting them in P4. Having said that, Miller, Lecuona and Tito Rabat (Esponsorama Racing) were the only riders to have improved their combined times in the opening 20 minutes of FP2.
The first man to oust Quartararo from the top of the timesheets was San Marino GP podium finisher Francesco Bagnaia (Pramac Racing) as the Italian slammed in a 1:32.138, and then they were off and the times tumbling. Pol Espargaro – a crasher in the early stages of FP2 – recovered from that to really move the goalposts, the Spaniard heading to the top with a 1:31.699 – the first lap quicker than Quartararo’s 1:31.721 from the morning.
Nakagami hit next to go top, by 0.069, as the Japanese rider's improvements in testing kept impressing. It still wasn't quite all she wrote, however, as Binder made his move. Tucked in behind lap record holder Viñales, the Brno winner demoted Nakagami to P2 by 0.002 seconds - leaping up the timesheets after P14 in the morning. Viñales, just ahead of the South African on track, went to P4.
Quartararo couldn’t quite retake the top and slotted into P3, with Viñales improving again abut staying fourth. Pol Espargaro’s 1:31.699 eventually saw him slip to fifth and at the end of the session, you could throw a blanket over the top five – it was that close. Just 0.071 between three manufacturers is a timely reminder of how close the premier class is in 2020!
The top five overall, then, are the top five from FP2: Binder, Nakagami, Quartararo, Viñales and Pol Espargaro. Morbidelli then slots into sixth courtesy of his FP1 time, not improving in the afternoon, with Joan Mir just behind him in seventh and likewise faster in FP1. The same is true of Oliveira, who ends Friday in P8.
Danilo Petrucci (Ducati Team) gained some time in the afternoon to take P9 overall and the honour of top Ducati, although not by much. Johann Zarco (Esponsorama Racing) was tenth, Bagnaia 11th and Dovizioso 12th overall - leaving the latter duo especially with work to do on Saturday morning in FP3 if they want to guarantee themselves a place in Q2.
Joining them on the FP3 charge to take a place in Q2 are another two names outside the top ten: Valentino Rossi (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) in P15 on Day 1, and Jack Miller (Pramac Racing) just behind him. Will they make it through? Find out from 9:55 (GMT+2), before qualifying decides the grid from 14:10 (GMT +2).
MotoGP™: the five fastest on Friday
1 Brad Binder - Red Bull KTM Factory Racing - KTM - 1:31.628
2 Takaaki Nakagami* - LCR Honda Idemitsu - Honda - +0.002
3 Fabio Quartararo* - Petronas Yamaha SRT - Yamaha - +0.016
4 Maverick Viñales - Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP - Yamaha - +0.041
5 Pol Espargaro - Red Bull KTM Factory Racing - KTM - +0.071
*Independent Team rider
Marini marks his turf with new Misano record
San Marino GP winner Luca Marini (Sky Racing Team VR46) was back on top on Day 1 of the Gran Premio TISSOT dell'Emilia Romagna e della Riviera di Rimini, the Italian's 1:35.956 a new lap record at Misano World Circuit Marco Simoncelli. He only got the better of rookie Aron Canet (Inde Aspar Team Moto2) by less than a tenth, however, with Marcel Schrötter (Liqui Moly Intact GP) completing the top three.
In FP1, Enea Bastianini (Italtrans Racing Team) was top of the pile, 0.171 ahead of Tom Lüthi (Liqui Moly Intact GP) as the Swiss veteran put in an impressive session to get back nearer the front. Last week's pole position setter, Sam Lowes (EG 0,0 Marc VDS), completed the top three as his Misano pace remained very much intact.
Hector Garzo (Pons HP 40) was another who impressed as he ended FP1 in fourth, just ahead of Nicolo Bulega (Federal Oil Gresini Moto2). Championship leader Marini began the day in sixth, 0.281 off the top.
Kasma Daniel (ONEXOX TKKR SAG Team) crashed at Turn 5 in FP1, before Jorge Navarro (Beta Tools Speed Up) went down at Turn 16. Andi Izdihar (Idemitsu Honda Team Asia) also took a tumble, the Indonesian at Turn 14.
In the afternoon, Marini hit back and set his fastest lap on a well-used tyre - having spent most the session on it - which may prove ominous to many. Canet was second and Schrötter third, with both making a significant move up the top ten in FP2. Lowes was fourth, with American Joe Roberts (Tennor American Racing) leaping up the timesheets to complete the top five.
Schrötter crashed in the afternoon although still took third, with the other faller proving San Marino GP podium finisher Marco Bezzecchi (Sky Racing Team VR46). It seemed a tougher first day at the track this time around for the Italian, and he crashed at Turn 6 in a highside.
On Friday it's an FP2 top five on the combined timesheets as Marini leads Canet leads Schrötter, with Lowes and Roberts in fourth and fifth respectively. Bastianini slots into sixth by virtue of his FP1 best, ahead of Bezzecchi and Xavi Vierge (Petronas Sprinta Racing).
Lüthi ends Friday in ninth from his FP1 fastest, with the top ten completed by Jorge Navarro and his FP2 best. Currently, the final riders provisionally moving through to Q2 are Garzo, Bulega, Tetsuta Nagashima (Red Bull KTM Ajo) and Jake Dixon (Petronas Sprinta Racing). The first three by virtue of FP1, and Dixon after a huge step forward in the afternoon following some technical troubles in the morning.
That's it from Day 1, with Saturday poised to deliver some more awesome track action for Moto2™. Tune in for FP3 in the morning, before qualifying starts from 15:10 (GMT +2).
Moto2™: the five fastest on Friday
1 Luca Marini - Sky Racing Team VR46 - Kalex 1:35.956
2 Aron Canet - Inde Aspar Team Moto2 - Speed Up - +0.090
3 Marcel Schrötter - Liqui Moly Intact GP - Kalex - +0.201
4 Sam Lowes - EG 0,0 Marc VDS - Kalex - +0.205
5 Joe Roberts - Tennor American Racing - Kalex - +0.295
Masia smashes Misano lap record on Day 1
Jaume Masia (Leopard Racing) set a new all-time lap record on Friday at the Gran Premio TISSOT dell'Emilia Romagna e della Riviera di Rimini, a 1:41.663 putting him just under three tenths ahead of Raul Fernandez (Red Bull KTM Ajo) by the end of play. Celestino Vietti (Sky Racing Team VR46) completed the top three by just 0.021 as action got back underway at Misano World Circuit Marco Simoncelli, with the top three in the Championship all outside the top ten on Day 1.
In FP1 it was Fernandez once again fastest out the blocks, the Spaniard's last dash 1:41.962 making him half a second quicker than Ai Ogura's (Honda Team Asia) pole position laptime last weekend. He was also just a fraction away from the 2019 outright lap record that Masia would go on to break in FP2. Reigning FIM Moto3™ Junior World Champion Jeremy Alcoba (Kömmerling Gresini Moto3) was second quickest, 0.164 back, with Dennis Foggia (Leopard Racing) in third only another 0.026 in arrears.
Gabriel Rodrigo (Kömmerling Gresini Moto3) and Andrea Migno (Sky Racing Team VR46) were a quarter of a second back in fourth and fifth.
Masia had a scary moment early on but later found some rhythm to start the day in sixth, just ahead of Filip Salač (Rivacold Snipers Team) and World Championship leader Albert Arenas (Gaviota Aspar Team Moto3). They were the final two of the eight riders who managed to go under Ogura's pole lap from the San Marino GP.
Deniz Öncü (Red Bull KTM Tech 3) crashed twice, first at Turn 9 and later at Turn 6, rider ok. San Marino GP podium finisher Tatsuki Suzuki (SIC58 Squadra Corse) also went down at Turn 4, and Foggia at Turn 6.
In the afternoon, Masia moved from sixth to top as he smashed the lap record, ending the afternoon fastest ahead of Vietti as the Italian looks to bounce back from a tougher first weekend on home soil. Suzuki and Migno were next up, with Fernandez down in fifth and suffering a highside in the session - rider ok and even able to get it back to the pits.
Rodrigo, Migno and Fenati also all suffered crashes, riders ok.
Masia is the man leading the way to FP3 on the combined timesheets after that new lap record, and he'll likely feel confident of moving through to Q2 despite a penalty he has to serve in the FP3 session. The Spaniard is one of a number of riders suspended from the last 15 minutes due to slow riding in practice last weekend.
Will the grid be able to get the jump on him? Next overall on Friday is Fernandez with his best laptime from FP1, ahead of Vietti, Suzuki and Migno with their fastest efforts from FP2. Alcoba slots into sixth overall courtesy of his FP1 lap, with Salač's FP2 lap putting him just 0.007 behind the Spaniard.
Foggia's FP1 quickest puts him in P8 and he'll be another sitting out the final 15 minutes of FP3, so he'll be looking for more early on Saturday to ensure he keeps that provisional place in Q2. Rodrigo was ninth overall, with Stefano Nepa (Gaviota Aspar Team Moto3) completing the top ten.
Ayumu Sasaki (Red Bull KTM Tech 3) bounced back from a DNF through no fault of his own last time out to take P11 overall, ahead of Championship leader Arenas by just 0.033. The last two currently set to move through to Q2 are Tony Arbolino (Rivacold Snipers Team) - who'll be missing the last 15 minutes of FP3 as well - and Kaito Toba (Red Bull KTM Ajo).
That leaves a couple of familiar names outside that all-important top 14 and looking to move forward in FP3: San Marino GP winner and third in the Championship, John McPhee (Petronas Sprinta Racing), who is P15 overall, as well as the man second in the title fight, Ai Ogura. Last week's polesitter was down in P19.
Can they bounce back on Saturday? FP3 begins at 9:00 (GMT +3), with an interesting final slice of the session to come as Arbolino, Foggia and Masia join Ryusei Yamanaka (Estrella Galicia 0,0) and Davide Pizzoli (BOE Skull Rider Facile Energy) on the sidelines after having been penalised for riding slowly in FP3 last weekend. Qualifying then begins from 12:35 (GMT +2)!
Moto3™: the five fastest on Friday
1 Jaume Masia - Leopard Racing - Honda 1:41.663
2 Raul Fernandez - Red Bull KTM Ajo - KTM +0.299
3 Celestino Vietti - Sky Racing Team VR46 - KTM +0.320
4 Tatsuki Suzuki - SIC58 Squadra Corse - Honda +0.412
5 Andrea Migno - Sky Racing Team VR46 - KTM +0.426