Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda Idemitsu) was the fastest man in FP2 but leading the overall times on Day 1 of the Gran Premio Red Bull de Andalucia was Maverick Viñales (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP), thanks to his FP1 time of 1:37.107. The Spaniard heads teammate Valentino Rossi and Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Brad Binder on the opening day, with Championship leader Fabio Quartararo (Petronas Yamaha SRT) outside the top 10.
The conditions were very similar to what we saw seven days ago at the Circuito de Jerez-Angel Nieto, but we saw a couple of things that we didn’t see last weekend making an appearance. Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda Castrol) was sporting a new Honda chassis, with Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team) having some knee supports on his GP20 fuel tank. Speaking to motogp.com pitlane reporter Simon Crafar, Ducati Team Manager Davide Tardozzi confirming it’s to help Dovizioso feel more comfortable on the bike in the middle of the corner.
The state of play on Day 1 was almost identical to the Spanish GP, with FP1 giving the riders cooler temperatures to get some fast times in to try and get an early edge in the fight for the top 10. Then, the afternoon heat was a time to try some tweaks to settings and tyres. However, what wasn’t the same was the standings – especially in FP2. It was a Yamaha onslaught in FP1 as three YZR-M1s sat inside the top four, with the ever-impressive Binder separating them. However, Championship leader and Spanish GP winner Quartararo didn’t go for a time in FP1 – and the Frenchman didn’t improve his time in FP2 either.
One rider who did improve in the afternoon was Johann Zarco (Hublot Reale Avintia). The Frenchman – despite a crash at Turn 6 – was a man on a mission to finish 0.155 off Nakagami’s time, with Pol Espargaro (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) – another to crash, this time at Turn 2 – sitting P3. Nakagami set two consecutive fastest laps right at the death to dispose Zarco from P1 as Honda led Ducati, KTM and Yamaha in FP2 – Franco Morbidelli (Petronas Yamaha SRT) the leading YZR-M1 rider as the Italian showed he has great race pace.
However, the cooler morning temperatures ultimately decided the provisional automatic Q2 places – which Quartararo isn’t in. Morbidelli and Pol Espargaro managed to finish both sessions inside the top five as the duo goes in hunt of a podium on Sunday, with Miguel Oliveira (Red Bull KTM Tech3) giving yet more indication that KTM – in Pol Espargaro’s words – are "in the game." Jack Miller (Pramac Racing) was 10th in FP2 as the Australian sits P7 on the overall times, with FP2 pacesetter Nakagami 8th overall – 0.529 off Viñales’ time. Closing out the provisional automatic Q2 places are Aprilia Racing Team Gresini’s Aleix Espargaro and Ducati Team’s Andrea Dovizioso as 0.9 seconds covers the top 16.
FP3 is going to be a must-watch. Joan Mir (Team Suzuki Ecstar), Zarco, Quartararo, 4th place Spanish GP qualifier Francesco Bagnaia (Pramac Racing) and others all currently need to improve to penetrate the top 10 – do not miss it! 09:55 local time (GMT+2) on Saturday morning is when the time attack will kick off.
As well as the time attack, a certain Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) will emerge on board his RC213V on Saturday morning. What can the eight-time Champion do on just four days after surgery? He’ll join recently injured Crutchlow and Alex Rins (Team Suzuki Ecstar) on track as the trio aim to fight for the highest place possible before qualifying.
Top 10 combined:
1. Maverick Viñales (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) – 1:37.063
2. Valentino Rossi (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) + 0.142
3. Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) + 0.307
4. Franco Morbidelli (Petronas Yamaha SRT) + 0.353
5. Pol Espargaro (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) + 0.379
6. Miguel Oliveira (Red Bull KTM Tech 3) + 0.429
7. Jack Miller (Pramac Racing) + 0.503
8. Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda Idemitsu) + 0.529
9. Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini) + 0.672
10. Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team) + 0.676