After a two tough weekends at the Red Bull Ring, Friday saw a change of fortunes for Yamaha at Misano World Circuit Marco Simoncelli, with the Iwata marque leading the way with a 1-2-3. It was Fabio Quartararo (Petronas Yamaha SRT) who took to the top by the end of play, the Frenchman turning the tables on Maverick Viñales (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) in the afternoon after the number 12 blitzed FP1. The gap between the two? An infinitesimal 0.009! Third went the way of Franco Morbidelli (Petronas Yamaha SRT), who once again showed some serious speed in 2020.
The first premier class session of the day most definitely belonged to one man: Viñales. The Spaniard set a blistering 1:32.198 to head the timesheets by over half a second in the morning, beating his own 2019 pole position time and going over a second quicker than FP1 last year. Quartararo was the rear gunner for Top Gun in second, ahead of an impressive session for Aprilia in third. Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini) completed the top three for the Noale factory, the Spaniard 0.751 adrift of the top... but that translating into a deficit of just two tenths to Quartararo given Viñales' margin.
Johann Zarco (Esponsorama Racing) was fourth quickest in FP1, ahead of a second Noale machine as Bradley Smith (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini) locked out the top five.
Things got lively in the latter stages of the session on fresh rubber, with a few putting in time attacks. Viñales hit first to oust Quartararo from the top in the final two minutes, with Zarco and the Aprilias striking next. Viñales had the last word though, slamming in that stunning last lap to extend his advantage to over half a second.
No one crashed in the session.
The tables were turned in the afternoon as Quartararo took over at the top, getting the better of teammate Morbidelli by 0.178 in a Petronas Yamaha SRT 1-2. Pol Espargaro (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) was third, ahead of a stunning session for rookie Iker Lecuona (Red Bull KTM Tech 3) in P4. Local legend Valentino Rossi (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) completed the top five in FP2, just ahead of Viñales.
In the early stages, Quartararo led the way from Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda Idemitsu) and Viñales, with Lecuona impressing early on to sit inside the top five. Viñales was down to serious business, however, working on the medium front and hard rear Michelin tyres. The Spaniard looked like he was on rails, consistently setting personal bests. The Team Suzuki Ecstar machines of Alex Rins and Joan Mir were also going well in FP2 to both share a period at the top of the timesheets, but the Hamamatsu factory wouldn’t stay there by the end of the day.
Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Brad Binder then took a tumble at Turn 6, but the South African went to the top of the timesheets not long after as the riders pushed for that one-lap time attack in the final few minutes. Morbidelli, who was 12th in FP1, was next to take over at the top, before teammate Quartararo snatched it back to have the final say on Friday's fastest.
Overall, that lap was enough to secure fastest overall on the combined timesheets for 'El Diablo', but when taking into account Viñales' quickest from FP1, it's not by much. Just 0.009 split the two at the top, with Morbidelli in third.
Pol Espargaro is therefore shuffled down to fourth overall, 0.297 off the top and with a couple of tenths in hand over Lecuona in P5. Rossi was next up to make it all four Yamahas in the top six, with Danilo Petrucci (Ducati Team) the first Borgo Panigale representative as he slotted into seventh overall.
Brad Binder is P8 after Day 1, with Styrian GP winner Miguel Oliveira (Red Bull KTM Tech 3) just behind him... making it all four KTMs in the top ten and on for potential graduation to Q2. Aleix Espargaro was only 0.001 off the Portugese rider, however, completing the top ten for the Noale factory.
There's one definite name missing there, and it's the man second in the Championship: Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team). The Italian was 11th on the combined timesheets by just 0.009, and he'll be the first looking to move forward on Saturday. Jack Miller (Pramac Racing), double podium finisher at the Red Bull Ring, was also down the order a little as the Aussie took P17 - a few hundredths ahead of teammate Francesco Bagnaia as the latter returns from injury.
It's game on for Saturday at Misano, and qualifying starts at 14:10 (GMT +2) to decide the grid positions for another stunning Gran Premio Lenovo di San Marino e della Riviera di Rimini. Don't miss it!
MotoGP™: the five fastest on Friday
1 Fabio Quartararo* - Petronas Yamaha SRT - Yamaha - 1:32.189
2 Maverick Viñales - Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP - Yamaha - +0.009
3 Franco Morbidelli* - Petronas Yamaha SRT - Yamaha - +0.178
4 Pol Espargaro - Red Bull KTM Factory Racing - KTM - +0.287
5 Iker Lecuona* - Red Bull KTM Tech 3 - KTM - +0.486
*Independent Team rider
Bastianini deposes Lowes on Day 1
Enea Bastianini (Italtrans Racing Team) took back to the top on Day 1 of the Gran Premio Lenovo di San Marino e della Riviera di Rimini, putting in a 1:36.933 to pip Sam Lowes (EG 0,0 Marc VDS) to the honour by half a tenth. The top three was completed by last year's winner and Lowes' teammate Augusto Fernandez, with the Spaniard still within just over a tenth of the top.
A 1:37.245 in FP1 - 1.3 seconds faster than the quickest effort in FP1 last year - put Sam Lowes in P1 in the morning, with the Brit beating Championship leader and local hero Luca Marini (Sky Racing Team VR46) to the top by a couple of tenths. Marini’s teammate and Styrian GP winner Marco Bezzecchi was next up; another Italian in the top three and only another tenth in arrears.
Marcel Schrötter (Liqui Moly Intact GP) took fourth, just 0.088 ahead of the third home hero in the top five as Bastianini started his home GP off in P5 - with more to come...
Remy Gardner (ONEXOX TKKR SAG Team) took a tumble at Turn 16, before Fernandez then went down at Turn 1. Schrötter also crashed, the German heading down at Turn 14, before Jake Dixon (Petronas Sprinta Racing) ran afoul of the same corner towards the end of the session.
In the afternoon, the 'Beast' struck back. Bastianini turned the tables to lead Lowes by 0.059 in the session, as well as beat the Brit's fastest lap from the morning. Although the top six all managed that, too, as the times tumbled in FP2. Last year's winner Fernandez was only another tiny margin behind, this time 0.056.
Nicolo Bulega (Federal Oil Gresini Moto2) moved up to fourth in the afternoon, with Marini taking the final place in the top five.
There were two crashes in FP2: Schrötter went down again, and again at Turn 14, before Xavi Vierge (Petronas Sprinta Racing) took a tumble in the same place a few minutes later.
On the combined timesheets, it's almost a mirror image of FP2 barring Jesko Raffin (NTS RW Racing GP) as the Swiss rider brought up the rear on his return from injury and was unable to improve in the afternoon. Bastianini leads Lowes, Fernandez, Bulega and Marini, with Fabio Di Giannantonio (+Ego Speed Up) in P6 as last year's second place finisher got back on the pace - just 0.032 off Marini.
Hafizh Syahrin (Oceanica Aspar Team Moto2) impressed in seventh as he comes back from injuries sustained in the headline-making Austrian GP crash, the second Speed Up in the top ten, and Jorge Navarro (+Ego Speed Up) made it three for the factory as he took P9 overall. Schrötter completed the top ten despite his two offs on Friday.
Rookie Aron Canet (Oceanica Aspar Team Moto2) was only just off that top ten in P11, ahead of Tetsuta Nagashima (Red Bull KTM Ajo) as the Japanese rider was a more muted presence on Friday. Vierge and Joe Roberts (Tennor American Racing) are currently the last two on to move directly to Q2, but everything can still change on Saturday. With Lowes starting from pitlane due to a penalty, it could essentially end up for a fight for the top 13 on the grid, too.
FP3 is the final chance for the Moto2™ field to move straight through to Q2, and it begins at 10:55 on Saturday morning. Qualifying then starts at 15:10, so don't miss it!
Moto2™: the five fastest on Friday
1 Enea Bastianini - Italtrans Racing Team - Kalex - 1:36.933
2 Sam Lowes - EG 0,0 Marc VDS - Kalex - +0.059
3 Augusto Fernandez - EG 0,0 Marc VDS - Kalex - +0.115
4 Nicolo Bulega - Federal Oil Gresini Moto2 - Kalex +0.248
5 Luca Marini - Sky Racing Team VR46 - Kalex +0.278
Fernandez fastest out the blocks at Misano
Red Bull KTM Ajo's Raul Fernandez is the man to beat after Day 1 at Misano World Circuit Marco Simoncelli, with the Spaniard putting down an early marker in the Gran Premio Lenovo di San Marino e della Riviera di Rimini to head the timesheets from Gabriel Rodrigo (Kömmerling Gresini Moto3). Third overall belonged to 2019 winner and home team hero Tatsuki Suzuki (SIC58 Squadra Corse).
The Moto3™ field were the first to taste a freshly resurfaced Misano on Friday morning, and Fernandez' session-topping 1:42.501 was less than seven tenths adrift of the fastest-ever Moto3™ lap, which is, for reference, the 1:41.823 set by Jorge Martin on his way to pole position in 2018. Gabriel Rodrigo was second in the session, a couple of tenths behind Fernandez, with Ayumu Sasaki (Red Bull KTM Tech 3) slotting into third and half a second off the top.
John McPhee (Petronas Sprinta Racing) and Styrian GP winner Celestino Vietti (Sky Racing Team VR46) were split by hundredths in P4 and P5 respectively, with the timesheets tightening up behind the top three.
Deniz Öncü (Red Bull KTM Tech 3) crashed, unhurt, in the early stages of FP1, before Filip Salač (Rivacold Snipers Team) became the second and final rider to take a tumble. The Czech rider was able to rejoin the action straight away though.
In the afternoon, 2019 winner Tatsuki Suzuki moved up the order to lead the way with a 1:42.783, the Japanese rider pipping Championship leader Albert Arenas (Pull&Bear Aspar Team) by just half a tenth. Third was even closer, however, as Fernandez ended the session just 0.021 in further arrears. Sky Racing Team VR46 duo Andrea Migno and Celestino Vietti completed the fastest five.
There were a number of crashers in the afternoon, starting with Carlos Tatay (Reale Avintia Moto3). Kaito Toba (Red Bull KTM Ajo) was next, before a rare crash for compatriot Ai Ogura (Honda Team Asia), and Rodrigo then tangled with Barry Baltus (CarXpert PrüstelGP). The final incident was a technical issue for Alonso Lopez (Sterilgarda Max Racing Team).
There were also a few penalties to be served. Jason Dupasquier (CarXpert PrüstelGP), Sergio Garcia (Estrella Galicia 0,0), Öncü and Toba were all suspended from the first 10 minutes of FP2 due to irresponsible riding in FP1, with Tony Arbolino (Rivacold Snipers Team), Dennis Foggia (Leopard Racing), Jaume Masia (Leopard Racing), Davide Pizzoli (BOE Skull Rider Facile Energy) and Ryusei Yamanaka (Estrella Galicia 0,0) all suspended from the first 15 minutes of FP2, as it was their second similar offence of the season...
Overall, it's Fernandez who leads the way on Friday thanks to his FP1 time, just ahead of Rodrigo and the Argentine's lap from the same session. Third is Suzuki as the Japanese rider's FP2 best moves him up on the combined times, and he's followed by a few names who were on his tail in FP2: Arenas fourth, Migno fifth and Vietti sixth. McPhee's FP2 best puts him in seventh overall.
Ayumu Sasaki slots into P8 courtesy of his FP1 time, ahead of another train of names who put in their fastest efforts in the afternoon: Garcia in ninth, Masia 10th, his teammate Foggia in 11th, Salač in 12th, Romano Fenati (Sterilgarda Max Racing Team) in 13th and second in the Championship, Ai Ogura, down in P14. He's currently the last of the provisional Q2 graduates... at the expense of Darryn Binder (CIP - Green Power) by just 0.004.
How will the pack shuffle on Saturday? Find out as FP3 starts at 9:00 (GMT +2), before qualifying from 12:35!
Moto3™: the five fastest on Friday
1 Raul Fernandez - Red Bull KTM Ajo - KTM 1:42.501
2 Gabriel Rodrigo - Kömmerling Gresini Moto3 - Honda +0.234
3 Tatsuki Suzuki - SIC58 Squadra Corse - Honda +0.282
4 Albert Arenas - Pull&Bear Aspar Team - KTM +0.332
5 Andrea Migno - Sky Racing Team VR46 - KTM +0.383