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A crash filled session saw late improvements from Brad Binder, Nicolo Bulega and Andrea Antonelli to promote themselves into the top three.
Moto3™ headed out for their second practice session of Friday at the Grand Premio Red Bull de España under beautiful blue Spanish skies. Air temperature was a pleasant 23 degrees while the ground temperature steadily crept above 31°C. Riders were out to catch Jorge Navarro (Estrella Galicia 0,0) who had led FP1 with a 1’47.241. Several of the rookies were also out for a strong result at a track they know well, and could very well threaten for debut podiums come race day.
By mid session no rider had bettered Navarro’s time from FP1, Fabio Quartararo’s (Leopard Racing) began to drop the pace but at the end of his second flying lap towards the conclusion of the session, the French rider suffered an enormous highside at Turn 13. Although he was slow to get up, he was able to walk away from the incident and return to his garage. Quartararo’s fall was soon followed by Navarro sliding off at the fast Turn 9, again he was unharmed but two of the favourites were forced to spend the remainder of the session waiting for their bikes to be repaired.
Times would remain largely unchanged until the final three minutes when Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Ajo) jumped from 16th to first with a 1’47.119 and was one of the first riders inside the top five to improve their time from FP1. This saw him lead both the session and the day overall, edging out impressive rookie Nicolo Bulega (Sky Racing Team VR46) by 0.281s. KTMs clearly suit the Jerez circuit, occupying the top two spots in the session and three out of the top five positions on combined times.
Having raced, and won, at Jerez in the FIM CEV Repsol Moto3™ Junior World Championship in 2015, Bulega was able to again show his rapid pace as a 1’47.400 put him second in FP2 and third overall. Bulega took pole in the CEV race with a 1’46.737, there’s still significant speed to come from the Italian. As the crashes showed, the track was not in an ideal condition. Dunlop had expected more rubber to be left on track by this stage.
He may have crashed and ended Free Practice 2 down in 20th position, but Jorge Navarro’s time from FP1 was good enough to hold him in second overall as Friday came to a close. The fall disrupted his work during the session, limiting him to just ten laps. He was uninjured in his Turn 9 fall which is the most important point as Navarro will be able to head back out in FP3 on Saturday and prepare for Qualifying.
Fifth in FP2 and fourth overall, Romano Fenati (Sky Racing Team VR46) is again showing well as he attempts to launch a serious championship challenge. Fenati’s 1’47.473 from FP1 was his best of the day, 0.2s faster than his best time in FP2. Navarro and Fenati were the only riders inside the top ten who were unable to improve their lap times in FP2. Back in 2012 Fenati took his first ever Grand Prix victory in Jerez in just his second race on the world stage, taking a second win in 2014.
Once again there were three Italians inside the top five thanks to Niccolo Antonelli’s (Ongetta-Rivacold) FP2 time. Interestingly, all three of the Italians in the top five are part of the VR46 Riders Academy that is starting to produce some very talented riders.
Jorge Martin (Aspar Mahindra Team Moto3), Francesco Bagnaia (Aspar Mahindra Team Moto3), Khairul Idham Pawi (Honda Team Asia), Jules Danilo (Ongetta-Rivacold) and Enea Bastianini (Gresini Racing Moto3) completed the top ten on combined times. After a difficult start to the year, the Aspar Mahindra Team Moto3 are beginning to gain momentum at a track which suits the MGP3O more.
Wildcard Enzo Boulom (Procercasa – 42 Motorsport) was an early faller, the French rider running off track at Turn 4 and hitting the edge of the gravel. His teammate, Davide Pizzoli, suffered a fall at Turn 6. There was also a fall for Philipp Oettl (Schedl GP Racing) at Turn 2. All escaped unharmed.
Practice resumes at 09:00 Local Time on Saturday for Moto3™ before they head out to Qualify later in the day at 12:35 Local Time.
Full results from the session are available here.
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