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Pol Espargaro handed Red Bull KTM Factory Racing Day 1 honours at the myWorld Austrian Grand Prix thanks to his FP1 time of a 1:24.193, with rain affecting the majority of Free Practice 2 at the Red Bull Ring. The times were untroubled despite a late flurry of riders heading out on slicks on Friday afternoon, which means Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team) and Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda Idemitsu) complete the top three on the opening day in Austria.
Round 5: MotoGP™ FP1 at the Austrian Grand Prix
Rain at the end of the Moto3™ FP2 session in Austria disrupted almost the entire MotoGP™ FP2 session. It was a bit of a nightmare situation with the start/finish straight and Turn 1 completely dry, while the top of the circuit soaked in a very localised rain shower. There were only a few riders who actually set a time in the opening 35 minutes, they were Miguel Oliveira (Red Bull KTM Tech 3) and Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini), with Joan Mir (Team Suzuki Ecstar) acting as the guinea pig by going out in the conditions first.
However, the track was drying and by the end of the session, almost all the riders headed out on track with slick Michelin tyres fitted to their machines in the hope that some could maybe penetrate the top 10. However, it wasn’t possible, and it was Jack Miller (Pramac Racing) ending the 45-minute stint fastest. The Australian set a 1:26.475, over two seconds adrift of Pol Espargaro’s time, with Iker Lecuona (Red Bull KTM Tech 3) and his teammate Miguel Oliveira completing the top three.
With little learned in FP2 though, Friday’s running order was decided on the fully dry FP1 session. KTM have picked up where they left off, but with the man on the other side of the box. Pol Espargaro rebounds from his Czech GP crash by taking top spot on Day 1 in Austria, Dovizioso is close behind as the leading duo sit just 0.044 off. Nakagami went well in FP1 to sit 0.185 off the pace in third, as Alex Rins (Team Suzuki Ecstar) continues to defy the odds with his shoulder injury to finish fourth.
The leading Yamaha once again is Franco Morbidelli (Petronas Yamaha SRT). The Italian and fellow Brno podium man Johann Zarco (Esponsorama Racing) have made sure that if rain falls during FP3, they’re going straight into Q2. Oliveira has done the same, the Portuguese man sits 7th on the combined times as the second fastest KTM on track, just over half a second adrift from Pol Espargaro. Miller, Joan Mir (Team Suzuki Ecstar) and Championship leader Fabio Quartararo (Petronas Yamaha SRT) close out the top 10 after the opening day at the Red Bull Ring.
Now, the question remains – what will the weather bring on Saturday morning? If it’s wet then we won’t see any time improvements, which means the aforementioned 10 riders will be your automatic Q2 competitors. There’s going to be some big-name riders hoping the heavens don’t open during FP3 though. Maverick Viñales (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) – the man second in the Championship – is certainly one of those as the Spaniard sits P11, with Danilo Petrucci (Ducati Team) and Valentino Rossi (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) 12th and 13th respectively. Czech GP race winner Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) is another currently sitting outside the top 10, so we eagerly await to see what the skies are rustling up on Saturday morning.
Bradley Smith (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini) was declared fit after his Turn 4 crash at the end of FP1.
So, you know what you have to do – tune in for MotoGP™ FP3 at 09:55 local time (GMT+2)! If it rains, we’ll get to see who has the pace in wet. If it’s dry, then we’ll have ourselves a pre-qualifying, qualifying session.
Top 10 combined:
1. Pol Espargaro (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) – 1:24.193
Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team) + 0.044
3. Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda Idemitsu) + 0.185
4. Alex Rins (Team Suzuki Ecstar) + 0.380
5. Franco Morbidelli (Petronas Yamaha SRT) + 0.395
6. Johann Zarco (Esponsorama Racing) + 0.462
7. Miguel Oliveira (Red Bull KTM Tech 3) + 0.525
8. Jack Miller (Pramac Racing) + 0.531
9. Joan Mir (Team Suzuki Ecstar) + 0.550
10. Fabio Quartararo (Petronas Yamaha SRT) + 0.560
Click here for the full results!
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