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28 days ago
By motogp.com

Styria vs Austria: winners and losers after Friday’s action

motogp.com examines who’s found speed compared to seven days ago in Free Practice, and who looks to be struggling

One of the great things about doing back-to-back races at the same circuit is being able to compare the times from one weekend to another. So, after Free Practice Friday at the BMW M Grand Prix of Styria, we’ve taken a brief look into how the timesheets compared to the Austrian GP after the opening two MotoGP™ sessions.

 

Who are the winners, and who are the losers? Only so much can be taken from Friday’s two sessions when trying to predict qualifying and race results, because riders and their teams can easily find improvements overnight and in the remaining two Free Practice sessions. One man on fire again though is Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Pol Espargaro.

The Spaniard topped the Friday times in Austria, and the number 44 has done the same again in Styria. A 1:23.638 in FP2 is just two tenths off the Austrian GP pole time as Espargaro went around half a second quicker than he had done at the same point seven days prior. Polyccio and KTM are looking like a serious weapon again at the Red Bull Ring.

Round 6: MotoGP™ FP2 at the Grand Prix of Styria

Teammate Brad Binder has found improvements in Styria as the South African claims P10 on the timesheets, compared to P16 last weekend. The Czech GP winner is 0.6 off his teammate, compared to 0.8 off in Austria – and he’s not the only KTM to have improved.

Miguel Oliveira (Red Bull KTM Tech 3) had a great showing in Austria, but he’s going even better this weekend. Fourth on the timesheets and just 0.2 off marks a substantial step forward for the Portuguese rider, who was 0.5 seconds behind Pol Espargaro at the same stage of the weekend in Austria. Oliveira described his Friday as “a very positive day” in Styria and with teammate Iker Lecuona finishing P11, all four KTMs are looking bang on the money.

Second fastest Jack Miller (Pramac Racing) sounded very confident in his debrief after Friday’s running in Styria. The Australian did plenty of work on the medium-rear Michelin tyres and felt very comfortable, a setting change in FP2 didn’t work out though. A podium finisher in Austria, Miller finishes 2nd and 0.2 off Espargaro’s time compared to P8 and half a second adrift seven days ago – the signs for another strong Sunday are there for Miller.

 

Elsewhere, Austrian GP podium finisher Joan Mir (Team Suzuki Ecstar) is again on song at the Red Bull Ring. The Spaniard is three tenths closer to Espargaro than he was at the same point last weekend and both he and teammate Alex Rins are looking like real threats. 

Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda Idemitsu) is also definitely one to watch out for. Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team) named the Japanese star as a Sunday menace – and that’s no surprise. Nakagami finished 4th and 2nd in the two sessions in Styria and a third place on the Austrian GP Friday timesheets proves the Honda rider has pace. One to watch, for sure.

On the other hand, it wasn’t a good day at the office for Championship leader Fabio Quartararo (Petronas Yamaha SRT). The Frenchman said: “Our pace is terrible. We’re losing a lot of performance in the tyres, I have the same feeling as Brno,” with Quartararo finishing 14th on the combined standings. At the same point last weekend, El Diablo was 10th and half a second away. He’s slipped to seven tenths adrift from Espargaro and more importantly, for the Championship, Quartararo seemingly can’t live with Dovizioso pace.

 

“Andrea did a 1:24.1 on a 15-lap old tyre. We’re struggling to get into the 24s after 15 laps,” admitted the 21-year-old. A vital FP3 is coming up for the double Jerez race winner. And the same can be said for Valentino Rossi (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP), The Doctor needs to find time if he’s to go straight into Q2. Rossi sits P13 in Styria so far, the same position he did at this point in Austria, but both he and Quartararo sit bottom of the top speed charts in FP2. The Yamaha duo seem to be struggling, but never count them out.  

MotoGP™ recap: Espargaro fires on Friday yet again

Overall, the pace has got tantalisingly quicker in Styria. Pol Espargaro’s 1:24.193 on Friday at the Austrian GP was slower than ninth fastest Franco Morbidelli (Petronas Yamaha SRT) at the Styrian GP, showing plenty of the riders have found time. A big qualifying day is coming up and on Saturday evening, we’re going to have an even better idea as to who is looking strong in Styria – and who isn’t.

FP3 kicks off at 09:55 (GMT+2). The 45-minute stint will determine who goes straight into Q2, so don’t miss it.

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