Morbidelli sets Barcelona FP2 benchmark, Zarco close in P2

San Marino GP winner is the man to beat on Friday from Ducati and KTM as FP1 pacesetter Quartararo encounters issues before FP2 time attack

It’s two from two at the Gran Premi Monster Energy de Catalunya for Petronas Yamaha SRT so far after Franco Morbidelli topped the overall timesheets on Day 1 with a 1:39.789, beating Fabio Quartararo’s FP1 time by six tenths in FP2. Johann Zarco (Esponsorama Racing) is the only other rider to delve into the 1:39s on Friday, with Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) ending the opening day of action in Barcelona P3 on the combined times.

Franco Morbidelli, Petronas Yamaha SRT, Gran Premi Monster Energy de Catalunya

In the early stages of FP2, a lot of riders were able to go quicker than their FP1 lap times. Morbidelli, Binder and Alex Rins (Team Suzuki Ecstar) all rose into the top four to slot in behind FP1 pacesetter Quartararo, with Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP duo Maverick Viñales and Valentino Rossi also improving their times. Pol Espargaro (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) then went up to P4 on the combined times to shove Championship leader Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team) down to P6 from P2 in FP1, the Italian, Quartararo, third in FP1 Joan Mir (Team Suzuki Ecstar) and Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini) the only riders inside the top 10 not going faster in the first 15 minutes of the second 45-minute stint of the weekend.

After setting the pace in FP2, Morbidelli was then down at Turn 10 – unhurt – with 24 minutes to go as the San Marino GP winner sat just over a tenth off teammate Quartararo. Before Morbidelli crashed, Zarco crashed at Turn 5 – rider ok – with Repsol Honda Team’s Stefan Bradl also crashing unhurt, the German biting the dust at Turn 2. The wind was up and was playing a factor with tyre temperatures, making it tricky for the premier class in the second session of the weekend.

In the mid part of the session, a lot of the riders were trying to get some race pace work done with the timesheets not really changing much. With 14 to go, eight tenths covered the top 11 – Alex Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) improving in FP2 to jump up to just outside the top 10. Zarco then came back out on his second GP19 machine and was able to go quicker, slotting in just ahead of Alex Marquez to make it 12 riders within a second heading into the final 10 minutes of FP2 – cue the time attacks.

A few soft Michelin tyre lap times came in but it was still Quartararo who held P1, thanks to his FP1 time. Mir and Rossi went close with the Spaniard sitting just 0.010 off Quartararo’s pace, as two Hondas then rose to the fore in FP2 – and on the combined times. Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda Idemitsu) and Alex Marquez went into the top five after stringing great laps together, but the goalposts were about to be moved significantly. Rookie Binder finished FP1 down in 21st position as he attacked the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya for the first time on a MotoGP™ machine. But, clearly, it hadn’t taken the South African too long to work out how to tame the RC16 beast in Barcelona – Binder blitzed his way to P1 with a 1:40.008 to stretch four tenths clear of the field.

Did anyone have an answer to Binder’s benchmark? Yes. Morbidelli and Zarco were flying and despite having their laps chalked off because of Iker Lecuona’s (Red Bull KTM Tech3) Turn 12 crash – his second fall of the day – that brought out the yellow flags, the duo kept it pinned and dropped into the 1:39s on their final flying laps. Morbidelli went P1 before Zarco, just behind the Italian on the road, went P2 to quickly demote Binder to P3. Viñales also slotted in a late fast time to sit P4 on the combined times – exactly where the Emilia Romagna GP winner finished in FP1.

Nakagami completed the top five on the combined times after finishing FP1 just outside the top 10 in P11, the Japanese rider sits just ahead of Quartararo who encountered issues when coming out of pitlane to start his time attack. The 21-year-old was unable to get out and dropped to P6 after sitting as the fastest rider in FP1, but remains safely in the top 10 – for now. In form Mir finishes 7th despite improving his time from FP1, Pol Espargaro and Alex Marquez rise into 8th and 9th respectively after finishing FP1 in 16th and 20th – marked improvement for the two Spaniards. 10th went the way of Rossi, The Doctor slips two places from FP1 but holds onto the final provisional automatic Q2 spot ahead of Saturday's action. 

Dovizioso didn’t improve his FP1 time that was good enough for P2 this morning, the Italian slipping to 15th in FP2 as both he and teammate Danilo Petrucci – who sits P22 – failed to go quicker in the afternoon session.

The MotoGP™ riders will be back on track for FP3 on Saturday morning at 09:55 local time (GMT+2), a vital session for the riders to try and get themselves straight into Q2. Tune in!

Top 10:
1. Franco Morbidelli (Petronas Yamaha SRT) – 1:39.789
2. Johann Zarco (Esponsorama Racing) + 0.109
3. Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) + 0.219
4. Maverick Viñales (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) + 0.419
5. Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda Idemitsu) + 0.623
6. Fabio Quartararo (Petronas Yamaha SRT) + 0.642
7. Joan Mir (Team Suzuki Ecstar) + 0.652
8. Pol Espargaro (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) + 0.685
9. Alex Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) + 0.689
10. Valentino Rossi (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) + 0.713

Click here for the full results!

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