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It’s time to once again have a closer gander at the timesheets from MotoGP™ FP4 to see who is looking in the best shape for the all-important 23-lap Gran Premio Michelin® de Aragon assault.
Petronas Yamaha SRT’s Franco Morbidelli topped the session, so it’s only natural that we take a look at the Italian’s pace first. Morbidelli set 11 flying laps and was in the 1:48s for six of those, his penultimate fast lap of a 1:48.551 being his best on 13 and 10-lap old soft tyres. On the face of it, it looks like San Marino GP race winner can happily lap in the mid to high 1:48s, and low 1:49s. From P4 on the grid, Morbidelli is a podium and victory challenger.
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Round 11: MotoGP™ FP4 at the Aragon Grand Prix
Finishing second in FP4 was Le Mans podium man Alex Marquez (Repsol Honda Team). The premier class rookie is improving every time he heads out on his RC213V, and Aragon is more proof of that. On fresh medium Michelin rubber, the reigning Moto2™ World Champion didn’t trouble the 1:48s, setting a best time of a 1:49.220. Marquez then switched to a five-lap old rear soft tyre – keeping his used medium in – and was almost immediately able to dip into the 1:48s, a 1:48.862 and 1:48.656 – his best – came in before later in the run, he set a 1:48.920. Marquez’ strength this year has been his race pace, especially late in the battle. Starting from a career-best P11, the rookie should be well in the hunt for a top six finish, or more.
When you see a Suzuki qualify on the front two rows, you know the weekend is going well for the Hamamatsu factory. Joan Mir (Team Suzuki Ecstar) lines up P6 for the race and the Spaniard completed his first stint in FP4 on a 13-lap old rear soft tyre. Low 1:49s were the name of the game for Mir, a 1:49.8 was followed by two 1:49.1s, two 1:49.2s and a 1:49.4 – solid considering the 1:49.204 on his last lap of the run was on a 21-lap old rear tyre, two laps short of race distance. The man second in the Championship dipped into the 1:48s for a lap on a nine-lap old medium rear tyre, so it looks as though the sophomore has a couple of options heading into the race in terms of tyre choice.
Pol Espargaro’s (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) second run on brand-new medium front and rear tyres consisted of a 1:48.749, a 1:48.990 and two 1:49.0s – not bad. The Spaniard will be ruing a P12 grid slot though and has work to do from there, but his pace doesn’t look bad.
Compatriot Maverick Viñales (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) looks in great nick after completing a single run of 17 laps in FP4. The last of those, on a 17-lap old rear soft tyre, was a 1:48.909 as Viñales set his personal best first and last sectors to end the session with – solid. Six 1:48s were posted by the Spaniard overall, the rest – apart from a couple of anomalies – were very low 1:49s.
What about polesitter and World Championship leader Fabio Quartararo (Petronas Yamaha SRT)? Like Viñales, the Frenchman didn’t pit in FP4 and did the whole session on soft Michelin front and rears, setting four consecutive 1:48s in the early stages. From Lap 7 onwards, Quartararo didn’t dip into the 1:48s. Three 1:49.0s were clocked on the bounce, then a 1:49.1 before the wounded 21-year-old started setting mid to high 1:49s. The number 20 sounds confident that his heavy FP3 crash won’t affect him during the race, but can he mount a victory fight?
Andrea Dovizioso’s (Ducati Team) race pace doesn’t look too bad, the Italian set a 1:48.853 on a 16-lap old rear medium tyre but starting from P13, Dovizioso once again has a mountain to climb.
Who are you tipping for the race? The times look pretty tight judging from FP4, setting us up for a potentially cagey and closely fought affair on Sunday afternoon at 15:00 local time (GMT+2).
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