Arbolino remains fastest, Masia closes the gap in FP2

The Italian’s lap record in FP1 was enough to see him top the times on Friday, Arenas 15th as one second covers 27 riders

Thanks to his new Moto3™ lap record in FP1, Tony Arbolino (Rivacold Snipers Team) holds the advantage heading into Saturday at the Gran Premio Motul de la Comunitat Valenciana. The Italian’s 1:38.413 went unbeaten in FP2 as Jaume Masia (Leopard Racing) topped the afternoon times, ending the day second and just 0.066 adrift of Arbolino. Sergio Garcia (Estrella Galicia 0,0) completed the top three as 0.9 seconds covers 27 riders in Valencia – staggeringly close.

After crashing with his SKY Racing Team VR46 teammate Celestino Vietti in FP1, Andrea Migno led the way in the early stages of the afternoon’s running, before Vietti then took control with his best lap of the weekend. However, the times were just under a second off Arbolino’s new lap record set in the morning, but the most important thing was that proceedings were remaining dry.

After the first 15 minutes of FP2, only two riders had improved their times from FP1: new session pacesetter Niccolo Antonelli (SIC58 Squadra Corse) and Vietti. 16 minutes were then left on the clock and for the first time in FP2, we saw a 1:38 lap time set. Antonelli stretched his lead in FP2 and launched himself up to P6 on the combined times, three tenths off Arbolino’s pace.

On the whole, it was a quiet Friday afternoon for the lightweight class. With the weather radar suggesting no rain is expected this weekend, the teams and riders may not have been too desperate to go for an all-out time attack in FP2. It looked like Arbolino’s FP1 time would go untroubled on Day 1 in Valencia – until there was less than five minutes to go.

The sector times started lighting up red, and the rapid laps were now starting to be posted. Antonelli went fastest again to move within two tenths of Arbolino’s time, with Garcia then slotting into P2 on the overall standings with the quickest time of the session – a 1:38.496 was 0.083 seconds off the new lap record. On his final flying lap, Masia then demoted Garcia to P2 to take FP2 honours, a smidgen behind Arbolino on the combined times.

So in the end, after finishing 20th in FP2, Arbolino’s FP1 time keeps him at the top of the pile heading into qualifying day. Masia and Garcia improve from P8 and P11 respectively to slot into the top three, just ahead of Deniz Öncü (Red Bull KTM Tech3) who didn’t improve in FP2, neither did fifth place Romano Fenati (Sterilgarda Max Racing Team). Antonelli jumps from P19 to P6 after a strong afternoon stint in Valencia, the Italian sits 0.001 seconds ahead of teammate Tatsuki Suzuki.

Last Sunday’s race winner Raul Fernandez (Red Bull KTM Ajo) sits eighth on Day 1 after setting a better lap time in FP2, the Spaniard is less than a tenth clear of ninth fastest and second in the Championship Ai Ogura (Honda Team Asia). The Japanese star penetrated the top 10 in the afternoon as Jeremy Alcoba (Kömmerling Gresini Moto3) slips down from P4 to P10 after failing to go quicker in FP2.

World Championship leader Albert Arenas (Gaviota Aspar Team Moto3) goes into Saturday sitting in P15, but that doesn’t tell the whole story. Arenas is 15th but just 0.3 seconds away from top spot, as less than a second covers the top 27 riders – a super Saturday is in store.

After his crash in FP1, Filip Salaĉ (Rivacold Snipers Team) has been declared unfit due to thoracic trauma.

FP3 begins at 10:00 local time (GMT+1) – tune in!

Top 10 combined:
1. Tony Arbolino (Rivacold Snipers Team) – 1:38.413
2. Jaume Masia (Leopard Racing) + 0.066
3. Sergio Garcia (Estrella Galicia 0,0) + 0.083
4. Deniz Öncü (Team Suzuki Ecstar) + 0.098
5. Romano Fenati (Sterilgarda Max Racing Team) + 0.146
6. Niccolo Antonelli (SIC58 Squadra Corse) + 0.150
7. Tatsuki Suzuki (SIC58 Squadra Corse) + 0.151
8. Raul Fernandez (Red Bull KTM Ajo) + 0.191
9. Ai Ogura (Honda Team Asia) + 0.253
10. Jeremy Alcoba (Kömmerling Gresini Moto3) + 0.267


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