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13 days ago
By motogp.com

Zarco leaves it late to beat Morbidelli by 0.021s on Friday

A whisker separated the top two in Barcelona in a frantic end to Day 1’s proceedings

Johann Zarco (Pramac Racing) left it late to snatch top spot from Franco Morbidelli (Petronas Yamaha SRT) on Day 1 at the Gran Premi Monster Energy de Catalunya, the Frenchman’s 1:39.235 was 0.021s quicker than the Italian. World Championship leader Fabio Quartararo (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) was 0.166s off his compatriot’s pace in third, a good day at the office for the top three.

Who’s inside the all-important top 10?

Pretty much every rider went out in FP2 and bettered their FP1 times straight away, with Morbidelli the man on top in the opening exchanges with a 1:39.909 – 0.097s ahead of former teammate Quartararo. It was incredibly tight out there after the opening flurry of laps, 0.3s covered the top 10 and just 0.5s split the top 15.

The afternoon session then settled down as the field started to explore different tyre and setting options for Sunday’s race, but as we always see on a Friday afternoon, FP2 would explode into life with just five minutes left. Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) was the first to displace Morbidelli from P1 as the South African went 0.247s clear, Maverick Viñales (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) then slotted into P2 as the timing screens were a picture of orange and red – personal best and session best sector times.

Morbidelli then struck back to go P1 again by a couple of tenths before Zarco, on his final flying lap of the day, made sure it was he who heads into Saturday’s action as the man to beat. Binder ended Friday 0.261s behind third place Quartararo in fourth, Francesco Bagnaia (Ducati Lenovo Team) rounds out the top five, just over half a second off the pace.

Alongside new crew chief Silvano Galbusera, Viñales finished the day in sixth place, just under a tenth clear of Jack Miller (Ducati Lenovo Team) in seventh. Rookie Enea Bastianini (Avintia Esponsorama) has responded from a disappointing Sunday at Mugello by cementing a quality P8 on Friday in Barcelona, the Italian is 0.006s ahead of home heroes Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini) and younger brother Pol Espargaro (Repsol Honda Team), the Spaniard’s set exactly the same time – a 1:39.983.

Who needs to find time on Saturday?

All the riders currently sitting outside the top 10 will be eager to find some pace on Saturday morning, especially the likes of Italian GP podium finishers Miguel Oliveira (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) and Joan Mir (Team Suzuki Ecstar). The duo ended Friday in P14 and P16 respectively, with the KTM rider lapping on Michelin’s hard-hard combination in the latter stages – somewhat intriguing.  

As always, FP3 is a must-watch. The automatic Q2 places will be decided ahead of qualifying for the Catalan GP, so tune in at 09:55 local time (GMT+2).

Top 10 combined:
1. Johann Zarco (Pramac Racing) – 1:39.235
2. Franco Morbidelli (Petronas Yamaha SRT) + 0.021
3. Fabio Quartararo (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) + 0.166
4. Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) + 0.427
5. Francesco Bagnaia (Ducati Lenovo Team) + 0.525
6. Maverick Viñales (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) + 0.586
7. Jack Miller (Ducati Lenovo Team) + 0.679
8. Enea Bastianini (Avintia Esponsorama) + 0.742
9. Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini) + 0.748
10. Pol Espargaro (Repsol Honda Team) + 0.748

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