Fernandez fronts Friday times to edge out Marquez

Top two in the Championship occupy 1-2 on Day 1 at Misano in the intermediate class to finish ahead of rookie Di Giannantonio

Friday in the Moto2™ class at the GP Octo di San Marino e della Riviera di Rimini belonged to Augusto Fernandez (FlexBox HP 40) – but only just. The Spaniard’s 1:38.325 in FP2 saw the man second in the Championship beat title favourite Alex Marquez (EG 0,0 Marc VDS) by just 0.049, with rookie Fabio Di Giannantonio (+Ego Speed Up) sitting inside the top three on Day 1.

FP1 pacesetter Tetsuta Nagashima (ONEXOX TKKR SAG Team) was strutting his stuff in the early stages of FP2, setting the quickest time of the weekend in the early minutes to sit top of the standings. And that’s where the Japanese rider stayed for over half the session, with Nagashima, Marquez – improving his P9 time from FP1 – and Remy Gardner (ONEXOX TKKR SAG Team) occupying the top three positions with 15 minutes remaining.

Then, however, things started to change. Marquez put the hammer down as the Championship leader shot to the top of the session and combined standings. Then, Fernandez took over at the summit by 0.117, the Spaniard then improving his time again to eek his advantage out to 0.131 as the clocked ticked. Di Giannantonio then shot to P5 after finishing 11th in FP1 on home soil, meanwhile, teammate Jorge Navarro was on the floor at the tight and tricky Turn 14.

There was plenty of swapping and changing inside the top ten but no one was able to compete with Fernandez’ time. Enea Bastianini (Italtrans Racing Team), returning from an injury picked up in Austria, went from outside the top ten to P4. But could anyone challenge Fernandez? It didn’t look like it but on his final flying lap, Marquez did manage to close the gap to 0.049 – the top two in the Championship look set for a Misano battle.

Behind Di Giannantonio was Nagashima, with Lorenzo Baldassarri (FlexBox HP 40) sitting inside the top five despite a late crash. SKY Racing Team VR46’s Luca Marini improved in the latter stages to grab P6 having finished FP1 down in P22, with Bastianini holding onto a solid top ten spot in P7. Gardner slipped down to P8 after setting the third-fastest time in FP1, while Sam Lowes (Federal Oil Gresini Moto2) moves up one spot to P9 from P10 this morning. Nicolo Bulega (SKY Racing Team VR46) went quicker at the end to claim P10, a drop from P5 from FP1 for the Italian.

Marco Bezzecchi’s session ended early on after the Red Bull KTM Tech 3 rider crashed at Turn 15, with Lukas Tulovic (Kiefer Racing) and Jorge Martin (Red Bull KTM Ajo) going down at the end of the session – riders ok.

Will Marquez get the better of Fernandez ahead of qualifying? Automatic Q2 places are still up for grabs in FP3, so don’t miss that session at 10:55 local time (GMT+2) on Saturday morning.

Top 10 combined:
1. Augusto Fernandez (FlexBox HP 40) 1:38.325
2. Alex Marquez (EG 0,0 Marc VDS) + 0.049
3. Fabio Di Giannantonio (+Ego Speed Up) + 0.138
4. Tetsuta Nagashima (ONEXOX TKKR SAG Team) + 0.148
5. Lorenzo Baldassarri (FlexBox HP 40) + 0.169
6. Luca Marini (SKY Racing Team VR46) + 0.216
7. Enea Bastianini (Italtrans Racing Team) + 0.242
8. Remy Gardner (ONEXOX TKKR SAG Team) + 0.266
9. Sam Lowes (Federal Oil Gresini Moto2) + 0.312
10. Nicolo Bulega (SKY Racing Team VR46) + 0.383

Click here for the full results! 

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