Finding form: Binder ends Friday as the man to beat

KTM rider set the only 1:23 in Moto2™ FP2 as Vierge and Lecuona set identical times to sit inside the top three

Last season’s Sachsenring Moto2™ winner Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Ajo) set the benchmark at the end of play on Friday at the HJC Helmets Motorrad Grand Prix, a 1:23.948 was 0.380 faster than both Xavi Vierge (EG 0,0 Marc VDS) and Iker Lecuona (American Racing KTM) as the latter duo set identical times to complete the top three in the intermediate class.

Just like we saw in the Moto3™ and MotoGP™ classes, the afternoon times tumbled almost straight away as the warmer FP2 conditions allowed the Moto2™ riders to hit the ground running. Luca Marini (SKY Racing Team VR46) was the man to lead the way with 20 minutes to go after the Italian had finished P12 in FP1, but the two EG 0,0 Marc VDS machines of Vierge and Alex Marquez then went P1 and P2 with just over ten minutes on the clock.

However, the session would end in flames for Marquez after the title contender went down at Turn 3, his bike caught fire but luckily it was extinguished fairly quickly. That was Marquez’ day over but it wasn’t day over for Binder, the South African shot to the top of the times with three minutes to go by over three tenths, setting the first and what proved to be the only 1:23 of FP2. As the chequered flag came out, the Assen second place finisher would remain comfortably clear of the rest after finishing P15 in FP1, with Lecuona getting on terms with Vierge late in the session – the latter keeps P2 after setting the 1:24.328 first and improves massively on his P18 in FP1, despite a crash at Turn 1 in the second Free Practice.

Dutch GP winner Augusto Fernandez (FlexBox HP 40) popped up to P4 inside the last ten minutes to demote Marquez to fifth in FP2, however Jonas Folger's (Petronas Sprinta Racing) FP1 timesheet topping time sees the German hold P4. The same can be said for fifth on the combined times Marcel Schrötter (Dynavolt Intact GP), the German also couldn't improve in FP2 but after finishing P2 on Friday morning, Schrötter sits P5 at the end of play - the duo finished P13 and P8 respectively in FP2. 

Fernandez would finish sixth on the combined standings, big improver from a P17 in FP1, with Marquez also having a much better afternoon – despite the crash – to leap up from P14 in the morning. The Championship protagonist places P7. Lorenzo Baldassarri (FlexBox HP 40) stays eighth despite a P6 finish in FP2, the Italian sits ahead of ONEXOX TKKR SAG Team’s Tetsuta Nagashima as just over a tenth covers P2 to P9. P10 went the way of Marini, he leads Championship leader Tom Lüthi (Dynavolt Intact GP) - the Swiss rider ends Day 1 in P11 after a P10 finish in FP2, slipping from a P7 in the opening session. 

Sam Lowes (Federal Oil Gresini Moto2) crashed at the notoriously difficult Turn 3, rider ok.

Moto2™ is incredibly tight around the Sachsenring as the top 23 riders are split by less than a second. FP3 is their last chance to grab an automatic Q2 place inside the top 14, so don’t miss that go live at 10:55 local time (GMT+2).

Watch every 2019 race LIVE & OnDemand and enjoy the whole video library, including technical features, exclusives interviews and classic races, with the MotoGP™ VideoPass