It’s a Petronas Yamaha SRT 1-2 at the top of the Friday timesheets at the Monster Energy Czech Republic Grand Prix after Fabio Quartararo stuck in a last gasp 1:56.502 to edge out Franco Morbidelli by 0.007 in Brno. Miguel Oliveira (Red Bull KTM Tech3) completes a top three covered by 0.048 after the opening day of running sprung some surprises.
Track temperatures in the Czech Republic had crept up to a toasty 50 degrees by the time the MotoGP™ riders hit the asphalt for their second Free Practice session, with the track proving to be tricky. Second in the Championship Maverick Viñales (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) crashed at Turn 13 in FP1, with many riders having plenty of shaky moments out there in both sessions. Quartararo was a frustrated figure for a lot of the afternoon session despite improving his FP1 time in the early stages. His usually smooth, on rails type style was nowhere to be seen as the Frenchman got his YZR-M1 bucking a weaving on more than one occasion – a very green surface wasn’t providing much grip.
Joan Mir (Team Suzuki Ecstar) didn’t seem to be having many problems though as the Spaniard went top of the times in the second session having finished P2 in FP1, a smidgen adrift of pacesetter Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda Idemitsu). However, the combined times in the top four were unchanged, it was only the Petronas Yamaha SRT duo who had improved to penetrate the top 10 in the first 20 minutes. But heading into the final 10 minutes, one of the satellite Yamaha riders was about to move the goalposts.
That man was Morbidelli. The Italian was out on fresh Michelin rubber and went over eight tenths clear on the combined times, which set off a chain reaction of riders suddenly going quicker than their FP1 times not too long after. Oliveira went second to sit less than a tenth off Morbidelli with Johann Zarco (Esponsorama Racing) – the Frenchman fourth fastest in FP1 – slotting into third. Plenty of riders went quicker inside the top 10 but with two minutes remaining, the Championship leader was outside the provisional automatic Q2 places.
Quartararo rumbled out of pitlane on new tyres and with just the single lap to get the business done, El Diablo made no mistake. But his fastest time was only just quicker than his teammate, but that 0.007 was enough to ensure Quartararo leads the premier class field into Saturday’s action in Brno. Oliveira and Zarco were the two standouts on the opening day – the Portuguese rider leaping from P17 to P3 in the afternoon – as the KTM and Ducati riders sit ahead of Viñales in fifth.
Mir was eventually shuffled down to P6 to end the day 0.374 from Quartararo, with Aleix Espargaro having a promising FP2 on board his Aprilia Racing Team Gresini to sit ahead of younger brother Pol Espargaro in 7th and 8th respectively. Nakagami slipped to P9 after topping FP1, but the Japanese rider still claims a provisional automatic Q2 place ahead of Jack Miller. The Pramac Racing rider pushed Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) out in the latter stages.
Unfortunately after his Turn 1 FP1 crash, Francesco Bagnaia (Pramac Racing) has been ruled out of the Czech and Austria Grands Prix. We wait for official diagnosis on the Italian’s knee injury.
FP3 is going to be very interesting. Binder, Valentino Rossi (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP), Alex Rins (Team Suzuki Ecstar) and the Ducati Team duo of Andrea Dovizioso and Danilo Petrucci are all sitting outside that much-needed top 10. Don’t miss the Saturday morning session from 09:55 local time (GMT+2).
Top 10 combined:
1. Fabio Quartararo (Petronas Yamaha SRT) – 1:56.502
2. Franco Morbidelli (Petronas Yamaha SRT) + 0.007
3. Miguel Oliveira (Red Bull KTM Tech 3) + 0.048
4. Johann Zarco (Esponsorama Racing) + 0.081
5. Maverick Viñales (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) + 0.166
6. Joan Mir (Team Suzuki Ecstar) + 0.374
7. Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini) + 0.539
8. Pol Espargaro (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) + 0.557
9. Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda Castrol) + 0.571
10. Jack Miller (Pramac Racing) + 0.607
Click here for the results from FP1 and FP2!