Wednesday, November 25, 2020

Viñales leads a Yamaha lockout as action begins at Aragon

Oct 17. 2020
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The Iwata marque lay down a marker at MotorLand, with Mir the closest man on the chase

Maverick Viñales (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) made it a 2-for-1 on Day 1 at the Gran Premio Michelin® de Aragon, the Spaniard fastest in both FP1 and FP2 to take full control on Friday. It was a Yamaha 1-2-3 overall though, with Fabio Quartararo (Petronas Yamaha SRT) a couple of tenths down and teammate Franco Morbidelli locking out the top three... the last man within half a second after a slightly ominous day from the Iwata marque. It was a tougher day for Ducati, as all Borgo Panigale machines remain outside the top ten and provisional entry to Q2.


Viñales started as he meant to go on as he topped a very cool FP1, with the session getting underway half an hour later due to low track temperatures. Once the sun had warmed MotorLand Aragon through a little more though, the Spaniard set a 1:49.866 to lead a Yamaha trio at the top and was the first man to set a sub-1:50 lap time with 15 minutes of the session left.

Franco Morbidelli and Fabio Quartararo completed the top three, with Morbidelli less than a tenth off Viñales and Quartararo another two in arrears. Both crashed on Friday morning, however, Morbidelli first taking a tumble at Turn 14 and Quartararo doing the same at the end of the session at Turn 8. Both riders were up and ok.

Alex Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) also crashed in the session, going down at Turn 2 just before the halfway point, but the number 73 bounced back to end FP1 in a mighty fourth. Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda Idemitsu) completed the top five, around half a second off the top. 

Joan Mir (Team Suzuki Ecstar), Pol Espargaro (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing), Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda Castrol), Alex Rins (Team Suzuki Ecstar) and Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini) completed the top ten.

Johann Zarco (Esponsorama Racing) also crashed, the Frenchman going down at Turn 14,  and Iker Lecuona (Red Bull KTM Tech 3) crashed at Turn 2.

Some big names ended up a little down the order in FP1: Jack Miller (Pramac Racing) was P12,  and Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team) was in 17th by the flag. 


The heat had risen to a more optimal 24 degrees as the MotoGP™ riders headed out for a crucial FP2, and sure enough, some riders immediately went faster. The Ducatis struggled to get a competitive lap time in FP1 but Dovizioso, his teammate Danilo Petrucci, Francesco Bagnaia (Pramac Racing) and Johann Zarco all went quicker than they did on Friday morning with just six minutes of the session played.

However, the Yamaha trio of Quartararo, Morbidelli and Viñales were all faster than the latter’s FP1 time and the goalposts had moved again. Morbidelli was then the first rider to go sub-1:49 this weekend, a 1:48.992 the Italian’s effort in the opening stages, with Yamaha leading the way from Alex Marquez as the rookie showed more great pace early on in the afternoon. Dovizioso too, the Italian in P5 with 15 minutes gone. Meanwhile, after catching out Zarco and Morbidelli in FP1, Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) crashed unhurt at Turn 14 – the front of his KTM washing away.

Mir then took over at the top, two consecutive fastest laps of the session putting the Spaniard three tenths clear of Morbidelli, before Viñales cut the gap to 0.140 with just over 20 minutes to go. Nakagami was then into the top two as less than two tenths split the leading four, with Quartararo down to P6 behind fifth fastest Alex Rins.

Everything would change again in the final stages of the session, however, with time attack mode engaged. Despite MotoGP™ FP3 kicking off half an hour later (10:25) on Saturday morning to allow the temperature to rise a little, it will still likely be cool and the last ten minutes of FP2 were therefore even more vital as riders eyed a place in Q2.

Quartararo shot first as he slammed in a 1:48.406 to take over at the top by 0.282, before going even faster again to see his advantage climb to 0.478 seconds. What did the competition have in response? 

Viñales got close to get within 0.094, with Aleix Espargaro impressing to go P3 thereafter. It wasn't over though, as Viñales then absolutely obliterated Quartararo’s time. The number 12 set a blistering 1:47.771 to move nearly half a second clear as Morbidelli got back up to P3, the FP1 pacesetters back at the top. On his final flying lap, Quartararo also improved but the Frenchman ultimately couldn’t get within two tenths of Viñales, so it was the latter who took opening day honours in Aragon. All three Yamahas on circuit – the absent Valentino Rossi (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) watching on from home after his positive COVID-19 test – made it an ominous first day of action.

By the end of the shuffle, it was Joan Mir closest on the chase. With one-lap pace traditionally a tougher challenge for the Hamamatsu factory, his speed will be encouraging and could set us up for a stunner on Sunday. Just behind him, Cal Crutchlow set his personal best time in his final run to move up to P5, the Brit once again impressing despite his ongoing recovery.

Aleix Espargaro ends FP2 and Day 1 in sixth overall as the Aprilia rider showed off some characteristic impressive pace at MotorLand, but it was a close run thing against younger brother Pol Espargaro as the KTM rider was forced to settle for seventh by just less than a tenth. That was impressive in itself too though, with the number 44 having suffered from injury at the track over the last two seasons and having experienced a little less track time than some.

A late lap to move back up into the top ten sees Alex Marquez end FP2 and Friday in eighth after his stunning fourth in FP1, the rookie fresh from a maiden podium, and it couldn't really have been closer with Nakagami as the Japanese rider was forced down to P9 by just 0.001. Alex Rins completes the top ten, another good sign for Suzuki and a solid day for the truly, really local rider.

That leaves some names looking for a lot more in FP3, not least of all Championship challenger Dovizioso. The number 04 ends Friday in P13 despite a better start to FP2, and he was leapfrogged by Zarco in P11 and Tito Rabat (Esponsorama Racing) in P12. Behind Dovizioso comes Miller and behind him Petrucci, with Ducatis locking out P11 to P15, and Francesco Bagnaia (Pramac Racing) down in P19. The mission is a clear one for FP3.

Zarco suffered a second crash of the day as well, this time at Turn 2, with Stefan Bradl (Repsol Honda Team) also taking a tumble; the German at Turn 12.

That's it from a chilly Friday in Teruel. Come back for more on Saturday as Ducati try and break into that top ten and the rest try to move the goalposts once again. The morning sessions get underway half an hour later so FP3 starts at 10:25 (GMT +2), but qualifying remains set to start at 14:10. Don't miss it!

Click here for combined timesheets

MotoGP™: the five fastest on Friday

Maverick Viñales Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP - Yamaha - 1:47.771

Fabio Quartararo* Petronas Yamaha SRT - Yamaha - +0.249

Franco Morbidelli* Petronas Yamaha SRT - Yamaha - +0.447

Joan Mir Team Suzuki Ecstar - Suzuki - +0.730

Cal Crutchlow* LCR Honda Castrol - Honda - +0.827

*Independent Team rider

Di Giannantonio leads Bezzecchi and Lowes on Day 1
The top trio are split by just a tenth on Friday, with Marini and Bastianini also moving back up the timesheets in Teruel

MB Conveyors Speed Up’s Fabio Di Giannantonio took Moto2™ top spot on Friday at the Gran Premio Michelin® de Aragon, the pace upped in FP2 as the Italian set a 1:52.748 to fend off second fastest Marco Bezzecchi (Sky Racing Team VR46) by just 0.045. FP1 pacesetter Sam Lowes (EG 0,0 Marc VDS) finished P3 on the combined standings, although the Le Mans winner’s afternoon was slightly marred by a Turn 7 crash – rider ok.


Sam Lowes finished FP1 in charge, the British rider’s 1:53.391 enough to fend off Marcel Schrötter (Liqui Moly Intact GP) by 0.052 seconds. The gap had been up to eight tenths earlier in the session, but the German was able to cut that down and so was third fastest Di Giannantonio. The Italian was within 0.058 of Lowes in a tight top three.

Championship leader Luca Marini (Sky Racing Team VR46) set his personal best time on his final lap to leap up to P4, 0.189 off Lowes, with Jorge Navarro (MB Conveyors Speed Up) completing the top five. Jake Dixon (Petronas Sprinta Racing), despite an earlier run off, ended the session in sixth.

Joe Roberts (Tennor American Racing) started his weekend in P7, the last man within half a second of the top. Hector Garzo (Flexbox HP 40) put in a solid showing to take eighth, ahead of Marco Bezzecchi and Jorge Martin (Red Bull KTM Ajo), who completed the top ten.

Lorenzo Dalla Porta (Italtrans Racing Team) crashed at Turn 2 and he was the only faller in the session. Lorenzo Baldassarri (Flexbox HP 40) suffered a bike problem at Turn 9.



The afternoon saw the top times tumble in Moto2™, but not for everyone in the field - unlike Moto3™ and MotoGP™. Di Giannantonio reigned by the end of play, the Italian pipping compatriot Marco Bezzecchi to the top by half a tenth after a late lunge. Before that, it was Bezzecchi vs Lowes for the fastest lap, the Brit holding it for most of the session before the Italian hit back. But 'Diggia' hit back last of all.

It was a great day for Edgar Pons (Federal Oil Gresini Moto2) as the reigning European Moto2™ Champion finished P4, the Spaniard 15th after FP1 but improving his time by over a second to leap up the timesheets in the afternoon to sit 0.031 ahead of Championship leader Marini in the session and overall. Thankfully for Marini, there seem to be few effects from his huge Le Mans crash seven days ago and he's right in the hunt to make amends in Aragon.

Just behind Marini, in the session and the standings, came Enea Bastianini (Italtrans Racing Team). 'Bestia' produced a superhuman save at Turn 2 in FP2 and finished the opening day in P6, climbing from a P11 finish in FP1. Marcos Ramirez’ (Tennor American Racing) early FP2 time sees the rookie place P7 after finishing FP1 in P22, beating Remy Gardner (ONEXOX TKKR SAG Team) by just 0.001, with Martin and Roberts rounding out the top 10 in FP2 and overall. 

Jorge Navarro is 11th by virtue of his FP2 time, with Schrötter P12 on the combined timesheets and the first man not to have improved - the German's FP1 time quick enough to put him on the list of provisional Q2 entrants. Garzo was 13th quickest overall, with Jake Dixon (Petronas Sprinta Racing) rounding out those who stand to move through to Q2 as it stands. 

That's all from Friday, with all but a handful of riders across the class going quicker in FP2 than they did in FP1. Will Saturday morning shuffle the pack again? Find out at the later time of 11:25 (GMT +2) as Moto2™ take to the track for FP3.

Click here for combined timesheets

Moto2™: the five fastest on Friday

1 Fabio Di Giannantonio MB Conveyors Speed Up - Speed Up - 1:52.748

Marco Bezzecchi Sky Racing Team VR46 - Kalex +0.045

3 Sam Lowes EG 0,0 Marc VDS - Kalex - +0.106

4 Edgar Pons Federal Oil Gresini Moto2 - Kalex - +0.269

Luca Marini Sky Racing Team VR46 - Kalex +0.300

Fernandez four tenths clear of Fenati on Friday
The Spaniard leads the way on Day 1 once again, ahead of Fenati and Arenas

The recent Friday form man was up to his old tricks at the Gran Premio Michelin® de Aragon. With a half second advantage by the end of the day, it's Raul Fernandez (Red Bull KTM Ajo) on top once again, with Romano Fenati (Sterilgarda Max Racing Team) in second. After a more muted morning session, Championship leader Albert Arenas (Solunion Aspar Team Moto3) completed the top three as he moved up the timesheets in the afternoon. 

There was also another key headline on Friday: Tony Arbolino (Rivacold Snipers Team) will be forced to sit the weekend out. The Italian must undertake a mandatory period of self-isolation after he was found to have been on a flight with a positive case of Covid-19. He has tested negative, but the self-isolation is a requirement of health authorities regardless - sidelining a Championship challenger for the weekend.


Darryn Binder (CIP - Green Power) started the day on top as the South African beat winner last time out, Celestino Vietti (Sky Racing Team VR46), to the top by three tenths. Binder struck late to deny the Italian too, setting his lap as the flag flew to bring FP1 to an end.

Vietti was the only rider within half a second of Binder's 1:59.813 despite losing out late on. John McPhee (Petronas Sprinta Racing) was 0.503 in arrears and third quickest.

Fernandez was fourth fastest in the morning, another half a tenth adrift of McPhee, with SIC58 Squadra Corse's Niccolo Antonelli closing out the session in fifth. It was a strong showing for the Husqvarna duo of Alonso Lopez and Romano Fenati as the Sterilgarda Max Racing Team sat first and second in the early stages too, both bouncing back from their disaster/bad luck combo at Le Mans and eventually ending the session in sixth and ninth, respectively.

Second in the Championship Ai Ogura (Honda Team Asia) was seventh, starting off the weekend with a positive move up the timesheets after two tougher GPs, and points leader Albert Arenas was down in 13th. Tatsuki Suzuki (SIC58 Squadra Corse) was eighth, with rookie Yuki Kunii (Honda Team Asia) impressing to complete the top ten behind Fenati.

There were three incidents in the session: Filip Salač (Rivacold Snipers Team) had a technical problem early on at Turn 7, Ryusei Yamanaka (Estrella Galicia 0,0) crashed at Turn 2 ten minutes later, and Dennis Foggia (Leopard Racing) went down at Turn 14.


With temperatures having risen significantly after a cold morning, the entire field were able to improve in the afternoon, ensuring the combined timesheets mirror those of FP2. Antonelli was the first man under the two minute barrier - something only Binder managed in the morning - but laptimes would drop from there on out. Fernandez was the man on the move, setting four fastest laps in a row in the latter part of the session.

Fenati maintained his form to end the day in second and Arenas was a key improver as he moved up to become the quickest Championship challenger overall, the Spaniard setting his quickest lap of the day on his final lap of the day. FP1's fastest man Darryn Binder completes the top four, ahead of Suzuki by less than a tenth, with Sergio Garcia (Estrella Galicia 0,0) within a tenth of the Japanese rider in turn as he moved up to end the day in sixth.

Jaume Masia (Leopard Racing) ends Friday in P7 as he beat Ogura to it by just 0.011, but the Japanese rider continued his move forward after a couple of more difficult Grands Prix, well within the provisional Q2 entrants on Day 1. Vietti ends Friday in P9, with Alonso Lopez completing the top ten.

The final four on for provisional graduation to Q2 are Carlos Tatay (Reale Avintia Moto3),  Kaito Toba (Red Bull KTM Ajo), Gabriel Rodrigo (Kömmerling Gresini Moto3) - the sole crasher in the afternoon session, rider ok - and Antonelli... leaving John McPhee needing to move forward in FP3. Can the Brit do it? Find out on Saturday morning at the slightly later time of 9:30 (GMT +2). 

Click here for combined timesheets

Moto3™: the five fastest on Friday

Raul Fernandez Red Bull KTM Ajo - KTM 1:58.144

Romano Fenati Sterilgarda Max Racing Team - Husqvarna +0.438

3 Albert Arenas Solunion Aspar Team Moto3 - KTM +0.532

4 Darryn Binder CIP - Green Power - KTM +0.545

Tatsuki Suzuki SIC58 Squadra Corse - Honda +0.619


Quartararo was second on Day 1

And Morbidelli made it a Yamaha 1-2-3

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