It was advantage Aleix on Day 1 as he picked his Aprilia out of the litter to snatch the top spot with the championship leader failing to make the Q2 cut.
The opening day of the Pertamina Grand Prix of Indonesia has perfectly set the stage for what is set to be a barnstorming weekend of action in Mandalika. Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing) took top honours in Friday afternoon’s Practice as he turned his session around with a 1:30.474 after hitting the deck earlier on, and it’s his teammate Maverick Viñales in second as he also spent a lot of Friday towards the top end of the timing screens.
The headlines kept coming from there on out as a battered and bruised Marco Bezzecchi (Mooney VR46 Racing Team) took third despite an FP1 crash AND coming back from recent collarbone surgery, with reigning Champion and Championship leader Francesco Bagnaia (Ducati Lenovo Team) more on the back foot after a late mistake sees him heading for Q1.
From the gravel trap to the top of the pile
With Friday afternoon’s Practice session deciding who goes through to Q2, the riders spent the majority of the session working on their race packages before putting in those late time attacks. With six minutes remaining, all riders were in the pits ready to fight for the all-important top 10, and the battle was about to commence with only a few bankers already set.
Bezzecchi already had his flyer in and was top of the pile after a heroic effort saw him move the goalposts at the 10-minute mark. But Aleix Espargaro had fire in his belly after crashing out of what was set to be a very hot lap earlier on, in the final five minutes he changed the benchmark time once more to smash the lap record and stamp some authority on Friday’s running.
With the Aprilia on rails around Mandalika, Espargaro was then joined by teammate Viñales as the factory Aprilia duo took the top two spots to demote Bezzecchi to P3.
Another hurdle for the World Champion…
Bagnaia was very much in the danger zone after leaving it to his very last lap of the session to put in a hot lap. With the chequered flag already out Bagnaia was sat outside of the top 10 but was motoring on, on course for a personal best. It looked as if the Champ’s lap was looking pretty safe until a big moment in the latter part of the lap saw his flyer scrapped, heading off at Turn 15 after a moment – and Joan Mir (Repsol Honda Team) then also crashing out almost in tandem.
Now with just a 3-point advantage over his title rival Jorge Martin (Prima Pramac Racing), Bagnaia will be forced to go through Q1 with Martin comfortably sat in the top five just behind Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing), who took fourth.
Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) was next up in 6th. The Spaniard has been all over recent headlines after his switch to Gresini Racing MotoGP™ for 2024 was announced, but is proving there are still very much six Grands Prix remaining this year for him to keep pushing.
Fabio Di Giannantonio (Gresini Racing MotoGP™), the rider Marc Marquez will be replacing, finished just behind the eight-time champ in P8, with Jack Miller (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) and Fabio Quartararo (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP™) taking the final two Q2 spots in 9th and 10th.
The Q1 battle
On paper, it should be an easy enough run through Q1 for Francesco Bagnaia. There’s still plenty of competition he’ll have to contend with however, as Pol Espargaro (GASGAS Factory Racing Tech3), Luca Marini (Mooney VR46 Racing Team), and Johann Zarco (Prima Pramac Racing) will all be eyeing up the top two spots.
Equally with the Aprilia looking like a fine package in Indonesia, the CryptoDATA RNF MotoGP™ Team riders Raul Fernandez and Miguel Oliveira cannot be discounted either. And with the whole grid covered by under two seconds, names such as Enea Bastianini (Ducati Lenovo Team) and Franco Morbidelli (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP™) can’t be ignored either.
Make sure you don’t miss a single detail as the action unfolds in Indonesia with Qualifying and Tissot Sprint coming up on Saturday as well as Free Practice 2 up first at 10:10 local time (GMT +8)!
|1||ALEIX ESPARGARO (APRILIA RACING)||1:30.474|
|2||Maverick Viñales (Aprilia Racing)||+0.154|
|3||Marco Bezzecchi (MooneyVR46 Racing)||+0.170|
|4||Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing)||+0.288|
|5||Jorge Martin (Prima Pramac Racing)||+0.400|
|6||Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team)||+0.632|
|7||Miguel Oliveira (CryptoDATA RNF MotoGP™ Team)||+0.725|
|8||Fabio Di Giannantionio (Gresini Racing MotoGP™)||+0.733|
|9||Jack Miller (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing)||+0.742s|
|10||Fabio Quartararo (Monster Enewrgy Yamaha MotoGP™)||+0.755s|