Taking the bull by the horns on Day 1 at the CryptoDATA Motorrad Grand Prix von Österreich was Mooney VR46 Racing Team’s Marco Bezzecchi as the Italian now boasts the Red Bull Ring all-time lap record.
Bezzecchi’s blistering 1:28.533 ensured he finished 0.044s ahead of Maverick Viñales (Aprilia Racing), with World Championship leader Francesco Bagnaia (Ducati Lenovo Team) picking up P3.
Top 10 battle erupts as rain looms in Styria
The times tumbled early in the session as dark clouds loomed at the Red Bull Ring, with the threat of rain seeing some time attacks come in earlier than we’re accustomed to seeing on a Friday afternoon. Viñales set the pace with a 1:29.075, a lap slammed home on soft rubber, with Bezzecchi and Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) moving inside the top three early on.
With 24 minutes left, the rain flags started to be waved. It wasn’t enough at this stage to disrupt the fast lap times though as British GP winner Aleix Espargaro made it an Aprilia 1-2 at the summit – the Spaniard going 0.281s off teammate Viñales.
Despite the very light rain being a factor, Fabio Di Giannantonio (Gresini Racing MotoGP™) was able to find time and jump up to P6, which in turn shoved Fabio Quartararo (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP™) down to P11. But personal best sectors were being set – including by the latter. Quartararo responded and went P5 with 14 minutes to go, with FP1 pacesetter Johann Zarco (Prima Pramac Racing) also climbing into the top 10.
After sitting outside the top 15, Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) was on a charge. Having just gone P13, the eight-time World Champion then briefly sat P2 before Miguel Oliveira (CryptoDATA RNF MotoGP™ Team) made second place his.
The goalposts were then moved by a familiar name. Bagnaia was the first rider to dip into the 1:28s, with the #1’s 1:28.821 two and a half tenths quicker than Viñales’ time. Pecco’s advantage was slashed to 0.042s as Binder set his best time of the day, with Quartararo going to P4 as plenty of hot laps began coming in.
None more so than Bezzecchi. The Italian’s new lap record was now the time to beat as the fight for the top 10 properly unravelled with three minutes to go. Viñales improved to go back to P2, splitting Bezzecchi and Bagnaia, before the Aprilia star went quicker to go just 0.044s off Bezzecchi’s effort. And speaking of the #72, Bezzecchi encountered a late issue with his GP22 to cut his session short.
An incident between Pol Espargaro (GASGAS Factory Racing Tech3) and Marc Marquez was assessed by the Stewards after this (see below) happened at Turn 4 in the closing stages of Practice. The result? Pol Espargaro is handed a three-place grid penalty for Sunday’s race.
The automatic Q2 qualifiers
Behind the leading trio, Binder sails into the pole position shootout in P4 ahead of Zarco and Jorge Martin (Prima Pramac Racing), as a late attack from Aleix Espargaro made sure the Silverstone winner claimed P7. Alex Marquez (Gresini Racing MotoGP™) ends Practice in P8, the Spaniard will be joined in Q2 by a relieved Quartararo and Oliveira.
With 0.9s splitting the fastest 16 riders, Saturday at the Red Bull Ring should be a proper spectacle. Tune into qualifying at 10:50 local time (GMT+2) on Saturday morning before the Tissot Sprint begins at 15:00.
|1||MARCO BEZZECCHI (MOONEY VR46 RACING TEAM)||1:28.533|
|2||Maverick Viñales (Aprilia Racing)||+ 0.044|
|3||Francesco Bagnaia (Ducati Lenovo Team)||+ 0.288|
|4||Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing)||+ 0.330|
|5||Johann Zarco (Prima Pramac Racing)||+ 0.388|
|6||Jorge Martin (Prima Pramac Racing)||+ 0.479|
|7||Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing)||+ 0.519|
|8||Alex Marquez (Gresini Racing MotoGP™)||+ 0.563|
|9||Fabio Quartararo (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP™)||+ 0.622|
|10||Miguel Oliveira (CryptoDATA RNF MotoGP™ Team)||+ 0.627|