The Spaniard came out on top in the Friday time attack battle with Di Giannantonio and Viñales in hot pursuit.
Raul Fernandez (CryptoDATA RNF MotoGP™ Team) enjoyed a dream Friday Practice session as he not only bagged himself a spot in Q2 but was the fastest of the bunch as his 1:52.892 saw him snatch top honours by just 0.049s. It was a day for the youngsters as Fabio Di Giannantonio (Gresini Racing MotoGP™) was the closest contender to the Spaniard.
The Italian looked strong from the off and took P2 ahead of Maverick Viñales (Aprilia Racing) who despite setting the fastest lap of the session, was denied the top spot after his lap was cancelled following a yellow flag.
With the Qatar Airways Grand Prix of Qatar serving as the penultimate round of the season, it’s game on in the Championship fight as just 14 points split Francesco Bagnaia (Ducati Lenovo Team) and Jorge Martin (Prima Pramac Racing). It’s even closer out on the circuit as the duo were locked together with just 0.007s between Martin in 7th and Bagnaia in 8th.
PECCO VS MARTIN
There were Q2 spots up for grabs as the riders hit the circuit for a full hour of track time around the Lusail International Circuit. Bagnaia and Martin struggled through most of the session as they were running 1.5s off the pace. The tensions rose in the title battle as the final 10 minutes came around and it was time to bite the screen on soft rubber.
The red sectors came flying in and it was Raul Fernandez who went top before the riders came back into the pits for a change of rubber. The second run of laps was underway and the timing screens were being lit up with red sectors once again. Fast laps came in every direction but a yellow flag saw laps cancelled and it was down to the final minute to decide the order.
It was looking like a disaster for Martin as he found himself outside of Q2 contention until the Spaniard pulled together a flyer to put himself in P6 and bag a spot in Q2. Bagnaia was one of the riders who had a lap cancelled as he dropped down the order from P4. The Champion responded however as he set another flyer to slot himself just behind Martin.
As close as ever in MotoGP
Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) was very much in the mix as he took 4th place. The South African got the better of Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing) who rounded out the top five.
Luca Marini (Mooney VR46 Racing Team) put in a very late run and was looking good for the top spot as he proceeded to put down red sectors with no other riders circulating at pace. The Italian only managed P6 in the end but demoted the title contenders Martin and Bagnaia down a place each as they took 7th and 8th.
Augusto Fernandez (GASGAS Factory Racing Tech3) was just behind in 9th place, with Marc Marquez (Respol Honda Team) taking full advantage of a Pecco Bagnaia tow to round out the top ten and take the final Q2 spot.
All-out war in Q1
There are some heavy hitters set for battle in Q1 on Saturday. Jack Miller (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) was the first to miss out on a Q2 spot as the Aussie fell just 0.014s short of the top 10 in P11.
Miller will be joined by the Sprint victor and podium finisher from last weekend Alex Marquez (Gresini Racing MotoGP™) as well as Franco Morbidelli (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP™), Pol Espargaro (GASGAS Factory Racing Tech3), Marco Bezzecchi (Mooney VR46 Racing Team), and Johann Zarco (Prima Pramac Racing).
The action has only just started at the Lusail International Circuit. The title fight is on with MotoGP™ enjoying some of the closest racing in its history. Make sure you don’t miss a single detail as the action unfolds in Qatar with Qualifying and Tissot Sprint coming up on Saturday as well as Free Practice 2 up first at 15:00 local time (GMT +3)!
|1||RAUL FERNANDEZ (CRYPTODATA RNF MOTOGP TEAM)||1:52.843|
|2||Fabio Di Giannantonio (Gresini Racing MotoGP™)||+0.049|
|3||Maverick Viñales (Aprilia Racing)||+0.093|
|4||Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing)||+0.112|
|5||Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing)||+0.190|
|6||Luca Marini (Mooney VR46 Racing Team)||+0.251|
|7||Jorge Martin (Prima Pramac Racing)||+0.352|
|8||Francesco Bagnaia (Ducati Lenovo Team)||+0.359|
|9||Augusto Fernandez (GASGAS Factory Racing Tech3)||+0.446|
|10||Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team)||+0.480|