The factory Ducati star claims top spot in a frantic MotoGP™ FP2 which sees Aleix Espargaro and Crutchlow sit inside the top three
Ducati Lenovo Team’s Jack Miller is the fastest rider after Friday’s MotoGP™ action at the Gran Premio TISSOT de Aragon, the Australian landed a 1:47.613 to hold a healthy 0.273s advantage over Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini) on Day 1. Three manufacturers sit in the top three thanks to Cal Crutchlow’s (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) P3 heroics in FP2, the British star is the fastest YZR-M1 rider so far at MotorLand Aragon.
A frantic FP2
It was a dramatic start to the session for pacesetter Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team). Tucked right in the slipstream of Alex Marquez (LCR Honda Castrol) heading into Turn 16, the Repsol Honda rider had to go off-line, which caused him to lose the front. Marc Marquez was straight up on his feet and uninjured, but the eight-time World Champion was visibly frustrated with the crash. Not long later, second fastest Francesco Bagnaia (Ducati Lenovo Team) was down unhurt at Turn 5.
After dominating FP1, Marc Marquez’ advantage had been cut to 0.526s with 10 minutes to go of Day 1. Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda Idemitsu) and Miguel Oliveira (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) were P2 and P3, with World Championship leader Fabio Quartararo (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) fourth. However, it was all about to change. Softer rubber was being fitted to the machines after most of the riders had spent some time on Michelin’s hard tyres, with attack mode now activated.
Aleix Espargaro and Iker Lecuona (Tech3 KTM Factory Racing) then exchanged P2 before Miller slammed in the best time of the weekend – 0.4s quicker than Marc Marquez’ benchmark. Aprilia’s Espargaro then returned to P2 before Crutchlow went a couple of tenths behind close mate Miller into P2, phenomenal from the British rider. For the third time in succession, Espargaro slotted into P2 with less than a minute remaining in an enthralling end to FP2.
1.2s covers top 21
In the end, no one could get on terms with Miller’s lap as Ducati lead Aprilia and Yamaha, Crutchlow the fastest Iwata factory rider on Friday at MotorLand. Johann Zarco (Pramac Racing) left it late to grab a top 10 place, the Frenchman went P4 ahead of two fellow Ducatis – fifth place Jorge Martin (Pramac Racing) and Bagnaia. Quartararo was in some discomfort in the closing stages with what looked like something stinging his neck, but the Frenchman is comfortably in the top 10 for now in P7.
Marc Marquez didn’t improve his time from FP1 and therefore slips to P8 on the combined times, the number 93 0.4s down on Miller heading into Saturday, as Nakagami and Enea Bastianini (Avintia Esponsorama) close out a top 10 covered by less than half a second.
It’s mightily close in Aragon. Reigning World Champion Joan Mir (Team Suzuki Ecstar) finds himself down in P21, but the Spaniard is only 1.2s off the lead pace. Not where Mir will want to be, but it shows how competitive Friday has been at MotorLand. Talking of competitive, Maverick Viñales (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini) is well in the mix on his debut Grand Prix weekend with the RS-GP, the Spaniard is only 1.1s off top spot.
A huge FP3 awaits
With the times so tight, Saturday morning’s FP3 looks set to be a barnstormer. All the riders will be chasing those all-important automatic Q2 places, you really don’t want to miss a second of the action that will be coming your way at 09:55 local time (GMT+2).
1. Jack Miller (Ducati Lenovo Team) – 1:47.613
2. Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini) + 0.273
3. Cal Crutchlow (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) + 0.284
4. Johann Zarco (Pramac Racing) + 0.375
5. Jorge Martin (Pramac Racing) + 0.410
6. Francesco Bagnaia (Ducati Lenovo Team) + 0.419
7. Fabio Quartararo (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) + 0.421
8. Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) + 0.435
9. Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda Idemitsu) + 0.444
10. Enea Bastianini (Avintia Esponsorama) + 0.473