Fresh from arm pump surgery less than two weeks ago, Petronas Yamaha SRT’s Fabio Quartararo has ended Friday at the Gran Premi Monster Energy de Catalunya at the top of the times, thanks to a final flying lap time of 1:40.079 at the end of FP2. The rookie heads Mission Winnow Ducati’s Andrea Dovizioso by nearly three tenths, with Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda Idemitsu) completing the top three.
After a cloudy start to proceedings in FP1, the sun appeared for the second session of the day as the times in the afternoon would eventually settle the provisional automatic Q2 places. Quartararo did a bit of grass tracking in the early stages of FP2 but after finishing FP1 in second, the Frenchman would go one better in the afternoon to snatch Friday honours from Dovizioso at the death. A stellar last sector paved the way for Quartararo to go 0.281 quicker than anyone else on Day 1 at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, with 2017 Catalan GP winner Dovi going well in the second Friday session to go from P4 to P2 in FP1 and FP2.
The leading Honda rider so far in Barcelona isn’t home hero and Championship leader Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team). Nakagami went great guns in FP1 to finish P5, only for the Japanese rider to go even better in the afternoon to finish third on the combined times – 0.302 splitting Nakagami from Quartararo as fresh faces challenge the more experienced riders in Barcelona on Friday.
One of those more experienced riders in Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Pol Espargaro, the Spaniard managed to improve his time by over a second in FP2 to finish fourth fastest, making it four manufacturers inside the top four, with reigning Moto2™ World Champion Francesco Bagnaia (Pramac Racing) closing out the top five on his Desmosedici GP18 – the Italian also going over a second quicker in the second session.
Fellow VR46 Academy rider Franco Morbidelli (Petronas Yamaha SRT) ended the day sixth, this consolidates his top ten pace after finishing FP1 in P8, with Valentino Rossi (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) finishing just behind his two apprentices in P7. The Doctor going well in the latter stages of FP2 to confirm a top ten after finishing FP1 in P9.
Mugello race winner Danilo Petrucci (Mission Winnow Ducati), a P18 finisher in FP1, closes out Day 1 in eighth, with Marquez the only rider in the 23-man strong field to not go quicker in FP2 – P9 for the seven-time Champion, but he didn't use a new soft tyre in the second session. Fellow Honda rider Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda Castrol) rounds out a top ten covered by just 0.623, the Briton climbing one place from his P11 in FP1.
Johann Zarco (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) crashed in the final ten minutes of the session at Turn 14 while looking good for a top ten challenge, with Mir going down at Turn 2 right at the end of the day too – riders ok. Team Suzuki Ecstar's Alex Rins also crashed, the Spaniard losing control of his GSX-RR in the early stages of FP2.
Day 1 has shown there are plenty of talking points and questions to be answered on Saturday, with the field looking incredibly competitive. Less than a second covers the top 19, with FP3 providing the riders currently sat outside the top ten – including Rins, Jorge Lorenzo (Repsol Honda Team) and Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP’s Maverick Viñales – a chance to break into an automatic Q2 place.
Top 10 Combined:
1. Fabio Quartararo (Petronas Yamaha SRT) – 1:40.803
2. Andrea Dovizioso (Mission Winnow Ducati) + 0.281
3. Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda Idemitsu) + 0.302
4. Pol Espargaro (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) + 0.314
5. Francesco Bagnaia (Pramac Racing) + 0.392
6. Franco Morbideilli (Petronas Yamaha SRT) + 0.438
7. Valentino Rossi (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) + 0.441
8. Danilo Petrucci (Mission Winnow Ducati) + 0.520
9. Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) + 0.613
10. Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda Castrol) + 0.623