MotoGP: Aleix Espargaro Breaks Lap Record In “Practice” At Catalunya (Updated)

MotoGP: Aleix Espargaro Breaks Lap Record In “Practice” At Catalunya (Updated)

© 2023, Roadracing World Publishing, Inc. By David Swarts.

Aleix Espargaro broke the All-Time Lap Record during MotoGP “Practice” Friday afternoon at Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, in Spain. Riding his factory Aprilia RS-GP, the Spaniard did a 1:38.686, which led the field of 22 riders and eclipsed Espargaro’s own All-Time Lap Record of 1:38.742 from 2022.

Espargaro’s teammate Maverick Vinales was second-best, just like he was in Free Practice One, with a time of 1:39.048. Defending World Champion Francesco Bagnaia was third with a 1:39.061 on his Lenovo Ducati Desmosedici.

Riders outside of the top 10 in Practice who now must participate in Qualifying One in hopes of reaching Qualifying Two and competing for one of the top grid spots include: Red Bull KTM’s Jack Miller (P12 – 1:39.752), last year’s race winner Fabio Quartararo (P17 – 1:40.106), and six-time MotoGP World Champion Marc Marquez (P19 – 1:40.249).

 

MotoGP Practice

 

 

 

More, from a press release issued by Dorna:

Aleix Espargaro leads Aprilia 1-2 to set the stage for a Barcelona barnstormer

The number 41 did the business in Barcelona with a scintillating lap as a Noale factory 1-2 denies Bagnaia

 

Aleix Espargaro (41). Photo courtesy Dorna.
Aleix Espargaro (41). Photo courtesy Dorna.

 

Friday, 01 September 2023

Friday at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya has set the stage for a potential stunner at the Gran Premi Monster Energy de Catalunya! Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing) had the bit between his teeth in Practice as he put down a stunning 1:38.686 to lead the field by 0.362s on his home hunting ground. His teammate Maverick Viñales made it an Aprilia 1-2 on Day 1 too, and the number 12 pulled off quite a save on his way to second overall. Francesco Bagnaia (Ducati Lenovo Team) was in hot pursuit however, as he kept the Noale manufacturer in his sights, finishing 3rd but just 0.013s shy of Viñales.

 

Maverick Vinales (12). Photo courtesy Dorna.
Maverick Vinales (12). Photo courtesy Dorna.

 

The rush for Q2

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 turning up the wick for their late time attacks.

The top 10 go through to Q2, and it was a mad rush as the soft tyres went in with fifteen minutes to go. The times then really began to tumble and it was a late charge in the final moments that saw Aleix Espargaro crush the hearts of his competitors as he became the first rider of the weekend to put down a 1:38s lap – a new record.

Both Bagnaia and Viñales spent their fair share on the top spot as the fast laps came in from every direction, but neither could get the better of the number 41.

Johann Zarco (Prima Pramac Racing) was one of those threatening the top spots as well. Red sectors and a superb final split saw the Frenchman hit the top towards the end until he was bumped down to P4 ahead of a late-charging Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing), who completes the top five.

 

Francesco Bagnaia (1). Photo courtesy Dorna.
Francesco Bagnaia (1). Photo courtesy Dorna.

 

Fine margins decide the Q2 cut 

It was looking as if Marco Bezzecchi (Mooney VR46 Racing Team) had something up his sleeve when the soft rubber went in, but the Italian was unable to compete with the flurry of fast laps and found himself almost a second adrift of the top spot in P7, just behind Alex Marquez (Gresini Racing MotoGP™), who heads through to Q2 in sixth.

Fabio Di Giannantonio (Gresini Racing MotoGP™) bagged an important top 10 in P8 as he snapped up a Q2 spot. The Italian’s race pace is looking strong as well. As the clock dipped under 40 minutes remaining, the Gresini rider had been sat at the top of the timing screens with a strong run of low 1:40s.

The final two Q2 spots went to the two riders who were scrapping it out last season for the 2023 factory Ducati ride. Enea Bastianini (Ducati Lenovo Team) and Jorge Martin (Prima Pramac Racing), who finished in 9th and 10th respectively. Bastianini will be content with a good sign of progress whilst Martin will be hoping for more on Saturday…

Let battle commence in Q1! 

It’s anyone’s guess as to who will take the top two spots in Q1. Pol Espargaro (GASGAS Factory Racing Tech3) was the first to miss out after finishing Practice in P11. The local rider – from Granollers right next to the track – will be eager to join his brother in Saturday’s Q2 session.

It won’t be an easy task, however, as he’ll have to compete with the likes of Jack Miller (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing), the two CryptoDATA RNF Aprilias of Raul Fernandez and Miguel Oliveira, as well as Luca Marini (Mooney VR46 Racing Team).

The struggles continued for Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP™ teammates Fabio Quartararo and Franco Morbidelli, as well as Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) and his teammate Joan Mir as all failed to make the top 15.

Will Yamaha and Honda find something on Saturday? Can Aprilia keep their form as we head into qualifying and the Tissot Sprint? Or do Ducati and KTM have something up their sleeves? Make sure you don’t miss a single detail as the action unfolds on super Saturday!

SHOWTIME

The stage is set for Qualifying and then the Tissot Sprint at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya. Make sure you tune in:

 

Ai Ogura (79). Photo courtesy Dorna.
Ai Ogura (79). Photo courtesy Dorna.

 

Margins tight in Moto2™: Ogura, Acosta, Lopez & Canet covered by 0.058

Ai Ogura (IDEMITSU Honda Team Asia) topped the timesheets on Day 1 of the Gran Premi Monster Energy de Catalunya as his 1:44.804 proved he’s back to his brilliant best. The margins were amazingly close, however, and just 0.002s back comes Championship leader Pedro Acosta (Red Bull KTM Ajo). Alonso Lopez (Beta Tools Speed Up) is in hot pursuit on Day 1 in third, with Aron Canet (Pons Wegow Los40) fourth but still just 0.058s off the top.

Manuel Gonzalez (Yamaha VR46 Master Camp Team) made a big step to top Practice 2 and jumped up to the top 5 on combined times. Joe Roberts (Italtrans Racing Team) was one of many who struggled to improve as the temperatures rose in Practice 2, but did consolidate P6 thanks to his P1 time. Three afternoon improvers are up next: Albert Arenas (Red Bull KTM Ajo), Sam Lowes (Elf Marc VDS Racing Team) and rookie Sergio Garcia (Pons Wegos Los40).

Jake Dixon (Asterius GASGAS Aspar Team) rounded out the top 10 ahead of title contender Tony Arbolino (Elf MarcVDS Racing Team), with Somkiat Chantra (IDEMITSU Honda Team Asia) pipping 2022 Barcelona winner and winner last time out Celestino Vietti (Fantic Racing). Fermin Aldeguer (Beta Tools Speed Up) is currently on to pick up the final Q2 spot.

Moto2™ will be back in action on Saturday for Practice 3 at 9:25 and qualifying at 13:45 local (GMT +2).

 

Jaume Masia (5). Photo courtesy Dorna.
Jaume Masia (5). Photo courtesy Dorna.

 

Moto3™: Masia makes his mark on Friday

It’s advantage Jaume Masia (Leopard Racing) as Moto3™ conclude Friday’s action at the Gran Premi Monster Energy de Catalunya. The Spaniard’s stellar 1:48.300 was set on his final lap of Practice 1 and remained untouched as he sat almost half a second clear of the field. Ivan Ortola (Angeluss MTA Team) made big strides as he found half a second to top Practice 2 and slot himself into 2nd place on the combined practice times. Collin Veijer (Liqui Moly Husqvarna Intact GP) is also showing good form at a circuit he’ll know well from his time in the FIM JuniorGP. The Dutchman put in a solid lap in P2 to put himself into 3rd place.

Whilst Masia was in a league of his own, the rest of the grid was locked together in the usual Moto3™ fashion. Deniz Öncü (Red Bull KTM Ajo) was just 0.040s away from the top three and is looking in fine fettle as he bagged P4. Matteo Bertelle (Rivacold Snipers Team) also enjoyed a positive Friday to round out the top five.

Championship leader Daniel Holgado (Red Bull KTM Tech3) isn’t having it all his own way in Barcelona. Whilst the Spaniard has bagged himself an automatic Q2 spot, he sits in P9 behind Tatsuki Suzuki (Leopard Racing), Riccardo Rossi (SIC58 Squadra Corse) and Silverstone winner David Alonso (Gaviota GASGAS Aspar Team). Jose Antonio Rueda (Red Bull KTM Ajo) rounded out the top 10 with Ayumu Sasaki (Liqui Moly Husqvarna Intact GP) taking the final provisional Q2 spot in P14 and looking for more.

Moto3™ action continues on Saturday, make sure not to miss any of the action with Practice 3 at 08:40 and qualifying at 12:50 local time (GMT +2)!

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