Marco Bezzecchi was fastest during MotoGP World Championship “Practice” Friday afternoon at the Red Bull Ring, in Austria. Riding his Mooney VR46 Racing Team Ducati, the Italian turned a lap time of 1:28.533 to lead the field of 23 riders.
Maverick Vinales was the best of the rest with a 1:28.577 on his factory Aprilia, and defending World Champion Francesco Bagnaia was third-quickest with a 1:28.821 on his Lenovo Ducati.
Just 1.088 seconds separated the top 17 riders in the session.
Riders who were outside of the top 10 and will have to go to Qualifying One (Q1) include Mark Marquez, Jack Miller, and Enea Bastianini.
More, from a press release issued by Dorna:
16 riders within a second, Bezzecchi sets new lap record at the Red Bull Ring
Bezzecchi pips Viñales by half a tenth, with Bagnaia third and Binder fourth as action opens on KTM home turf
Friday, 18 August 2023
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. His blistering 1:28.533 only gave him an advantage of 0.044s ahead of Maverick Viñales (Aprilia Racing), however, with the two just edging away from World Championship leader Francesco Bagnaia (Ducati Lenovo Team) in P3.
The times tumbled early in the Practice 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) then joining him inside the top three early on.
With 24 minutes left, the rain flags started to be waved. It wasn’t enough to disrupt the fast lap times, however, as British GP winner Aleix Espargaro then made it an Aprilia 1-2 at the summit – the Spaniard going 0.281s off teammate Viñales.
Despite the very light rain still proving 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 then the rider 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 really it up 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.
Bezzecchi then also encountered a late issue with his GP22 to cut his session short, pulling over right in front of… the boss. Valentino Rossi gave the number 72 a ride back to the paddock, but check out Bezzecchi’s review of the taxi service below as it didn’t quite go to plan on the scooter either. Still, a new lap record as he looks to bounce back this weekend is a job well done on the more serious side of the coin for Bezzecchi on Friday!
Meanwhile, there was a frisson of drama after an incident between Pol Espargaro (GASGAS Factory Racing Tech3) and Marc Marquez was assessed by the Stewards after the number 44 held up the number 93 at Turn 4 in the closing stages of Practice. Pol Espargaro was handed a three-place grid penalty for Sunday’s race, and MM93 heads for Q1.
The automatic Q2 qualifiers
Behind the leading trio of Bezzecchi, Viñales and Bagnaia, Binder sails into the pole position shootout in P4 ahead of Zarco and Jorge Martin (Prima Pramac Racing).
A late attack from Aleix Espargaro made sure the Silverstone winner claimed P7, with Alex Marquez (Gresini Racing MotoGP™) ending Practice in P8. They’re joined in Q2 by both Quartararo and Oliveira.
With some huge names in Q1, the stage is set for Qualifying and then the Tissot Sprint at the Red Bull Ring. Make sure you tune in!
MotoGP™ FP2: 10:10
MotoGP™ Q1: 10:50
MotoGP™ Q2: 11:15
Tissot Sprint: 15:00
Advantage Acosta as Moto2™ gets underway in Austria
Pedro Acosta (Red Bull KTM Ajo) topped the timesheets on Day 1 of the CryptoDATA Motorrad Grand Prix von Österreich to put himself a whisker away from lap-record pace with a 1:34.050. Just 0.110s back from the Spaniard was Somkiat Chantra (IDEMISTU Honda Team Asia), who topped Practice 1 to put himself P2 overall ahead of his teammate Ai Ogura.
The session was red-flagged after five minutes following a crash for Manuel Gonzalez (Corres Prepago Yamaha VR46 Team), who was taken to the medical centre and declared fit, but the air fence needed to be redeployed. Once back underway, the times began to tumble once again.
Jake Dixon (Autosolar GASGAS Aspar Team) was looking strong in Practice 2 as he finished the session inside the top three, with his lap time bagging him 4th place on the combined practice times. Title contender Tony Arbolino (Elf Marc VDS Racing Team) was another who made significant improvements in Practice 2 as he finished behind the Brit and rounded out the top five. Arbolino’s teammate Sam Lowes wasn’t so fortunate as he hit the deck in the afternoon meaning he was unable to improve and only managed 14th., but rider ok.
Moto2™ will be back in action on Saturday for Practice 3 at 9:25 and qualifying at 13:45 local (GMT +2).
Moto3™: Alonso’s charge continues in Austria
It’s advantage David Alonso (GASGAS Aspar Team) as Moto3™ action at the CryptoDATA Motorrad Grand Prix von Österreich got underway at the Red Bull Ring. Fresh from his debut victory, the 2023 rookie put down a 1:41.223 to take the top spot by a sensational 0.629s. It was a rookie one-two on the combined practice times as Collin Veijer (Liqui Moly Husqvarna Intact GP) was the best of the rest, with the Dutchman beating Deniz Öncü (Red Bull KTM Ajo) to 2nd place by just 0.027s.
Whilst the Colombian was in a league of his own, the rest of the grid were locked in usual Moto3™ fashion. The Championship leader Daniel Holgado (Red Bull KTM Tech3) enjoyed a positive Friday after topping the first practice session. The Spaniard just missed out on the top three by 0.020s to finish the day in 4th place ahead of Matteo Bertelle (Rivacold Snipers Team) who rounded out the top five.
After crashing out of the British Grand Prix, Jaume Masia (Leopard Racing) needs a solid finish in Austria to keep his title tilt alive. Whilst the Spaniard wasn’t dominating sessions as we’ve seen at the past GPs, he sits in 6th place and has shown decent pace ahead of the weekend’s racing action.
Ivan Ortola (Angeluss MTA Team) finished in P3 during Practice 1 but slipped down to P7 on combined times to sit ahead of Ayumu Sasaki (Liqui Moly Husqvarna Intact GP). Rookie Jose Antonio Rueda (Red Bull KTM Ajo) enjoyed a positive day in P9 ahead of Diogo Moreira (MT Helmets – MSI) who rounded out the top 10 despite a crash.
Moto3™ action continues on Saturday, tune in for Practice 3 at 08:40 and qualifying at 12:50 local time (GMT +2).