Luca Marini was fastest in MotoGP World Championship Free Practice Two (FP2) Friday afternoon at Buddh International Circuit, in India. Riding his Mooney VR46 Racing Team Ducati at the new 3.1-mile (5.0 km) venue, the Italian topped the field of 22 riders with a 1:44.782.
Jorge Martin was second-best with a 1:44.790 on his Prima Pramac Racing Ducati, and Aleix Espargaro ranked third with a 1:44.833 on his factory Aprilia RS-GP.
Just 1.791 seconds covered the entire field with only one second separating the top 17 riders.
The top 10 riders in FP2 transfer directly to Qualifying Two (Q2). Riders outside of the top 10 in Practice must go to Qualifying One (Q1) and finish that session in the top two to advance to Q2 and compete for the top 12 grid spots.
More, from a press release issued by Dorna:
History made! Just 0.008 splits Marini and Martin as MotoGP™ debuts in India
The duo are split by almost nothing as Aleix Espargaro sit just 0.051 off the top in third and Marc Marquez slots into P4
Friday, 22 September 2023
The first ever day of MotoGP™ action at Buddh International Circuit threw up a treat, with the timesheets incredibly tight at the top. The stage is certainly set for a barnstorming IndianOil Grand Prix of India as Luca Marini (Mooney VR46 Racing Team) put down a stunning 1:44.782 to lead Jorge Martin (Prima Pramac Racing) by just 0.008s, and the gap didn’t get much bigger down to third either as Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing) started his weekend in P3 just 0.051 off Marini.
Crunch time in Practice!
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 tucking in 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 really began to tumble but it was late charge in the final moments that saw Marini set the benchmark with the fastest time of the weekend so far.
Martin was the man to beat for the majority of the session though, and did move the goalposts by half a second ahead of time-attack war before just being denied by Marini at the end, with yellow flags out and little time remaining.
Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) was one of those threatening the top spots as well. Red sectors came in from the eight-time champ, but the ask was a little too much for the Repsol Honda to take over on top. Still, he took a positive P4. Marco Bezzecchi (Mooney VR46 Racing Team) was also looking strong after topping Friday morning’s Practice 1, but couldn’t put himself any higher than P5 in Practice.
Bagnaia with something up his sleeve?
Reigning Champion Francesco Bagnaia (Ducati Lenovo Team) was very much in the danger zone as the clock was ticking away in the final 10 minutes. The Championship leader was sat outside of Q2 contention and had some work to do, with the pace getting hotter and hotter. Bagnaia hadn’t been setting the world on fire throughout the day, but with the question asked of the Italian, he got the hammer down to bag P7 and an important Q2 spot just behind Maverick Viñales (Aprilia Racing). Is the champ struggling or keeping his cards close to his chest?
Fabio Quartararo (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP™) enjoyed a fairly positive day onboard his Yamaha M1. The Frenchman finds himself in an automatic Q2 spot in P8, and is looking confident with the new circuit leveling the playing field that little bit more. He suffered two mechanical issues in FP1 butstill took that all-important place in Q2.
The Frenchman’s compatriot Johann Zarco (Prima Pramac Racing) finished just behind in P9, with Joan Mir (Repsol Honda Team) also returning to Q2 with a much-needed top 10. It was close there though, with yellow flags out in the final few minutes and that causing both Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) and Augusto Fernandez (GASGAS Factory Racing Tech3) to have their best laps scrubbed off, both of which would have easily seen them sail into Q2.
A packed house in Q1
Behind Mir, it’s Fabio Di Giannantonio (Gresini Racing MotoGP™) the first to miss out after finishing Practice in P11 following those lap cancellations.
Diggia, Binder and Augusto Fernandez will be joined in Q1 by the likes of Alex Marquez (Gresini Racing MotoGP™), Franco Morbidelli (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP™), Miguel Oliveira (CryptoDATA RNF MotoGP™ Team) and Jack Miller (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) in a hotly-contested session on Saturday morning too, so don’t miss it!