Martin edges out Quartararo, Marc Marquez eighth on Friday
Just 0.074 splits the top two, and the number 93 starts his return only three tenths off the top
Friday, 16 September 2022
Prima Pramac Racing’s Jorge Martin heads into Saturday’s action at the Gran Premio Animoca Brands de Aragón with the time to beat after his 1:47.402 proved just enough to pip World Championship leader Fabio Quartararo (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP™) to the top. Johann Zarco made it two Prima Pramac Racing Ducatis in the top three but some headlines were stolen as Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) enjoyed a successful Friday back in the office – the Spaniard ended Day 1 in P8, 0.359s off P1.
The times tumbled straight away in the afternoon as FP1 pacesetter Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing) went from P1 down to P11, with Marc Marquez briefly sitting fastest before Francesco Bagnaia (Ducati Lenovo Team) climbed to the summit.
Then, after rising to P4, Aleix Espargaro crashed for the second time on Friday. The title chaser tucked the front at Turn 14 and was thankfully unhurt, but it wasn’t the start to FP2 Espargaro needed. Halfway through the afternoon stint, Marc Marquez, as we saw at the Misano Test, ventured out on the much talked about Kalex swingarm HRC have been testing, with Maverick Viñales (Aprilia Racing) then leading the way at the top.
Heading into the final 10 minutes, the top four riders – Viñales, Bagnaia, Quartararo and Luca Marini (Mooney VR46 Racing Team) – were split by just 0.051s. But the time attacks were about to come in. Alex Rins (Team Suzuki Ecstar) set a 1:47.665 to go fastest before both Quartararo and then Martin bettered Rins’ time, with Martin leading the way by 0.074s.
Marc Marquez was then shadowing Martin and the eight-time World Champion set three red sectors. However, a small mistake at the final corner saw the number 93 climb higher into the top 10 as the likes of Zarco and Enea Bastianini (Gresini Racing MotoGP™) improved late on.
Provisional Q2 places
Behind Quartararo in the Pramac sandwich, Bastianini’s last lap in FP2 saw the Italian claim fourth on the combined timesheets, one place ahead of compatriot and 2023 teammate Pecco. The 2021 Aragon GP race winner settled for P5 on the opening day, a couple of tenths shy of Martin. Rins and Viñales head into Saturday P6 and P7 on the timesheets, with Marc Marquez a very impressive P8 – and there was a beaming smile when he arrived back in the box at the end of the session.
Jack Miller (Ducati Lenovo Team) and Marini close out the top 10, but a big story of the day is Aleix Espargaro – one of the pre-race favourites – finishing outside the top 10 after his two crashes. A crucial FP3 lies ahead for the Aprilia star in his pursuit of an automatic place in Q2…
Plenty can still change on Saturday, however, with the premier class heading out for FP3 to decide those automatic graduates to Q2. After FP4 it’s then time for qualifying from 14:10 (GMT +2), with another crucial grid on the line for the Gran Premio Animoca Brands de Aragon.
FRIDAY: TOP 3
1 Jorge Martin (Prima Pramac Racing) – Ducati – 1’47.402
2 Fabio Quartararo (Ducati Lenovo Team) – Ducati – +0.074
3 Johann Zarco (Prima Pramac Racing) – Ducati – +0.107
Canet beats Fernandez to Friday honours
The two home heroes take one session each, but it’s Canet on top overall
Aron Canet (Flexbox HP40) turned the tables on Moto2™ World Championship leader Augusto Fernandez (Red Bull KTM Ajo) to claim Friday honours at the Gran Premio Animoca Brands de Aragon, Canet fastest in FP2 after Fernandez ruled FP1. Misano winner Alonso Lopez (CAG Speed Up), who scored a breakthrough victory just under a fortnight ago at Misano, was third quickest in both.
Just before he was confirmed as a future MotoGP™ rider at GASGAS Factory Racing, Fernandez topped Moto2™ FP1 on a 1:52.925 while Canet was second-fastest in that session on a 1:53.057. Just prior to the halfway mark of FP2, they were split in terms of combined times when Lopez punched out a 1:53.011.
However, with less than four minutes of the day’s action to go, Canet crept up two positions when he clocked a 1:52.852 and that was how the top three would stay. Fernandez could not be accused of a lack of consistency, though, given his fastest lap time of FP2 at 1:52.952 was just 0.027 seconds slower than his FP1 benchmark. Canet also might not have had a chance to usurp his countryman had he crashed early in the session at Turn 14, but the Pons Racing rider pulled off an impressive save.
Provisional Q2 places
Behind the top three, Jake Dixon (Shimoku GASGAS Aspar Team) picked up fourth with a 1:53.128 and Tony Arbolino (Elf Marc VDS Racing Team) took fifth on a 1:53.154. Rounding out the top 10 were Pedro Acosta (Red Bull KTM Ajo), Albert Arenas (Shimoku GASGAS Aspar Team), Fermin Aldeguer (CAG Speed Up), Joe Roberts (Italtrans Racing Team), and Somkiat Chantra (Idemitsu Honda Team Asia).
Ai Ogura (Idemitsu Honda Team Asia), who is just four points off the World Championship lead, ended the day in 12th. He’s behind Marcos Ramirez (MV Agusta Forward Racing) and just ahead of Jorge Navarro (Flex HP 40) and Zonta van den Goorbergh (RW Racing GP). That means neither of the Mooney VR46 Racing Team riders are in Q2 as it stands, with Celestino Vietti in 17th and Niccolo Antonelli in 27th, both having crashed in FP2 in separate incidents.
That’s a wrap on Friday, with a number of fast faces looking to move forward in FP3 before qualifying from 15:10 (GMT +2).
FRIDAY: TOP 3
1 Aron Canet (Flexbox HP 40) – Kalex – 1’52.852
2 Augusto Fernandez (Red Bull KTM Ajo) – KTM – +0.100
3 Alonso Lopez (CAG Speed Up) – Boscoscuro – +0.159
Foggia pips Sasaki to fastest on Friday
The Italian ends the first day of Aragon action in the hot seat
Fresh from his Misano win, Leopard Racing’s Dennis Foggia has gone fastest on the opening day of the Gran Premio Animoca Brands de Aragon, setting the pace in FP2 with a 1:58.507. That time left Foggia just under two tenths of a second clear of Sterilgarda Husqvarna Max’s Ayumu Sasaki and just over three tenths of a second up on Red Bull KTM Ajo’s rookie Daniel Holgado.
Sasaki was the fastest rider in FP1 on a 1:58.819 and that was still the fastest lap time of the day until the final two minutes of FP2, when Foggia jumped to the top of the timing screen with the aforementioned 1:58.507. Sasaki had an earlier crash on his way into the Reverse Corkscrew but, with the chequered flag out, the Japanese rider consolidated second with a 1:58.677, while Holgado’s best was a 1:58.830.
Provisional Q2 places
Behind the top trio, Stefano Nepa (Angeluss MTA Team) claimed fourth with a late 1:59.055, just clear of World Championship leader Izan Guevara (Autosolar GASGAS Aspar Team), who finished fifth on combined times with the 1:59.085 he set in FP1. Sixth through eighth after the first two sessions of the weekend are Ivan Ortola (Angeluss MTA Team), Xavier Artigas (CFMoto Racing PruestelGP) courtesy of his FP1 time, and Deniz Öncü (Red Bull KTM Tech3).
Joel Kelso (CIP Green Power) had a crash just minutes into FP2 at Turn 7 but sits ninth as it stands thanks to his time from earlier in the day, while David Muñoz (BOE Motorsports) rounds out the top 10. The cusp of the top 14 Q2 cut-off is full of notable names with Sergio Garcia (Autosolar GASGAS Aspar Team) 13th and John McPhee (Sterilgarda Husqvarna Max) 14th, with Tatsuki Suzuki (Leopard Racing) currently the first set to lose out in 15th. Two-time winner Jaume Masia (Red Bull KTM Ajo), meanwhile, is 20th after a session in which he had an off-track excursion at Turn 14. However, it is expected that FP3 will be decisive in terms of the qualifying order on Saturday afternoon.
Who gets straight through to Q2? Find out on Saturday when FP3 takes place from 09:00 (GMT +2), before qualifying from 12:35!
FRIDAY: TOP 3
1 Dennis Foggia (Leopard Racing) – Honda – 1’58.507
2 Ayumu Sasaki (Sterilgarda Husqvarna Max) – Husqvarna – +0.170
3 Daniel Holgado (Red Bull KTM Ajo) – KTM – +0.323
Herrera’s all-female wildcard makes history on Friday
The all-female squad wildcarding with Maria Herrera this weekend has their first day of action under their belt, making some motorcycle racing history in the process. Herrera won at MotorLand in what was then the CEV in 2013, made her World Championship debut at MotorLand that same year and now returns to the track five years after she last rode in Moto3™ to head the history-making all-female Angeluss MTA Team entry – that means rider, mechanics, technicians, crew chief; all female.
Herrera is a strong advocate for representation and the all-female Aragon wildcard is the latest addition to an impressive CV covering several paddocks and classes of competition. The project with Angeluss is also an important way of providing an opportunity for those in the team to learn the ropes as they look to further their careers in motorcycle racing. After starting the morning outside the 105% following five years away from the category, Herrera then moved to within half a second of the first of the rest of the field in FP2 and will be aiming to cut the margin further on Saturday.
More, from a press release issued by Tech3 KTM Factory Racing:
Tech3 KTM Factory Racing Completes Day 1 of Aragon Grand Prix
Tech3 KTM Factory Racing’s Raul Fernandez and Remy Gardner concluded their first day of track action at the Gran Premio Animoca Brands de Aragón, marking the fifteenth round of the 2022 MotoGP season.
On track for the third time of the season on home turf, Spaniard Raul Fernandez rode in 1’48.688, a lap which placed him twenty-second at the end of Friday. Teammate Remy Gardner followed shortly behind with a personal best of 1’48.752 as he closed day 1 of the Aragon GP in P24. The Tech3 duo will be back on track tomorrow at 9:55 (GMT+2) with the third free practice session.
“MotorLand Aragon is one of my favorite tracks of the calendar so I was hoping for a bit more today to be honest. We had a good set up during the Misano Test but today the bike was not quite the same and I struggled finding confidence on the bike. We will work tonight to try preparing a bike which will suit me better.”
“The position is not great today but I was slightly disturbed by Alex Marquez and lost time during a good lap, which I think could have placed us in the top 20 at least. We made some positive changes following the Misano Test which I am happy about. We will continue working tomorrow and try getting a good grid position. Let’s continue pushing.”
More, from a press release issued by Mooney VR46 Racing Team:
P10 FOR LUCA MARINI AT THE END OF THE DAY1 AT ARAGON
Good start for the rider of the Mooney VR46 Racing Team who hits the momentary access into the Q2. 17th, for the first time at Motorland riding the MotoGP, Marco Bezzecchi
Alcaniz (Spain), September 16th 2022 – Luca Marini immediately starts strong at the Aragon GP which takes place this weekend at Motorland (Sunday, 02.00 pm CET). Riding the Ducati Desmosedici GP, the rider of the Mooney VR46 Racing Team is immediately in the slipstream of the very first group in P10. 17th in the combined standings instead Marco Bezzecchi.
Tenth after the FP1 (1:49.170), in the afternoon session Luca improves his time up to 1:47.893, a time that means the momentary access into the Q2 (02:35 pm CET) tomorrow at only four tenths of gap from the poleman of the day (Martin, 1:47.402).
A more complicated start for Marco, handling for the first time with the very particular Aragon track riding the MotoGP. In P14 in FP1 (1:49.349), he closes the Friday with a best lap time of 1:48.475 just half a second of a gap from the Top10.
A very positive Friday, we worked well, we just need a little bit in terms of pace to be even more competitive tomorrow in qualifying. Let’s analyse the data, the feeling is good, we only understand where I can make a step forward in terms of riding and how to modify the bike. On the time attack I was not perfect, I don’t know why honestly. I didn’t see a big difference between the soft and the medium at the rear.
Not one of my best Fridays, I have struggled to manage the tire and pick up the pace, but I am struggling a bit everywhere. We analyse the data, we need to understand where to improve and where to work both in terms of riding style and on the set up to approach the Top10 tomorrow.
Pablo Nieto, Team Manager
First day in Aragon, a track that is anything but easy both technically and physically. Luca got off to a strong start and did well in the afternoon session too, a pity only for the last run where he was unable to make the most of the tire. Marco, as a rookie, is struggling a bit more, we have to work in general on the riding confidence, but I’m sure tomorrow he will be able to get closer to the Top10.
More, from a press release issued by WithU Yamaha RNF MotoGP Team:
Crutchlow is back, Binder adapts fast in Aragon
The WithU Yamaha RNF MotoGP Team embarks on a new journey this weekend with Cal Crutchlow, starting on Friday.
For round 15 of the 2022 MotoGP World Championship season, the Aragon Grand Prix, WithU Yamaha RNF MotoGP lines up Cal Crutchlow alongside premier class rookie Darryn Binder. The Brit, who is Yamaha test rider, jumps on board the YZR-M1 for the final six races of the campaign, taking the place of Andrea Dovizioso and bringing in some fresh air.
Friday saw the track return of Crutchlow with a decent start in Free Practice one, which he finished just 0.706 seconds behind the top in P16. The 36-year old improved throughout FP2 this sunny afternoon at the Motorland Aragon circuit by 0.861 seconds, yet he was moving backwards to P19 of the combined standings, missing out on the top 10 by 0.638 seconds by the end of day one.
In the meantime, Binder adapted well to the tricky circuit aboard the big bike. The South African concluded FP1 in P24, but with just 1.684 seconds to the top. He made some huge steps in the second session of this weekend to go 1.752 seconds quicker than in Free Practice one, finishing only 0.087 seconds behind his new experienced teammate in P20.
Both, Crutchlow and Binder together with their respective crews already have some ideas on how to further move forward tomorrow in FP3 at 09:55 local time, followed by Free Practice four at 13:30 and the all-important Qualifying from 14:10.
“It was great to be back out on track this weekend with the WithU Yamaha RNF MotoGP Team. We worked well as a team today, we did some positive steps. We didn’t change the bike too much, but we managed to eliminate some things for the race weekend. It’s funny how you change your mindset from being a test rider back to a racer. I had good fun out there. At the end of the day, I was disappointed not to be able to really improve my lap time. We had a small issue with my brake and I wasn’t able to stop the bike in a good way. But we know the problem, so hopefully tomorrow we can go a lot better. Overall, it was a good day working with the team, it was nice to be back out on track and now let’s see how the rest of the weekend goes.”
“I feel like today has been a positive day here in Aragon. I get the impression that the small things we worked on during the Misano test are showing to be helpful here. I made a good step from FP1 to FP2, I’m really enjoying the track on the MotoGP bike and I’m ready to keep working for tomorrow to try to close the gap a little bit more. Anyway, I’m happy with the gap today, 1.2 seconds is I think the closest to the top I’ve been on a Friday.”
More, from a press release issued by Team Gresini Racing:
GOOD START AT ARAGON FOR TEAM GRESINI MOTOGP
#AragonGP Free Practice. There is great optimism within the Team Gresini Racing MotoGP garage after an opening day of free practice that saw Enea Bastianini among the quickest riders on track. The young Italian rider, who has been on a constant growth performance-wise in this second part of the season so far, finished fourth in a day that saw 17 riders within one second.
Among them there is also Fabio Di Giannantonio, who was 16th and eight tenths of a second away from the top, but also only 0.3secs shy of a top ten that would guarantee him a direct seed to Q2. The feeling with both bike and track has improved after each and every run, with the rider #49 who managed to improved by almost two seconds across today’s FP sessions.
4th – ENEA BASTIANINI #23 (1’47.483s)
“Despite the very difficult track conditions, we managed to have a couple of good sessions. The track is surely slower and with little grip, however; we tried some modifications to the set-up but then we decided to revert back to something more ‘familiar’ while trying to adapt more to the track. There is surely plenty of margin for improvement, but it’ll also depend on track conditions. We’re working a lot on the front-end because so far I haven’t been able to perform at my best on corner entry and mid-turn.
16th – FABIO DI GIANNANTONIO #49 (1’48.229s)
“Today was OK. We’re not too far from the leaders and we improved a lot compared to the morning session, but we need to find something extra because I don’t feel too comfortable on the bike. Generally speaking, there is very little grip on this track but I’m having a hard time especially in sectors two and four, where we lose a bit more.”
More, from a press release issued by Aprilia:
MAVERICK GETS INTO THE TOP TEN ON THE FIRST DAY OF PRACTICE IN ARAGÓN
ALEIX IS FAST STRAIGHT AWAY IN THE MORNING (TOP TIME IN FP1) BUT A CRASH IN FP2, HIS SECOND OF THE DAY, KEEPS HIM OUT OF THE TOP TEN FOR NOW
Aprilia was fast straight away on the first day of testing in Aragón but only Viñales made it – rather easily – into the top ten. After working hard on his bike during the morning session, partly to address the problem with poor grip in the first session, Maverick demonstrated great speed in FP2, especially with the medium tyre, which is the one that will probably be used the most in the race. He was unable to improve enough with the soft tyre to take back the top time he had provisionally obtained in the session, but he had no trouble making it into the top ten with the seventh best time of 1’47.678.
The opposite was true for Espargaró who was extremely fast at the beginning, so much that he finished the morning FP1 session with the best time, in spite of a crash. Aleix was also fast straight away in the second session but, just as he was doing his best provisional lap (with the best partial time after the mid lap point), he crashed again. Once again, there were no consequences for the rider, but the second bike change in one day kept him out of the top ten. He finished thirteenth with a time of 1’47.951.
“It was a positive day in spite of a couple mistakes – the first because I was off my line and hit the dirty part of the track. For the second one, I was pushing to the limit but unfortunately I didn’t have any new tyres afterwards, so I missed the session. However, we were fast with the race tyres both in the morning and in the afternoon. In FP2 I was doing a good time too. Of course, it would be better never to crash but we’re pushing hard and trying to give it our all, to be fast, and to be competitive and the poor grip didn’t help. Anyway, a crash in a practice session isn’t important. What really counts is finishing the race at the top.”
“A very positive day. To be honest, I arrived here curious to see how much we would be able to improve from last year. The step forward is incredible – one second in terms of pace is a lot better even on the flying lap, although there was no perfect time attack. This means that we’re working well and in the right direction. We still need to see which tyre will be the best choice here and that, along with taking a spot on the front row of the starting grid, will be the goal for tomorrow.”
More, from a press release issued by Repsol Honda:
Marquez shows his speed on MotoGP return
Marc Marquez made a welcome return to the Grand Prix grid as the Aragon GP began, ending the day in eighth with Pol Espargaro looking to rally on Saturday.
All eyes, and cameras, were on the Repsol Honda Team garage as Friday dawned in MotorLand Aragon with Marc Marquez making his much-anticipated return to competition. Although still recovering from the fourth surgery on his right arm, Marquez wasted little time in getting to work and headed out as soon as Free Practice 1 began. The session was spent getting back up to speed and understanding the 2022 Honda RC213V around the Aragon circuit, one of Marquez’s favourite tracks.
From Free Practice 2, the #93 and his team began to explore further as they tried a new swing arm on the Honda machine. Setting his fastest lap of the weekend so far, a 1’47.761, with the new swing arm provided a positive boost to the day. Ending Friday as the eighth fastest rider overall and within 0.4s of the quickest time was further demonstration of Marquez’s fitness level and the recent developments made to the RC213V.
Pol Espargaro endured a more complicated start to the Aragon GP as he worked to improve the setting and performance of his Honda. With the MotoGP field continuing to get closer and closer, just a few tenths can be the difference between the top ten and the top 20. 23rd on the combined times is not where Espargaro nor the Repsol Honda Team are looking to finish, and an intense evening of work is ahead to look for solutions.
“I am very happy to be back on the bike and riding in MotoGP again. The feeling from the morning to the afternoon improved a lot. In the morning I wasn’t riding well, and I was quite stiff on the bike. Then in the afternoon I was more relaxed, and I didn’t get as tired and we were able to work in a better way. Overall, it was good to understand the bike and how to ride well at this track again. On my last run with the soft tyre, I was putting in a good lap but had a little bit of a moment in the final corner. If you’re making mistakes, it means you’re pushing which is good. There are some things to work on, but we on our way.”
“It wasn’t a good day today, but maybe not quite as bad as it looks from the result sheet. On my last time attack I made a couple of mistakes, and I couldn’t improve my time with the soft tyre. I think we could be inside the top 15 if I could put a lap together but I wasn’t feeling comfortable, and we need to find more grip. Hopefully the grip on track improves tomorrow and we can also improve it from our side. The plan is to hit the ground running tomorrow and do our best.”
More, from a press release issued by Monster Energy Yamaha:
MONSTER ENERGY YAMAHA MOTOGP FIND FORM IN ARAGON FRIDAY SESSIONS
Alcañiz (Spain), 16th September 2022
GRAND PRIX OF ARAGÓN
Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP’s Fabio Quartararo and Franco Morbidelli got the action started at the MotorLand Aragón today. They got straight to work on double-checking the Misano Test data and preparing their YZR-M1s for Sunday‘s Grand Premio de Aragón, finishing the day in 2nd and 14th place respectively in the combined FP rankings.
2nd FABIO QUARTARARO 1‘47.476 (FP2) / 20+18 LAPS
14th FRANCO MORBIDELLI 1‘48.002 (FP2) / 14+17 LAPS
Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP’s Fabio Quartararo and Franco Morbidelli kicked off the Gran Premio de Aragón race weekend with two busy Friday free practice sessions. They put in a lot of effort to cross-check the Misano Test findings and get in hot laps at the same time. It resulted in a 2nd and 14th place respectively in the FP2 and combined results.
Quartararo was eager to step back aboard his YZR-M1 this morning to try the new chassis and some setting options he explored during the Misano Test in a different environment. The Aragon track makes for a good testing ground. Although he didn’t put in a time-attack, his best time of the morning, a 1‘49.085s set on lap 5/20, kept him in eighth place, 0.399s from first.
In the afternoon, El Diablo showed his real pace early on in the session. A 1‘47.873s set on only his fourth lap put him in third place for most of FP2. It wasn‘t until the time attack about seven minutes before the end of the session that the Frenchman had to buckle up again. He put his Yamaha to the test, setting red sectors. His 1‘47.476s benchmark lap on the soft rear tyre ever so briefly put him in first place. He kept pushing but didn‘t improve on the time he had set on lap 16/18. But he still finished in second place in the Friday timesheets, with a 0.074s gap to first.
Morbidelli set out in the morning with the goal to find a good set-up for his Yamaha early on in the weekend. However, there were also quite a few Misano Testing items to go over, so the Italian had to balance priorities. He opted for getting the data gathering done first and then move on to setting a fast lap. His best time of the session, a 1‘49.088s, set on lap 12/14, earned him ninth place, with a 0.402s margin to the top.
The number-21 rider put in a good number of laps in the afternoon working on improving his overall performance. By Run 3 he shifted his attention to the mini time attack. By clocking a 1‘48.002s on lap 15/17 he originally moved up to 12th place. But with the times being incredibly close in MotoGP today, he was holding 14th position in the FP2 and combined FP results by the end of the session, 0.600s from first.
We are feeling satisfied after today‘s practice sessions. With Aragon being a difficult track for us, we suffered from a lack of grip provided by the tarmac this morning, but in the afternoon the conditions got partially better, and we were able to obtain good pace and do a decent time attack. We also positively evaluated a new chassis, the one tested for the first time at the Misano Test. Both riders‘ fastest laps have been set with this chassis. Already thinking about next year, these possibilities to test 2023 items are a step in the right direction. We already have an idea of which race tyre specification we will use on Sunday, but it‘s still early on in the GP. We know the entire MotoGP field is competitive here, so we are only focused on improving our performance without getting ahead of ourselves.
In the practice sessions, it’s always different than during a test, but I’m feeling good and I’m feeling confident. Let’s see what it will be like in the race. I feel like our pace is great, it’s strong, and hopefully we can manage to have a great day also tomorrow. I tried the new chassis this morning and this afternoon, back to back. I made my fastest lap today with the new chassis, but I knew that both chassis are working well, so we had a great pace on both today.
The new chassis was positive. It has some benefits that I like, both in Misano and Aragon, so I think we will keep using it this weekend. It makes the bike easier to turn and quicker, that’s important. It allows me to turn a bit better in the corner. This morning I was feeling really good, and I was able to get into the top 10 with used tyres. I had a decent feeling, there was a margin to improve in many areas. But this afternoon, something changed. The feeling was worse, and I couldn’t do anything in the time attack. Thanks to the soft tyre, I improved, but it’s not the lap time we know we’re capable of.
More, from a press release issued by LCR Honda Idemitsu:
TAKA MAKES POSITIVE START AT ARAGON GP
Taka Nakagami made an encouraging start as free practice for the Grand Prix of Aragon got underway in sunny conditions in north-east Spain on Friday. The LCR Honda IDEMITSU rider was competitive throughout both sessions at the Motorland Aragon circuit and now has his sights firmly set on a spot in Q2 tomorrow.
Boosted by the news of his contract extension this week, Taka hit the ground running in FP1 as he emerged as the top Honda in 4th position, less than two tenths of early pacesetter Aleix Espargaro. He was settled in the top 10 for much of FP2 as lap times came down again and, although he eventually ended in 11th, is confident of further improvement on Saturday.
Takaaki Nakagami – 11th
“Today was quite a positive day in FP1 and FP2. We were able to stay in the top 10 for a long time, in the end I dropped a position to finish outside in P11. But in the sessions we were quite competitive and each outing we were able to improve the feeling of the bike, so I’m quite happy. I’m really looking forward to tomorrow and hopefully we can make a good lap-time in FP3 to get in the top and start in the Q2 qualifying.”
More, from a press release issued by LCR Honda Castrol:
TOUGH START FOR ÁLEX MÁRQUEZ AT ARAGON GP
Álex Márquez will look to make rapid improvement after finishing in 18th position on the opening day of free practice for the Grand Prix of Aragon. Back on home soil in front of his passionate fans, the LCR Honda CASTROL rider could not find the pace he wanted and is now hoping to make a big step ahead of qualifying on Saturday.
On the day his brother Marc returned to competitive action for HRC, Álex battled to get the best from his RC213v during both free practice sessions at a warm and sunny MotorLand Aragon. The Spaniard ended 18th in FP1 after struggling with his initial set-up and, although he improved by almost a second in the afternoon, had to settle for 18thin FP2.
Álex Márquez – 18th
“The first day was not like we expected. We came from a track like Misano where the technical level is really high and our base setting was not really working well from the beginning. We tried to adapt it and change the electronic side and this afternoon was better, but with a medium tyre there was a yellow flag and I was not able to improve and with the soft one at the end I did a big mistake that cost me a lot of time. We are not bad, we are better than we showed today. Like always we’ll give our maximum as a team, we’re working really hard and we’ll try to make another step tomorrow.”
More, from a press release issued by Team Suzuki Press Office:
RINS RUNNING STRONG ON FIRST DAY IN ARAGON, MIR FINDS FEET
Alex Rins: 6th – 1’47.665 (+ 0.263)
Joan Mir: 21st – 1’48.621 (+ 1.219)
The 15th round of the MotoGP championship got underway at MotorLand Aragon on Friday morning, and both Team Suzuki Ecstar riders were present as Joan Mir re-joined the ranks following his ankle injury.
Local man Alex Rins was quickly up to speed on his GSX-RR, remaining within the Top 5 for virtually the entire session and pushing the front three riders for top spot. Rins closed this first session in third place. Mir was taking it easy for his first outing at the Spanish track, allowing himself time to re-adjust to riding and gauge his injury, he finished 17th.
Things didn’t improve for Mir in FP2 when he closed the day in 21st place after struggling with his ankle and finding it hard to use the rear brake. He had his sights set on finishing Friday in the Top 10, a task that he managed well as he put in the fastest lap in his final time attack run and ended the session in sixth spot. His strength seems to lie in sectors 1 and 4 at the moment, while he loses out a little in the middle of the lap.
“Today was a good day for me, from the start I was able to ride quite fast and put myself in the top positions, so overall I feel happy and encouraged ahead of qualifying. Tomorrow I will try the new ride height device that I tested in Misano, we didn’t use it today but we’ll give it a go tomorrow and see how it changes things – I think it could give me a couple more tenths, especially on the corner exits. Tyre management is going to be key for this race, so that’s another thing we’ll keep an eye on.”
“At the end of this first day I can say that I didn’t feel how I expected to in terms of my injury. I’m struggling to ride how I want, and that includes using the rear brake. I don’t have the dexterity and flexibility to use it properly at the moment. But together with the team we’re trying to find a solution to make it easier, and we’ll go again tomorrow. It’s disappointing, but we’re not going to give up yet.”
Livio Suppo – Team Manager:
“Alex did a good job and he had strong pace, both in general and during the time attack. He’s closed the day in sixth, which is a nice start to the weekend that is basically a home race for him. On the other side of the garage, Joan is struggling more than we’d hoped, he’s feeling the limitations of the ankle at this tricky track. The team are working to make some adjustments and adaptations to make it easier for him tomorrow, such as with the rear brake, so let’s see how he does.”
More, from a press release issued by Ducati:
Bagnaia fifth and Miller ninth at the end of Day 1 of the Aragon GP
Jorge Martín (Pramac Racing) ends on top on the first day of the fifteenth Grand Prix of the 2022 season at the MotorLand Aragón
Francesco Bagnaia and Jack Miller closed respectively with the fifth and ninth fastest times overall on Friday’s free practice for the Aragon GP, the fifteenth round of the 2022 MotoGP season, held this weekend at the MotorLand Aragón in Alcañiz (Spain).
Thanks to the favourable weather conditions and the mild temperatures, the Ducati Lenovo Team riders could take full advantage of today’s two sessions as they constantly improved their benchmarks. After closing FP1 in 1:48.698, Bagnaia, who worked mainly on used tyres, was able to take over a second off his best time in the afternoon, closing FP2 in 1:47.639, in fifth place, 237 thousandths off the Desmosedici GP of Jorge Martín (Pramac Racing), the fastest rider today.
Jack Miller, thirteenth this morning, also made progress in FP2, moving up to ninth place, 161 thousandths behind his teammate. With the weather forecast to remain clear throughout Saturday, tomorrow morning’s FP3 will be decisive in determining the top ten who will take part directly in the Q2 session in the afternoon.
Francesco Bagnaia (#63 Ducati Lenovo Team) – 5th (1:47.639)
“I’m satisfied with our work today. We didn’t give too much importance to the times: we focused mainly on doing the most laps on used tyres, and our pace was good. I couldn’t make an exceptional time attack, but today with the soft tyre, I didn’t find the right conditions to push. Tomorrow morning in FP3, the grip will definitely be better than today so many riders will improve. It will be important to stay in the top ten and have a good qualifying session. Starting in front here at Aragon is crucial, as is managing the tyres well in the race. Anyway, I’m confident because we already know what steps to take tomorrow”.
Jack Miller (#43 Ducati Lenovo Team) – 9th (1:47.800)
“It was a good first day here at Aragón: we worked well, focusing on finding the right setup for this track. Unfortunately, the grip level is lower than we expected. The track is very slippery in some areas, but already in the afternoon, the situation had improved compared to the morning, so I expect good conditions tomorrow morning in FP3. Overall, it was a positive day, and we have to keep working in this direction. We know we have a good pace. Now we need to improve a few details and understand in tomorrow’s FP4 what pace we’ll be able to keep in Sunday’s race.”
The Ducati Lenovo Team riders will be back on track tomorrow at 9:55am CEST for FP3, while qualifying for the Aragon GP will take place from 2:10pm local time at the end of FP4.