Bagnaia heads Bezzecchi by 0.063, Rins and Binder give chase on tight Day 1 at Mugello
The top two in the title race end a scintillating P2 at the summit, with Marc Marquez IN and Quartararo out of Q2 despite stellar start
Friday, 09 June 2023
Caught your breath yet? We haven’t either! A scintillating end to MotoGP™ Practice 2 decided the automatic Q1 and Q2 places at the Gran Premio d’Italia Oakley, and it’s home hero Francesco Bagnaia (Ducati Lenovo Team) leading the way thanks to a 1:45.436 – but his advantage is slender. Title rival Marco Bezzecchi (Mooney VR46 Racing Team) is second and just 0.063s off his compatriot, with third quickest Alex Rins (LCR Honda Castrol) impressing, also within a tenth of Pecco’s effort.
A steady start
After struggling with a cycling injury he picked up on Thursday at the circuit and a crash in Practice 1, a limping Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing) was back on track for Practice 2 as the Spaniard and the returning Miguel Oliveira (CryptoDATA RNF MotoGP™ Team) were the only two riders to improve their morning times in the opening half an hour of the afternoon outing. Then, just ahead of the 15-minute remaining mark, Bagnaia joined them – but the reigning World Champion was only up into P15.
A breathless finish
Then, the business end of the session commenced. Espargaro climbed to P15 – just 0.4s off – before Jorge Martin (Prima Pramac Racing) then climbed to P5. First shots fired, we then had 12 minutes to go to decide the Q1 and Q2 running order for Saturday morning’s qualifying.
The first bit of drama saw Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) crash as he turned up the wick on fresh soft rubber, down unhurt at Turn 14 while the #93 was sat P9. How costly would that prove? Well, straight away, he was shoved to P11 as a quintet of riders pounced to P1, P2, P3, P4 and P5, with Bezzecchi then fronting the times with a 1:45.808. Joining the Italian in the top five were Martin, Bagnaia, Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) and Raul Fernandez (CryptoDATA RNF MotoGP™ Team) with six minutes to go, as the riders ventured out for their second time attacks. 0.7s split the top 18, it was time to strap in for a barnstorming end to Friday as Marc Marquez completed his sprint to the box to get back out.
Once he was, he slotted in just behind Maverick Viñales (Aprilia Racing) as his reference. And it was a great reference. Both were 0.2s under Bezzecchi’s time through the second split and coming across the line, Marc Marquez went P1! But not for long. First Rins and then Bagnaia stole top spot as MotoGP™ lit up magnificent Mugello. There was still more to come as, shadowing Bagnaia, Bezzecchi went P2, and in the blink of an eye Marc Marquez was shoved to P7.
Two late laps shuffled the order further after the chequered flag was waved. Binder fired his way up to P4 and the wounded Espargaro worked wonders to pinch a late P9, which subsequently pushed his teammate Viñales out of an all-important top 10.
That leaves a top three of Bagnaia, Bezzecchi and Rins, with Binder just 0.118s off in P4 and Martin a close P5. The returning Enea Bastianini (Ducati Lenovo Team) shows us and Ducati what we’ve been missing with a classy P6, ahead of Johann Zarco (Prima Pramac Racing) in P7.
Marc Marquez takes P8 in the end, as Espargaro and Luca Marini (Mooney VR46 Racing Team) pull rabbits out the hat to claim P9 and P10 respectively, both riding through the pain barrier.
As we so often see, Q1 is brimming with stars. Practice 1 pacesetter Alex Marquez (Gresini Racing MotoGP™) ended up 0.4s off top spot in P13 as Viñales and Raul Fernandez miss out by a hairs width too. And Fabio Quartararo (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP™), after a storming P1 session, cut a frustrated figure at the end of Friday, having only managed P16. He sits behind Jack Miller (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) and Yamaha teammate Franco Morbidelli heading into qualifying.
And so, after an action-packed Friday, there’s no telling what’s yet to come at Mugello! The stage is set for Qualifying and the Tissot Sprint, and here’s when it all gets underway in GMT+2:
MotoGP™ FP: 10:10
MotoGP™ Q1: 10:50
MotoGP™ Q2: 11:15
Tissot Sprint: 15:00
Moto2™: Advantage Acosta on Friday
As track temperatures soared in Practice 2, Pedro Acosta’s (Red Bull KTM Ajo) dominant 1:50.928 from P1 remained the fastest laptime of the day by the close of action. Celestino Vietti (Fantic Racing) kicked off his home GP in P2, 0.196s shy of the top spot, with Alonso Lopez (MB Conveyors SpeedUp) rounding out the top three.
Championship leader Tony Arbolino (Elf Marc VDS Racing Team) is down in P8 after Day 1, with some time to find on Saturday to take on Acosta.
Fermin Aldeguer (MB Conveyors SpeedUp) joined his teammate inside the top 4, just ahead of Mattia Pasini (Fieten Olie Racing GP) as the veteran Italian put in an impressive display to round out the top 5 as he wildcards with the Fieten Olie Racing GP squad. Filip Salač (QJMOTOR Gresini Moto2™) is next up, completing a top six who all set their best laps in P1, ahead of first improver Jake Dixon (Autosolar GASGAS Aspar).
Sam Lowes is just behind teammate Arbolino, with Dennis Foggia (Italtrans Racing Team) completing the top ten. Check out the full results below, and tune in as Moto2™ will be back in action on Saturday for Practice 3 at 9:25 and qualifying at 13:45 local (GMT +2).
Can anyone catch Öncü in qualifying?
It was a dominant Friday for Deniz Öncü (Red Bull KTM Ajo) at the Gran Premio d’Italia Oakley as a 1:56.485 in Practice 2 saw the #53 claim top spot by an impressive 0.489s, quite a margin for the rest to target. Ayumu Sasaki (Liqui Moly Husqvarna Intact GP) claimed second, with Jaume Masia (Leopard Racing) occupying third heading into Saturday’s action and qualifying.
There weren’t many improvements in Practice 2 but while pushing for a personal best time in the final 10 minutes, World Championship leader Daniel Holgado (Red Bull KTM Ajo) highsided at Turn 12. Rider ok, but looking for a place in Q2 once P3 gets underway on Saturday morning.
It was after that a flurry of quick times come in. Practice 1 pacesetter Öncü again was showing superior pace, his progress saw him sit 0.4s clear with five minutes to go – and that was the gap and the end of play on Friday. Sasaki was the only rider within half a second of Öncü on Day 1.
Ivan Ortola (Angeluss MTA Team) jumped up to P4 from P24 in Practice 1 to end his opening day on a high, as Scott Ogden (VisionTrack Racing Team) completed the top five having ended P1 inside the top 10 too. Romano Fenati (Rivacold Snipers Team) was the final rider to finish within a second of Öncü, the Italian was P6.
Filippo Farioli (Red Bull KTM Tech3), Joel Kelso (CFMOTO Racing PrüstelGP), Stefano Nepa (Angeluss MTA Team) and Taiyo Furusato (Honda Team Asia) were the riders to round out the combined top 10 on Friday at Mugello, as Holgado slipped to P15 and outside the provisional automatic Q2 places after his crash. Check out the full results below and tune in for more on Saturday!