MotoGP: Pol Espargaro Quickest In Rain-Soaked FP2 In Portugal (Updated)

MotoGP: Pol Espargaro Quickest In Rain-Soaked FP2 In Portugal (Updated)

© 2022, Roadracing World Publishing, Inc. By David Swarts.

MotoGP FP2

MotoGP FP1 + FP2 Combined

 

 

 

More, from a press release issued by Dorna:

Marquez leads Repsol Honda 1-2 on wet Day 1 at the rollercoaster

The number 93 tops FP1 before Pol Espargaro heads FP2, with Mir third overall on a damp and difficult Friday

 

Marc Marquez (93). Photo courtesy Dorna.
Marc Marquez (93). Photo courtesy Dorna.

 

Friday, 22 April 2022

At the end of a wet and somewhat windy Friday at the Grande Premio Tissot de Portugal, it’s a Repsol Honda 1-2, with eight-time World Champion Marc Marquez top of the pile and followed closely by teammate Pol Espargaro. In third but a few tenths further back came 2020 MotoGP™ World Champion Joan Mir (Team Suzuki Ecstar), already no stranger to the podium at Portimão. Both sessions for the premier class were wet, as was the whole day on the Algarve.

FP1

Marquez sent out a serious warning shot to his title rivals, taking to the top in difficult conditions despite only having raced the venue once before. The Spaniard is widely regarded as a master of tough, low-grip conditions and he displayed that on first time of asking this weekend, putting himself well over three tenths clear of Mir in second.

Arguably the performance of the morning, however, came courtesy of Mooney VR46 rookie Marco Bezzecchi, who threw in a 1:51.136 to sit third. Pramac Racing’s Johann Zarco took fourth, with home hero Miguel Oliveira (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) off to a good start as he gave the rather cold and rather damp fans in attendance a welcome boost in fifth.

Aprilia’s Maverick Viñales made it five factories in the top six, but there were no fewer than five Ducatis in the top ten thanks to the effort of Pramac Racing’s Jorge Martin and the Ducati Lenovo Team duo of Francesco Bagnaia and Jack Miller, who sat seventh, eighth and ninth, respectively, the latter despite a tumble at Turn 8. Completing the top ten was LCR Honda Castrol’s Alex Marquez, with just under a second covering the number 93 to the number 73.

The first MotoGP™ faller of the weekend was Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda Idemitsu), who suffered a highside on the exit of Turn 9. Mooney VR46’s Luca Marini also crashed out in the closing moments, the Italian finding the gravel trap at Turn 8. Riders ok.

 

Pol Espargaro (44). Photo courtesy Dorna.
Pol Espargaro (44). Photo courtesy Dorna.

 

FP2

Tricky conditions deteriorated into the afternoon, meaning only three riders were able to improve in FP2- One of them was Pol Espargaro, however, as the number 44 put in a lap only 0.041 off his teammate’s morning effort. Said Marquez was second in the afternoon as the Repsol Honda duo switched order, but the number 93 was six tenths in arrears.

The other two riders to improve from FP1 were the Yamaha pair of Andrea Dovizioso (WithU Yamaha RNF) and Franco Morbidelli (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP). Dovizioso’s half a second gain saw him move up from 22nd to 14th and, as a result, take the honour of top Yamaha on a tough day for the blue brand. Morbidelli found a tenth to jump up a place into 18th.

There were three further fallers in the afternoon. The first to go down was Bagnaia when the front end of his GP22 folded without warning at Turn 3. Bezzecchi then suffered a nasty highside at Turn 9, before Zarco lost his Pramac Racing machine at Turn 2. Riders all ok.

 

Joan Mir (36) and Marc Marquez (93). Photo courtesy Dorna.
Joan Mir (36) and Marc Marquez (93). Photo courtesy Dorna.

 

Provisional Q2 places

Behind Marquez and Espargaro comes Mir, the Suzuki rider using the rear ride height device for the first time in the wet according to Team Manager Livio Suppo. Bezzecchi takes P4 on the combined timesheets thanks to his FP1 best, with Zarco locking out the top five.

Home hero Oliveira showed promising pace in sixth overall ahead of Viñales and Martin, with the factory Ducati duo of Bagnaia and Miller rounding out the top ten on Friday.

That leaves one very big name out of Q2 as it stands: reigning World Champion Fabio Quartararo (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP). He was 20th, and form man Alex Rins (Team Suzuki Ecstar) sits a place even further back in 21st. The pair will be hoping for better conditions on Saturday with the forecast, to their delight, looking a little more promising for the moment.

FP3 starts at 9:55 (GMT+1) to decide those going straight through to Q2, and qualifying then gets underway from 14:10. Don’t miss it as the rollercoaster gets ready to serve up another classic encounter!

FRIDAY: TOP 3

1 Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) – Honda – 1’50.666

2 Pol Espargaro (Repsol Honda Team) – Honda –  +0.041

3 Joan Mir (Team Suzuki Ecstar) – Suzuki – +0.365

 

Marcel Schrotter (23). Photo courtesy Dorna.
Marcel Schrotter (23). Photo courtesy Dorna.

 

Schrötter leaves it late to lead Moto2™ on Friday

The German leads Dixon and Beaubier after Moto2™ get wet wet wet on Day 1 on the Algarve

Liqui Moly Intact GP’s Marcel Schrötter is the man to beat in Moto2™ after the experienced German found a late lap to jump to the top of the timesheets on the opening day at the Tissot Grand Prix of Portugal. He holds an advantage of over half a second ahead of Saturday’s FP3, with Texas podium finisher Jake Dixon (Autosolar GasGas Aspar Team) and COTA polesitter Cameron Beaubier (American Racing) his closest rivals.

FP1

There wasn’t an awful lot to report from FP1 apart from the fact that it rained… a lot. Top spot, in the end, went the way of Zonta van den Goorbergh (RW Racing GP) but the Dutch teenager’s fastest lap was over two seconds slower than what the Moto3™ field managed earlier on Friday morning, such was the drastic drop in conditions as the rain came down.

Gresini Racing’s Alessandro Zaccone was 1.5 seconds adrift of the Dutchman in P2, ahead of fellow Italian Niccolo Antonelli (Mooney VR46 Racing Team) as the rookies used the track time to gain a little wet weather running. Fourth on the timesheets was the more experienced Joe Roberts (Italtrans Racing) but the Californian did suffer a crash at Turn 13 in the closing stages. Completing the top five was Autosolar GasGas Aspar Team’s Albert Arenas.

Only eleven riders set a lap time, and three more ventured out to check conditions before pulling immediately back down pitlane.

FP2

After the downpour in FP1, the intermediate class were relieved to get some slightly more favourable conditions in the afternoon. It took until four minutes of the session remained before Schrötter jumped to the top though, displacing Dixon in the process after the Brit has been the rider to beat. Beaubier quickly put his Austin disappointment behind him by taking the final spot inside the top three.

A fraction behind his compatriot was Roberts, who didn’t let his earlier off in FP1 affect him too much. Elf Marc VDS Team’s Sam Lowes sat seven tenths adrift of Schrötter in fifth, with Augusto Fernandez (Red Bull KTM Ajo) close on the Brit’s tail.

FP1 pacesetter van den Goorbergh, Moto3™ World Champion Pedro Acosta (Red Bull KTM Ajo) and Spanish sensation Fermin Aldeguer (Lightech Speed Up) all crashed out in the afternoon. Flying Dutchman van den Goorbergh went down over the brow of the hill at the exit of Turn 8, Acosta surfed his way to the gravel trap at Turn 1 and Aldeguer also tucked the front at Turn 1.

Provisional Q2 places

Everyone improved in the afternoon down to van den Goorbergh in P21, so the first half of provisional Q2 entrants comprises Schrötter, Dixon, Beaubier, Roberts, Lowes, Fernandez and COTA winner Tony Arbolino (Elf Marc VDS Racing Team). Eighth went to former Algarve podium finisher Aron Canet (Flexbox HP 40) ahead of an impressive P9 for Barry Baltus (RW Racing GP). Indonesia winner Somkiat Chantra (Idemitsu Honda Team Asia) is P10 after Friday.

The final four on to move through as it stands are Arenas, an impressive return for Thai rookie Keminth Kubo (Yamaha VR46 Master Camp Team), Championship leader Celestino Vietti (Mooney VR46 Racing Team) and Zaccone… will that remain true after FP3?

Tune in for that in the morning to see if the weather improves, before qualifying from 15:10 (GMT +1) for Moto2™!

FRIDAY: TOP 3

1 Marcel Schrötter (Liqui Moly Intact GP) – Kalex – 2’00.678

2 Jake Dixon (Autosolar GASGAS Aspar Team) – Kalex – +0.501

3 Cameron Beaubier (American Racing) – Kalex – +0.713

 

Mario Aji (64). Photo courtesy Dorna.
Mario Aji (64). Photo courtesy Dorna.

 

Rookies rule: Aji and Moreira fastest on rainy Friday

The Indonesian leads the Brazilian by just 0.053, with Rossi and Tatay also within a tenth of the top on Day 1

Honda Team Asia’s Mario Aji ended the opening day of the Tissot Grand Prix of Portugal at the top of the timesheets, the Indonesian managing to master the rain to finish 0.053 ahead of another rookie: Diogo Moreira (MT Helmets – MSI). Riccardo Rossi (SIC58 Squadra Corse) completed the top three, with Carlos Tatay (CFMoto Racing PrüstelGP) fourth and still within a tenth of the top after a close FP2.

FP1

Red Bull KTM Ajo’s Daniel Holgado set the pace in the morning, with the weekend wet from the outset and with some tough conditions. Still, rookie Holgado closed out FP1 an impressive six tenths clear of SIC58 Squadra Corse’s Lorenzo Fellon, who managed to close the gap with his final lap despite crashing out earlier at the final corner.

Veteran and COTA podium finisher Andrea Migno (Rivacold Snipers Team) was third fastest but three-quarters of a second adrift of Holgado’s 2:02.658, with Izan Guevara (Valresa GasGas Aspar Team) slotting into fourth. The number 28 was only a fraction ahead of David Salvador, who has been drafted in to replace John McPhee at the Sterilgarda Husqvarna Max Racing squad after the Scotsman was declared unfit on Thursday.

The rain made for tricky conditions and there were a number of crashes: Adrian Fernandez (Red Bull KTM Tech3), Ryusei Yamanaka (MT Helmets – MSI), Fellon, Rossi, Team MTA’s Ivan Ortola, Tatay and teammate Artigas, QJMOTOR Avintia Racing Team’s Matteo Bertelle and Elia Bartolini, Max Racing’s Ayumu Sasaki, Aspar’s Sergio Garcia and BOE SKX’s Gerard Riu. All riders ok with the exception of Fernandez, who has been declared unfit for the remainder of the weekend after fracturing both his fourth and fifth fingers on his left hand.

FP2

Super Mario took over in the afternoon as the Indonesian posted a 2:02.491 in the final ten minutes of FP2 to take top spot, that enough to end the day ahead of fellow rookie Moreira. The Brazilian is back on track after his COTA crash left him needing to be passed fit, and as a former polesitter and podium finisher at Portimão in the Red Bull MotoGP™ Rookies Cup – in his first ever weekend of competition in the series, no less – the wet weather form in Moto3™ adds to his slightly ominous CV of late.

Rossi and Tatay kept the timesheets close within a tenth in P3 and P4, with MT Helmets – MSI’s Ryusei Yamanaka in fifth, three tenths off the group ahead. Friday morning’s fastest man Holgado showed more good speed next up in FP2, but the young Spaniard had a few more issues in the afternoon, becoming one of seven riders to find the gravel trap.

Provisional Q2 places

From FP2 it’s Aji, Moreira, Rossi and Tatay, with Holgado’s FP1 best putting him in fifth overall. Yamanaka and COTA winner Jauma Masia (Red Bull TKM Ajo) are next up, both courtesy of their afternoon bests, with Fellon’s FP1 effort slotting him into eighth.

Rookie Scott Ogden (VisionTrack Racing Team) and Leopard Racing’s Tatsuki Suzuki complete the top ten on combined times. Migno, Sasaki, Guevara and Garcia are the final four set to move through as it stands, with that leaving Championship leader Dennis Foggia (Leopard Racing) looking for more in FP3.

That FP3 begins at 9:00 (GMT +1) as the field look to improve ahead of qualifying. With the weather still looking changeable for Saturday, there’s plenty to play for so tune in for qualifying from 12:35 as the grid gets decided for Moto3™!

FRIDAY: TOP 3

1 Mario Aji (Honda Team Asia) – Honda – 2’02.491

2 Diogo Moreira (MT Helmets – MSI) – KTM – +0.053

3 Riccardo Rossi (SIC58 Squadra Corse) – Honda – +0.075

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