MotoGP: Savadori Leads Wet FP2 At Red Bull Ring (Updated)

MotoGP: Savadori Leads Wet FP2 At Red Bull Ring (Updated)

© 2021, Roadracing World Publishing, Inc. By David Swarts.

MotoGP FP2

 

 

 

More, from a press release issued by Dorna:

Nakagami edges out Mir as action opens in Austria

The Japanese rider pips the reigning Champion in FP1 before rain slows play in the afternoon

Friday, 06 August 2021

 

 

Takaaki Nakagami (30). Photo courtesy Dorna.
Takaaki Nakagami (30). Photo courtesy Dorna.

 

Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda Idemitsu) got the best start to the Michelin® Grand Prix of Styria, the Japanese rider fastest on a mixed Friday after ending FP1 on top. The weather turned just in time to stop the MotoGP™ class improving in the afternoon, leaving his 0.076 advantage over the field to stand as we head into Saturday.

Reigning Champion Joan Mir (Team Suzuki Ecstar) was the man in second by the flag as his Austria skills proved sharp as ever, and he also said he’ll try the new Suzuki ride height device on Day 2 after Friday proved such a positive first day on track. Third went to Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini) after a late lunge from the number 41 in FP1, with his teammate Lorenzo Savadori then fastest in the damp-affected and drying FP2 to make it a good start to Styria for Aprilia.

FP1

Nakagami struck late in the morning, his final push of the session enough to deny reigning World Champion Mir by 0.076. Mir had been fast throughout and led the middle half hour of FP1 too, with Aleix Espargaro making a late lunge to take over in third, 0.378 off the top.

Alex Rins (Team Suzuki Ecstar) made it two Hamamatsu machines in the top five, 0.038 off Aleix Espargaro, with Pol Espargaro (Repsol Honda Team) locking out the top five and also within a few hundredths.

The incident sheet was an all-KTM affair in the morning, with the home heroes suffering three issues. Iker Lecuona (Tech3 KTM Factory Racing) crashed at Turn 3, a lowside, before a technical problem saw wildcard and MotoGP™ Legend Dani Pedrosa pull his Red Bull KTM Factory Racing machine over between Turns 3 and 4. The exit of Turn 3 also saw drama for Miguel Oliveira (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) as the Portuguese rider got flicked off his KTM, subsequently heading to the Medical Centre. He was judged fit to continue and initial check ups found no fractures, although as the weather changed in the afternoon he sat the session out.

At the end of FP1, it was Pedrosa – despite being over two years on from retirement – who was the fastest KTM, starting his weekend in P11.

FP2

The afternoon began wet for the MotoGP™ runners, although a drier line had emerged by the last few minutes. And that’s when Savadori struck, the Italian timing it perfectly to top the session by a tenth and a half from Zarco. Mir was third, with Francesco Bagnaia (Ducati Lenovo Team) in fourth and Aleix Espargaro locking out the fastest five.

Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) had been the fastest man for much of the afternoon, before the final push saw him leapfrogged by Rins, Alex Marquez (LCR Honda Castrol), Lecuona and Viñales, the eight-time World Champion ultimately ending the session in P10.

Lecuona suffered the only incident, the Spaniard running on at Turn 1.

Combined timesheets

FP1 times rule the roost on Friday, so Nakagami leads Mir ahead of Aleix Espargaro, with Rins and Pol Espargaro up next. His teammate, Marc Marquez, was a couple more tenths in arrears and only 0.017 ahead of the fastest Yamaha.

That was Maverick Viñales, as the number 12 pipped Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP teammate Fabio Quartararo by just under a tenth… and El Diablo’s closest challenger by the same margin as Johann Zarco (Pramac Racing) slotted into ninth with an identical laptime to his compatriot. Jack Miller (Ducato Lenovo Team) completes the top ten.

The rain leaves Pedrosa outside the top ten as he remains P11 but fastest KTM, ahead of Bagnaia, who will also be looking for more in FP3. So too will Oliveira down in P15 just ahead of Valentino Rossi (Petronas Yamaha SRT), and Binder to boot. The South African heads the remaining KTMs from P18 down, and for a track where only Ducati and KTM have won, they’ll all be eager to make up some ground on Saturday morning.

The fight for a place in Q2 picks up again at 9:55 (GMT +2), with FP3 giving the grid a final chance to book a guaranteed place in the qualifying shootout. That starts at 14:10, with the first grid of the second half of the season soon to be decided.

 

Bezzecchi and Augusto Fernandez split by 0.080 on Day 1

It’s close in Styria, with Bezzecchi leading Fernandez leading Gardner and the three covered by less than a tenth and a half

 

Marco Bezzecchi (72). Photo courtesy Dorna.
Marco Bezzecchi (72). Photo courtesy Dorna.

 

Marco Bezzecchi (Sky Racing Team VR46) rules the Day 1 roost at the Michelin® Grand Prix of Styria, the Italian returning to the scene of his first Moto2™ win and edging out Augusto Fernandez (Elf Marc VDS Racing Team) by less than a tenth. Championship leader Remy Gardner (Red Bull KTM Ajo) completed the top three on Friday, with rookie teammate and closest challenger Raul Fernandez down in P9.

FP1

Bezzecchi was fastest out the blocks in the morning, the Italian enjoying a gap of nearly two and a half tenths back to Augusto Fernandez for much of the session. In the last few minutes the Spaniard hit back, but Bezzecchi had more in his pocket and the Italian went back to the top with his final lap of the session, 0.080 ahead. Aron Canet (Aspar Team Moto2) shot up into third late on, with Lorenzo Dalla Porta (Italtrans Racing Team) ending FP1 in an impressive fourth place.

Sam Lowes (Elf Marc VDS Racing Team) completed the top five despite earlier having a lap cancelled, with Ai Ogura (Idemitsu Honda Team Asia) slotting into sixth as the fastest rookie.

Red Bull KTM Ajo’s powerhouse pairing of Championship leader Gardner and Raul Fernandez ended the morning in P7 and P8 respectively, split by just four thousandths. Stefano Manzi (Flexbox HP 40) and Jorge Navarro (Lightech Speed Up) completed the top ten.

Xavi Vierge (Petronas Sprinta Racing) crashed at Turn 4, and Cameron Beaubier (American Racing) at Turn 3, riders ok.

FP2

The rain may have put paid to improvements in MotoGP™, but by the end of play for the intermediate class, some of the times were tumbling. Gardner topped the session ahead of Lowes, with Tom Lüthi (Pertamina Mandalika SAG Team) in third despite not feeling on full power. Augusto Fernandez was fourth, with Dalla Porta impressing again to complete the top five.

Celestino Vietti (Sky Racing Team VR46) had a noteworthy afternoon session, the Italian rookie taking P6.

There were a good few incidents in Moto2™ FP2. The first was for Simone Corsi (MV Agusta Forward Racing) at Turn 4, before Jorge Navarro at Turn 9. Bezzecchi then at Turn 1, before Canet at Turn 9. Bo Bendsneyder (Pertamina Mandalika SAG Team) then at Turn 1, before Hafizh Syahrin (NTS RW Racing GP) at Turn 9. Beaubier then had a technical issue too.

Combined timesheets

The combined timesheets are a good mix of both sessions, with Bezzecchi and Augusto Fernandez taking a 1-2. Then come FP2’s fastest men as Gardner takes third ahead of Lowes, with Canet’s FP1 time slotting him into fifth.

Lüthi takes sixth ahead of Dalla Porta, the Italian’s best lap set in FP1, with Ogura in P8 as the fastest rookie – denying Championship challenger Raul Fernandez that honour by just 0.020. Vietti completes the rookie run in the top ten in P10.

Xavi Vierge (Petronas Sprinta Racing), Manzi, rookie Tony Arbolino (Liqui Moly Intact GP) and his teammate Marcel Schrötter are the final riders currently within the Q2 zone, although FP3 could easily switch it up again. Who will head through? FP3 starts at 10:55 (GMT+2), before qualifying from 15:10!

 

Binder, McPhee and Garcia end Friday within 0.057

Three riders within half a tenth and the top five within 0.131? Moto3™ must be back from summer break!

 

Darryn Binder (40). Photo courtesy Dorna.
Darryn Binder (40). Photo courtesy Dorna.

 

The Michelin® Grand Prix of Styria is underway and Moto3™ remained close as ever on Day 1 as Petronas Sprinta Racing made it a 1-2 by the end of play, with Darryn Binder heading the timesheets from teammate John McPhee by an apt 0.040. An equally fated 0.017 split the Scotsman from third place, which went to Sergio Garcia (Santander Consumer Bank GASGAS Aspar Team). Second in the standings, the Spaniard was consistently quick on Friday.

FP1

In the morning, Niccolo Antonelli (Avintia VR46) was on a charge and he led for much of the session. Red Bull KTM Ajo’s Jaume Masia homed in in the latter stages though, the Spaniard getting to within 0.010 before the Spaniard struck back. And then Garcia made his dash for the top, the Championship challenger pulling out a tenth and a half on Antonelli. The Italian tried to fight back and was up again on his next lap before sliding out at Turn 6, rider ok.

Garcia, meanwhile, only got quicker and after McPhee was next to take over on top, the Spaniard still found an answer. The number 11 ended the session 0.046 ahead, and then McPhee’s lap got cancelled. So Championship leader Pedro Acosta (Red Bull KTM Ajo), another putting in a late lunge, moved up to second, with McPhee dropped to third in FP1.

Ayumu Sasaki (Red Bull KTM Tech 3), who returns from injury this weekend, impressed immediately to end the session in fourth, ahead of Romano Fenati (Sterilgarda Max Racing Team) as the 2019 winner locked out a top five split by just 0.155.

FP2

The afternoon belonged to Petronas Sprinta Racing as Binder hit the top and McPhee retained his speed to sit second. Garcia likewise kept his early momentum, and Fenati moved up a place to fourth. Dennis Foggia (Leopard Racing) went from P11 to fifth as he aims to keep his roll of recent frontrunning form going, making gains in the standings over the last few rounds.

Acosta was one name that dropped down the timing screens on Friday afternoon, the points leader and record-breaker taking P11 in the session. There were no incidents to report, making Antonelli’s low drama Turn 6 crash in the morning the only one of the day in the lightweight class.

Combined Timesheets

The top ten correlates to FP2 as they all improved in the afternoon: Binder, McPhee, Garcia, Fenati and Foggia are the top five, with Andrea Migno (Rivacold Snipers Team) in P6 to pip compatriot Antonelli. Masia was eighth, ahead of Filip Salač as he gets back on track with CarXpert PrüstelGP. Rookie Izan Guevara (Santander Consumer Bank GASGAS Aspar Team) had a good start to the weekend as the 2019 ETC Champion and 2020 FIM Moto3™ Junior World Champion completed the top ten in FP2 and therefore overall.

Acosta just missed out on that top ten by 0.007, slotting in behind his fellow rookie in P11, with Sasaki taking P12. Neither Acosta nor Sasaki improved in the afternoon, but they were both fast enough in FP1 to retain a place in the provisional Q2 graduation zone.

The final two riders currently set to take a place in Q2 are Adrian Fernandez (Sterilgarda Max Racing Team) and Carlos Tatay (Avintia Esponsorama Moto3), but will it shuffle again on Saturday morning in FP3? We’ll find out from 9:00 (GMT +2) before qualifying from 12:35.

 

 

 

More, from a press release issued by KTM Factory Racing Tech3:

Petrucci and Lecuona kick off second half of 2021 in Austria

Day one of the Styrian Grand Prix at the Red Bull Ring saw some mixed weather conditions. While FP1 was dry and sunny, the MotoGP World Championship faced some rain in the second session this afternoon. Thereby, Danilo Petrucci concluded Friday in P19 with his fastest time from the first session, missing out on the top 10 by just half a second.

At the same time, Tech3 KTM Factory Racing’s Iker Lecuona landed in P20 this morning, just 0.09 seconds behind his teammate. Yet, the Spanish youngster shone with a decent eighth position in FP2, where the track was wet at the start of the practice, but slowly dried out towards the final minutes.

 

Danilo Petrucci (9). Photo courtesy KTM Factory Racing Tech3.
Danilo Petrucci (9). Photo courtesy KTM Factory Racing Tech3.

 

Danilo Petrucci

Position: 19th

Time: 1:25.409

Laps: 35

“Today has been half a day for our work in the rain. We had the chance to ride in the wet and we were quite fast, so I’m happy about this, especially as Sunday’s weather forecast says rain as well. In FP1, I felt good as well, but we lost a lot of time on the straight, which is obvious in the standings of the top speed, where I am last. Therefore, our mission is to manage this loss of pace, because here you are on full throttle quite a lot of time. Let’s wait and see what happens tomorrow. Hopefully, we can improve.”

 

Iker Lecuona (29). Photo courtesy KTM Factory Racing Tech3.
Iker Lecuona (29). Photo courtesy KTM Factory Racing Tech3.

 

Iker Lecuona

Position: 20th

Time: 1:25.499

Laps: 40

“In general, it was a difficult day. This morning in dry conditions, I struggled quite a lot with the bike, as I couldn’t stop it properly. We are there, but we also need to continue to work. This afternoon, we couldn’t try our new base for the dry, so we need to wait for tomorrow. The good news is, that we have been able to try the bike in the wet here, as on Sunday it looks like a wet race. I feel very good in the rain. I feel very fast, very good, thanks to the team. Plus, I’m happy to be back again.”

 

 

 

More, from a press release issued by Sky Racing Team VR46:

P14 FOR LUCA MARINI AFTER THE FIRST FREE PRACTICES IN AUSTRIA

The rider of the Sky VR46 Avintia is just four tenths from the direct access into the Q2

Spielberg (Austria), August 6th 2021 – First day of free practices to pick up the pace after the summer break with uncertain weather for the MotoGP circus in Spielberg with Luca Marini in 14th place in the combined standings.

On the dry track in the FP1, the rider of the Sky VR46 Avintia scored a good 1.25.207 which means a gap of just 4 tenths from the P10 and the direct access to tomorrow’s Q2. Positive feelings also on the wet tarmac thanks to a best lap time of 1.33.152 (12th place).

 

Luca Marini (10). Photo courtesy Sky Racing Team VR46.
Luca Marini (10). Photo courtesy Sky Racing Team VR46.

 

Luca Marini:

I had fun today: from the FP1 I found the same feelings as a month ago and I immediately felt at ease on the bike. We did two sessions in different conditions and we were able to collect a lot of info both in the dry and then in the wet. The sensations are good, as always the gaps here in Austria will be minimal, one more reason to take care of all the details. Our ideal time was very good today, a few tenths less than my best lap. Let’s continue like this.

Ruben Xaus:

It’s always nice to get back on the bike after the summer break, even more here in Austria, a track where Ducati is always competitive. We started well, we have some technical updates and this gives us perhaps more motivation. This morning in the dry Luca was not very far from the leaders and in the wet he made another step forward. We are close to the Top10 and if we continue to work well we can improve.

 

 

 

More, from a press release issued by Pramac Racing:

Styrian GP – Johann Zarco ended the first day of practice P9, Jorge Martin P17

 

Johann Zarco (5). Photo courtesy Pramac Racing.
Johann Zarco (5). Photo courtesy Pramac Racing.

 

Today begins the second part of the MotoGP championship at the Red Bull Ring. Currently, the Pramac Racing riders Johann Zarco and Jorge Martin are in second and eighteenth position respectively in the championship standings.

Both riders made the most of FP1 to regain confidence with the Desmosedici Ducati. Johann ends the first free practice session with a ninth-best time of 1:24.580, whereas the Spanish rookie came in seventeenth with a time of 1:25.316.

FP2 took place for the first part under the rain. The asphalt, however, began to dry towards the end of the session. The French rider performed well and ended in the second position. Jorge had some difficulties on the wet and finished in P19.

Jorge Martín

A good first day although I don’t believe the position I am currently placed in accurately reflects the work done today. I have good sensations and tomorrow my objective is to make it into Q2 and set a good lap-time.

Johann Zarco

A positive day, I am happy because I have immediately found good sensations despite not riding for 5 weeks. In FP2 I had a good feeling on the wet asphalt as well and so I can only be satisfied.

 

 

 

More, from a press release issued by Esponsorama Avintia Racing:

MARINI 14TH AND BASTIANINI 21ST ON THE FIRST DAY OF THE GRAND PRIX OF STYRIA

Red Bull Ring – Spielberg (Austria), 6th August 2021

The Avintia Esponsorama and the Sky VR46 Avintia riders were in action today for the first two free practice sessions of the Styrian Grand Prix at the Red Bull Ring – Spielberg.

Luca Marini and Enea Bastianini set their fastest laps in the morning, as rain made its presence in the afternoon and made it impossible for the riders to improve their times. Marini finished the first day 14th in the combined practice times with a best time of 1:25.207, whilst Enea Bastianini was 21st with a time of 1:25.585.

Tomorrow will take place the third and fourth free practice before the qualifying session of the premier class of the Michelin Grand Prix of Styria.

 

Enea Bastianini (23). Photo courtesy Esponsorama Avintia Racing.
Enea Bastianini (23). Photo courtesy Esponsorama Avintia Racing.

 

#23 ENEA BASTIANINI

“It was a positive day and I was able to have fun on the bike. I love this track, but with the MotoGP it’s very physical. This morning went well, unfortunately we didn’t manage to put in a perfect lap, but I didn’t feel too bad. This afternoon in wet I felt quite comfortable, I tried to improve lap by lap and gain confidence and it went better than I expected. It was a good first day.

 

Luca Marini (10). Photo courtesy Esponsorama Avintia Racing.
Luca Marini (10). Photo courtesy Esponsorama Avintia Racing.

 

#10 LUCA MARINI

“I had a good time today. From FP1 I found the same feeling as a month ago and I immediately felt comfortable on the bike. We did two sessions in different conditions and we got a lot of information in both dry and wet conditions. The feeling is good, as always the gaps here in Austria will be minimal, which is another reason to take care of all the details. Our ideal time was really good today, a few tenths less than my best lap. Let’s keep it up.”

 

 

 

More, from a press release issued by Aprilia Gresini Racing:

THE APRILIAS CELEBRATE THE ITALIAN TRIUMPHS DURING THIS MAGICAL SUMMER AND GO FAST ON THE FIRST DAY OF PRACTICE IN AUSTRIA

ALEIX ESPARGARÓ BATTLES FOR THE PROVISIONAL POLE ENDING THE DAY WITH THE THIRD-BEST TIME: “INTERESTING DEVELOPMENTS HERE TOO; WE ARE ALREADY FASTER THAN LAST YEAR’S QUALIFIERS”

LORENZO SAVADORI FIRST IN FP2 HELD IN THE WET

The Aprilias did exceptionally well on the first day of practice at the Red Bull Ring ahead of the Styria GP scheduled for Sunday.

The RS-GPs took to the track with light blue winglets and badges in the Italian colours to celebrate the victories, from the Euro football cup to the Tokyo Olympics, which are making this summer an unforgettable one for Italian sports. The special livery, dedicated to all Italian athletes, did indeed bode well for an extremely positive first day of practice for the Aprilia riders.

Both with the Austrian track dry in the morning and in wet conditions during the afternoon session, Aleix Espargaró and Lorenzo Savadori were protagonists, riding their RS-GP machines to the top of the standings.

With the sun shining and in ideal asphalt conditions in the morning, Aleix finished with the third-best time (1’24.183), confirming the progress of the RS-GP which was competitive on a track that has traditionally been difficult for it. In the final stint, with new tyres, Aleix turned a series of fast laps that kept him in the running for the top spot all the way until the end, where he finished third, just 37 hundredths from the provisional pole position time.

In the afternoon FP2 session, conditions changed completely due to the rain. In wet conditions, Lorenzo Savadori was the one who shone. The Italian rider took full advantage of his skills in poor grip conditions, taking first place with a time of 1’31.304. Aleix also did well, finishing fifth just 927 thousandths behind his Aprilia Racing Team Gresini teammate.

 

Aleix Espargaro (41). Photo courtesy Aprilia.
Aleix Espargaro (41). Photo courtesy Aprilia.

 

ALEIX ESPARGARO’

“It’s only Friday, but I am particularly pleased with our performance today because this is a track that has traditionally not proven to be our favourite. Despite only one dry session, we are already faster than our qualifiers last year. This demonstrates the undeniable progress the RS-GP has made. Due credit goes to the guys at Aprilia who continued working and testing with Dovi over the summer break, even managing to give us a few interesting developments. It isn’t easy to improve consistently each weekend, but we are giving it our all and it shows.”

 

Lorenzo Savadori (32). Photo courtesy Aprilia.
Lorenzo Savadori (32). Photo courtesy Aprilia.

 

LORENZO SAVADORI

“Being first in a session, even if it’s on a wet track, is always great. I’ve always felt good in these conditions because, compared to the dry, the bike and the tyres move around more and that gives me a better feeling, similar in some ways to the bikes I’ve ridden in the past. In any case, even on dry asphalt, my sensations with the RS-GP are getting better and better. This is a new track for me, so I used the FP1 session mainly to find my references. We’ll need to work session by session, because the weather conditions are quite variable and this means that we’ll have to be ready for anything.”

 

 

 

More, from a press release issued by Team Suzuki ECSTAR:

TEAM SUZUKI ECSTAR OFF TO A FLYING START FOR STYRIAN GP

Team Suzuki Press Office – August 6.

Styrian GP Day 1:

Joan Mir: 2nd – 1’23.881 (+ 0.076)

Alex Rins: 4th – 1’24.221 (+ 0.416)

Team Suzuki Ecstar returned to MotoGP™ action on Friday following a five-week summer break. Austria’s Red Bull Ring awaited the eager riders and fans for the first in a double header, the Styrian Grand Prix.

Both Joan Mir and Alex Rins got off to a great start in the morning’s FP1 session, quickly getting to grips with the circuit in Spielberg. They set about putting in lots of laps with their GSX-RRs on the dry track and found themselves with comfortably strong pace. Mir rocketed to the top of the time sheets early on and was able to maintain this number one spot for the vast majority of the session, only slipping to second by +0.076 at the very end of FP1. Rins was firmly in the Top 10 throughout the morning, and a time attack brought him up into fourth.

The Suzuki pair showed their form around the track as Rins clocked the fastest time in Sector 2 and Mir in Sectors 3 and 4.

A heavy rain shower ahead of FP2 left the riders with no choice but to test the track in wet conditions – something which may prove useful if Sunday’s predicted downpours arrive. Mir and Rins were not put off by the slippery conditions and they were determined to continue their good work ahead of tomorrow’s sessions. They managed this very well, closing the session in third and sixth respectively, and completing Friday in second and fourth on combined.

 

Joan Mir (36). Photo courtesy Team Suzuki ECSTAR.
Joan Mir (36). Photo courtesy Team Suzuki ECSTAR.

 

Joan Mir:

“I’m happy about today, straight away on my first pit exit I felt comfortable on the bike and I was able to push and be quite fast with consistent lap times. So it has been a good starting point, the bike has a solid base set-up. This afternoon in the wet and mixed conditions it was a bit more difficult, but it was important to understand which tyres might work best in the wet because on Sunday there could be rain, so it’s useful to try the feeling in various different conditions. We’ve done a great job today so overall I’m feeling good.”

 

Alex Rins (42). Photo courtesy Team Suzuki ECSTAR.
Alex Rins (42). Photo courtesy Team Suzuki ECSTAR.

 

Alex Rins:

“Both FP1 and FP2 were good for us. At the beginning of the first session it was a bit tricky to find the speed and get the correct braking points, but in the end it went well, we did some good laps and came up the timesheet. Then FP2 was wet, but in the end it was quite nice because by the end of the session the track was drier and I kept the positive feelings with the bike. If tomorrow we will have the conditions to try it already, it will be exciting to see how it works, but the main goal at the moment is to get into Q2.”

Ken Kawauchi – Technical Manager:

“For the moment I think we’ve restarted the season well. This morning was dry and then this afternoon it started out wet and then later on it was damp, and it seems that we are competitive in all conditions at the moment. We’ll continue working on our race set-up and tomorrow in FP3 we’ll hope to go straight to Q2 which will put us in a better position to get the best possible results.”

 

 

 

More, from a press release issued by Repsol Honda:

Consistent start for the Repsol Honda Team as MotoGP action resumes

Just a few tenths split the Repsol Honda Team pairing of Pol Espargaro and Marc Marquez during the only dry session of the day at the Styrian Grand Prix, both riders on the pace as racing resumes.

The opening day of the Styrian Grand Prix at the Red Bull Ring proved to be a day of two halves as rain hit the circuit in the afternoon after clear running in the morning. With the weekend’s forecast still looking mixed, the Repsol Honda Team worked to gain the most of both sessions regardless of the weather to prepare for Qualifying and the race.

Pol Espargaro has shown fine form around the 4.3 kilometres of the Red Bull Ring in recent visits and continued that form on Friday morning. Steadily improving throughout Free Practice 1, he ended the first session back in fifth place with a best time of 1’24.254. His personal best time would go unchallenged as rain at the start of Free Practice 2 left the circuit damp and drying. A 1’33.415 Espargaro’s quickest time of the wet afternoon. With a solid foundation found, Espargaro is looking to take further profit from his Honda around the Austrian track.

It was straight back to work for Marc Marquez after the summer break as he was reunited with his Honda RC213V in FP1. Like his Repsol Honda Team teammate, Marquez started Friday with a longer run and worked throughout the opening practice to adapt to the Red Bull Ring. A best time of 1’24.492 left Marquez only 0.221s behind Espargaro on the time sheets and sixth overall. Although only 0.6s off the top, Marquez admitted he was hoping for more after the break. As with the rest of the field, Marquez did not improve his time in FP2 and ended the session in tenth.

The LCR Honda of Takaaki Nakagami ended the day quickest with a 1’23.805.

Current predictions are calling for a return to dry running during Saturday morning’s Free Practice 3 session, a last chance for riders to compete for place inside the combined top ten. This important session is scheduled to begin at 09:55 Local Time with Qualifying starting later in the day at 14:10.

 

Pol Espargaro (44). Photo courtesy Repsol Honda.
Pol Espargaro (44). Photo courtesy Repsol Honda.

 

Pol Espargaro

FIFTH  1’24.254

“The bike was performing well today when I pushed the lap time was coming. It was great to be back out riding after the summer break but for sure there is still some time from all of us to find. This is the kind of circuit where the bike works well, where we can make the most of our advantages. Our final lap time isn’t too bad, there’s room to work and improve but we are feeling positive in the wet and the dry. Let’s see what the weather does for the rest of the weekend.”

 

Marc Marquez (93). Photo courtesy Repsol Honda.
Marc Marquez (93). Photo courtesy Repsol Honda.

 

Marc Marquez

SIXTH  1’24.475

“Honestly speaking I was expecting a lot more from today but I didn’t feel great today, so I accepted it and we keep working. It’s a little frustrating but we are doing what we can, and our times were quite good even though our level wasn’t what we wanted. We will see what happens over the course of the weekend and if my feeling improves. The bike is working well here and the times are quite close after the summer break. Certainly the weather might complicate things a bit later in the weekend, but it’s the same for everyone.”

 

 

 

 

More, from a press release issued by Monster Energy Yamaha:

MONSTER ENERGY YAMAHA MOTOGP STARTS SECOND HALF OF SEASON IN SPIELBERG

Spielberg (Austria), 6th August 2021

GRAND PRIX OF STYRIA

FREE PRACTICE

It was back to school for Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP‘s Maverick Viñales and Fabio Quartararo today after the five-week long summer break. The riders were excited to be reunited with their YZR-M1s, but rain dampened their progress in the afternoon. They ended the day in seventh and eighth position respectively in the combined timesheets.

7th MAVERICK VIÑALES 1’24.492 (FP1) / 25 + 13 LAPS

8th FABIO QUARTARARO 1’24.580 (FP1) / 26 + 18 LAPS

Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP‘s Maverick Viñales and Fabio Quartararo were keen to make steps on the first day at the Spielberg track, but mixed conditions in FP2 made the first day back from summer break tricky. The teammates ended the day in seventh and eighth position respectively in the combined free practice results.

With changeable conditions predicted for the Friday, Viñales planned to get as much work done in the morning as possible. He pushed hard in the opening stages of FP1 to take second place just nine minutes into the session. After improving his time once more, he held a top-3 position for a while until the pace quickened with 15 minutes left on the clock. The number-12 rider in turn posted a 1‘24.492s on lap 19/25, for seventh place, 0.687s from first.

In FP2, although Top Gun was looking to get in more laps, rainy conditions precluded any possibilities to make strides in terms of time improvement. The Spaniard waited for the right moment to resume his work. When a dry line was slowly forming with 25 minutes remaining, he sprung back into action. He moved up to fourth place in the final five minutes, clocking a 1‘32.685s on lap 10/13. As the times dropped, he ended the FP2 session in ninth. But thanks to his morning time he secured seventh in the combined free practice times, 0.687s from first.

Quartararo had been eagerly awaiting the start of the second half of the season. He was quick to hop to it and get a feel for the Austrian circuit. The current championship leader made sure to make the most of the available dry track time, focusing fully on race setting preparations. His best time, a 1‘24.580s set on lap 7/26 earned him eighth place.

Following a dry morning session, the weather at the Spielberg track took a turn for the worse with rain falling down right before and during the start of the FP2 session. The Frenchman had predicted that these conditions would be tricky for him, but he bravely soldiered on. With a dry line forming halfway through the session, his best effort of a 1‘33.498s set on lap 16/18 put him in 15th place. However, his 1‘24.580s FP1 time kept him in eighth in today‘s combined rankings, 0.775s from the top.

MASSIMO MEREGALLI

TEAM DIRECTOR

Today we didn‘t get quite as much dry laps in as we had hoped for. FP1 was good though. The sunny conditions allowed our riders to get a good feel for the track after five weeks without riding a MotoGP bike. Overall, their first impressions weren‘t too bad, though there‘s definitely work to be done. In a way we are lucky that FP2 was wet, because we were able to see early on where we need to improve in those conditions. It’s good that we already have some wet weather data to work with because the forecasts for Sunday are not that nice. Right now we are inside the top 10 in the combined results without having done a time attack. We will take a good look at today‘s data and work this evening to prepare a step for tomorrow to ensure our riders a place in Q2.

 

Maverick Vinales (12). Photo courtesy Monster Energy Yamaha.
Maverick Vinales (12). Photo courtesy Monster Energy Yamaha.

 

MAVERICK VIÑALES

I felt good in all conditions, wet and dry. It was important to feel good and fast right from FP1, because we had a long break before. I think we have a good potential, but I hope that tomorrow the weather will be more consistent, so we can try more things and push a bit more. Here you never know. One moment it’s raining, but then suddenly the sun comes out and the track dries in five minutes, so you always need to be ready for anything. For sure, if it stays dry tomorrow, the plan is to keep doing laps to better understand the best way of riding at this track. We don’t need to touch the bike’s dry settings too much, they are good. I’m quite happy about the rhythm we had in the morning. Maybe we could have done a time attack in FP1, but we are still inside the provisional top 10 to promote to Q2 anyway, and that’s the most important.

 

Fabio Quartararo (20). Photo courtesy Monster Energy Yamaha.
Fabio Quartararo (20). Photo courtesy Monster Energy Yamaha.

 

FABIO QUARTARARO

I felt really good on the dry today and pretty bad in the wet and half-and-half conditions. On the dry I felt much better on the bike than I did last year. In the mixed conditions I wasn’t feeling good, and I don’t know why. But that is why it was good to have these conditions today, so we could try to make a step forward for Sunday in case it rains. So, my aim is to find something this evening and improve for the race.

 

 

 

More, from a press release issued by LCR Honda Idemitsu:

TAKA TOP OF MOTOGP CLASS ON DAY ONE IN AUSTRIA

6 August 2021 | Styrian GP Practice

Takaaki Nakagami made the best possible start as the MotoGP class resumed after the summer break, topping the timesheets on the opening day of free practice for the Grand Prix of Styria. The LCR Honda IDEMITSU rider was straight back into the groove at the Red Bull Ring as he went fastest in FP1 before rain complicated matters for the riders in Spielberg.

Having qualified on the front row of the corresponding race last year, the Japanese star laid down a marker in the morning session as he eclipsed reigning world champion Joan Mir to secure top spot in FP1. Bursts of rain then ensured that the MotoGP class would not improve their times in the afternoon, leaving Taka (17th in FP2) on top of the pile overnight.

 

Takaaki Nakagami (30). Photo courtesy LCR Honda.
Takaaki Nakagami (30). Photo courtesy LCR Honda.

 

Takaaki Nakagami – 1st

(1’23.805)

“P1 is the best way to start the second part of the season, so I’m pretty happy with that after the long summer break. I’m feeling pretty good on the bike in dry conditions, in FP2 there were some drops of rain and the conditions were mixed so we couldn’t improve the lap time from this morning. But, overall, P1 is a good first day and we’ll keep working to improve the bike and I’m really looking forward to this weekend and the qualifying session.”

 

 

 

More, from a press release issued by LCR Honda Castrol:

ÁLEX MÁRQUEZ MAKES ENCOURAGING START IN SPIELBERG

6 August 2021 | Styrian GP Practice

LCR Honda CASTROL rider Álex Márquez was satisfied with his efforts on the first day of free practice for the Grand Prix of Styria as the MotoGP class reconvened after the mid-season break. The Spaniard showed good rhythm as he reacquainted himself with the RC213V and finished narrowly outside the top 10 at the Red Bull Ring in Spielberg.

Álex made encouraging progress in a dry FP1 session dominated by LCR team-mate Takaaki Nakagami and eventually finished in 13th spot, around a tenth of a second behind 10th position. Rain ensured FP2 took place in mixed conditions and, although the riders could not better their times, he demonstrated his confidence on the wet track by taking 7th place in the session.

 

Alex Marquez (73). Photo courtesy LCR Honda.
Alex Marquez (73). Photo courtesy LCR Honda.

 

Álex Márquez – 13th

(1’24.959)

“First day here in Austria and it was nice to ride the bike again and I was feeling really good this morning in dry conditions. That’s one of things you worry about after a long break, whether you will get the feeling back quickly or whether it will take some time. Unfortunately, FP2 was wet, but it was also our test for Sunday as it looks like there’s a big chance of rain on Sunday. The feeling was also really good on wet. There are still a lot of things to do tomorrow in dry conditions, but I’m happy with the first day and looking forward to making steps tomorrow.”

 

 

 

More, from a press release issued by Ducati:

Grand Prix of Styria. Miller and Bagnaia finished respectively in tenth and twelfth place the first day of free practices as they were hindered by rain in the afternoon

Jack Miller and Pecco Bagnaia took to the track today at the Red Bull Ring in Austria for the first day of free practices of the Grand Prix of Styria, the tenth round of the 2021 MotoGP World Championship.

Back on the Desmosedici GP after a long five-week summer break, the Ducati Lenovo Team riders were able to take advantage of this morning’s entire FP1 session, held in dry conditions, to regain feeling with their bikes. However, in the afternoon, with rain starting to fall shortly before FP2, the premier class riders could not improve on their morning lap times.

The timesheets remained unchanged, with Miller ending his first day in Austria in tenth place. The Australian rider, who has been working on the setup of his Desmosedici GP bike, declared himself satisfied with the behaviour of his bike, both in dry and wet conditions. Bagnaia, fourth this afternoon in the rain, finished in twelfth place overall on Friday, with the fastest time of 1:24.915 set in the morning. With the weather forecasted to be dry tomorrow morning, Miller and Bagnaia aim to improve their best times in FP3 to gain direct access to Q2 in the afternoon.

 

Jack Miller (43). Photo courtesy Ducati.
Jack Miller (43). Photo courtesy Ducati.

 

Jack Miller (#43 Ducati Lenovo Team) – 10th (1:24.827)

“I’m pretty satisfied with this first day here in Austria after the summer break. We’ve been very busy today, trying different things on the bike, and unfortunately, the weather conditions weren’t favourable during the afternoon session. Despite this, I felt comfortable with the Desmosedici GP in both dry and wet conditions and the final minutes of FP2, when used slick tyres as a dry line appeared after the rain that fell earlier in the session. Tomorrow, we’ll make a few more small changes, but overall I think I’m ready for any weather conditions.”

 

Francesco Bagnaia (63). Photo courtesy Ducati.
Francesco Bagnaia (63). Photo courtesy Ducati.

 

Francesco Bagnaia (#63 Ducati Lenovo Team) – 12th (1:24.915)

“Despite today’s position, it was a pretty positive start for us. We weren’t expecting rain this afternoon, and after working on several aspects in the morning session, we wanted to try and improve our time in FP2. Unfortunately, the track conditions didn’t allow us to do that, but we could do more tests on the wet asphalt. We know what we need to do to improve and be in the top ten tomorrow morning if FP3 is dry, so I’m positive”.

The Ducati Lenovo Team riders will be back on track tomorrow at 9:55 am for FP3 before heading into qualifying for the Styrian GP  scheduled to start at 2:10 pm local time, at the end of FP4.

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