After Ducati dominated proceedings on Friday morning at the Gran Premio Movistar at the Spanish Motorland Aragon circuit, championship leader Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) responded in the afternoon to finish day one at the summit as Jorge Lorenzo (Ducati Team) and teammate Andrea Dovizioso rounded out the top three.
It wasn’t until the final five minutes where the battle for Friday’s honors started to heat up, with Dovizioso setting the first sub 1:48 lap time of the weekend, with Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda Castrol) quickly following suit. However, with fresh soft rear rubber, the six-time world champion marked his territory – a 1m47.382s the time that would see him go 0.453 faster than the Dovizioso’s Desmosedici. Lorenzo had dropped to outside the top 10 after failing to improve on his FP1 time but on his final lap of FP2, the Spaniard turned up the wick to launch himself into P2 to finish the day 0.138s behind his compatriot.
Dovi and Crutchlow’s 1m47.8s were enough to see them sit third and fourth respectively after Friday’s track action, with Team Suzuki Ecstar’s Andrea Iannone propelling his GSX-RR into fifth as the session came to a close – the Italian was the only other rider to venture into the 1m47s and led for the majority of FP2. After finishing P2 in FP1, Danilo Petrucci (Alma Pramac Racing) had to settle for sixth in the second Free Practice session with a best time of 1m48.134s.
Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda Team) had a much-improved afternoon in his penultimate home race. He was 18th and 1.9 seconds off in FP1 but managed to find some speed at a track he’s got a good record at – seventh overall for the Spaniard. Compatriot Alvaro Bautista (Angel Nieto Team) continued his rich vein of form on board his Ducati to complete the opening day at MotorLand in eighth place.
Rounding out the provisional Q2 places were the two Movistar Yamaha MotoGP riders: Valentino Rossi and Maverick Vinales. Increased temperatures have been the M1’s Achilles heel and Aragon’s searing heat looks to be hampering the duo again this weekend, with the latter forcing his way into the top 10 on his final lap, ousting 11th place Franco Morbidelli (EG 0,0 Marc VDS). Can the Yamahas bridge the gap to the front on Saturday?
Jack Miller (Alma Pramac Racing) didn’t manage to build on his P3 finish in FP1, will the Australian claw his way into an automatic Q2 spot in FP3? An Intriguing first day comes to an end in Aragon, and it’s first advantage Marquez on home territory – but Ducati aren’t far away.