MotoGP Aragon: Espargaro sets the pace in FP1

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Picture: GeeBee Images

Aprilia’s Aleix Espargaro was the man to beat at Motorland Aragon as the opening MotoGP free practice fired up on Friday.

Ducati Lenovo’s Pecco Bagnaia and Suzuki Ecstar’s Alex Rins sat second and third as the 45-minutes concluded with championship leader Fabio Quartararo down in eight for the introductory session.

The premier class rolled out for FP1 with both Marc Marquez and Cal Crutchlow back in the action. Prima Pramac’s Jorge Martin led the way in the opening times before teammate Johann Zarco bettered by half a second with a 1’48.882. Title-rivals Bagnaia and Quartararo slotting in between the two with their fourth laps as fellow challenger Espargaro rounded out the top five.

Suzuki Ecstar’s returning Joan Mir saved a major moment at turn seven as his teammate joined the fight at the front. Rins initially running second before Bagnaia and Espargaro demoted him to fourth.

Marquez ran sixth as the session fired up with a 1’49.207 best. Gresini’s Enea Bastianini the next to join the tight fight at the top, from fourth with Ducati power locking out the remainder of the top ten in the hands of Martin, Mooney VR46’s Luca Marini and Jack Miller.

Crutchlow began his MotoGP return from 12th in the initial times, two places and two-tenths ahead of Monster Energy Yamaha’s Franky Morbidelli with Repsol Honda’s Pol Espargaro in between and Aprilia’s Maverick Viñales ahead.

An RS-GP took charge after ten minutes on track as Espargaro led the way with a 1’48.686 from a Ducati trio. Miguel Oliveira advancing the Red Bull KTM to sixth and on the bubble of 1’49 with Quartararo and Marquez narrowly behind.

A turn 16 crash derailed Espargaro’s run with 20 minutes to go as the Spaniard went down hard at the end of an out lap. Quartararo heading out with his new M1 chassis for the second half of the session.

Rins was the first to challenge on his way to third with his 12th lap of the morning, teammate Mir down in 14th ahead of the LCR pairing of Takaaki Nakagami and Alex Marquez. The recently confirmed rider launching to sixth next time around less then three-tenths off the outright target.

Morbidelli advanced to join his Yamaha teammate in the top ten as the final third fired up. Nakagami continuing to improve from fourth as Marini nipped at the wheels of Marquez on the edge of the top ten before Marini bettered for the position with a minute to go.

The chequered flag found Espargaro in charge despte the crash and a late technical issue, from Bagnaia and Rins as KTM’s Brad Binder demoted Nakagami in the dying seconds after a charge from 18th. Zarco, Bastianini, Oliveira, Quartararo and Morbidelli completed the top ten from Marini, Marquez, Martin and Miller with Marco Bezzecchi rounding out the Ducati set in 15th. Binder’s late heroics deleted after the flag as the South African dropped down to 20th.

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