Injured British Moto3 star John McPhee put his Brno startline crash behind him on the opening day of practice at the Red Bull Ring to bag second on the overall timesheet.
SKY VR46’s Celestino Vietti put down the marker in the class by ending FP2 fastest with his final lap of the 40-minute session.
The Italian was only 0.031 ahead of Petronas Sprinta’s McPhee, with the Scot only a further 0.022 clear of SIC58 Squadra Corse’s Tatsuki Suzuki.
“It’s nice to be back riding again, because after last Sunday’s race I wasn’t sure how strong I could be here. I’ve been recovering well and I had a good FP1 session, but I banged my knee again on the kerb and it made me a little nervous,” said McPhee.
Instead of pushing too hard, I tried to concentrate on making sure the bike was right and saved myself for the afternoon. In FP2 I was consistently fast on my own. I was quick enough to go to Q2 on a hard tyre as well as the soft, which is a positive. We just have a couple of small things to improve with the bike to be even faster tomorrow.”
The top three riders were separated by only half a tenth but Vietti, McPhee and Suzuki were three tenths clear of Ayumu Sasaki (Petronas Sprinta Racing) in fourth. Sasaki set his lap late in the day after calming down following a spat with Alonso Lopez (Estrella Galicia 0,0) earlier in the session.
This morning’s pacesetter, Jakub Kornfeil (Redox PrüstelGP), closed the day fifth quickest after failing to improve on his 1:36.967 from FP1. VNE Snipers’ Tony Arbolino ended sixth at the end of the first day, just ahead of Bester Capital Dubai’s Jaume Masia in seventh.
Overall, 20 riders were covered by a second in a frantic session that saw riders push hard in the closing stages with some adverse forecasts ahead for Saturday’s FP3 session.