MotoGP Catalunya: Rins sets the pace at home for FP1

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Picture: GeeBee Images

Suzuki Ecstar’s Alex Rins ruled the opening MotoGP times as FP1 fired up at Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya on Friday morning.

A case of ‘second riders’ time to shine saw Aprilia’s Maverick Viñales the closest rival, 0.195s shy of his fellow Spaniard, with Monster Energy’s Franky Morbidelli completing the top three half a second back.

Aleix Espargaro opened proceedings at his home track with a 1’40.745 before looking to heat things further. The RS-GP trailed by Idemitsu’s Takaaki Nakagami and KTM’s Miguel Oliveira before Yamaha’s Morbidelli bettered overall, with a 0.05s margin. Rins promoted the Suzuki to third with his sixth lap of the 4.6km track after ten minutes of action. Viñales rounding out the top five on the second Aprilia from the second GSX-RR of Joan Mir.

Championship leader Fabio Quartararo kicked off his Montmelo practice eighth in the standings as Pol Espargaro, Enea Bastianini and Johann Zarco squabbled for position behind. Pecco Bagnaia circulating 12th as just four-tenths separated him from the benchmark time after a third of the 45-minute session completed with Ducati Lenovo teammate Jack Miller three places back.

Mugello superstars Marco Bezzecchi and Luca Marini opened their Catalan account from 14th and 15th respectively after 15 minutes on track, demoting their factory colleague in the process. Quartararo dropping out of the top ten as the session bedded in, just four-tenths shy of his teammate and narrowly faster than title rival Bagnaia.

Pol Espargaro joined his elder sibling in the top three as the second half fired up. The Repsol rider running just 0.025s adrift after 14 laps of his native circuit. Morbidelli remaining in charge with a 1’40.965 with ten minutes to go.

Jorge Martin crashed the Prima Pramac at turn two with nine minutes on the clock. The Spaniard seeming to struggle once again as his disappointing season continued from 17th. Rins launched for the lead four minutes later with a 1’40.631, 0.64s clear of the Italian’s M1, before striking hard next time around with a 1’40.101.

Alex Marquez joined his LCR teammate in the top six as the session wound down before Vinales struck for second with a 1’40.5. The ‘Top Gun’ improving for his final effort with a 1’40.296 on double medium Michelins as Rins claimed the session 0.195s ahead.

Morbidelli completed the morning in third ahead of the Espargaro brothers, in age order, with LCR locking out the remainder of the top seven. Oliveira, Mir and Bastianini rounded out the top 10 with Quartararo and Bagnaia 13th and 14th respectively, having run the full 45-minutes on soft front options rather than switching for fresh rubber.

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