MotoGP Germany: McPhee fastest on Friday for Moto3

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Picture: GeeBee Images

Petronas SRT’s John McPhee claimed Friday honours at the Sachsenring after dominating with his final effort of the morning’s Moto3 practice.

The Scot’s 1’26.739 was unbeaten in the hot afternoon session with Tatsuki Suzuki and Pedro Acosta the closest challengers.

Gabriel Rodrigo continued his strong run of Friday form by leading the way as the opening session of the Saxony weekend fired up. Air temperatures already registering an impressive 26℃ for the 9am start, indicated the blistering three days forecast ahead.

Suzuki took charge of the standings on his fourth lap of the morning with a benchmark 1’28.089. Andrea Migno circulating four-tenths shy of the early target in second, with Xavier Artigas, Rodrigo and Lorenzo Fellon completing the top-five after 10-minutes on track.

Dennis Foggia and Niccolò Antonelli joined the party as the session continued with McPhee navigating the 3.7km anti-clockwise layout in 14th. The Scot advanced to fourth at the halfway stage before Kaito Toba demoted the Petronas man one position on the next revolution.

Izan Guevara made his presence felt as the clock hit 10-to-go. The GasGas rookie taking third with his 13th lap, two-tenths away from Suzuki’s session-leading efforts before the times shuffled in the closing minutes.

Deniz Öncü and Migno initially bickered for dominance as they advanced the pace to the mid 1’27’s with three-minutes to go, before the end of session shootout saw Suzuki back in charge with a 1’26.852. Foggia and Filip Salac sat best of the rest ahead of Migno, Acosta and Romano Fenati, with the championship leader improving his late-session pace once again next tome around.

McPhee was on a charge in the closing seconds to take FP1 from the Sic58 rider thanks to his final 1’26.739 effort, with Rodrigo, Stefano Nepa and Acosta completing the top-five. Foggia led the Snipers pairing of Salac and Migno, from sixth, with Öncü and Fenati completing the first top-10 of the German weekend.

With track temperatures hitting 50℃ as the afternoon session fired up, Suzuki was back in charge from an eagerly advancing Acosta before Fenati joined the fight. Suzuki challenged the Italian once again but it was McPhee, however, who would advance the pace on his fifth lap, as the first rider of the afternoon to enter the 1’27’s.

Barcelona’s race winner, Sergio Garcia, became the first faller in the hotter conditions after a nasty highside deposited the GasGas rider in the gravel at turn three. Fellon out-braking himself and running wide at turn one shortly after.

There was little change to the times as the practice continued, the mid-session utilised for race-prep before the closing third saw the pace heat back up. Suzuki improved with a 1’27.376 as he returned to top, Fenati, McPhee, Foggia and Acosta holding on to their top-five positions before Toba split the group in fourth, a detour through the gravel preventing further progress on his next revolution.

The closing 10 minutes saw Rodrigo advance the times by a further two-tenths as the pack returned to the pits. The final shootout action ramping up five minutes later.

1’27.090 saw Acosta in charge in the penultimate minute, the championship leader still just over two-tenths adrift of McPhee’s morning best, with Jeremy Alcoba holding the final provisional Q2 position. Rodrigo, Öncü, Suzuki and Fenati completed FP2 in the top-five with McPhee dominant overall in the combined times.

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