MotoGP Misano II: Zarco tops wet FP1

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Picture: GeeBee Images

Pramac’s Johann Zarco dominated a wet MotoGP free practice as the second Misano weekend got underway in Italy.

The Frenchman’s 1’42.374 lap, set on his final effort, outpacing the grid by almost one and a half seconds at the flag. Marc Marquez and Jack Miller the next fastest despite the Rimini track’s tricky conditions.

FP1 fired up with a spate of crashes due to the wet conditions as Alex Marquez flicked off his LCR Honda at turn two, quickly followed by Brad Binder at turn eight. Miller heading the initial turns with a 1’46.464 on his third lap of the wet session before the remaining KTM trio of Miguel Oliveira, Iker Lecuona and Danilo Petrucci bettered to lock out the top three.

The Ducati’s were back in the mix as the practice bedded in, Miller advancing the pace with a 1’45.027 from Oliveira before the Portuguese rider hit back, six-tenths ahead and Pecco Bagnaia joined the fray in third. Marquez was the next to improve, on the bubble of 1’45 to hold off Lecuona, Zarco as Miller and Bagnaia repeatedly battled at the top.

The Monster Yamaha’s sat seventh and ninth after 10 minutes on track, Franky Morbidelli heading his championship-leading teammate in the early times with Jorge Martin sandwiched between the pair and Petrucci now in 10th.

The rain fell heavier as the session continued, Michele Pirro beginning his latest wildcard from 11th ahead of Alex Rins, Valentino Rossi and the returning Maverick Viñales with Luca Marini rounding out the top 15.

There was little movement in the times across themed-session as the conditions deteriorated, Joan Mir jingo his Suzuki teammate in 12th and 13th as the final 10 minutes approached with Aprilia’s Aleix Espargaro still to set a time.

Zarco made waves with eight to go as he joined the Ducati party at the top of the times, splitting the factory riders in second just two-tenths adrift of Miller’s 1’43.999 effort before Lecuona followed him to third. The Frenchman improved to sit fastest overall two minutes later, 1’43.836 now the time to beat as further back, Mir and Marini rose to seventh and eighth respectively.

The pair continued to climb as they leapfrogged Marquez on their next effort, Zarco continuing to move the goalposts out front as Viñales entered the top 10. Miller bettered his previous fastest by a full second with four minutes left on the clock, his Pramac rival still six-tenths ahead, with Bagnaia trailing by a mere two-tenths before the Italian dropped his Desmosedici at turn eight.

Zarco was on a roll as his times continued to fall, 1’43.087 now the target, almost a second clear of his factory rivals, with Lecuona and Oliveira sitting fourth and fifth. Pol Espargaro joined Marquez in ninth as Lorenzo Savadori became the next victim of the sodden Misano circuit. Morbidelli remaining the fastest Yamaha as he completed the top 10 before a 1’44 lap boosted him to fourth as the flag came out.

Marquez too advanced as he claimed second in the dying seconds while a late effort by Martin demoted the local rider to fifth as FP1 reached its conclusion.

Zarco claimed the initial honours from the recently returned King of COTA with Miller, Martin and Morbidelli completing the top five. Bagnaia sat sixth from the KTM train of Oliveira, Petrucci and Lecuona with Mir holding off brothers Marini and Rossi on the edge of the top 10.

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