MotoGP Misano: Quartararo in charge for FP1

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Picture: GeeBee Images

Reigning MotoGP Champion Fabio Quartararo kicked off his San Marino weekend from the top of the free practice times on Friday morning.

A 1’32.313, set on his final of 23 laps around the Misano World Circuit Marco Simoncelli gave the Monster Energy Yamaha rider a quarter of a second advantage after 45-minutes of action. Ducati Lenovo’s Jack Miller and wildcard Michelle Pirro completing the top three for the Bologna manufacturer as its home race fired up.

Friday practice began with the Espargaro brothers challenging for control in the times as Repsol Honda’s Pol led elder brother Aleix on the Aprilia before LCR’s Alex Marquez took over. The RS-GP’s commanding in tandem next time around as Maverick Viñales joined his team captain for first and second on 1’33 pace. Yamaha’s reigning champion Fabio Quartararo split the pair seconds later before Pol once again bettered his brother, this time with a 1’33.3 effort.

Quartararo took charge three-tenths quicker with his sixth lap of the morning as Suzuki Ecstar’s Alex Rins joined the fight in second. The M1 threatening to break into the 1’32’s two laps later before the third sector dented his charge.

Andrea Dovizioso kicked off his final weekend in MotoGP from tenth in the standings, half a second adrift of his fellow Yamaha. Ducati’s Miller and Johann Zarco sat narrowly ahead with Pecco Bagnaia claiming fifth on his seventh attempt. Monster Energy’s Franky Morbidelli demoted the veteran Italian next time around with Ducati test rider Pirro doing likewise shortly after.

Quartararo finally broke through the 1’33 barrier with his 13th lap as the benchmark sat at 1’32.968, Pirro rising to second from Rins, Viñales and Pol Espargaro at the halfway stage before taking charge overall with 20 minutes to go on a 1’32.888.

LCR’s Marquez and Takaaki Nakagami headed fellow Honda rider Espargaro from seventh to ninth as the session counted down. The Repsol rider once again narrowly ahead of his elder brother as Mooney VR46’s Marco Bezzecchi advanced to 11th.

Viñales struck for glory with a 1’32.706 and 13 minutes on the clock as Miller rose to fourth. Bezzecchi continuing his climb to make it five Ducatis in the top ten ahead of the final runs.

Ten to go and Enea Bastianini brought the Gresini GP21 into contention from eighth. Quartararo raising the bar with a 1’32.498 as Miller challenged 0.039s adrift in second. The Ducati attack continued as Bastianini improved again, to fifth, with Pirro retaking third as Aprilia’s Espargaro led Suzuki’s Rins in sixth and seventh.

Bagnaia demoted his title rival next time around on his way to sixth, just under half a second shy of the session and championship leader. Pol Espargaro sitting tenth as the opening practice counted down. Local man Luca Marini improved to 11th with teammate Bezzecchi in 14th as the VR46 duo sandwiched the LCR pair of Marquee and Nakagami. Dovizioso heading Morbidelli from 15th ahead of the factory KTM’s of Brad Binder and Miguel Oliveira before the South African made moves to 12th as the clock hit zero.

Quartararo’s final effort advanced the pace to 1’32.313, a quarter of a second between himself and Miller in second with Pirro, Espargaro and Viñales completing the top five. Bagnaia settling for a subdued FP1 at his home circuit in sixth with Bastianini, Rins, Marini and Zarco completing the top ten.

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