MotoGP Silverstone: Zarco recovers to take FP1

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Picture: GeeBee Images

Prima Pramac’s Johann Zarco recovered from an early high speed crash to command the opening MotoGP session at Silverstone on Friday morning.

The Frenchman’s 1’59.893 pace was only rivalled by Ducati Lenovo’s Pecco Bagnaia in the frantic closing stages of FP1 after the pair had both hit the deck in the opening action.

Friday practice fired up with the news that WithU Yamaha’s Andrea Dovizioso is bowing out of his illustrious career mid-way through the second half of 2022. Misano providing the Italian’s swansong with Brit Cal Crutchlow taking up the mantle for the final six races. Fellow Yamaha rider Fabio Quartararo facing a long lap penalty in the opening three laps of Sunday’s race as he rolled out and took charge of the 45-minute practice on the Monster Energy M1.

The initial shuffle found Suzuki Ecstar’s Alex Rins in charge on 2’02.252 pace from the Ducati Lenovos of Jack Miller and Bagnaia. Zarco trailing the factory team by a mere 0.016s as the championship leader tried out the penalty loop.

Aprilia arrived after ten minutes of action as Maverick VIñales headed Aleix Espargaro in third and fourth, with Miller and Zarco advanced the pace to 2’01. Bagnaia crashing out early at Maggots as Suzuki’s Rins returned to the top with the first 2’00 of the day. ‘Miller taxis’ back in demand as Quartararo suffered a technical on the Wellington straight with the Australian assisting his return to pitlane.

LCR Honda’s Takaaki Nakagami sat second after quarter of an hour on track, Espargaro and Mooney VR46’s Marco Bezzecchi bettering a pair of Pramacs in the top six as Jorge Martin bettered his teammate by the finest of margins and a quarter of a second covered the leading pack.

2016 victor Viñales was in charge at the halfway stage with a 2’00.827. Teammate Espargaro sitting fourth with Bezzecchi and outgoing KTM rider Miguel Oliveira narrowly behind. LCR’s Alex Marquez, and a trio of Ducatis completed the top ten ahead of Brad Binder - showcasing a new exhaust on the RC16 - and an impressive performance from Tech3 rookie Raul Fernandez.

Quartararo returned to action with a time worthy of 11th as Rins continued to set the pace out front. 2’00.7 now the target with 20 minutes left to play as the Frenchman fell just nine-hundredths short next time around to claim second.

Zarco suffered a turn seven crash as the final 15 minutes prepared. Rins and Quartararo continuing to fine tune the benchmark ahead of the Aprilias with Miller rising to sixth on his tenth attempt.

Repsol Honda’s Pol Espargaro advanced the standings in the closing ten minutes as the Spaniard found sixth with a 2’01.0. The top ten covered by six-tenths as his elder brother displaced Quartararo in the runners up position.

The penultimate minute saw Quartararo rise to the occasion with a 2’00.438 before Bagnaia immediately bettered. Rins denying them both next time around with a 2’00.220 as the pace ignited. Zarco was the next to strike as the Frenchman captured the first 1’59, Nakagami and Binder running seventh and eighth before the Japanese rider found more for fifth. Joan Mir met the flag to promote the second Suzuki to eighth in the final seconds with Bagnaia improving again to consolidate second as the session concluded.

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