MotoGP Valencia: Leopard locks out Moto3 Friday times

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Picture: GeeBee Images

Leopard’s Tatsuki Suzuki headed teammate Dennis Foggia in the Moto3 times as practice concluded in Valencia on Friday.

Moto3 Champion Izan Guevara sat third by the close of day one, just 0.066s shy of Suzuki’s 1’39.467 target with CFMoto’s Carlos Tatay and MT Helmets’ Diogo Moreira rounding out the top five a mere hundredth of a second back.

A bright, sunny but fresh Circuit Ricardo Tormo greeted the lightweight class as action commenced for the final round of 2022. Sic58’s Riccardo Rossi took charge of the initial times with a 1’41.101 with one of three Rookie of the Year candidates, David Muñoz circulating second. His rival for the title, KTM’s Daniel Holgado, quickly bettered overall before Sterilgarda Husqvarna’s Ayumu Sasaki arrived with a 1’40.801.

Foggia set the 1’40.3 pace after ten minutes on track, with the previous two leaders improving to retain the top three. John McPhee heading the British contingent from 13th in the standings with VisionTrack’s recently confirmed duo Scott Ogden and Josh Whatley circulating in tandem ten places behind.

Tech3 KTM’s Deniz Öncü swept up to fourth as the second half began closely trailed by Sergio Garcia as the GasGas Aspar rider began his final fight for second overall in the 2022 standings. Ryusei Yamanaka heading countryman Tatsuki Suzuki, Diogo Moreira, Jaume Masia and Adrian Fernandez in the top ten with twelve minutes remaining.

Sasaki took charge as the session counted down, just 0.027s ahead of the Italian. Teammate McPhee into the top ten and half a second off the outright pace, in ninth, with a 1’40.901. Ivan Ortola promoted the MTA KTM up to third with seven minutes left on the clock before the Spaniard refined his pace once again next time around.

Foggia returned to command as the final five minutes intensified with a 1’40.087 effort. The pack following suit as Garcia claimed the first 1’39 of the weekend before the standings shuffled. Teammate and newly crowned champion Guevara and rookie Moreira bettering in quick succession with Holgado now in third.

The final minute found Moreira pushing hard to consolidate his lead before crashing out at turn six, seconds after Muñoz suffered the same fate. Guevara securing the spoils with a 1’39.533 as McPhee progressed to seventh with his final lap.

The afternoon action saw Sasaki back in charge with teammate McPhee in second as the pair set low 1’40 pace. CFMoto’s Xavi Artigas and BOE wIldcard David Almansa inheriting second and third after the Scotsman’s fastest time was deleted with Aspar Wildcard Filippo Farioli and Rossi together in the turn five gravel after ten minutes on track.

Guevara set the session pace with 15 minutes to go as Muñoz slid out at turn 14. Foggia quickly taking over with his 12th effort of FP2 while times remained half a second adrift of their morning equivalent. Ogden yet to classify as the session wound down with the Brit stuck in the garage due to a technical issue on his VisionTrack Honda.

Foggia and Guevara fired up in the final ten minutes as the pair continued to swap places at the top of the times. Sasaki, Öncü and Artigas maintaining their top five places with the combined top 20 untouched from the morning efforts.

Garcia was out front with two minutes to go, the Aspar rider the first to improve on his opening target before Carlos Tatay and Suzuki bettered. The Leopard rider took top spot overall with a 1’39.467 with the PruestelGP man just 0.004s shy of the series champion in the top three.

A final shuffle as the chequered flag dropped saw Leopard celebrate a one-two as Foggia slotted into second with less than a tenth covering first to fifth. MTA’s replacement for the injured Stefano Nepa, David Salvador, secured seventh overall just 0.130s shy of the outright target with Artigas, Holgado and Sasaki completing the top ten. Öncü, Yamanaka, McPhee and Muñoz staked their claim on a provisional Q2 place from inside the top 14 with Fernandez the first outside heading into Saturday with Andrea Migno and Masia down in 19th and 21st respectively.

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