Espargaro tops Barcelona FP1 with Zarco ahead in FP2

Aleix Espargaro Credits: MotoGP (Twitter).

Aprilia’s Aleix Espargaro topped FP1 in Barcelona, with Johann Zarco leading the second session. Franco Morbidelli looked strong in both, as did Joan Mir.

It was time for MotoGP to go out for their first practice session for the Catalan Grand Prix. There was a new configuration for turn 10, which the riders would need to acclimatize to before pushing. It was unusually humid for Barcelona standards, meaning it would be slightly more uncomfortable while riding the bike.

There would be no Alex Rins this weekend, as he recovers from a broken arm sustained yesterday while on his bicycle, by Jorge Martin was back after recovering from injuries sustained in Portugal in April.

When the session went green, a steady stream of riders left the pit lane to go out and do laps on the track. With ten minutes gone, it was a Yamaha 1-2-3, with Fabio Quartararo in the lead. Laptimes were improving rapidly though, and we went from 1.42s to 1.40s in a very short space of time. Franco Morbidelli seemed to get into a grove quickest, as he was by far and away the fastest man on track.

With 15 minutes down, it was still Morbidelli ahead, +0.350 seconds ahead of anyone else. Riders began their second runs, mostly race runs, with nobody challenging the top of the scoreboard. Right at the very end, Aleix Espargaro went top, but there were riders improving. In the end, it was the home man, Espargaro on top from Morbidelli.

The full top 5 from FP1 are as follows:

1A. EspargaroAprilia Gresini1.40.378
2F. MorbidelliPetronas Yamaha+0.024
3P. EspargaroRepsol Honda+0.373
4M. VinalesMonster Yamaha+0.375
5J. ZarcoPramac Ducati+0.389

By the afternoon, the temperature had increased, and there would be a bit more hurry in it to try and get a place in Q2 early, just in case something happens in tomorrow’s FP3. Very little split everyone in FP1, so another tight session could be expected.

The session went green, and riders came out on track for 45 minutes of riding. Luca Marini went down at turn 4 but was unhurt. The incident was odd as he went straight on, seemingly completely missing his braking point, and fell off right near the fence. It was a Honda 1-2 early on, with Marc Marquez ahead, as the lap times were already quicker than FP1.

Just as in the first session, Morbidelli found a groove and went consistently fast, going top with the session one third gone. It seemed as though Ducati were having a tough time, as the best placed was Johann Zarco all the way down in seventh, the only Bologna Bullet in the top 10. There was still an Espargaro in the top five, courtesy of Pol. Brother Aleix was down in ninth, but it was still a top 10 for the Aprilia which only became accustomed to points this season.

Iker Lecuona was in the top 10 at the halfway mark, which would be a good confidence boost for the Spaniard who’s under pressure in the Tech3 team. Miguel Oliveira explored the sand at turn 10, running off but rejoining. Pol Espargaro did exactly the same, but did stay on the black stuff and kept his tires clean.

After a promising FP1, it was a disappointment to see MotoGP legend Valentino Rossi down in 19th, only ahead of still recovering Jorge Martin and struggling half-brother Luca Marini. With 20 minutes to go, it was Yamaha and Honda in the top five. Morbidelli ahead of Quartararo, with Marquez third.

With five minutes to run, we began to see riders go out on soft/soft combinations to put qualifying runs in. Miguel Oliveira went P3, with teammate Brad Binder going top. It was red sectors galore though, and he was quickly pipped off the top by Zarco, then Morbidelli, with more good laps to come.

The chequered flag was out, and it was Zarco who would top FP1. Morbidelli was second, with Quartararo third. The top 5 from FP2 are as follows:

1J. ZarcoPramac Ducati1.39.235
2F. MorbidelliPetronas Yamaha+0.021
3F. QuartararoMonster Yamaha+0.166
4B. BinderRed Bull KTM+0.427
5F. BagnaiaDucati Lenovo+0.525
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