Johann Zarco took the lap record in FP1 for the Austrian Grand Prix as the second session was plagued by massive storms.
Just one week after the Styrian Grand Prix, MotoGP was back on the same track for a different race, the Austrian Grand Prix. There were huge changes throughout the week, including the announcement Petronas would part ways with the SRT team, meaning it would have to scale its commitments down to MotoGP alone.
The headline-grabbing news though was the suspension of Maverick Vinales from Yamaha. He would not participate in the weekend, and would not be replaced either. The grid would be down as the Dani Pedrosa wildcard would not be returning this weekend. Lorenzo Salvadori would not be riding either, meaning only 20 bikes would be in the race.
The riders went out on track then for FP1. The tire allocation changed too, with the asymmetric hard replaced by the symmetric compound, which the riders would have to feel out. The early running was headed by Takaaki Nakagami, just as in the Styrian round, but only 10 minutes into the first session there was a lot more time to be found.
Jorge Martin ran off the road around the halfway mark, but all was ok, and Nakagami still led the session. There were four different bikes in the top six, with Honda, Ducati, Yamaha, and Suzuki all looking competitive.
It was very hot in Spielberg, and the strain was showing even in practice. Eight-time champion Marc Marquez was having problems with his shoulder late on in the session. Jack Miller also ran off track with no damage.
The qualifying runs then came about, and Johann Zarco broke the all-time lap record. Meanwhile, there was trouble for Fabio Quartararo – the title leader had some sort of mechanical issue and was off the road at turn 9. It was Zarco though, on top on Friday morning.
The top 5 of the MotoGP Austrian GP FP1:
|1||Johann Zarco||Pramac Ducati||1.22.827|
|2||Joan Mir||Suzuki Ecstar||+0.798|
|3||Alex Rins||Suzuki Ecstar||+0.903|
|4||Takaaki Nakagami||LCR Honda||+0.963|
|5||Aleix Espargaro||Aprilia Gresini||+1.014|
FP2 would be much less interesting as the heavens had well and truly opened, and the track was very wet. A massive storm hit the Red Bull Ring, but the session was not delayed. Iker Lecuona and Brad Binder were a few riders who braved the treacherous conditions early on.
The rain had stopped with 15 minutes gone, and it was Lecuona on top. A great wet weather rider, he was followed by Miller and Francesco Bagnaia. A dry line was beginning to emerge with 20 minutes to go, but no one was keen on slicks just yet.
Miguel Oliveira had a mechanical problem and walked his bike to a marshal’s post. By this point it was sunny and very hot again, meaning slicks would soon be the order of the day. Marc Marquez was happy in the mixed conditions, being fastest with 10 minutes to go.
The first rider out on slick tires was Lecuona, and he ended the session fastest by quite some margin.
The top 5 of the MotoGP Austrian GP FP2:
|1||Iker Lecuona||Tech3 KTM||1.27.520|
|2||Johann Zarco||Pramac Ducati||+3.397|
|3||Aleix Espargaro||Aprilia Gresini||+3.717|
|4||Marc Marquez||Repsol Honda||+3.833|
|5||Alex Rins||Suzuki Ecstar||+4.198|