The Gran Premi Monster Energy de Catalunya has brought out the big guns. More than a year has passed since the MotoGP™ World Championship -and the Moto2™ and Moto3™ World Championships as well- visited Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya for the last time, and today, the green light went on to complete a day filled with free practice sessions which were marked by the strong wind, especially during the second half of the day.
But the wind was no hindrance for Franco Morbidelli, fastest rider in the premier class. On his Yamaha, the Italian clocked 1:39.789 in his last lap of Free Practice 2. The CatalanGP, typically staged in June, is not used to weather conditions like strong winds. This time, the riders found a track which was colder than usual, which turned into a real challenge for them. Morbidelli is a good example for this fact, as he crashed in the afternoon, shortly before clocking his best lap time.
Although the riders seemed not to be able to improve their morning times, the fastest of which was clocked by Fabio Quartararo (1:40.431), Morbidelli was finally not the only one to smash the times. Johann Zarco was able to stop the clock at 1:39.898 with the second fastest time on his Ducati. Brad Binder was third, although already in one minute and forty seconds.
Maverick Viñales, took the chequered flag with the fourth fastest time (1:40.208). Thus, the winner of the last race became the best classified local rider. The Yamaha rider said yesterday that his target was to qualify as best as he can on Saturday in order to have options for Sunday. For the moment, it seems that the Catalan is well on his way.
Takaaki Nakagami closed the top 5, followed by Fabio Quartararo and local riders Joan Mir, Pol Espargaró and Álex Márquez. Good result for the youngest of the Márquez brothers, who is improving his confidence bit by bit, making the most of his Honda.
A rider who was missed among today’s top positions was Andrea Dovizioso. The leader of the championship standings has already explained that as a consequence of riding style issues, the weekend at the Circuit would be rather difficult for him. Despite his average results of today, he will have a last chance to qualify in the front positions tomorrow.
The positive side of the day was shown by Cal Crutchlow. The Briton who is reappearing this weekend in Barcelona after his arm surgery, fell on Wednesday in the sports facilities as he was coming out from the PCR tests established by the championship protocol. Still with the left ankle ligament broken after the incident, Crutchlow went onto the track today and completed both free practice sessions.
Sam Lowes outstanding in Moto2
Sam Lowes (1:44.122) was in charge of setting the pace in the intermediate class. The competitiveness is more than evident and the positions after both free session did not stop changing. The leader of the standings, Luca Marini, was also among the top contenders, with a time that was very close to Lowe’s (1:44.322). Both set their fastest lap times in the morning.
In the afternoon, Marcel Schrotter made a brilliant lap which gave him the third position of the day with 1:44.531. Fabio di Giannantonio had a similar performance and finished only 66 hundredths of a second behind the German. Fifth fastest was Tetsuta Nagashima.
Aron Canet was the best classified Spaniard on sixth, while Xavi Vierge and Jorge Martín finished eighth and ninth. The latter gave a surprise this morning announcing his leap to MotoGP™ for the 2021 season. Martin can be more than happy and motivated with his return to the World Championship after his positive Covid-19 result.
Raúl Fernández and Jaume Masià share the fastest times in Moto3
The fastest lap time of the day was set by Raúl Fernández, with 1:48.853, in the morning. In the afternoon, the fastest time was clocked by Jaume Masià. although he was not able to go down to 48. In general terms the FP1 session was faster than the afternoon session, which witnessed several crashes.
In the combined results of both sessions, Romano Fenati is on third position with 1:49.243, followed by Tony Arbolino. The latter finished the FP2 in the medical centre, after a crash that fortunately had no consequences for him. However, Arbolino was also among the fastest riders in the afternoon.
Darryn Binder clocked the fifth fastest time with 1:49.418 in the second free session, while the sixth position went to Jaume Masià, although with the time set in the morning session. The Valencian rider is, with no doubt, one of the most consistent participants so far, and this could be reflected tomorrow in the qualifying. John McPhee, Albert Arenas, Niccolò Antonelli and Carlos Tatay complete the top 10 of the class.
Intense programme for tomorrow
The activity will start tomorrow at 9 am with the third and last free practice session for Moto3™, followed by MotoGP™ and Moto2™. From 12.15h onwards the riders will be facing their qualifying sessions.