The Gran Premi Monster Energy de Catalunya de MotoGP™ made its debut today in the much talked-about new format of the premier class of motorcycling. With the first day of activity on the tarmac, and breaking the dynamic of recent years, not only were the first free practice sessions held, but the ten fastest riders have already qualified directly for tomorrow’s Q2.
This lucky group is led by Aleix Espargaró. The Catalan not only monopolised first place, but did so with a record. His 1:38.686 beat his own record from last year’s CatalanGP. This is just a confirmation of Aprilia’s progressive improvement, as Maverick Viñales, second in the “Practice” session, also joined in. Viñales was still some four tenths off his team-mate’s time.
The Aprilia duo also repeated the same result this morning in their first taste of the Catalan track in the first free practice session. If the team’s good sensations are confirmed, both tomorrow and Sunday could see an almost complete Catalan front row. Pecco Bagnaia could prevent it. The World Championship leader also qualified directly for tomorrow’s Q2, placing third today. The Italian also almost matched Viñales’ time, even though, according to him, Fridays are not his strong point.
Johann Zarco (Prima Pramac Racing) and Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) were fourth and fifth respectively in this official qualifying session. Another rider who could surprise again with his good pace is Álex Márquez. The Gresini Racing MotoGP rider was again among the best with his sixth fastest time, and tomorrow he will be able to fight for the top positions on the starting grid for both the sprint race and Sunday’s race.
Marco Bezzecchi (Mooney VR46 Racing Team), Fabio Di Giannantonio (Gresini Racing MotoGP), Enea Bastianini (Ducati Lenovo Team) and Jorge Martín (Prima Pramac Racing) made up the top 10 today and complete the list of direct qualifiers for Q2. Jorge Martín, who set the third fastest time this morning, made it into the group ‘in extremis’, promising an interesting sprint race. On the other hand, Pol Espargaró (GASGAS Factory Racing Tech3) was just 11th. Something very similar happened to Raul Fernandez, who despite a crash rushed back to the box and got back on the bike to set a better time, although with a not entirely desirable end.
Marc Márquez, the rider who completes the local representation of the weekend, did not have the best of starts at home. As he predicted yesterday, the multiple world champion knew that he was facing a difficult race due to his riding style and the situation of Repsol Honda in general. Friday at least proved him right, as the elder Márquez suffered a crash in the first practice session, although without consequences, and in the subsequent Practice he was 19th. The rider from Cervera will have a second chance in qualifying tomorrow.
Moto2™: Ogura snatches the best time of the day from Acosta
Ai Ogura (Idemitsu Honda Team Asia) proved his experience in the intermediate category of the World Championship today. The Japanese rider was the fastest rider in terms of lap times, with a best lap time of 1:44.804. The 2022 runner-up took the fastest lap of the day from current leader Pedro Acosta (Red Bull KTM Ajo) by just two thousandths of a second. Both riders set these times in the morning session.
Practice 1 showed also the third fastest time of the day, which belonged to Alonso López (Beta Tools SpeedUp). López, together with Arón Canet (Pons Wegow Los40) were the last to stop the clock in the same tenth of a second. Manuel Gonzalez (Correos Prepago Yamaha VR46 M), with his 1:44.956, was the fastest of the afternoon session, and the fifth fastest of Friday.
In the final Moto2™ session of the day, Alonso Lopez was once again on the provisional podium with second place, followed by Albert Arenas (Red Bull KTM Ajo). Pedro Acosta’s team-mate had already announced at the presentation of the Grand Prix that he had a team with a lot of potential and that he would try to do well on home soil. So far, the rider from Girona seems to be fulfilling his purpose.
Moto3™: Jaume Masià aims high
Moto3™ was a very evenly matched day today, as was to be expected. The classification of the first practice and the second didn’t have many similarities, although some names were repeated at the top. Jaume Masià (Leopard Racing) was the fastest of the day, stopping the clock at 1:48.300. The Valencian rider arrives in Catalan territory after his discreet performance in Austria, which did not bring him any points for the general classification. With his result today, there is no doubt that Masià will try to give the maximum show. Deniz Öncü (Red Bull KTM Ajo) and Matteo Bertelle (Rivacold Snipers Team) followed Masià’s trend, setting the best time in the morning. They were second and third fastest respectively.
Even so, and leaving Masià aside, the other notable time of the day was that of Iván Ortolá, the best rider in the second free practice session. The Angeluss MTA Team rider clocked a 1:48.702, followed by Collin Viejer (Liqui Moly Husqvarna Intact GP) also in the same second and Tatsuki Suzuki (Leopard Racing) in 49. Class leader Daniel Holgado (Red Bull KTM Tech3) settled for 10th and sixth in each of the tests.
MotoE™: Pole position for Jordi Torres
The Openbank Aspar Team and Jordi Torres have scored another goal with pole position in the electric championship. The Catalan needed it, because despite being the leader, Torres is looking to extend his lead to secure his third MotoE™ crown. Mattia Casadei, his main rival for the title, was close behind with second place. Andrea Mantovani completes the front row of the grid for tomorrow’s race.
The Pit Walk, the great attraction of the day
All the fans with any kind of ticket for the Gran Premi Monster Energy de Catalunya de MotoGP™ were able to enjoy this afternoon a visit to the Pit Lane at Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, the heart of the track during a race. There they were able to see the teams’ garages up close, as well as some of the World Championship riders. Smiles, shouts of support and photos were the result of more than an hour of direct contact with the most important motorcycling event.
A special edition of KISS Barcelona
The Sustainability Meeting Point platform of the Circuit promotes KISS Barcelona by once again taking part in the KISS (Keep It Shine and Sustainable) programme of the FIM Ride Green. The programme also celebrates a decade of history coinciding with the 30th anniversary of the FIM Ride Green. The Gran Premi de Catalunya MotoGP, an ISO 20121:2013 certified event, is once again promoting actions within the framework of the United Nations SDGs.
Some of these actions are the use of 100% renewable energy, the rental of low-emission generators, the commitment to energy self-consumption, the donation of surplus food, the offer of km0 and ecological food, the presence of drinking water sources in the public areas, the improvement of the biodiversity of its green areas, the collaboration with companies with social value, the valorisation and recycling of waste, the promotion of sustainable mobility, the use of the circular economy, and many more.
Tickets available at www.circuitcat.com
The Circuit has an attractive offer of tickets to attend the Gran Premi Monster Energy de Catalunya de MotoGP™. Starting at €72, fans can enjoy three days of competition on the track and many proposals outside it. In addition, some of the riders of the motorcycling world championship have reserved areas for their fan clubs in different grandstands, a highly recommended option to experience many emotions.