Ducati vs Honda: it's a head-to-head on Day 1 in Jerez

2019-05-05 09:53
Danilo Petrucci (Mission Winnow Ducati) went fastest on Friday in the Gran Premio Red Bull de España, but the Italian was by no means lonely at the top as his advantage over reigning Champion Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) was just 0.012 by the end of play. Championship leader Andrea Dovizioso (Mission Winnow Ducati) was third and within a tenth though, with Jerez specialist Jorge Lorenzo (Repsol Honda Team) next up and just 0.039 behind 'DesmoDovi'. Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda Castrol), meanwhile, was only a further 0.059 back in fifth to make it less than two tenths covering the top five in a Ducati vs Honda duel for supremacy at the top: a factory rider settling in, last year's winner, the points leader seeking his first MotoGP™ podium at the venue, a three-time premier class Jerez winner and the 2019 polesitter. Quite an opening day for the European leg of the season.

If the initial Honda vs Ducati duel continues into qualifying, there was groundwork laid in FP1. Repsol Honda took a 1-2 and Marquez sat behind Dovizioso for a couple of laps, and in FP2 the numbers 93 and 99 spent some time circulating in tandem as bad luck-struck Lorenzo got straight back into the mix near the front at one of his most successful venues and Marquez followed him around. But if gaps are the name of the game, the headlines need to expand. Fastest Yamaha Maverick Viñales (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) was third in FP1 and ended the day right in the mix at 0.203 off Petrucci and just 0.008 off Crutchlow, with the Jerez Test's fastest man, Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda Idemitsu), for close company and just 0.022 behind on the combined timesheets. The second quickest Yamaha - and fastest rookie by a stretch - was Fabio Quartararo (Petronas Yamaha SRT) in P8, and the Frenchman completes a top six split by exactly three tenths as Jerez shapes up to be a showstopper.

Back in action for his first wildcard of the season, meanwhile, Honda test rider and premier class podium finisher Stefan Bradl (HRC Team) took P9 and made it every Honda inside the top ten to further underline their threat in Jerez, with Jack Miller (Pramac Racing) doing similar for Ducati as he completed the top ten, 0.555 off Petrucci. As it stands, they're the last two with a provisional place in Q2...

In terms of key drama on Day 1, there was a run on for Dovizioso, two crashes for Johann Zarco (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) and a crash for Hafizh Syahrin (Red Bull KTM Tech 3) after which the Malaysian headed to the medical centre - rider ok. Karel Abraham (Reale Avintia Racing) crashed and wildcard Bradley Smith (Aprilia Factory Racing) crashed in FP2, with the Red Flag briefly shown due to track conditions. With only a couple of minutes left on the clock though, it wasn't enough for more than one more lap.

So if the field can't improve their laptimes in FP3, who stands to lose out? The biggest name not currently on course to move through to Q2 directly is Valentino Rossi (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP), with the 2016 winner down in P16 after a tough opening day. It was also a tough Friday for the man who beat him to the top step at COTA, Alex Rins (Team Suzuki Ecstar), with the Spaniard down in P12 - although he's already recovered from worse this season and is on a serious roll on Sunday form. Rins hasn't finished outside the top six since Austria last season - and yes, he's finished every race.

Aiming to improve alongside them in FP3 are the likes of Franco Morbidelli (Petronas Yamaha SRT) in P11, Francesco Bagnaia (Pramac Racing) in P13, fellow rookie Joan Mir (Team Suzuki Ecstar) in P18 and KTM's Pol Espargaro (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing), who finished Day 1 in P14 and just 0.041 ahead of Andrea Iannone (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini). The gaps from Miller completing the top ten and Mir in P18 are all less than seven hundredths, however...highlighting the incredible level of competition once again.

Can Rossi and Rins fight back on Saturday? Will Honda and Ducati rule the roost on Day 2? Or could we see Viñales finding that missing margin at the front? Make sure to tune in for FP3 at 9:55 (GMT +2) to see who's heading straight through to Q2, before qualifying from 14:10.
Friday's fastest:
1 - Danilo Petrucci (ITA - Ducati) 1'37.909
2 - Marc Marquez (SPA - Honda) +0.012
3 - Andrea Dovizioso (ITA - Ducati) +0.097
4 - Jorge Lorenzo (SPA - Honda) +0.136
5 - Cal Crutchlow (GBR - Honda) +0.195
Navarro hits his stride in Spain
Home hero backs up his first intermediate class podium with P1 on Friday in Jerez

HDR Heidrun Speed Up’s Jorge Navarro is Friday’s fastest rider in the Moto2™ class at the Gran Premio Red Bull de España thanks to his 1:41.819 set in FP1, with the Spaniard spearheading Red Bull KTM Ajo teammates Brad Binder and rookie Jorge Martin. It's a welcome return to form for the KTM duo, with Binder having been fastest in the Jerez Test and Martin impressive now he's back much fitter after surgery, but the top three were split by just 0.116 and Navarro remains on a roll after his first Moto2™ podium in Texas...

With scorching track conditions making it difficult for the riders to improve times, it was pretty much as you were from a cooler FP1 in terms of combined timesheets. But Navarro didn’t have it all his own way on Day 1, with a fast crash at Turn 11 at the end of FP2 slightly dampening his spirits – rider ok – and Martin also going down.

Texas winner and veteran campaigner Tom Lüthi (Dynavolt Intact GP) is fourth on the combined times, ahead of Remy Gardner (ONEXOX TKKR SAG Team) in fifth, with both men quicker in FP1 than FP2. The Australian also produced a magical save during FP2 to keep himself upright. He was just 0.002 ahead of Alex Marquez (EG 0,0 Marc VDS) though as the timesheets remained tight.

Augusto Fernandez (FlexBox HP 40) put in an outstanding effort to finish seventh overall and fourth in FP2, despite the Spaniard suffering a fractured wrist in Argentina and missing the Americas GP as a result, with Tetsuta Nagashima (ONEXOX TKKR SAG Team) taking P8 as another to impress. Luca Marini (Sky Racing Team VR46) and Marcel Schrötter (Dynavolt Intact GP) completed the top ten.

Championship leader Lorenzo Baldassarri’s (FlexBox HP 40), meanwhile, saw his day go from bad to worse in the afternoon. Two bike problems and two crashes across FP1 and FP2 leave the man at the top of the standings with some work to do on Saturday to move up from P11 and equal his pole position from last year. He's just aheaad of rookie NTS RW Racing GP rider Bo Bendsneyder, with Italtrans Racing Team duo Andrea Locatelli and rookie Enea Bastianini completing the fastest fourteen and the provisional Q2 graduates.

How will the pack shuffle on Saturday? With times not improving in FP2 it could be a similar struggle for grip in the hot afternoon temperatures of qualifying - but to get into Q2 and fight for the front they'll likely have to master the cooler morning temperatures of FP3 too. That third practice session begins at 10:55 (GMT +2), before Q1 starts at 15:05.
Friday's fastest:
1 - Jorge Navarro (SPA - Speed Up) 1'41.819
2 - Brad Binder (RSA - KTM) +0.019
3 - Jorge Martin (SPA - KTM) +0.116
4 - Tom Lüthi (SWI- Kalex) +0.139
5 - Remy Gardner (AUS - Kalex) +0.153
Antonelli edges Suzuki in Andalusia
SIC58 Squadra Corse lock out the top on Friday ahead of a stunner from rookie Raul Fernandez

Niccolo Antonelli (SIC58 Squadra Corse) took Friday honours in the Moto3™ class at the Gran Premio Red Bull de España, putting in a 1:46.795 in FP2 to edge teammate Tatsuki Suzuki by just under a tenth. Reigning FIM CEV Repsol Moto3™ Junior World Champion and rookie Raul Fernandez (Sama Qatar Angel Nieto Team) locked out the top three in an impressive day on home turf, just half a tenth in further arrears.

Friday in Jerez saw sunny skies allow maximum track time at the largely resurfaced venue, and it was all change in FP2 for Antonelli and Suzuki as the duo moved up from P21 and P26 respectively. But most of the action took place in the final 20 minutes, with FP1’s fastest John McPhee (Petronas Sprinta Racing) suffering a crash at Turn 1 with just under 20 minutes of FP2 remaining and the last eight minutes of tracktime for the day then getting busy with time attacks as riders scrambled to secure a place in the top 14 and provisional entry to Q2.

Fernandez was undoubtedly one of the most impressive on Friday to take third, edging out the aforementioned McPhee who was fourth overall with his laptime from FP1. Aron Canet (Sterilgarda Max Racing Team), currently second in the Championship although equal on points with leader Jaume Masia (Bester Capital Dubai), completed the top five at the venue where he took his first Grand Prix win back in 2017. Fellow former winner Romano Fenati (VNE Snipers) also took his first World Championship victory at the track in 2012 and won again in 2014, ending Day 1 sixth quickest in 2019.

Kömmerling Gresini Moto3 rider Gabriel Rodrigo was seventh overall and split the two VNE Snipers riders, with Tony Arbolino just losing out to the Argentine rider by 0.003 seconds. It was a case of taking it in turns for the two teams as Kömmerling Gresini Moto3 rookie Riccardo Rossi finished Friday in ninth despite a crash; his laptime the one that put him third set in the morning session. Dennis Foggia (Sky Racing Team VR46) locked out the top ten.

The final four who would move through with a provisional place in Q2 are Championship leader Jaume Masia (Bester Capital Dubai), Qatar winner Kaito Toba (Honda Team Asia), rookie Celestino Vietti (Sky Racing Team VR46) and veteran Jakub Kornfeil (Redox PrüstelGP). There's more from Moto3™ at 9:00 (GMT +2) on Saturday for FP3 before qualifying from 12:35.

Source: Idemitsu Asia Talent Cup

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