No rest for the wicked: Quartararo ousts Marquez on Friday

2019-08-03 18:50
Fabio Quartararo (Petronas Yamaha SRT) had a fairly quiet Friday morning at the Monster Energy Grand Prix České republiky, but the Frenchman was more than back in business as the day started to come to a close, pulling 1.7 seconds out his pocket near the end of FP2 to snatch first from reigning Champion Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team). The gap was small though, with just 0.023 separating the two by the end of play...something that's becoming a recurring theme. Just behind them, it was an even smaller gap between third and fourth: a non-existent one. Jack Miller (Pramac Racing) and Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team) set identical laptimes. but the Australian's second quickest lap means he takes third.

With rain forecast for Saturday morning, Friday took on even more importance than normal in terms of Q2 entry; the top ten on the combined timesheets potentially already decided if the weather changes. In terms of times, Maverick Viñales (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) was the first major improver in FP2, soon 0.590 clear of the field in the afternoon, with his fortunes soaring early in the session as bad luck hit the other side of the Yamaha garage.

Five-time premier class Brno winner and teammate Valentino Rossi had to nurse his M1 back to the pits with just over 20 minutes of FP2 to go after a mechanical issue and at that stage, the likes of ‘The Doctor’, Danilo Petrucci (Ducati Team), 2016 Czech GP winner Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda Castrol) and even Quartararo were languishing outside the top 10.

That would all change in the last 10 minutes, however. Soft tyres came out to play and Marquez stuck his Repsol Honda top of the pile, with the likes of Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda Idemitsu) and Miller also improving just before the reigning World Champion went quickest. Then, enter Quartararo. The rookie sensation was 18th in FP1, and somehow then suddenly seared around Brno 1.7 seconds quicker to move up from P17 to take over at the top in FP2. 'El Diablo' is back in business and very close to fully fit after his arm pump surgery and then shoulder dislocation.

The Frenchman heads Marquez by mere hundredths then, ahead of the two Ducatis of Miller and FP1's fastest man Dovizioso, with earlier FP2 leader Viñales pushed down to fifth overall. Rins, another who'd already bothered the top earlier in the session, ends Friday in sixth, with Petronas Yamaha SRT’s Franco Morbidelli jumping up one place from his P8 in FP1 to take P7 in FP2.

Crutchlow, Rossi and Petrucci also all put in late personal best laps to earn top 10 positions, something that could prove crucial. Crutchlow was eighth overall - a big improvement from the Brit, who managed 15th in the morning - with Rossi recovering from his mechanical issue to place ninth, one better than his FP1 effort. Petrucci climbed three places to complete that potentially crucial top ten.

Joan Mir (Team Suzuki Ecstar) was the man to just miss out as he ends the day in 11th, just ahead of Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda Idemitsu). The Japanese rider is close to being back to fully fit on the bike and put in a solid showing despite a crash in FP2, rider ok. Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini) also crashed, rider ok.

Miguel Oliveira (Red Bull KTM Tech 3), meanwhile, impressed once again. The Portuguese rookie was fourth in FP1 and ends Day 1 in 13th overall, as well as being top KTM. Another impressive FP1 performer was Suzuki test rider Sylvain Guintoli (Team Suzuki Ecstar), who ended the first session in fifth. He was P17 overall.

Finally, another headline from Day 1 was some of the updates on show ahead of the post-race test on Monday. Marquez tried two chassis at the Sachsenring and – despite liking the new one – opted to race the old one. But the carbon reinforced chassis could be used for the first time in race trim at Brno. Meanwhile at Ducati, Dovizioso and Petrucci sported updated aerodynamic fairings, and Alex Rins had a new aero fairing on his Suzuki on Friday, too. Jack Miller said he had some updates but didn't specify what, and the Aussie says he's expecting new aero in Austria...

The likes of Pol Espargaro (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) will be casting nervous eyes to the skies on Saturday, with the Spaniard down in P22 after Day 1 and looking for much more. Will it stay dry or is it a trip to Q1 for those who missed out? The top ten after FP3 will go through to Q2, and that final chance to move up the timesheets starts at 9:55 (GMT+2) on Saturday morning. Qualifying then begins at 14:10 to decide the grid.

A tale of two rookies: 'Diggia' and Bulega lead the way at Brno

Italian duo head veteran Nagashima on Friday, with all three within 0.063

Fabio Di Giannantonio (Beta Tools Speed Up) was quickest on Day 1 at the Monster Energy Grand Prix České republiky, although the number 21 only 0.035 ahead of Nicolo Bulega (Sky Racing Team VR46) by the end of play. The two rookies impressed to take to the top at the track that saw 'Diggia' take his first Grand Prix win in Moto3™ last season, with another impressive performance completing the top three but this from veteran Tetsuta Nagashima (ONEXOX TKKR SAG Team). The Japanese rider was fastest in FP1 and ended the day within 0.063 of the top.

The sky looked fairly threatening as the day went on, but nevertheless the vast majority improved their laptimes, not least Marcel Schrötter (Dynavolt Intact GP), as the German moved up from P22 to lead for the majority of the session before ultimately ending the day in fourth overall. It was by the tiniest of margins, however, with Augusto Fernandez (Flexbox HP 40) just 0.001 in arrears as he completed the top five.

Brno 2017 winner Tom Lüthi (Dynavolt Intact GP) ended Friday in sixth, just 0.016 further back, with the man marginally ahead of him in the Championship, Alex Marquez (EG 0,0 Marc VDS), this time marginally behind him. After a tougher morning session, the number 73 took seventh, 0.061 off...and just 0.010 ahead of Jorge Navarro (Beta Tools Speed Up). The trend continued for Sam Lowes (Federal Oil Gresini Moto2) as the Brit ended Friday in ninth by just 0.005.

Luca Marini (Sky Racing Team VR46) completes the top ten and beat Red Bull KTM Ajo's Brad Binder to the honour, with new Tasca Racing Scuderia Moto2 rider Mattia Pasini down in P12 with his FP1 time. The Italian suffered a sizeable crash in FP2. Enea Bastianini (Italtrans Racing Team) was 13th, with Lorenzo Baldassarri (Flexbox HP 40) completing the fastest 14 and the provisional graduates to Q2. Remy Gardner (ONEXOX TKKR SAG Team) was the first to lose out and the Australian will be keen to see the rain hold off in that all-important FP3 session on Saturday morning.

Steven Odendaal (NTS RW Racing GP) crashed twice in FP2, and in other news, Dimas Ekky Pratama (Idemitsu Honda Team Asia) will sit out the rest of the weekend as he continues to recover from his crash at Assen.

Khairul Idham Pawi will also miss the remainder of the weekend. The Malaysian made his return to the intermediate class on Friday in Brno after several months on the sidelines, but will ultimately not ride in the Czech GP. Jonas Folger will step into the Petronas Sprinta Racing squad as his replacement once again.

Will the skies stay dry for the third session of the weekend? FP3 goes green at 10:55 local time (GMT+2) before qualifying from 15:05.

Rodrigo tops the timesheets before a crash rules him out

Argentine rider suffers fractures in a late FP2 highside, Arbolino and Suzuki complete the top three

Gabriel Rodrigo (Kömmerling Gresini Moto3) went fastest on Friday in the Monster Energy Grand Prix České republiky, with the Argentine rider two tenths clear by the end of a cloudy first day of action at the classic track. That was, however, before a crash in the last few seconds of FP2 as he highsided out, breaking his collarbone and pelvis and ruling himself out of the remainder of the weekend. Tony Arbolino (VNE Snipers) and Tatsuki Suzuki (SIC58 Squadra Corse) completed the top three, with 16 riders ending the day within a second on the combined timesheets.

Jaume Masia (Bester Capital Dubai) topped FP1 ahead of Rodrigo, but it was game on on Friday afternoon to get into the provisional Q2 graduation zone as bad weather seems to be on the horizon for Saturday and FP3. In the end though some of the fastest in FP1 remained threats on the combined timesheets, with Masia retaining fifth overall, slotting in behind a top three chased by Celestino Vietti (Sky Racing Team VR46). The ever-impressive Italian rookie gained over twenty places from his FP1 slot.

Championship contenders Lorenzo Dalla Porta (Leopard Racing) and Aron Canet (Sterilgarda Max Racing Team) were next up, with the two rivals taking P6 and P7 respectively...split by just 0.030 as they prepare for another crucial battle on Sunday. Dalla Porta was also involved in an incident with Vietti at Turn 3 in FP2, both riders ok.

Niccolo Antonelli (SIC58 Squadra Corse), currently third in the Championship, was eighth quickest on Friday, with the Italian ending the day just under a tenth and a half off Canet. He headed up an incredibly close squabble, with compatriot Romano Fenati (VNE Snipers) 0.003 back, Marcos Ramirez (Leopard Racing) another 0.008 off and John McPhee (Petronas Yamaha SRT) within only 0.014 of Spaniard Ramirez ahead of him. The Scot's best lap was from FP1.

That was also true of the man just behind him, rookie Ai Ogura (Honda Team Asia), and the man behind him, Andrea Migno (Bester Capital Dubai), in P13. Home hero Filip Salač (Redox PrüstelGP) took P14 and is the last man currently in the provisional graduation zone for Q2, with Kaito Toba (Honda Team Asia) the first to lose out.

Crashers on Day 1 included Can Öncü (Red Bull KTM Ajo), Kazuki Masaki (BOE Skull Rider Mugen Race), Darryn Binder (CIP - Green Power), Albert Arenas (Sama Qatar Angel Nieto Team), Sergio Garcia (Estrella Galicia 0,0) and Alonso Lopez (Estrella Galicia 0,0).

Will the weather hold out on Saturday for FP3? Find out at 9:00 local time (GMT +2), before qualifying from 12:35.

Source: Dorna Sports

Click here to visit our forums to discuss this story