Day one at the Austrian GP – It’s always possible for things to change from Friday afternoon to Saturday morning, but for yet another race changeable weather made the likelihood the more acute in Austria, and times for Friday afternoon’s FP2 all the more critical.
Should tomorrow morning be wet, those not in the top ten will have missed the boat, and will have to go through Q1 to try to get anywhere on the first four rows of the grid.
Among their number, Valentino Rossi, 13th today, as well as independent-team hopefuls Petrucci and Folger. Rossi blamed a dose of ‘flu, but was somewhat puzzled that at sections where last year he was quick he was now slow, and vice versa.
Today’s honours went in the end to – as expected – a Ducati. But not by as much as was expected, and not as easily. It was only at the end of the afternoon that Andrea Dovizioso, wearing the new box-kite wings, made it by two tenths ahead of Maverick Vinales (Movistar Yamaha).
The morning was dry, but a downpour came soon afterwards, in a crash-strewn Moto2 session, and the afternoon was still damp for the first ten minutes or so.
The fast times, round the fast but simple circuit, all came at a frenetic close of session.
Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda) was briefly on top, ended up third; getting back ahead of another erstwhile leader Johan Zarco (Monster Yamaha).
Jorge Lorenzo (Ducati) in the end was pushed back to fifth, ahead of Hector Barbera (Avintia Ducati), still on his best-in-session morning time.
Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda) had a run-off trying to improve, finishing up seventh, from Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda), Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia) and Scott Redding (Pramac Ducati), completing the top ten.
Franco Morbidelli (VDS Kalex) was one of eleven riders to have 14 crashes in a slip-sliding drenched morning session – three of them, Lecuona, Navarro and Locatelli, fell twice. But Morbidelli bounced back best, fastest in Moto2 FP2 in the dry afternoon, just three hundredths faster than Thomas Luthi (CarXpert Kalex), whose win last weekend cut Morbidelli’s points lead in half.
Miguel Oliveira put the KTM third at its Red Bull sponsor’s home circuit; with Mugello winner Mattia Pasini (Italtrans Kalex) fourth.
Honda and its leading rider, Leopard Racing’s Joan Mir, claimed the high ground in Moto3, on morning times, with the Spaniard 0.35 of a second clear of compatriot Aron Canet (EG Honda); and four more Hondas in the top ten. Ramirez’s KTM was third, then Bastianini’s Honda fourth.
by Michael Scott