Practice report

Catalunya MotoGP: Aprilia's Espargaro beats Morbidelli to FP1 top spot

Aprilia’s Aleix Espargaro topped the first practice session for the MotoGP Catalan Grand Prix 0.024 seconds ahead of Petronas SRT’s Franco Morbidelli.

Aleix Espargaro, Aprilia Racing Team Gresini

FP1 was the MotoGP field’s first chance to sample the revised Turn 10 layout, which the Barcelona circuit revamped earlier this year.

Generally a low-grip circuit, lap times tumbled across the opening 10 minutes of the session and top spot changed hands a number of times.

Aleix Espargaro set the initial pace with a 1m42.318s on his Aprilia before his Honda-mounted brother Pol Espargaro took over with a 1m41.724s.

Over the following few minutes, Suzuki’s Joan Mir, Morbidelli on the SRT Yamaha, championship leader Fabio Quartararo on the factory Yamaha and Honda’s Marc Marquez took turns heading the pack.

Pol Espargaro edged ahead of team-mate Marquez with a 1m40.837s just over 10 minutes in, before Morbidelli returned to the top of the pile with a 1m40.402s.

This time stood as the benchmark until the closing moments, though most of the field elected against fitting fresh rubber for a late time attack.

Aprilia’s Espargaro did fit a set of fresh mediums to his RS-GP and produced a 1m40.378s to end the session fastest from Morbidelli.

Honda’s Pol Espargaro completed the top three ahead of the leading factory team Yamaha of Maverick Vinales.

Maverick Vinales, Yamaha Factory Racing

Maverick Vinales, Yamaha Factory Racing

Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

Vinales comes into the Catalan GP having split with crew chief Esteban Garcia – ostensibly a Yamaha decision – following a difficult run of form since winning the Qatar GP, and is now working with ex-Valentino Rossi man Silvano Galbusera.

Johann Zarco was the top Ducati in fifth on his Pramac GP21, the Frenchman arriving to Barcelona with his 2022 future with Pramac secured.

Quartararo was sixth ahead of KTM’s Miguel Oliveira, with Mir in eighth on the sole Suzuki this weekend after team-mate Alex Rins broke his right arm in a training crash on Thursday.

Factory Ducati pair Jack Miller and Francesco Bagnaia rounded out the top 10, denying LCR Honda’s Takaaki Nakagami in 11th.

Jorge Martin returns to action this weekend for the first time since suffering multiple fractures in a violent practice crash in Portugal.

The Pramac rider was an impressive 12th ahead of Marc Marquez, Tech3’s Danilo Petrucci and the other SRT Yamaha of Rossi.

Though no real time attacks were completed in FP1, the 21-rider field was still only covered by 1.3 seconds.

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