MotoGP Austrian GP: Zarco fastest in FP3, Espargaro to Q1

Pramac’s Johann Zarco continued to lead the practice timesheets at the MotoGP Austrian Grand Prix in FP3, as a crash for title challenger Aleix Espargaro dropped him into Q1.

MotoGP Austrian GP: Zarco fastest in FP3, Espargaro to Q1

Espargaro comes to the Red Bull Ring just 22 points behind championship leader Fabio Quartararo, with the Austrian GP expected to be a difficult weekend for the Yamaha rider.

However, while Quartararo goes into qualifying later on Saturday afternoon second overall at the end of FP3, Espargaro could only manage 11th and must go through Q1 for only the second time this season.

In the cooler conditions of the Styrian morning, lap time improvements on the overall timesheet were minimal.

Straight away on a cold tyre, VR46 Ducati rider Luca Marini crashed up at Turn 3 on his first outlap from pitlane.

There were two more crashes inside the first 15 minutes of FP3, with Tech3 rookie Remy Gardner taking a second tumble of the weekend when he slid off at Turn 9, while Aprilia test rider and wildcard Lorenzo Savadori became the second victim of the new chicane.

It wasn't until 20 minutes into the 45-minute session when the first serious lap time improvement came in the form of a 1m29.843s from KTM’s Miguel Oliveira to get within 0.006 seconds of pacesetter Zarco.

Zarco’s Friday best would finally be toppled a couple of minutes later by Suzuki’s Joan Mir, who went fastest with a 1m29.811s.

Jack Miller on the factory team Ducati was the next to go top of the pile with a 1m29.787s, before his Gresini-mounted counterpart Enea Bastianini deposed him with 13 minutes to go on his year-old Desmosedici with a 1m29.508s.

While the Ducatis lit up the timing screens around the Red Bull Ring, life proved difficult for Aprilia’s Espargaro.

Aleix Espargaro, Aprilia Racing Team

Aleix Espargaro, Aprilia Racing Team

Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

The Spaniard struggled all day on Friday to get to grips with the new chicane at the Austrian GP venue, and had been shuffled sat outside of the Q2 places as he pushed on a soft tyre time attack in the final 13 minutes of FP3.

But he overstepped the mark at the second part of the chicane, suffering an identical front-end crash to that of Savadori.

While Espargaro’s second bike was being prepared, Miller returned to the top of the order with a 1m29.280s before Espargaro’s chief title rival Quartararo went faster with a 1m29.268s.

On his first flying lap after his crash, with just under four minutes to go, Espargaro managed to move up to ninth – though came close to hitting Zarco on the exit of Turn 1 as the Pramac rider was coming out of pitlane.

Late improvements for Suzuki’s Alex Rins and Pramac’s Jorge Martin - who’d set an identical 1m29.540s to the Aprilia rider – immediately dumped Espargaro back to 11th, where he would remain after aborting his final lap.

Zarco found a 1m28.964s on his final flying lap to end FP3 fastest of all, with Quartararo 0.153s adrift in second ahead of Miller and Martin, who improved to a 1m29.324s at the end.

Francesco Bagnaia rounded out the top five on the sister factory team Ducati, with Bastianini heading Rins and KTM’s Brad Binder in sixth. The final Q2 places went to Maverick Vinales on the second of the Aprilias and Mir on the sister Suzuki.

Espargaro was denied a Q2 place by just 0.002s at the chequered flag, with LCR Honda’s Takaaki Nakagami shadowing him in 12th.

Fabio Quartararo, Yamaha Factory Racing

Fabio Quartararo, Yamaha Factory Racing

Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

They will be joined in Q1 by the other three KTM riders, the rest of the Hondas, both VR46 and RNF riders, Yamaha’s Franco Morbidelli and Gresini rookie Fabio Di Giannantonio.

Qualifying for the 2022 MotoGP Austrian GP will get underway at 1:10pm BST.

Austrian GP - FP3 results:

Cla Rider Bike Time Gap
1 France Johann Zarco Ducati 1'28.964  
2 France Fabio Quartararo Yamaha 1'29.117 0.153
3 Australia Jack Miller Ducati 1'29.280 0.316
4 Spain Jorge Martin Ducati 1'29.324 0.360
5 Italy Francesco Bagnaia Ducati 1'29.377 0.413
6 Italy Enea Bastianini Ducati 1'29.457 0.493
7 Spain Alex Rins Suzuki 1'29.473 0.509
8 South Africa Brad Binder KTM 1'29.521 0.557
9 Spain Maverick Viales Aprilia 1'29.523 0.559
10 Spain Joan Mir Suzuki 1'29.538 0.574
11 Spain Aleix Espargaro Aprilia 1'29.540 0.576
12 Japan Takaaki Nakagami Honda 1'29.585 0.621
13 Italy Marco Bezzecchi Ducati 1'29.623 0.659
14 Italy Fabio Di Giannantonio Ducati 1'29.641 0.677
15 Italy Luca Marini Ducati 1'29.684 0.720
16 Spain Pol Espargaro Honda 1'29.710 0.746
17 Italy Franco Morbidelli Yamaha 1'29.755 0.791
18 Portugal Miguel Oliveira KTM 1'29.821 0.857
19 Italy Andrea Dovizioso Yamaha 1'29.845 0.881
20 Spain Alex Marquez Honda 1'30.017 1.053
21 Germany Stefan Bradl Honda 1'30.026 1.062
22 South Africa Darryn Binder Yamaha 1'30.472 1.508
23 Australia Remy Gardner KTM 1'30.554 1.590
24 Spain Ral Fernndez KTM 1'31.204 2.240
25 Italy Lorenzo Savadori Aprilia 1'31.699 2.735
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