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Practice report
MotoGP Catalan GP

MotoGP Catalan GP: Espargaro tops Friday as Japanese manufacturers embarrassed

Aleix Espargaro completed the Friday clean sweep for Aprilia in practice two for the MotoGP Catalan Grand Prix after setting a new lap record.

Aleix Espargaro, Aprilia Racing Team

Having led an Aprilia 1-2 at the end of first practice in Barcelona on Friday, Espargaro carried on his strong home form to top the second session by 0.362 seconds from team-mate Maverick Vinales.

Crucially, Espargaro got this lap in before a late yellow flag for Luca Marini’s stricken VR46 Ducati caused havoc for many riders still on flying laps.

Reigning world champion Francesco Bagnaia completed the top three at the end of a scrappy hour for the Ducati rider, while all Japanese bikes missed the Q2 qualifying cut.

In an embarrassing scene for Yamaha and Honda, all of its riders occupied the last places in the order from 17th to 22nd, with 2022 Catalan GP winner Fabio Quartararo leading them.

At the beginning of the hour-long session, Gresini Ducati’s Fabio Di Giannantonio set the initial pace at 1m40.908s, which he followed up with a 1m40.180s having gone out on a fresh soft rear tyre straight away.

With 35 minutes of the session to run, Ducati’s Bagnaia took over with a 1m40.149s, though the championship leader was far from happy as he continually struggled to get his GP23 stopped on the brakes into Turn 1.

This led to a frantic engineering discussion within the factory Ducati garage around Bagnaia, while Aprilia’s Vinales took over top spot about 10 minutes later with a 1m40.095s.

Vinales set the time just moments after nearly being flung from his RS-GP going through Turn 3 when the rear let go on him.

Francesco Bagnaia, Ducati Team

Francesco Bagnaia, Ducati Team

Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

With just under 17 minutes remaining, Pramac Ducati’s Johann Zarco began a stint at the top of the order with a 1m40.061s, which he improved to a 1m40.047s.

This point signalled the beginning of the final time attack phase as the field looked to book Q2 spots.

Di Giannantonio returned to the top of the order with a 1m39.621s, before Vinales edged clear with a 1m39.594s.

Espargaro quickly took top spot away from Vinales with a 1m39.389s, before Zarco and then Vinales took turns leading again.

But a final effort of 1m38.686s, a new lap record, proved too much for the rest to topple Espargaro as the chequered flag flew.

Bagnaia was just 0.013s adrift of Vinales in third, with Zarco fourth and Brad Binder the only KTM through to Q2 automatically after ending the session fifth.

Alex Marquez was sixth on his Gresini Ducati from VR46’s Marco Bezzecchi, Di Giannantonio, Ducati’s Enea Bastianini and Pramac’s Jorge Martin.

Pol Espargaro was denied a place in the top 10 by just 0.028s on his Tech3 GasGas ahead of factory KTM rider Jack Miller, while a tumble for RNF’s Raul Fernandez midway through the session left him in 13th.

Fabio Quartararo, Yamaha Factory Racing

Fabio Quartararo, Yamaha Factory Racing

Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

Marini was 15th after his late technical woes behind RNF’s Miguel Oliveira, while Augusto Fernandez (Tech3) headed the despondent Japanese manufacturers.

Quartararo was 1.4s off the pace on his Yamaha ahead of team-mate Franco Morbidelli, while Marc Marquez led the Honda’s in 19th.

MotoGP Catalan GP - FP2 results

 
 
         
Driver Info
 
 
 
   
Cla Rider # Bike Laps Time Interval km/h Speed Trap
1 Spain A. Espargaro Aleix Espargaro Aprilia Racing Team 41 Aprilia 23 1'38.686   172.437  
2 Spain M. Viñales Maverick Viñales Aprilia Racing Team 12 Aprilia 24 +0.362 0.362 171.807  
3 Italy F. Bagnaia Francesco Bagnaia Ducati Team 1 Ducati 23 +0.375 0.013 171.785  
4 France J. Zarco Johann Zarco Pramac Racing 5 Ducati 23 +0.571 0.196 171.445  
5 South Africa B. Binder Brad Binder Red Bull KTM Factory Racing 33 KTM 23 +0.660 0.089 171.292  
6 Spain A. Marquez Alex Marquez Gresini Racing 73 Ducati 28 +0.863 0.203 170.942  
7 Italy M. Bezzecchi Marco Bezzecchi Team VR46 72 Ducati 26 +0.864 0.001 170.941  
8 Italy F. Di Giannantonio Fabio Di Giannantonio Gresini Racing 49 Ducati 22 +0.935 0.071 170.819  
9 Italy E. Bastianini Enea Bastianini Ducati Team 23 Ducati 24 +0.942 0.007 170.807  
10 Spain J. Martin Jorge Martin Pramac Racing 89 Ducati 26 +1.007 0.065 170.696  
11 Spain P. Espargaro Pol Espargaro Tech 3 44 KTM 21 +1.035 0.028 170.648  
12 Australia J. Miller Jack Miller Red Bull KTM Factory Racing 43 KTM 23 +1.066 0.031 170.595  
13 Spain R. Fernández Raúl Fernández RNF Racing 25 Aprilia 17 +1.071 0.005 170.586  
14 Portugal M. Oliveira Miguel Oliveira RNF Racing 88 Aprilia 24 +1.093 0.022 170.548  
15 Italy L. Marini Luca Marini Team VR46 10 Ducati 24 +1.121 0.028 170.501  
16 Spain A. Fernandez Augusto Fernandez Tech 3 37 KTM 23 +1.205 0.084 170.357  
17 France F. Quartararo Fabio Quartararo Yamaha Factory Racing 20 Yamaha 22 +1.420 0.215 169.991  
18 Italy F. Morbidelli Franco Morbidelli Yamaha Factory Racing 21 Yamaha 24 +1.469 0.049 169.908  
19 Spain M. Marquez Marc Marquez Repsol Honda Team 93 Honda 23 +1.563 0.094 169.749  
20 Japan T. Nakagami Takaaki Nakagami Team LCR 30 Honda 20 +2.200 0.637 168.677  
21 Spain I. Lecuona Iker Lecuona Team LCR 27 Honda 23 +2.209 0.009 168.662  
22 Spain J. Mir Joan Mir Repsol Honda Team 36 Honda 22 +2.327 0.118 168.465  

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