Zarco pips Miller as Ducati dominates MotoGP Friday practice in Austria

Johann Zarco. Picture: MotoGP.com

Johann Zarco has beaten Ducati stablemate Jack Miller to Friday practice honours at the Austrian MotoGP round by 0.024s.

Despite the introduction of a chicane at Turn 2 which dramatically slows the first and second sectors of the Red Bull Ring, the Bologna bullets dominated the opening day of Round 13.

Seven Ducati riders sat in the top eight at the end of Free Practice 2, the odd man out being championship-leading Monster Energy Yamaha pilot Fabio Quartararo, while Aprilia Racing’s Aleix Espargaro is in danger of going into Q1 after missing the top 10.

Miller had set the pace in Free Practice 1 with a 1:30.756s and while his margin over the field was a big 0.618s, the track was still drying during that session after morning rain and hence the time would quickly be knocked off in the afternoon running.

It took fellow Ducati Lenovo Team rider Francesco Bagnaia three flying laps to do so when he clocked a 1:30.591s, and Quartararo had got the benchmark down to a 1:30.285s with just over 10 minutes elapsed.

Light rain began to fall with around 10 minutes to go but, with new Michelin slicks fitted to at least the rear of their Desmosedicis, Jorge Martin, Miller, and finally Zarco punched out new fastest lap times.

The Frenchman finished on top with a 1:29.837s, Miller took second on a 1:29.861s, and Martin would make for two Pramac Racing entries in the top three with a 1:29.866s set on a medium rear tyre, rather than a soft.

Ducatis locked out the top six at one point, before Quartararo set a 1:29.877 good enough for fourth.

Fifth went to Bagnaia, from Mooney VR46 team-mates Luca Marini and Marco Bezzecchi, with Gresini Racing’s Enea Bastianini taking eighth.

Maverick Viñales (Aprilia Racing) and Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM) rounded out the top 10 but Espargaro is only 11th, a concern for the title contender considering the possibility of rain on Saturday morning which would have the effect of locking him into Qualifying 1.

Espargaro and Bagnaia were among those to run wide at the new chicane during FP2, while Tech3 KTM’s Raul Fernandez crashed there, Red Bull KTM’s Miguel Oliveira went down between Turns 9 and 10, and Viñales had an excursion at Turn 4.

Best Honda rider was Takaaki Nakagami (Idemitsu LCR) in 12th and best Suzuki rider was Alex Rins in 13th, while Tech3 KTM’s Remy Gardner ended up 23rd, two positions ahead of team-mate Fernandez.

Saturday’s schedule is Free Practice 3 at 17:55 AEST, Free Practice 4 at 21:30, Qualifying 1 at 22:10, and Qualifying 2 at 22:35.

Friday practice: Austrian MotoGP Combined times

Pos Num Rider Nat Team Bike Time Session
1 5 J.ZARCO FRA Prima Pramac Racing Ducati 1:29.837 FP2
2 43 J.MILLER AUS Ducati Lenovo Team Ducati 1:29.861 FP2
3 89 J.MARTIN ESP Prima Pramac Racing Ducati 1:29.866 FP2
4 20 F.QUARTARARO FRA Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP Yamaha 1:29.877 FP2
5 63 F.BAGNAIA ITA Ducati Lenovo Team Ducati 1:29.997 FP2
6 10 L.MARINI ITA Mooney VR46 Racing Team Ducati 1:30.030 FP2
7 72 M.BEZZECCHI ITA Mooney VR46 Racing Team Ducati 1:30.066 FP2
8 23 E.BASTIANINI ITA Gresini Racing MotoGP Ducati 1:30.066 FP2
9 12 M.VIÑALES ESP Aprilia Racing Aprilia 1:30.113 FP2
10 33 B.BINDER RSA Red Bull KTM Factory Racing KTM 1:30.128 FP2
11 41 A.ESPARGARO ESP Aprilia Racing Aprilia 1:30.147 FP2
12 30 T.NAKAGAMI JPN LCR Honda IDEMITSU Honda 1:30.311 FP2
13 42 A.RINS ESP Team SUZUKI ECSTAR Suzuki 1:30.321 FP2
14 44 P.ESPARGARO ESP Repsol Honda Team Honda 1:30.364 FP2
15 36 J.MIR ESP Team SUZUKI ECSTAR Suzuki 1:30.455 FP2
16 73 A.MARQUEZ ESP LCR Honda CASTROL Honda 1:30.509 FP2
17 21 F.MORBIDELLI ITA Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP Yamaha 1:30.617 FP2
18 04 A.DOVIZIOSO ITA WithU Yamaha RNF MotoGP Team Yamaha 1:30.639 FP2
19 49 F.DI GIANNANTO ITA Gresini Racing MotoGP Ducati 1:30.700 FP2
20 32 L.SAVADORI ITA Aprilia Racing Aprilia 1:30.874 FP2
21 6 S.BRADL GER Repsol Honda Team Honda 1:31.182 FP2
22 88 M.OLIVEIRA POR Red Bull KTM Factory Racing KTM 1:31.315 FP2
23 87 R.GARDNER AUS Tech3 KTM Factory Racing KTM 1:31.324 FP2
24 40 D.BINDER RSA WithU Yamaha RNF MotoGP Team Yamaha 1:31.575 FP2
25 25 R.FERNANDEZ ESP Tech3 KTM Factory Racing KTM 1:31.978 FP2

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