AustrianGP: Espargaro and KTM lead the way at home

Published on August 14, 2020
By Short Shift News

Pol Espargaro has started his Red Bull Factory KTMs home Grand Prix in the best possible way, controlling the first free practice session, ending fastest by +0.044.

The Spanish rider controlled the first 45-minutes of the session, topping the timesheets throughout the whole session.

In what was a dry free practice one, MotoGP riders treated the session much like free practice three, as the remainder of the weekend looks to be wet.

Espargaro was quick from the off, ending his first stint fastest, and backed that up to topple Andrea Dovizioso, who had a brief stint at the top of the timesheets to ultimately end the session on top.

Dovizioso was second, +0.044s behind Espargaro’s 1:24.193 with LCR Honda Idemitsu rider Takaaki Nakagami once again finishing as top Honda.

Alex Rins backed up his strong performance in Brno by finishing fourth in the opening session of the weekend, while Franco Morbidelli, fresh from his maiden premier class podium, ended the session in fifth.

Another rider rejuvenated from Brno is Johann Zarco and he, just like Morbidelli, came out the blocks strong in Austria. The Frenchman exploited his GP19s potential, the same bike Andrea Dovizioso took to victory here last season. Zarco put his Esponsorama Racing Ducati in sixth ahead of Miguel Oliveira and leading Pramac Ducati rider, Jack Miller.

Joan Mir wrapped up free practice one in ninth with championship leader Fabio Quartararo down in tenth, +0.560s second off Pol Espargaro’s Red Bull Factory KTM machine.

Should the weather deteriorate as forecasted, Maverick Viñales could find himself leading the charge into Q1 with Danilo Petrucci (12th) and Monster Energy Yamaha team-mate Valentino Rossi (13th) in close company.

Cal Crutchlow’s best effort of 1:24.944 was good enough for 14th, albeit just +0.7s off Espargaro. The British rider ended the session ahead of KTM duo Iker Lecuona and Brno winner, Brad Binder while Pramac Racing stand-in Michele Pirro finished 17th.

Alex Marquez split the Aprilia duo of Aleix Espargaro (18th) and Bradley Smith (20th). Smith was the only rider to take a tumble at turn four, the corner that caused Quartararo issues in the first 15-minutes of the session.

The MotoGP field was filled by Stefan Bradl and Tito Rabat.

It’s all to play for in free practice two, will the weather stay dry, or is it going to rain at the Red Bull Ring? FP2 starts at 13:10 local time.

Full results from free practice one

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