AustrianGP: Miller tops rain-hit FP2 as Espargaro takes Friday honours.
The second free practice session for the MotoGP World Championship was fairly irrelevant for the MotoGP class, with rain disrupting the final 45-minute session of the day.
Red Bull Factory KTM’s Pol Espargaro remains the fastest rider on Friday thanks to his free practice one time, with Andrea Dovizioso and Takaaki Nakagami in second and third.
Rain fell just as free Practice two was coming to a close for the Moto3 class, and continued to rain into the final premier class session of the day. However, although it was raining, it was only falling at the top of the circuit, meaning turns three and four were wet while the remainder of the circuit was fairly dry.
Joan Mir was the first rider to brave the conditions but pulled back into pit lane after his Suzuki couldn’t find grip in a straight line. Repsol Honda’s Alex Marquez was next to venture out on the track, but like Mir found that the Austrian circuit had nothing to give the Spaniard as he prepares for his first Austrian Grand Prix.
Miguel Oliveira was the first rider to set a lap time, the Portuguese rider put in a 1:39.484 and was later joined by Aleix Espargaro, who set one flying lap, +0.8s behind the Portuguese rider.
As the clock ran down, the clouds continued to roll in from the Styrian mountains, the track remained quiet, however with 13 minutes left on the clock, Johann Zarco and Alex Marquez took to the 2.68 mile circuit while PETRONAS’ Fabio Quartararo started his preparations.
Running the soft rain tyre, Zarco immediately set the fastest first sector, indicating the circuit had dried out slightly. Despite the track looking dry into turn three, the short sprint to turn four remained wet – however halfway round the lap, Zarco was two seconds under. Zarco eventually crossed the line to go fastest, +5.213s clear of Oliveira.
Takaaki Nakagami was the next rider to head on track, but it didn’t last long as he dived into pit-lane after his first flying lap, swiftly followed by Johann Zarco. The Frenchman’s advantage was cut to half a second when Miguel Oliveira improved his fastest time to a 1:34.861.
Jack Miller and Maverick Viñales were next to head out on track, the Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP rider will have to go through Q1, should he Spaniard not improve in tomorrow’s free practice three session. The former Moto3 champions were joined on track by Valentino Rossi, Cal Crutchlow, Franco Morbidelli and Nakagami who has all fitted the dry compound of tyres.
As expected, Jack Miller (the wonderkid of mixed conditions) blasted to the top of the timesheets, demoting Alex Marquez who had bettered Zarco’s wet weather time. The Australian was the first rider into the 1:30s and quickly improved his time into the 1:28s with nearest rival Maverick Viñales in the 29s.
Fabio Quartararo was the tenth rider to put a time on the board, firing his PETRONAS Yamaha SRT machine into fifth but found himself demoted to sixth with Rossi’s third-fastest time.
Jack Miller continued to fire in the impressive times, getting down to a low 1:27, compared to Pol Espargaro’s 1:24.1. Miller improved again, this time setting a 1:26.475.
Miller ended the session fastest with Tech 3 KTM duo Iker Lecuona and Miguel Oliveira in second and third.
Alex Rins was fourth with Johann Zarco and Joan Mir completing the top six with Alex Marquez seventh and the two factory Yamaha’s in eighth and ninth, with Viñales leading Rossi.
Stefan Bradl completed the top ten.
Free practice three will be crucial for Viñales, Rossi and Petrucci, who will all head the charge into Q1 should FP3 be wet. The third and final session to decide the qualifying order kicks off tomorrow at 09:55 local time with qualifying commencing at 13:10.
Featured image credit: Red Bull