MotoGP: Maverick Viñales leads Quartararo in San Marino
Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP’s Maverick Viñales has returned as the fastest man, setting a 1:32.198, +0.550s quicker than Fabio Quartararo and +0.751s quicker than Aleix Espargaro on the Aprilia.
Viñales featured at the forefront of the field for the majority of the session but left it late to set the benchmark at the end of the first of four free practice sessions while using the yellow-walled hard rear tyre.
Viñales was half a second clear of Frenchman Quartararo, who finished second at Misano last season. Espargaro and Bradley Smith had a strong start to their weekends, finishing third and fifth with leading Ducati rider, Johann Zarco, sandwiched in the middle. Smith, who was +1.046s behind the Yamaha rider will be aiming to repeat that performance in this afternoons practice session.
Suzuki’s Joan Mir wrapped up the session in sixth, his 1:33.497 was +0.005s quicker than Jack Miller who was +0.036s clear of Cal Crutchlow, who after his arm-pump surgery put in one of his strongest sessions (post-Jerez crash) of the season.
Pol Espargaro returns to Misano revved up after missing out on his maiden Grand Prix win in Austria, the Spaniard dominated the opening ten minutes of the session but slipped to ninth by the time the flag fell, finishing just ahead of another late charger, Takaaki Nakagami.
Valentino Rossi had put his M1 Yamaha into the top ten, but a number of exceeded track limit penalties for ‘The Doctor’ dropped the 41-year-old outside the top ten, his best effort being +1.495s slower than his team-mate.
Rossi led soon to be team-mate Franco Morbidelli, while Brno race-winner Brad Binder was left in thirteenth. The South African was marginally quicker than Andrea Dovizioso, who seems to be struggling once again with the 2020 Michelin rear tyre. The Italian lies second in the championship fight, three points adrift of Quartararo, so will be hoping to find a solution for Sunday.
Alex Marquez finished 15th with Alex Rins, Danilo Petrucci and the returning Francesco Bagnaia in 16th, 17th and 18th. Bagnaia led Stefan Bradl and Iker Lecuona who completed the top ten.
Tito Rabat was 21st while Stryian race-winner Miguel Olvieira was in an uncharacteristic 22nd and last on the Tech 3 KTM, +2.447s slower than Viñales’ pace-setting time.
The MotoGP field returns to the newly resurfaced Misano track, which has been causing its fair share of issues, for free practice two at 14:10 local time.
Featured image: Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP