Free practice gets underway at COTA with Quartararo leading the Moto3 class

Jorge Navarro impressed.

Free practice gets underway at COTA with Quartararo leading the Moto3 class
Quartararo fastest at end of FP2-

In the opening Free Practice session of the Circuit of the Americas it is Moto3 rider Jorge Navarro who was ended up top of the timesheets.

Navarro was the first to break through the 2:18 minute barrier with six minutes to go, finishing the session with a time of 2:17.433 on his Estrella Galacia 0,0 Honda. He is still over two seconds slower than the pole position time set by Leopard Racing rider Danny Kent who went on to win in 2015.

Casual approach for the Moto3 riders

The riders seemed to take a very casual approach to the first session won the resurfaced track in sunny conditions. The track was clean as the Moto America riders had been out previously the day before.

Behind Navarro was Ongetta-Rivacold rider Niccolo Antonelli who won in the first round of the season in Qatar. His last flying lap as the session came to the end secured him second place as he lapped just 0.168 seconds slower with a time of 2:17.601.

Sky Racing Team VR46 rider Romana Fenatti led for most of the session, his time was beaten each time he returned to the pits. He lapped consistently and his fastest lap of 2:17.835 made him the last rider to break through the 2:18 barrier. He wass the fastest KTM so far in the class.

Quartararo penalised many times in FP1

Navarro’s teammate Aron Canet finished in fourth position just over half a second slower than him. Behind him was Fabio Quartararo (Leopard Racing) who, despite lapping fastest ended up fifth fastest by the end of the session as his he had a few of his laps disallowed as he was penalised for ‘overuse of the track’ by race control.

Just one second covered the first seven riders; RW Racing GP BV rider Livio Loi and Red Bull KTM Ajo rider Brad Binder made up this rest of this list. Brad Binder made had a huge moment at turn nineteen but his swift reaction meant he was able to save himself from falling off. The South African fell off the side of his bike on the right-handed corner, his knee slider got caught which pulled his leg around, however he managed to reposition himself in time.

FP1 went was not without incidents however as RBA Racing team rider Juanfran Guevara fell off after twenty-five minutes and Aspar Mahindra Team rider Jorge Martin fell off at turn one in the dying minutes. Both were able to walk away unhurt.

Martin was the fastest Mahindra with a time of 2:19.336, just under two seconds slower than the leader. Alexis Masbou was the fastest Peugeot almost three seconds slower than the time set by Navarro.

The only female in the class Maria Herrera (MH6 Laglisse) finished in twenty-third 3.289 seconds slower off the pace; she finished two positions ahead of the only Brit John McPhee whose fastest time was 2:20.957.

Riders returned to track for FP2

It was not long before Navarro was near to his fastest time set in FP1 with other riders closing in, which meant that the break gave them the much needed chance to make significant changes. Quartararo soon took the lead from Navarro; Antonelli then led briefly before Fenati regained his position at the top, until Quartararo stole it back beating the fastest time set in FP1.

Fenati soon smashed through the 2:17 minute barrier gaining a time of 2:16.989 which was over 0.4 seconds faster than anyone else. Quartararo then set the fastest lap again despite being slower in the third sector.

More laps cancelled for 'track over-use'

Aspar Mahindra Team Moto3 rider Francesco Bagnaia had a lap time cancelled because of ‘over-use’ at turn twenty. Brad Binder and his teammate Bo Bendsneyder went off the track with six minutes to go but were able to re-join straight away; Bendsneyder appeared to be following Brad. Not  long after, Quartararo was managed to take 0.3 seconds off the lead time, Navarro then lapped fastest with a time of 2:16.553 before Quartararo took another 0.25 seconds off his time.

Riders continued to be penalised for ‘over-use of the track’ and their lap times were disallowed as they pushed in the final minutes of FP2. It finished Quartararo fastest with a time of 2:16.250 followed by Fenati , Antonelli, Navarro and Enea Bastianini (Gresini Racing Moto3) who lapped under 2:17 minutes.

Rookie Bulega impressive again

Rookie Nicolo Bulega was sixth fastest on his Sky Raving Team VR46 KTM ahead of Canet, Bagnaia who was the fastest Mahindra at the end of FP2 who was 0.860 seconds slower than leader Quartararo. Then it was Philipp Oetll (Schedl GP Racing) and Jakub Kornfeil (Drive M7 SIC Racing) who finished the list of riders were within one second of the leader. Loi , Guevara and Jules Danilo (Ongetta-Rivacold) led ahead of Brad Binder in fourteenth.

Masbou remained the fastest Peugeot in twentieth position with a time of 2:17.983 which was 1.733 seconds slower than the leading KTM.  The only Brit McPhee progressed to twenty-third and the only female Herrera was twenty-seventh overall.