It was a cool start to the weekend as the Moto3 riders took to the Red Bull Ring signifying the end of the summer break. Although the track has been reintroduced to the calendar for the first time in 19 years, many of the young riders had had a chance to become familiar with it when they completed a test prior to the meeting.
Binder leads the way
Brad Binder proved that he is championship winning material by immediately setting the pace for the rest of the field to aim at. His form continued throughout the session which saw him constantly improve on his own time until he eventually became the only rider able to lap under 1:37 minute rider with a time of 1:37.902.
Brad Binder was followed by the Leopard Racing boys, two rookies who both looked promising at the Austrian track. Each took their turn at the top of the leaderboard but unfortunately for Fabio Quartararo he had lap times cancelled. Both Andrea Migno (Sky Racing VR46) and Enea Bastianini (Gresini Racing Moto3) took turns in taking advantage of following the Leopard Racing team riders.
Rodrigo the first to crash
The Red Bull Ring is a fast track, spread out over the lovely scenic mountains the Moto3 riders will find themselves on the throttle a lot. Several riders were caught out and seen going of track. Gabriel Rodrigo (RBA Racing Team) crashed out with seven minutes of the first session remaining.
As he approached turn one the front end folded underneath him on the right handed corner and he came off on the coloured asphalt in place before the gravel trap. He could not get the bike restarted and required assistance from the marshals to move his bike to the safety area.
Free Practice 1 results
At the end of the first Free Practice session it was Brad Binder who set the pace ahead of Joan Mir and Quartararo. Migno, who was not present at testing prior to the was fourth fastest and Bo Bendsneyder (Red Bull KTM Ajo) made it five KTMs in the top five.
Hiroki Ono (Honda Team Asia) broke the pattern though finishing sixth fastest aboard his Honda. Romano Fenati (Sky Racing VR46) finished seventh also having not tested here before. Gresini Racing Moto3 Team riders Fabio Di Giannantonio and Bastianini took eight and ninth and Schedl GP Racing GP BV rider Philipp Oettl completed the top ten.
Free Practice 2 was underway
Lap times were reduced by approximately a second by the end of the session. The Red Bull Ring was dominated by the Red Bull KTM Ajo.
Rodrigo experienced his second crash midway through the session heading into turn three where he lost the front of his bike. He was able to remount and return to the pits.
Quiet second Free Practice session for the Moto3
The same continued throughout the session, riders pushed to improve their times and several more were penalised for overuse of the track; on several occasions it was after riders had topped the leaderboard meaning it unfortunately did not count.
In the final few moments Brad Binder again proved his worth as he broke through the 1:37 minute barrier and setting a flying time of 1:36.514; which was over half a second fastest than anyone else and almost a second quicker than his previous time.
Red Bull Rings own wildcard?
The chequered flag went out and everyone struggled to come anywhere near. Even the hare that attempted to make his way along the side of the track could not lap anywhere near as quick as Brad Binder.
Bastianini claimed the second top spot after improving by two seconds; he finished ahead of Quartararo who would have placed higher had his not had his lap disqualified. It was an unfortunate session for the Frenchman who needs to stay on track to keep the results he is gaining and does deserve.
Teammates helping each other out
Teammate to Binder, Bendsneyder benefited from following the South African around the track and managed to finish fourth quickest after day one. It finished as Fenati who was the highest placed Sky Racing VR46 rider in fifth having shaved over 0.5 seconds off his time from FP1.
Juanfran Guevara (RBAQ Racing Team) made it six KTMs in the top six and he was followed by Livio Loi (RW Racing GP BV) who placed as the fastest Honda at the end of day one finishing just over half a second slower than leader Brad Binder.
Bagnaia’s fantastic form continues
Having reduced his own time by 2.5 seconds, Francesco Bagnaia (Pull & Bear Aspar Mahindra Team) who won his first ever Moto3 race two rounds ago at the TT Circuit Assen, finished as the highest place Mahindra in eighth. Mir fell from second in FP1 to ninth in FP2 despite improving by almost one second.
Completing the top ten was Oettl. Jorge Navarro (Estrella Galicia 0,0) improved by eight places finishing eleventh fastest ahead of Rodrigo who completed the top twelve considering his two crashes.
Significant improvement from Antonelli
Andrea Locateli (Leopard Racing) was thirteenth ahead of Migno, Ono and Niccolo Antonelli (Ongetta-Rivacold) who after finishing in thirty-first in FP1 jumped to sixteenth after finding two seconds on track.
Jorge Martin (Pull & Bear Aspar Mahindra Team) was seventeenth ahead of Albert Arenas (Peugeot MC Saxoprint) who was the highest palced of the Peugeot bikes.
Wilcard appearances at the Austrian round
Wildcard Marco Bezzacchi (Mahindra Racing) is making his first appearance of the season at the Austrian GP aboard a Mahindra; he completed the first day in nineteenth and brother to the leader Darryn Binder (Platinum Bay Real Estate) completed the top 20.
Jules Danilo (Ongetta-Rivacold) finished twenty-first ahead of British rider John McPhee (Peugeout MC Saxoprint) in twenty-second. Rookie Nicolo Bulega followed on ahead of Di Giannantonio.
Injuries prohibiting riders
Replacing injured Danny Webb aboard the Platinum Bay Real Estate Mahindra is Spanish rider Marcos Ramirez. Stefano Manzi is also making a wildcard appearance for the Mahindra Racing Team this round and was twenty-seventh fastest.
The only female in the class, Maria Herrera (MH6 Team) did not venture out on track for FP2 until the final stages. It is unclear whether she had work done to her bike, or chose to rest her injured broken wrist as long as possible, but when she did make it out on track she could only manage thirty-fourth (second-to-last) as she was almost three seconds off the pace.