Temperatures improved in time for when the MotoGP riders took to the Red Bull Ring in Austria for the second time on day one of the Austrian GP after a cool start to the morning during FP1; the temperatures appeared to catch several riders out at the Red Bull Ring near Spielberg in Austria.
Ducati riders incredibly strong at the Red Bull Ring
Immediately the riders were on the pace and Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team) was not out on track long before he smashed through the 1:25 minute barrier setting a time to beat of 1:24.808. Repsol Honda rider Marc Marquez was hot on his tail as was his teammate Andrea Iannone (Ducati Team) who soon took the top spot of the leaderboard.
Aleix Espargaro crashes out
The only crash of the second Free Practice session came from Team Suzuki Ecstar rider Aleix Espargaro. He turned too early into turn eight of the track which caused the front end to fold underneath him. Turn eight is a right handed corner that follows on from two left handed corners.
Both Aleix and his GSX-RR ended up in the gravel and it appeared at first that the Spaniard was unhurt. However he later made his way to the medical centre to be checked out. He came out better than his bike that had to be recovered after it was binned in the gravel, by the track-side marshals.
It turns out that he had broken a finger on his right hand during the incident and will have to receive the permission from medical staff tomorrow who will need to declare him fit.
Rossi has lap time cancelled for overuse of track
Movistar Yamaha rider Valentino Rossi, the most experienced rider and one of the only riders who has competed previously at the Red Bull Ring was the first in the class to have a lap time disallowed as a penalty for overuse of the track.
Iannone strong form continues from Austrian test
No-one seemed to be able to come near the time set by Iannone. Team Suzuki Ecstar rider Maverick Vinales, who led the way in Free Practice 1 was trying his best to match the Ducati rider. It was not long before he responded though.
In the final few minutes Iannone made his way back out to the track and it was not long before he smashed through the 1:24 minute barrier. Everyone suspected that the Ducatis would be strong at the Red Bull Ring after they dominated during two days of testing prior to the summer break.
Dovizioso had a point to prove though and he soon responded to Iannone’s lap by setting the fastest lap of the day on his last flying lap making his time of 1:23.617 the time to beat.
Rossi’s final attempt saw him push Vinales down to fourth briefly, but Vinales was not finished and when he crossed the line to finish the session, he claimed back third position from his future Italian teammate.
During the session he was seen following closely in order to try and learn from the rider who has the most experience here.
What was going on with the Ducati riders?
As always, at the end of the session, the riders pull up to a certain area of the track where they then practice a standing start. There appeared to be an altercation between Iannone and Pull & Bear Aspar Team MotoGP rider Eugene Laverty who after a tough day at the office (having fell during FP1) was seen pushing Iannone’s Ducati away following what looked like a heated discussion.
Weather on the riders’ minds
The weather is always on the riders’ minds and when they returned to the pits at the end of the session, several riders, including fastest man Dovizioso were seen practicing their pit stops. Should weather conditions change riders will be permitted to switch bikes and the efforts were to practice the efficiency of their change should they be forced to pit.
The forecast has varied over the past few days for race day and with the cool conditions in the morning the riders were working to ensure they were fully prepared for what may meet them on race day.
Dovizioso fastest after day one
It finished as Dovizioso fastest with a time of 1:23.617 and he and his teammate Iannone, who finished second fastest, were the only two riders to lap under 1:24 minutes. Vinales finished third fastest ahead of Rossi in fourth.
Celebrations continue for Crutchlow
New father Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda), who is wearing newly designed leathers and a helmet in tribute to his new-born daughter Willow (who was born during the summer break), seems to have returned to the MotoGP after the break in good form finishing fifth fastest.
At the last round of the season where they were at the Sachsenring for the German GP, Crutchlow claimed second after a wet to dry race and his strategy paid off. He ended day one of the Austrian GP as the highest placed Honda and independent rider; his time was just over a second slower than that of Dovizioso.
Ducatis prove to be strong at the Red Bull Ring
As expected more Ducatis followed Crutchlow on the leaderboard. Danilo Petrucci (Octo Pramac Yakhnich Ducati) and Hector Barbera (Avintia Ducati) claimied sixth and seventh ahead of 2015 MotoGP Champion Jorge Lorenzo (Movistar Yamaha) who is desperate for a decent result from the Austrian GP.
Michele Pirro is making a wildcard appearance at the tenth round for the Ducati Team having completing several rounds replacing injured riders. He managed to finish ninth ahead of championship leader Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda) who completed the top ten.
Despite leading earlier on in the day Yonny Hernandez (Pull & Bear Aspar Team) placed eleventh fastest ahead of British rider Scott Redding (Octo Pramac Yakhnich Ducati) who made it seven Ducatis in the top twelve.
Independent Hondas benefiting from testing with factory Hondas have missed out on
Pol Espargaro (Monster Tech 3 Yamaha) who seems to have struggled at the Red Bull Ring as he has been seen going hot into some of the corners was thirteenth fastest ahead of Estrella Galica 0,0 Marc VDS rider Jack Miller (who is the only rider bar Rossi who has competed here in a German 125cc championship).
Miller’s teammate Tito Rabat was fifteenth fastest ahead of factory Aprila Racing Team Gresini rider Alvaro Bautista who recently complete a private test here. British rider Bradley Smith (Monster Tech 3 Yamaha) claimed seventeeth ahead of Aleix Espargaro who finished eighteenth after his crash.
Shockingly for Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda) he appeared to struggle all day. Over two and a half seconds off the pace, he has his work cut out for him if he is to collect a good result at the Austrian GP having only placed nineteenth after day one and crashing during FP1.
Riders returning from injury after the summer break
Stefan Bradl (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini) who is returning from inury after crashing out during the warmup session of the German GP and getting concussed finished twentieth ahead of Laverty and Loris Baz (Avintia Ducati) who is also still recuperating from his crash at Mugello which left him having to underfo surgery on his right foot; he completed the field in twenty-second.