Miller puts in a thriller to top Day 1 at MotorLand

2021-09-13 03:13
The Ducati rider leads the way ahead of Aleix Espargaro, with Crutchlow slamming in a stunner to take third

Jack Miller (Ducati Lenovo Team) topped Day 1 at the Gran Premio TISSOT de Aragon, the Ducati rider putting in a late lunge as the final few minutes decided the combined timesheets. He enjoys nearly three tenths of breathing space at the top by the end of play, with Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini) next up at a venue he and his machine have enjoyed some good success at - carrying that momentum from Silverstone. Third went the way of Cal Crutchlow (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) as the Brit pulled a seriously fast one to complete the top three on Day 1, and the number 35 was top Yamaha to boot. The top 17 were covered by nine tenths on Friday, and from second to 21st it's just a single second.

Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) started the day with a statement. The eight-time World Champion laid down a 1:48.048, putting him a whopping 0.971 clear of reigning Champion Joan Mir (Team Suzuki Ecstar). However, Mir did get within almost half a second on his final flying lap before that was cancelled, so the Suzuki rider seemed to have a little more in the locker initially...

Over a second off the number 93, Francesco Bagnaia (Ducati Lenovo Team) was a consistent presence near the top as he ended the session in third, with Alex Marquez (LCR Honda Castrol) taking fourth with a late move up the timesheets to within 0.013 of the Italian. Thick and fast thereafter came Miller, Aleix Espargaro, Johann Zarco (Pramac Racing), Championship leader Fabio Quartararo (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) and Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda Idemitsu), with gaps ranging from 0.008 between the latter two and up to a maximum of 0.079 between Zarco and Quartararo. Close? Very. Pol Espargaro (Repsol Honda Team) completed the top ten, 0.130 off Nakagami.

On Maverick Viñales (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini) watch, the Spaniard did 21 laps and got down to a 1:50.187 in his first official session with the Noale factory - about a second off Bagnaia in third.

Iker Lecuona (Tech 3 KTM Factory Racing) crashed early in the session, rider ok, before Valentino Rossi (Petronas Yamaha SRT) took a tumble in the latter stages at Turn 5, rider also ok.

Fortunes changed as Marc Marquez grabbed more headlines but this time for a crash, with number 93 sliding out from behind Alex Marquez. Rider ok but frustrated, and he didn't improve so ended up in P20 on the FP2 timesheets... just ahead of Joan Mir in a real reversal of FP1 for the two.

That was despite the number 93 still leading the combined times with five minutes to go too, but a final flurry of activity in the afternoon saw everything change. Aleix Espargaro and Lecuona charged, then Miller set down his serious marker to beat Marc Marquez' FP1 best by a margin. Aleix Espargaro did that next, before Crutchlow put in a stunner to slot into second.

Quartararo pipped the FP1 marker next, with Bagnaia - who also crashed earlier in the session - then pipping the Frenchman too and slotting into fourth. Next came Jorge Martin (Pramac Racing), before his teammate Johann Zarco was the final mover and shaker. Almost literally, as the Frenchman leapt up more than ten places despite a serious front end moment on his final lap.

Combined timesheets
After the mad dash to the top, the combined timesheets saw everyone improve in the afternoon minus Marc Marquez. So Miller reigns with 0.273 in hand over Aleix Espargaro, with Crutchlow ending the day just 0.011 further back as top Yamaha, seriously impressing as his stand-in duty continues.

Zarco takes fourth ahead of Martin and Bagnaia - that's four Ducatis in the top six as they show early promise of having moved forward a lot since our last visit to Aragon - and the margins remain tiny. Quartararo is P7, 0.002 off Bagnaia.

Eighth is where Marc Marquez' FP1 chart-toppper fits in, 0.014 slower than El Diablo's best from the afternoon, with Nakagami in ninth and Enea Bastianini (Avintia Esponsorama) completing an impressive day in tenth overall - and therefore the last rider currently on to take a place in Q2.

That leaves Pol Espargaro out as it stands, down in P11, with last year's Aragon winner Alex Rins (Team Suzuki Ecstar) in P12. The comes Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing), with a new chassis for the Austrian factory to explore too.

Mir ends the day in P21, Rossi in P19 and Viñales splits the two, although on a slightly different mission to those around him. The number 12 ended the day 1.142 off Miller after his first two official sessions with Aprilia.

That's a wrap on Friday, with plenty to talk about and surely even more to come on Saturday. The final push in FP3 gears us up for qualifying, which starts from 14:10 (GMT +2)... so make sure to tune in!

MotoGP™ Friday top five:
1 Jack Miller - Ducati Lenovo Team - Ducati - 1:47.613
2 Aleix Espargaro* - Aprilia Racing Team Gresini - Aprilia - +0.273
3 Cal Crutchlow - Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP - Yamaha - +0.284
4 Johann Zarco* - Pramac Racing - Ducati - +0.375
5 Jorge Martin* - Pramac Racing - Ducati - +0.410

*Independent Team rider
Aleix Espargaro loves MotorLand, and so far it's loved him too in 2021
Crutchlow had a cracking Friday in third
Gardner denies Augusto Fernandez by just 0.007
It's tight at the top on Friday, with thousandths deciding the honours at MotorLand and only a tenth covering the top four
Moto2™ Championship leader Remy Gardner (Red Bull KTM Ajo) ends Day 1 at the Gran Premio TISSOT de Aragon as the fastest man in the intermediate class, but the Spaniard had some seriously close company as Augusto Fernandez (Elf Marc VDS Racing Team) got within just 0.007. Completing the top three it was rookie sensation Raul Fernandez (Red Bull KTM Ajo) despite recent surgery for a small metacarpal fracture, but he had even closer company as Fabio Di Giannantonio (Federal Oil Gresini Moto2) was just 0.003 in further arrears in fourth.

Elf Marc VDS Racing's Sam Lowes and Augusto Fernandez held a 1-2 until late on, when Jorge Navarro (+Ego Speed Up) backed up his Silverstone podium with more speed to pull out an impressive 0.473 on Lowes and go fastest. Marco Bezzecchi (Sky Racing Team VR46) then split the Brit and Augusto Fernandez to take over in third on his last lap, with Championship leader Gardner completing the top five but 0.888 off the top in the morning.

Only 0.004 off him, Di Giannantonio took sixth, with Raul Fernandez - after his cycling crash in training and subsequent surgery on his hand - slotting into seventh.

In eighth, 2021 Moto2™ European Champion Fermin Aldeguer (+Ego Speed Up) kept impressing, 0.098 off the number 25 ahead of him. Hector Garzo (Flexbox HP 40) and Albert Arenas (Kipin Energy Aspar Team) completed the top ten.

Aron Canet (Kipin Energy Aspar Team) was the only crasher, going down at Turn 12 and rider ok.

Lowes was the first rider to venture into the 1:52s in FP2 as he and Bezzecchi improved early doors, remaining the top two until the clocked ticked down towards 10 minutes to go. Augusto Fernandez and Gardner exchanged first, before Di Giannantonio then climbed to P3 as riders started to find some decent pace in the latter stages of FP2.

Raul Fernandez was able to take over in third in the closing stages to sit less than a tenth away from second place Augusto Fernandez. That meant Diggia dropped to P4 by the end of the session, a good day for the Italian nonetheless, as Lowes completed the top five.

Navarro crashed at Turn 14, rider ok but not improving on his FP1 best, before Celestino Vietti (Sky Racing Team VR46) tumbled at Turn 7.

John McPhee, making his Moto2™ debut with Petronas Sprinta Racing, also crashed but was able to continue. He ended the day on a 1:55.274.

Combined timesheets
Gardner, Augusto Fernandez, Raul Fernandez, 'Diggia' and Lowes are the top five overall, all from FP2, with reigning Moto3™ World Champion Albert Arenas in sixth, enjoying his first visit to MotorLand on a Moto2™ machine. He was just 0.003 ahead of seventh place Bezzecchi. Nicolo Bulega (Federal Oil Gresini Moto2) takes P8, also from FP2, with Navarro ninth overall by the end of play and by virtue of his FP1 best.

Aldeguer rounded out the top 10 as his form continued impressing, finding even more speed in the afternoon, with Marcos Ramirez (American Racing), Canet, Garzo and Marcel Schrötter (Liqui Moly Intact GP) currently the final riders set to move straight to Q2. Will that change in FP3?

We'll find out on Saturday morning, before qualifying decides the grid from 14:10 (GMT +2).

Moto2™ Friday top five:
1 Remy Gardner - Red Bull KTM Ajo - Kalex - 1:52.743
2 Augusto Fernandez - Elf Marc VDS Racing Team - Kalex - +0.007
3 Raul Fernandez - Red Bull KTM Ajo - Kalex - +0.102
4 Fabio Di Giannantonio - Federal Oil Gresini Moto2 - Kalex - +0.105
5 Sam Lowes - Elf Marc VDS Racing Team - Kalex - +0.228
Öncü pips Guevara to top Day 1 at Aragon
The number 53 deposes the rookie by just half a tenth, with Binder and Garcia completing a top four covered by just 0.081

Source: Dorna Sports

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