AFP/Spielberg bei Knittelfeld, Austria
Andrea Dovizioso made the most of dry morning conditions as Ducatis dominated the free practice sessions yesterday ahead of the Austrian MotoGP.
With rain forecast for the afternoon, the morning brought a series of aggressive rides as Ducati, which grabbed the top two places in the previous race in Brno, continued to take the attack to championship leader Marc Marquez (Honda).
Italian Dovizioso was fastest in the morning, followed by factory Ducati teammate Jorge Lorenzo and Italian Danilo Petrucci on a Pramac Ducati with Spaniard Marquez fourth.
After the start of the afternoon session was held up by a rain storm, Marquez was fastest in the wet, but more than 10 seconds slower than the best time in the morning.
In the dry, Dovizioso, winner in Austria last year and in Brno last week, completed his best lap in 1min 23.83sec, 0.215 ahead of Lorenzo. Marquez was fourth more than half a second slowed at 1:24.411.
In the rain, Marquez recorded the best time of 1min 33.995 sec. Scott Redding (Aprilia) was second fastest followed by the two factory Ducatis with Lorenzo this time ahead of Dovizioso.
“Wet but nice first day,” Lorenzo tweeted. Italian Franco Morbidelli (Honda Marc VDS) who had the 17th best time of the day will be relegated three places on the starting grid for “irresponsible” riding after slowing and blocking another bike.
Movistar Yamaha’s Maverick Vi?ales and Valentino Rossi used the first dry free practice session to get a base set-up for the race locked ahead of today’s eyetime Motorrad Grand Prix von Osterreich, whilst in the afternoon they had to switch to full-wet settings and cope with completely changed track conditions.
Their results from FP1 put them in 10th and 11th place respectively in the combined Free Practice timesheets.
“Especially the morning was difficult, we had some problems, but we kept working and tried to solve everything we could. For the afternoon we had many things planned to try, but finally it was wet and we didn‘t have really good feelings, so we need to keep pushing.” Vinales said.
The Spaniard took his time to get up to speed in the afternoon.
He waited to see how a few other riders fared out on the wet track, before deciding to also brave the conditions.
However, he remained careful not to cross the limit, as he had only recently recovered from his crash in Brno. He still made progress and ultimately secured 20th place with a fastest lap of 1’38.174s and a 4.179s margin to first.
Teammate Rossi delivered a productive FP1 session despite losing some vital practice time due to a broken rear sprocket on his first run. Once he returned back out on track, the Italian climbed the provisional results list and regularly featured inside the top-10 in the morning.
However, a last-minute “mini shoot-out” by most of the rider field, in anticipation of the predicted rain, saw the number 46 rider end FP1 in 11th place with a 1’24.884s, 1.054s from the top of the timesheets.
“For me the biggest issue is that I’m not inside the top-10 on the dry. Unfortunately, I had a problem with one bike and had to stop,” Rossi said.
“I had to use the other bike, but it had some things that were different, and I wasn’t able to arrive inside the top-10. T his can create a problem to improve the lap time tomorrow morning if the conditions aren’t 100%. On the wet I’m not very fast, but the spray deflector worked well. We tried to take some water away from the tyre.
“Especially at this track we have a lot of aquaplaning, also on the straight, which makes it difficult to control the bike. But now we have to try to understand and improve, and we’ll see tomorrow.”
Some showers are forecast for today when a final free practice session is scheduled for the morning before qualifying in the afternoon. The track should be dry for Sunday’s race.
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