(Jack Miller reportedly rode his Harley cruiser to the track today.)
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.
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!
Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP’s Cal Crutchlow and Fabio Quartararo enjoyed a fruitful opening day of the Gran Premio de Aragón race weekend. Crutchlow‘s liking for the MotorLand Aragón track showed in his Friday performance and resulted in a third place in the FP2 and combined results. Quartararo also had a positive outing overall. Though being stung by a bee in the final minutes of FP2 somewhat disrupted proceedings during his time attack, he still earned seventh place overall.
Crutchlow was eager to step back aboard his YZR-M1 this morning. The Briton likes the Aragon track, and he underlined that fact by frequently featuring in the top 10 throughout the session. Although he didn’t put in a time-attack, his best time, a 1‘49.670s set on lap 14/17, kept him in twelfth place, 1.622s from the top.
Feeling extra confident after FP1, the number-35 rider put in a good amount of laps this afternoon to confirm the positive findings. By run 3 he shifted his attention to the mini time attack. He displayed the YZR-M1‘s one-lap potential by clocking a 1‘47.897s on lap 17/19. Originally the time put him in second place, but by the end of the session he was holding third in the FP2 and combined results, 0.284s from first.
Quartararo set out in the morning with a game plan. His mission for the day was to quickly adapt to the MotorLand Aragón track and then find a good set-up for his Yamaha that would allow him to be consistently fast throughout the weekend. His early 1‘50.185s moved him up to the top of the provisional rankings, allowing him to fully concentrate on the task at hand. His fastest time of the session, a 1‘49.451s on lap 14/19, kept him in eighth place with a 1.403s margin to his fastest rival.
In the afternoon, El Diablo gradually upped his pace. He held fourth place for most of the session whilst preparing for a mini time attack at the end. However, just when he wanted to put his YZR-M1 to the test, he was stung on his neck by a bee whilst out on track. Despite the unlucky incident and running into some traffic in his final laps, the Frenchman still set a 1‘48.034s on lap 16/17 that put him in seventh place in the Friday timesheets, with a 0.421s gap to first.
It‘s true that this isn‘t our strongest circuit on the calendar, but so far, we are feeling optimistic. Cal enjoyed himself out on track today. He is quite comfortable with the bike overall. For him to secure a top-3 result after so few laps aboard the Factory Yamaha at a circuit that‘s not our strongest is actually very impressive. We see this as a positive sign and confirmation that our overall package is strong. The data he is gathering here this weekend is also very useful for when he will be riding in Aragon again in two weeks‘ time as part of our official Yamaha Factory Racing Test Team. Fabio‘s results don‘t tell the whole story today. He‘s done a lot of work leading up to the time attack, but as luck would have it, he got stung by a bee just when he was out on track on his final run. But even without really pushing on a hot lap, he is still solidly inside the top 10, and we will have another chance to do a time attack tomorrow. We will continue to work hard this evening because we‘re aiming to obtain good qualifying results tomorrow – an absolute must at this track.
I wasn‘t surprised by the lap I did after that first sector. I knew that first sector was already a good one for me, so I knew while I was going on with the rest of the lap that I would be okay. The first sector isn‘t always my best sector, and I took it easy because I was a bit scared of Turn 2 with the cold front tyre. But after that I was okay. It was nice to do that lap. I haven‘t pushed and done a lap like that all year, so it was about time to try and do one – and I did. We had a good day today. It was nice to be able to get up there on the timesheets, but I don‘t care about the position. Of course, we want to go fast, but it‘s more about giving information about how I feel with the bike. I tried a few new things today. As a test rider, that‘s my job. It was good to go fast and push the bike to my limit.
I feel great. FP1 was tough because I was trying some tyres and didn‘t really feel great on the bike. This afternoon with the hard-hard tyre combination was much better. I tried something on the second run that I didn‘t like, and then during the time attack I ran into some traffic. But I‘m happy because I know I could achieve a time that‘s close to today‘s top time. I‘m quite satisfied and I didn‘t expect to make those fast laps in the first run, so I‘m pretty confident.
FIRST DAY OF PRACTICE AT MOTORLAND DE ARAGÓN
ALEIX FAST STRAIGHT AWAY, MAVERICK RACKS UP MILES ON HIS RS-GP
On the spectacular MotorLand de Aragón track, Aleix Espargaró got off to an outstanding start in the first sessions of the MotoGP weekend. The Spaniard, historically fast on this asphalt, confirmed this statistic once again today, putting the second best time of the day on the boards. Good performance in his time attack, but also comforting in terms of pace on used tyres.
Today was also the day that marked Maverick Viñales’ official début wearing Aprilia colours, a cautious and prudent first approach in light of his scarce experience astride the RS-GP. In any case, Maverick was able to shave off important tenths between the two sessions, working on rather long outings and trying to find the right confidence in his new ride.
“I am extremely satisfied with today’s results, both on the time attack front and in terms of our work with used tyres in view of the race. If I’m honest, I still don’t have that perfect feeling. I’m able to be fast, but in terms of feeling, I think there is still room for improvement. This morning, the grip on the asphalt was very poor and then it gradually got better, but thinking ahead to Sunday, when rather high temperatures are expected, we will clearly need to work well on tyre choice and setup.”
“On this first day, we did what we had set out to do, which was to turn as many laps as possible. Although the sensations were good in any case, there is still the fact that I don’t have that much experience on the RS-GP yet and I need to increase my confidence. We were able to improve consistently, shaving off more than a second between the two sessions, so that is positive. We need to keep working this way. Considering the high level here in MotoGP, it’s the details and especially the rider’s confidence that make all the difference.”
Jack Miller tops Day 1 of free practices of the Aragon GP. Pecco Bagnaia finishes sixth overall
Jack Miller closed on top the first day of free practices of the Aragon GP, the thirteenth round of the 2021 MotoGP season, held this weekend at the MotorLand Aragon (Alcañiz). The Ducati Lenovo Team rider, fast already at the end of this morning’s FP1 where he finished fifth, confirmed his good form at the Spanish track by setting the fastest time in 1:47.613, on the soft tyre, in the final minutes of FP2 this afternoon.
Pecco Bagnaia was also satisfied with his first day at the MotorLand Aragón, despite suffering a small crash during the opening minutes of the second session. The Italian rider set the sixth fastest time overall (1:48.032), finishing 419 thousandths behind his teammate. Following the good sensations on the bike today, the Italian rider is confident of further improvement in tomorrow morning’s FP3, which will precede the official qualifying for the Aragon GP, scheduled for 2:10 pm local time at the end of FP4.
Jack Miller (#43 Ducati Lenovo Team) – 1st (1:47.613)
“This is definitely the best way to start the weekend, and it’s a result that instils confidence. We found the track in good conditions right from the start. To be honest, I was surprised; given the rain that fell last night and the dust on the track, I expected a much more slippery asphalt, but the track was fast, and the grip allowed us to push immediately. This morning, I was able to have a good pace with used tyres, but I was not satisfied with it this afternoon. In FP2, we tried a couple of things that maybe took us in the wrong direction, but once we got back to the morning setup, I found my pace again. There are still some areas we can work on, but overall we are doing well. Now the goal is to continue to be fast. There are many competitive riders here at Aragón, so it will be important to improve consistently, to be among the protagonists in Sunday’s race”.
Francesco Bagnaia (#63 Ducati Lenovo Team) – 6th (1:48.032)
“I’m pleased with the result obtained on this first day at the MotorLand Aragón. Last year, we Ducati riders struggled a lot on this track, but today we were able to be fast right from the start, which shows that we did a great job on our Desmosedici GP. We already have a good base setup, and in the two sessions today, we tried different tyres, except the hard front, and we were able to be competitive with all of them. I’m satisfied with the work done on this first day, and I’m confident that we can do well also in qualifying tomorrow”.
Repsol Honda Team RC213V builds potential on Friday in Aragon
Both Marc Marquez and Pol Espargaro showed their potential as the Aragon GP commences, the top 19 split by just one second on Friday and setting the scene for a dramatic qualifying battle come Saturday.
Earlier in the year than in previous seasons, the 2021 Aragon GP enjoyed pleasant conditions on its opening day as the ambient temperature remained around 25°C and the track reached 44°C in the afternoon. The RC213V continued its fine form around the track, four Honda riders inside the top ten in Free Practice 1 and all within a second of the top spot in the combined times at the end of the day.
Marc Marquez started his day at the 5.1-kilometre long MotorLand Aragon circuit in fine form, dominating Free Practice 1 with a brutally fast lap towards the end of the session. A 1’48.048 put the lap record holder a second clear of the competition, Joan Mir the only rider to end within a second of Marquez. A fast crash at Turn 16 during Free Practice 2 upset Marquez’s afternoon rhythm and although the #93 was unharmed in the fall, he did not push to improve his time from Free Practice 1. Regardless, his speed from the morning was enough to hold position inside the combined top ten. The fall did force Marquez and his squad to revise their plan for Friday, but the team were still able to gather valuable information despite the incident.
Friday of the Aragon GP was all about improvements for Pol Espargaro as he got his first taste of the Honda RC213V around the Spanish circuit. Tenth in FP1 but within four tenths of the top three, Espargaro’s weekend began on solid footing. Although cutting a sizable 1.4 seconds off his lap time between FP1 and FP2, Espargaro’s quickest time of the day, a 1’48.166, saw him miss the cut off for the top ten by only 0.080s as the competition in MotoGP grows ever closer. Like his teammate, Espargaro’s work was mostly focused around Sunday and thee further future, not yet releasing his ultimate lap time.
Action continues tomorrow, Saturday September 11, with Free Practice 3 at 09:55 Local Time. With only 1 second covering the top 19 riders today, perfection will be needed on Saturday in the Qualifying battle.
“We had a perfect plan; a new tyre in FP1 and then work on the race in FP2 but with the crash we changed our plan a bit. It did give us a chance to test the hard rear so it hasn’t impacted our race weekend a lot. For sure when I fell I was frustrated because I was feeling under control. Yes, I was behind Alex with the slip stream and braking slightly later but I knew I was too fast and I tried to go wide, but then I hit the dirty part of the track and fell. That’s why I was frustrated with the fall. I only pushed for a couple of laps today to save some energy, but so far when I push for race pace the lap time has been coming.”
“Everyone is very close here today, from the top five down to me in 11th is only 0.1s so there’s nothing between us. One small mistake and you go from P4 to P11 which makes our laps in FP3 really important. We need to get a lap with no mistakes because spending just a tiny amount of time off throttle compared to another rider can see you in Q1 instead of Q2. But it’s been a good day, we were focusing on the race today and preparing for Qualifying so there’s speed to come. I’m happy with how it has gone so far and we’ve had a productive day working for the future.”
The Gran Premio de Aragon got underway today for PETRONAS Yamaha Sepang Racing Team, where track temperatures at MotorLand Aragon reached nearly 45C for Valentino Rossi and Jake Dixon, who ended the day 19th and 22nd.
A good start to FP1 saw Rossi inside of the top-ten early on, but a Turn 5 crash in the final 15 minutes of the session brought his morning to an early conclusion. His best time of 1min 50.299secs saw him end FP1 20th. After a steady start to the afternoon session, the Italian’s initial flying lap – 1min 48.649secs – at the end of FP2 placed him tenth. Unable to improve upon this, Valentino ended the session 18th and was 19th overall.
Dixon, who is in his second weekend in the premier class as stand-in for Franco Morbidelli, made good progress in the opening half of FP1 and consistently improved his time. The Brit ended the morning 22nd with a 1min 51.188secs lap. In the afternoon’s FP2 session, Jake opted to remain on the same tyres and didn’t do a time attack run. At the end of the second Free Practice session, Dixon was 22nd with a 1min 49.987secs lap.
Rossi and Dixon will be back out on track tomorrow at 9.55am local time (3.55pm MYT) for FP3, while the first of the two MotoGP Qualifying sessions will commence at 2.10pm local time (8.10pm MYT).
Today was difficult, which we expected a little bit because this track isn’t the best for the bike, nor for me. For some reason, I have always struggled here at Aragon. We will still give our maximum here and we will try our best to work better with the rear tyre. We will try to modify the settings a little bit to try to be gentler with it. In the end it wasn’t too bad though and we were better in the afternoon. I’m not the fastest but I’m only one second from pole position and that put me 19th. Normally here the grip improves each day and we will also try to be competitive tomorrow.
It’s really good to experience being in MotoGP for a second time. The speed of the bike wasn’t such a shock this time and it was really enjoyable. I struggled a bit in FP1 just to find my reference points, as it’s obviously different to when I rode here in Moto2. In FP2 we found a good direction with both the bike and me, plus the team are all working great. We stayed with the same medium hard tyres throughout the whole day and I felt really good. When everyone else was on the same tyre as us, we weren’t too far off. Tomorrow we’ll put the soft on to try a time attack and I think we could be quite close to the guys at the front. I really enjoy this track and when you have a good feeling somewhere, you tend to do alright. The overall result doesn’t reflect on what we’ve done today, as we didn’t use a new tyre, and I feel like we can do a really good job tomorrow.