Austria MotoGP Friday Practice Results
For the past four years, the second half of the MotoGP season got underway at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. But due to financial reasons, Indy was diced from the 2016 MotoGP schedule.
Taking IMS’ place was the Red Bull Ring in Austria – a brand-new circuit for the MotoGP grid. MotoGP’s last visit to Austria was 19 years ago, but that changed with the addition of the Red Bull Ring on this year’s calendar. Once known as Österreichring, the circuit was rebuilt and reopened in 2011 as the Red Bull Ring.
Since the track is an official testing circuit for Respol Honda, the early favorites were the current points leader, two-time MotoGP Champion Marc Marquez, and his teammate Dani Pedrosa.
But things were much different come Friday, the opening day of free practice for round 10 of 18. Team Ecstar Suzuki’s Maverick Vinales struck first, the future teammate of Yamaha’s Valentino Rossi posting a 1:25.866 around the 2.68-mile circuit containing 10 corners.
But close behind were the Ducati Team GP16 Desmosedicis piloted by Andrea Dovizioso and Andrea Iannone. And by the second and final free practice on Friday, the two Andreas were untouchable – just as they were during private testing at the venue known for its sloping terrain.
Dovi, who remains with Ducati Team for 2017, finished the 45-minute second free practice sessions with a best of 123.617. His teammate and future Team Ecstar Suzuki pilot Iannone followed by 0.238 of a second.
Andrea Dovizioso says: “I am very pleased with the way my weekend has begun, even though we found the tires, and above all the weather conditions, completely different to those during the test in July.
“Despite this we were able to confirm our good form and everything is going well, but it’s not enough because we still have to improve some aspects in view of the race. What is certain however is that, with the speed we have, we can use tomorrow’s two sessions to search for the best race pace.”
Nobody was close; third quickest was Vinales, who finished 0.854 of a second back, and nine-time World Champion Rossi was fourth, a mere 0.012 behind Vinales. Rossi was also the final rider to post within a second of Dovizioso, and was followed by LCR Honda’s Cal Crutchlow.
Two Ducatis followed in sixth and seventh – Octo Pramac Yakhnich’s Danilo Petrucci and Avintia Racing’s Hector Barbera, respectfully. The reigning MotoGP Champion and future Ducati Team rider, Jorge Lorenzo, finished eighth aboard the other Yamaha Factory Racing YZR-M1, equaling the same time as ninth-place finisher Michele Pirro, an official Ducati Test rider; that makes for five Ducatis in the top 10.
Finishing 10th was Marquez, who was 1.422 of a second off the pace. His teammate Pedrosa was 19th, 2.5 seconds behind Dovizioso as the factory Honda RC213V struggles.
Team Suzuki Ecstar’s Aleix Espargaro suffered a crash in the afternoon, sustaining a small fracture to his left ring finger. His fitness will be reviewed ahead of the third free practice session set for Saturday morning ahead of qualifying.
Heading into the Austrian Grand Prix, Marquez, who earned his third win of the season at Sachsenring in Germany three weeks ago and also his seventh-straight victory there, leads the points battle. The Spaniard has 170, 48 ahead of Lorenzo, and 59 ahead of Rossi.
2016 Austria MotoGP Friday Practice (Combined Results):
1. A. DOVIZIOSO DUCATI TEAM 1’23.617
2. A. IANNONE DUCATI TEAM 1’23.855
3. M. VIÑALES TEAM SUZUKI ECSTAR 1’24.471
4. V. ROSSI MOVISTAR YAMAHA MOTOGP 1’24.483
5. C. CRUTCHLOW LCR HONDA 1’24.688
6. D. PETRUCCI OCTO PRAMAC YAKHNICH 1’24.866
7. H. BARBERA AVINTIA RACING 1’24.956
8. J. LORENZO MOVISTAR YAMAHA MOTOGP 1’24.988
9. M. PIRRO DUCATI TEAM 1’24.988
10. M. MARQUEZ REPSOL HONDA TEAM 1’25.039
11. Y. HERNANDEZ PULL & BEAR ASPAR TEAM 1’25.042
12. S. REDDING OCTO PRAMAC YAKHNICH 1’25.140
13. P. ESPARGARÒ MONSTER YAMAHA TECH3 1’25.221
14. J. MILLER ESTRELLA GALICIA 0,0 MARC VDS 1’25.321
15. T. RABAT ESTRELLA GALICIA 0,0 MARC VDS 1’25.770
16. A. BAUTISTA APRILIA RACING TEAM GRESINI 1’25.882
17. B. SMITH MONSTER YAMAHA TECH3 1’25.941
18. A. ESPARGARÒ TEAM SUZUKI ECSTAR 1’25.945
19. D. PEDROSA REPSOL HONDA TEAM 1’26.130
20. S. BRADL APRILIA RACING TEAM GRESINI 1’26.149
21. E. LAVERTY PULL & BEAR ASPAR TEAM 1’26.469
22. L. BAZ AVINTIA RACING 1’26.491