Italian Ducati rider Francesco Bagnaia was fastest in Saturday morning’s free practice session at the Styrian Grand Prix as MotoGP championship leader Fabio Quartararo just managed to secure a Q2 place at the Red Bull Ring in Spielberg.
Bagnaia timed 1min 23.114sec to see off Yamaha’s Quartararo by 0,028sec with Spanish Yamaha man Maverick Vinales 148 hundredths off the pace in third after a closely-fought session.
Quartararo endured a sluggish time of it to begin with before sweeping from outside the top ten into second spot with less than a minute in hand.
Rookie Jorge Martin of Pramac was fourth fastest as he overcame a fall to come in ahead of Suzuki’s Joan Mir. Pramac stablemate Johann Zarco, second in the overall standings, was sixth.
Portugal’s Miguel Oliveira was only 16th on his KTM as last year’s race winner continued to suffer from a heavy fall in which he injured his hand during Friday free testing.
Six-time champion Marc Marquez was the fastest Honda in seventh while seven-time champion Valentino Rossi, who announced midweek he will retire at season’s end, will have to go through Q1 after he came in 19th in the morning session 1.267sec adrift on his Yamaha.
The session was watched by a sparse crowd — those who have had their Covid-19 vaccinations are allowed in along with those who can show a negative test and organisers hope the venue will be at capacity Sunday despite a forecast of rain.
Free testing results Saturday at the Red Bull Ring 4.318km):
1. Francesco Bagnaia (ITA/Ducati) 1:23.114, 2. Fabio Quartararo (FRA/Yamaha) at 0.028sec, 3. Maverick Vinales (ESP/Yamaha) 0.148, 4. Jorge Martin (ESP/Ducati-Pramac) 0.180 5. Joan Mir (ESP/Suzuki) 0.273, 6. Johann Zarco (FRA/Ducati-Pramac) 0.373, 7. Marc Marquez (ESP/Honda) 0.399, 8. Aleix Espargaro (ESP/Aprilia) 0.480, 9. Jack Miller (AUS/Ducati) 0.617, 10. Takaaki Nakagami (JPN/Honda-LCR) 0.626