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Catalunya MotoGP, Free Practice 1 | Local fave Aleix Espargaro top, Marc Marquez falls

Gold and Goose
Aleix Espargaro, Aprilia Racing, Aprilia RS-GP, 2023 MotoGP, Catalunya MotoGP, Barcelona, action - credit Gold and Goose

Aleix Espargaro was the pace man in first free practice for the Catalunya MotoGP, the local favourite leading an Aprilia Racing 1-2 at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya.

The experienced Spaniard, who grew up close by in Granollers with brother and fellow MotoGP racer Pol, comes into the weekend chasing his second victory of the season around a venue he knows better than any other.

Stopping the clock at 1 m 39.809s, Espargaro - who missed out on a podium last year after mistakenly believing the race to be over when there was still a lap left to go - was the only rider to dip below the 1m 40s mark to command a +0.264s advantage over team-mate Maverick Vinales on the sister Aprilia RS-GP.


- 2023 MotoGP World Championship Standings -

A strong opening for Aprilia that echoes its 1-2 opening earlier in the season in Argentina, the factory pair were followed up by title contenders Jorge Martin on the Prima Pramac Ducati and Brad Binder on the Red Bull KTM Factory Racing KTM RC16, with championship leader Francesco Bagnaia lurking just over a second off the ultimate pace in fifth.

By contrast, however, it was a low-key opening gambit for Marco Bezzecchi who, fresh from confirming he will stay with the Mooney VR46 Racing team, contended with 16th on the timesheets, +1.495s adrift of the benchmark.

It was a good start to the weekend all round for the Espargaro family with Pol in sixth, the GasGas Factory Racing Tech3 rider coming into the weekend eager to prove he deserves to retain his seat for the 2024 MotoGP World Championship season.

A winner on the KTM RC 16 in 2021, Miguel Oliveira made it three Aprilia RS-GPs well inside the top ten aboard the CryptoData RNF Racing Aprilia RS-GP, with the Monster Energy Yamaha Racing duo of Franco Morbidelli and Fabio Quartararo up the order in eighth and ninth.

Johann Zarco completed the top ten as he prepared for his final events with the Prima Pramac Racing team, ahead of Jack Miller’s Red Bull KTM Factory Racing KTM RC 16 and Alex Marquez on the Gresini Racing MotoGP Ducati GP22.

However, there was more frustration for his sibling Marc Marquez on the Repsol Honda Team Honda RC213V as he took a tumble in the closing stages of the session at Turn 5, consigning him to a lowly 21st. 

It compounded a difficult opening session for the Honda quartet with Marquez’s team-mate Joan Mir only 17th, while the LCR pair of Takaaki Nakagami and Iker Lecuona - still standing in for Alex Rins - were 20th and 22nd.

2023 Catalunya MotoGP | Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, Spain | Free Practice 1 Results | Round 11 of 20
Pos.NameNat.TeamMotorcycleLap Time
1Aleix Espargaro🇪🇦Aprilia RacingAprilia RS-GP1m 39.809
2Maverick Vinales🇪🇦Aprilia RacingAprilia RS-GP1m 40.073
3Jorge Martin🇪🇦Prima Pramac RacingDucati GP231m 40.273
4Brad Binder🇿🇦Red Bull KTM Factory RacingKTM RC161m 40.859
5Pecco Bagnaia🇮🇹Ducati Leonovo TeamDucati GP231m 40.900
6Pol Espargaro🇪🇦GasGas Factory Racing Tech3KTM RC161m 40.917
7Miguel Oliveira🇵🇹CryptoData RNF RacingAprilia RS-GP1m 40.944
8Franco Morbidelli🇮🇹Monster Energy YamahaYamaha M11m 41.004
9Fabio Quartararo🇨🇵Monster Energy YamahaYamaha M11m 41.011
10Johann Zarco🇨🇵Prima Pramac RacingDucati GP231m 41.017
11Jack Miller🇦🇺Red Bull KTM Factory RacingKTM RC161m 41.144
12Alex Marquez🇪🇦Gresini Racing MotoGPDucati GP221m 41.165
13Enea Bastianini🇮🇹Ducati Leonovo TeamDucati GP231m 41.183
14Augusto Fernandez🇪🇦GasGas Factory Racing Tech3KTM RC161m 41.218
15Fabio di Giannantonio🇮🇹Gresini Racing MotoGPDucati GP221m 41.265
16Marco Bezzecchi🇮🇹Mooney VR46 RacingDucati GP221m 41.304
17Joan Mir🇪🇦Repsol Honda TeamHonda RC213V1m 41.339
18Luca Marini🇮🇹Mooney VR46 RacingDucati GP221m 41.401
19Raul Fernandez🇪🇦CryptoData RNF RacingAprilia RS-GP1m 41.404
20Takaaki Nakagami🇯🇵LCR Honda IDEMITSUHonda RC213V1m 41.406
21Marc Marquez🇪🇦Repsol Honda TeamHonda RC213V1m 41.448
22Iker Lecuona🇪🇦LCR Honda CastrolHonda RC213V1m 41.925

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