Luca Marini replaced his VR46 Ducati team-mate Marco Bezzecchi at the head of the timesheets in the more pivotal second Friday Practice session for the Indian MotoGP at the Buddh International Circuit.
The Italian came down in a slow fall at Turn 1 earlier in the session, one of many to take a trip through the gravel trap as riders struggled to get their braking right for the tricky downhill right-hander, before bouncing back to form towards the end of the session.
Finding clear air with only a few seconds of the extended 70mins session remaining, Marini popped to the top with a 1m 44.782secs effort, a slither of 0.008s ahead of double Misano winner Jorge Martin in second.
Despite getting caught up in a moment with Aprilia Racing team-mate Maverick Vinales - who was returning to the circuit slowly on the racing line after a run through the gravel - Aleix Espargaro was well placed at the end of the day in third place, while his fellow Spaniard was also able to stay within the top ten bounds in sixth.
An all-new circuit to help level the playing field for MotoGP’s two struggling Japanese manufacturers, Repsol Honda enjoyed its strongest start to a race weekend since the Portimao opener with both Marc Marquez and Joan Mir making it through to Q2.
Having ended P1 in second place, Marquez again looked poised with the fourth best time, while Mir - who has endured a litany of crashes and injuries ever since moving to the factory Honda team - gave himself a much needed boost with his first direct Q2 qualification of the season in tenth.
Bezzecchi consolidated VR46 Ducati’s positive day in fifth place, while championship leader Pecco Bagnaia was typically giving nothing away as he focused on race pace en route to an eventually safe seventh on the final timesheets.
Like Honda, Yamaha was proving a more competitive match for its European rivals despite missing out on significant track time in FP1 due to persistent gearbox issues on the Yamaha M1.
Nonetheless, Fabio Quartararo got up to speed quickly to complete the day in eighth place, ahead of Johann Zarco and Mir as the final Q2 candidates.
It meant that KTM/GasGas was the only manufacturer to miss the Q2 cut, the Austrian firm getting unlucky when Brad Binder and Augusto Fernandez’s final laps - which would have been good enough for fourth and seventh respectively - were scrubbed due to a late yellow flag over a crash for Takaaki Nakagami.
It meant Binder was left with work to do on Saturday morning in 12th, the South African nestled between the Gresini Ducatis of Fabio di Giannantonio and Alex Marquez. Despite showing promise in FP1 and during the early stages of P1, neither RNF Aprilia rider made it through either with Miguel Oliveira and Raul Fernandez slipping to 16th and 17th respectively.
|2023 Indian MotoGP | Buddh International Circuit, India | Friday Practice Results | Round 13 of 20|
|1||Luca Marini||🇮🇹||Mooney VR46 Racing||Ducati GP22||1m 44.782|
|2||Jorge Martin||🇪🇦||Prima Pramac Racing||Ducati GP23||1m 44.790|
|3||Aleix Espargaro||🇪🇦||Aprilia Racing||Aprilia RS-GP||1m 44.833|
|4||Marc Marquez||🇪🇦||Repsol Honda Team||Honda RC213V||1m 45.117|
|5||Marco Bezzecchi||🇮🇹||Mooney VR46 Racing||Ducati GP22||1m 45.202|
|6||Maverick Vinales||🇪🇦||Aprilia Racing||Aprilia RS-GP||1m 45.213|
|7||Pecco Bagnaia||🇮🇹||Ducati Lenovo Team||Ducati GP23||1m 45.280|
|8||Fabio Quartararo||🇨🇵||Monster Energy Yamaha||Yamaha M1||1m 45.291|
|9||Johann Zarco||🇨🇵||Prima Pramac Racing||Ducati GP23||1m 45.305|
|10||Joan Mir||🇪🇦||Repsol Honda Team||Honda RC213V||1m 45.332|
|11||Fabio di Giannantonio||🇮🇹||Gresini Racing MotoGP||Ducati GP22||1m 45.406|
|12||Brad Binder||🇿🇦||Red Bull KTM Factory Racing||KTM RC16||1m 45.539|
|13||Alex Marquez||🇪🇦||Gresini Racing MotoGP||Ducati GP22||1m 45.550|
|14||Franco Morbidelli||🇮🇹||Monster Energy Yamaha||Yamaha M1||1m 45.576|
|15||Augusto Fernandez||🇪🇦||GasGas Factory Racing Tech3||KTM RC16||1m 45.589|
|16||Miguel Oliveira||🇵🇹||CryptoData RNF Racing||Aprilia RS-GP||1m 45.712|
|17||Raul Fernandez||🇪🇦||CryptoData RNF Racing||Aprilia RS-GP||1m 45.863|
|18||Jack Miller||🇦🇺||Red Bull KTM Factory Racing||KTM RC16||1m 45.961|
|19||Pol Espargaro||🇪🇦||GasGas Factory Racing Tech3||KTM RC16||1m 46.111|
|20||Stefan Bradl||🇩🇪||LCR Honda IDEMITSU||Honda RC213V||1m 46.276|
|21||Takaaki Nakagami||🇯🇵||LCR Honda IDEMITSU||Honda RC213V||1m 46.310|
|22||Michele Pirro||🇮🇹||Aruba Racing||Ducati GP23||1m 46.573|