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Italian MotoGP Practice 1 | Alex Marquez leads Mugello opener, Espargaro in trouble

Alex Marquez, Gresini Racing, Ducati GP22, 2023 Italian MotoGP, Mugello, action [credit: Gold and Goose]

Alex Marquez opened the 2023 Italian MotoGP atop the Practice 1 timesheets at Mugello as the 2023 MotoGP World Championship resumed following a three-week spring break.

The first event to take place on Italian soil since Ducati became MotoGP World Champions for only the second time, the manufacturer comes into the event with a veritable Armada of nine Desmosedici entries bidding to take one of the sport's most treasured prizes.

For now it's Marquez that has drawn first blood on the satellite Gresini Racing bike, the Spaniard pumping in a 1m 46.121secs lap in the closing minutes as the riders got their heads down for the time attacks.


>>> 2023 Italian MotoGP - ALL MotoGP, Moto2, Moto3, MotoE Results <<<

That was enough to unseat Fabio Quartararo, the Frenchman enjoying a strong start to the weekend at one of his - if not Yamaha's - favoured venues.

Title contenders Brad Binder and Marco Bezzecchi - who arrive at Mugello just 13 and a single point adrift respectively of series leader Pecco Bagnaia - followed up in third and fourth, with the evenly-matched Pramac Ducatis of Johann Zarco and Jorge Martin line astern in completing the top six.

Consolidating Yamaha's positive start to the Mugello weekend, Franco Morbidelli was another of the local Italian contingent to nestle safely inside the top ten in seventh, heading off Maverick Vinales in eighth, the Spaniard getting his head down amid some otherwise concerned faces on the other side of the garage for Aleix Espargaro.

The Spaniard was seen hobbling into the garage and wincing with pain just minutes into the session, despite having not suffered a crash in that time. Raising doubts as to whether he would continue, Espargaro eventually ventured back on track, only to come down moments later at the final corner, requiring him propped up by marshals before being taken to the medical centre.

As ever, lap times were remarkably close throughout the field with less than 0.4s covering the top 13 riders. It means competition to squeeze into Q2 on Saturday morning will be fierce this afternoon in P2, with several high-profile riders needing gains to leapfrog the Marc Marquez and Raul Fernandez currently in those provisional positions.

>>> 2023 MotoGP World Championship standings <<<

A strong showing from Fernandez, who was forced out of the French MotoGP at this stage due to injury, he headed off wildcard Michele Pirro, the Ducati development rider competing in the colours of the firm's WorldSBK dominating Aruba.it Racing.

Alex Rins and Takaaki Nakagami were closely matched in 12th and 13th on the LCR Hondas, ahead of Jack Miller on the second of the factory KTMs.

On a weekend that sees several riders nursing various injuries, championship leader Pecco Bagnaia and Luca Marini - who picked up damage in crashes at Le Mans - played it safe en route to 16th and 18th respectively, just behind Enea Bastianini, who makes his second attempt at a comeback this weekend following his shoulder break at the Portimao opener.

Italian MotoGP, Mugello | Practice 1 Results

Friday | Conditions - Sunny, Dry
2023 Italian MotoGP | Mugello, Italy | Practice 1 Results | Round 6 of 20
1Alex MarquezESPGresini Racing MotoGPDucati GP221m 46.121
2Fabio QuartararoFRAMonster Energy YamahaYamaha M11m 46.208
3Brad BinderRSARed Bull KTM Factory RacingKTM RC161m 46.225
4Marco BezzecchiITAMooney VR46 RacingDucati GP221m 46.301
5Johann ZarcoFRAPrima Pramac RacingDucati GP231m 46.335
6Jorge MartinESPPrima Pramac RacingDucati GP231m 46.361
7Franco MorbidelliITAMonster Energy YamahaYamaha M11m 46.400
8Maverick VinalesESPAprilia RacingAprilia RS-GP1m 46.404
9Marc MarquezESPRepsol Honda TeamHonda RC213V1m 46.409
10Raul FernandezESPCryptoData RNF RacingAprilia RS-GP1m 46.428
11Michele PirroITAAruba RacingDucati GP231m 46.488
12Alex RinsESPLCR Honda CastrolHonda RC213V1m 46.506
13Takaaki NakagamiJPNLCR Honda IDEMITSUHonda RC213V1m 46.506
14Jack MillerAUSRed Bull KTM Factory RacingKTM RC161m 46.654
15Enea BastianiniITADucati Leonovo TeamDucati GP231m 46.801
16Pecco BagnaiaITADucati Leonovo TeamDucati GP231m 46.839
17Fabio di GiannantonioITAGresini Racing MotoGPDucati GP221m 46.889
18Luca MariniITAMooney VR46 RacingDucati GP221m 46.934
19Augusto FernandezESPGasGas Factory Tech 3KTM RC161m 47.442
20Joan MirESPRepsol Honda TeamHonda RC213V1m 47.614
21Miguel OliveiraPORCryptoData RNF RacingAprilia RS-GP1m 47.853
22Aleix EspargaroESPAprilia RacingAprilia RS-GP1m 48.102
23Lorenzo SavadoriITAAprilia RacingAprilia RS-GP1m 48.165
24Jonas FolgerGERGasGas Factory Tech 3KTM RC161m 48.482

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