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MotoGP Aragon: Fernandez tops Moto3, McPhee 15th

Raul Fernandez lead the way in Moto3 free practice at Motorland Aragon with a dominant performance during the afternoon session to head the standings almost half a second clear of nearest rival Romano Fenati, with championship-leader Albert Arenas in third.

John McPhee finished a disappointing Friday in 15th, just outside of the provisional Q2 placings.

A brisk start to proceedings at the Aragon GP found a barely-there 8℃ morning temperature in the Spanish mountains for the opening practice of the day. Disappointment struck Tony Arbolino before the Moto3 bikes had even ventured out on track as the championship-contender was ruled out of the weekend, needing to isolate after suspected Covid-19 contact while travelling from Paris.


A tentative start saw FP1 finally underway with Celestino Vietti leading the times for the majority of the second half, Niccolò Antonelli, Fernandez, Andrea Migno and Darryn Binder all in the mix as McPhee circulated on the fringes of top-10 - in eighth - with ten’ to go. The pace increased in the closing minutes as Fenati rushed the standings, Binder and Fernandez doing likewise before a scrabble after the flag dropped shuffled the times yet again. Binder won out as the only rider to break the ’59 barrier, with a 1’59.813, ahead of Vietti and McPhee while Ai Ogura finished seventh, Arenas 13th.

Fernandez initially took charge of the slightly warmer but blustery afternoon session, leading Jaume Masia and Tatsuki Suzuki as the lightweight class got up to speed before Antonelli and morning faller, Dennis Foggia, climbed the standings. Returning to the top on his sixth lap, the KTM-mounted Spaniard reclaimed the position with an impressive effort seven-tenths faster than the best of the rest, before outdoing himself to increase the gap yet again.

The second half saw Gabriel Rodrigo caught out by the winds, going down at turn 16, while Binder advanced to within three-tenths of the hard-charging Fernandez. Masia also broke into the top-three, narrowly ahead of Antonelli as the leading-quartet remained the only riders to have lapped under the two minute barrier with 10 minutes to go.

A quite session for McPhee had seen the Scot circulate around the top-15 for the majority before the final-run rush began. Fernandez again demonstrating his dominance at his home circuit, setting a 1’58.144 on his 11th lap to go over a second clear of the pack with no sign of slowing. Fenati and Garcia advanced to the top-three as the final five minutes began, Binder reclaiming his spot in second on the next lap before Fenati again answered back moments later, to sit just 0.4 shy of the fastest time.

Chipping away, McPhee advanced to 11th in the penultimate minute as the majority of the field broke into 1’59 pace but the final shuffle demoted him back to 15th at the flag. Arenas was the only rider to challenge the front runners in the dying seconds, slotting into third ahead of Binder as Suzuki made a similar late charge to take fifth. Garcia and Masia bested Ogura, in eighth, with Vietti and Alonso Lopez rounding out the top-ten. Carlos Tatay, Kaito Toba, Rodrigo and Antonelli concluded the valuable promotion spots.

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