Leopard’s Dennis Foggia secured the fastest time of the Moto3 free practice sessions at Motorland Aragon on Friday.
The Italian was joined by Sterilgarda Husqvarna Max’s Ayumu Sasaki and Red Bull KTM Ajo’s Daniel Holgado in the top three with John McPhee holding the gateway time to promotion after 80 minutes on track.
Friday’s morning practice began in cool and clear conditions as Moto3 took to the mountainous Alcañiz circuit. Red Bull KTM AJo’s Jaume Masia led the way in the initial standings with wildcards Alessandro Morosi joining MT Helmets while Maria Herrera began her lightweight outing with the all-female Angeluss MTA squad - an intense switch having run the near-250kg MotoE machines in recent years.
Holgado took over from his teammate at the top as the opening ten minutes counted down, Sasaki splitting the pair with his third effort of the morning.
CIP Green Power’s Joel Kelso began his challenge from fourth. The Australian announcing his move to CFMoto PruestelGP for 2023, as the man he is set to replace, Carlos Tatay, demoted him in the times. Autosolar GasGas Aspar’s Sergio Garcia and Izan Guevara were the next to climb as the championship leaders found second and fourth respectively while Leopard’s Foggia and Tatsuki Suzuki circulated just adrift of the top 10 in 12th and 13th with rookie David Muñoz narrowly ahead.
Tatay was top as the halfway stage neared. Elia Bartolini crashing out at turn 12 on the QJMotor Avintia as McPhee finally ventured out on track following issues with his front brake sensor.
The final quarter of an hour found Holgado back in charge with a 2’00.183 from an improving Guevara with Tatay, Tech3’s Deniz Öncü and Sasaki completing the top five. McPhee circulated 23rd with a best of 2.02.287 on his seventh attempt, two places ahead of fellow Brit Scott Ogden on the first VisionTrack Honda with teammate Josh Whatley a tenth behind in 28th.
The final five minutes saw Stefano Nepa crash out at turn eight as Holgado broke through the 2’00 barrier. Öncü and Garcia following suit in quick succession until Kelso bettered the trio with a 1’59.038 with three to go. The Australian had his time deleted due tot the yellow flags just as his teammate Kaito Toba hit the top, Sasaki the next to improve the outright target with a 1’58.819 as the closing minutes intensified.
McPhee was into the closely matched top ten as the final minute began before PruestelGP’s Xavi Artigas dropped him out on his way to third. Sasaki meeting the flag safely in charge from Guevara, with Kelso, Holgado and Toba rounding out the top six. Whatley taking the VisionTrack honours in 21st thanks to a 2’01.183 with Ogden completing FP1 in 25th.
The afternoon brought an increase in both temperatures and strong winds as the lightweight machines returned to action on the 5km layout. KTM’s double act immediately leading the way once again as the opening laps registered as Kelso suffered the first fall of the second session.
Sasaki crashed out at turn eight after an on-track altercation with wildcard Morosi. Masia the highest placed improver so far, in 11th as Nepa and Bartolini staked their claim on a Q2 promotion from the back of the top 14.
Holgado struck for second overall as the final ten minutes began to intensify. Foggia finding sixth as the remainder of the pack prepared to roll out of pitlane. Öncü was the next to climb as he hit the top five, 0.330 off the benchmark before MTA’s Ivan Ortola bettered, with an identical time to Guevara in third.
Foggia was in charge as the penultimate minute kicked in, 1’58.507 the new target with Sasaki refining his own personal best from second. McPhee doing likewise from the promotion danger zone in 13th as Ogden and Whatley circulated in tandem from 28th and 29th.
Nepa continued to make headlines for the MTA team as he improved again, this time to fourth. Adrian Fernandez launching the second Tech3 machine to 12th as McPhee sat perilously in 14th.
Foggia secured the spoils as the session completed from Sasaki and Holgado with Nepa, Guevara, Ortola, Artigas and Öncü heading the CIP Green Power duo of Kelso and Toba, with Muñoz slotting in between. Fernandez, Garcia and McPhee claiming the final promotion places overnight ahead of the FP3 fight.