Repsol Honda’s Marc Marquez proved how much he loves MotorLand Aragón on Friday morning by dominating the first MotoGP practice, one-second clear of the pack.
Suzuki’s Joan Mir sat best of the rest after the opening 45-minute session at the Spanish track, with Pecco Bagnaia, Alex Marquez and Jack Miller completing the top five.
All eyes were on Maverick Viñales as Friday’s FP1 fired up at MotorLand, the Spaniard taking to the Aragón track for the first time aboard the Aprilia RS-GP 21. The timing screens, however, belonged to Takaaki Nakagami and Johann Zarco as the initial flying laps came in.
Fabio Quartararo returned to his usual dominant position with his opening effort of 1’50.185 before Repsol Honda’s Marc Marquez and Pol Espargaro demoted the Yamaha. Marquez sat top thanks to a 1’49.360 after 10-minutes of action, Zarco splitting the HRC pairing in second as Aleix Espargaro joined the top five.
Iker Lecuona suffered a fast turn 16 crash in the opening stages, the Tech3 KTM youngster sliding across the gravel before returning to the paddock for the spare RC-16.
It was a Honda showcase as the session continued, with all four RC213V machines inside the top 10 and LCR’s Marquez joining his brother at the head of the standings, with the elder sibling’s 1’49.171 the time to beat. Jack Miller looked to spoil the family fun as the next to claim second, four-tenths behind the eight-time world champion, his fellow Ducati’s of Zarco and Bagnaia sitting fourth and fifth with half an hour to run.
Nakagami continued to shine as he moved to within three-tenths of his captain, Mir pushing him back by a mere 0.059s as Cal Crutchlow entered the top seven. The Yamaha man circulating behind the previous owner of his M1, as Viñales got to grips with his new steed, from 16th.
Marquez retained control at the halfway stage from Mir and Nakagami. Miller, Quartararo and Bagnaia completing the top six with the younger Marquez, Zarco, Crutchlow and Aprilia’s Espargaro rounding out the fastest 10 men. A steady start to the weekend found Jorge Martin in 11th from Alex Rins and the second Repsol. Espargaro, however, was soon on the move as he re-entered the top six, his elder brother doing likewise two places behind.
The HRC show continued in the closing 15-minutes as Espargaro hit fourth, Valentino Rossi crashing out at turn five as Quartararo advanced to third.
Bagnaia was the next to progress, finding second with a 1’49.279, just a tenth shy of the dominating Marquez before his teammate joined, and demoted him, moments later. The Ducati duel continued as the closing minutes clicked down with Bagnaia returning to second just 0.072s behind the Honda before inching even closer with his next effort.
Espargaro was up to fourth on the RS-GP with four-minutes remaining, Enea Bastianini finding ninth narrowly ahead of Crutchlow as Jake Dixon circulated just two-seconds off the fastest time as his second appearance in the premier class got up to speed.
The final two minutes saw the pace heat up across the board. Mir returned to second with an impressive 1’49.0 just as Marquez refined the target with a 1’48.048. The Suzuki was on a charge reducing the gap once again with his last effort, however the lap was deleted as the flag came out.
Marquez completed the session just under a second clear of the rest, Mir, Bagnaia and his younger brother completing the top four ahead of Miller, Espargaro and a late-improving Zarco. Quartararo sat eighth at the flag from Nakagami and the final Honda.