Sic58’s Tatsuki Suzuki completed day one at Assen with the fastest overall Moto3 time despite suffering an eye-watering highside on the exit of turn nine in FP2.
Darryn Binder sat second from Dennis Foggia and Andrea Migno, with Petronas team-mate John McPhee securing himself provisional promotion to Saturday’s Q2 from 10th position.
Takuma Matsuyama returned for his fourth appearance with Honda Asia in the lightweight class as the Dutch weekend began. Elia Bartolini and Joel Kelso continuing to sub for Carlos Tatay and Max Kofler respectively, after the pair’s Mugello injuries, with Ayumu Sasaki also ruled out of the Assen TT event due to ongoing complications from his last-lap accident at Barcelona.
Having made his debut at the Italian GP with the VR46 Academy, Alberto Surra joins the Rivacold Snipers team for the remainder of the season after last weekend’s technical issues denied pole-man Filip Salac from defending his impressive qualifying form - the Czech rider departing the Honda outfit in favour of his late friend Jason Dupasquier’s place at PrüstelGP KTM, from Austria onwards.
Friday morning practice began with Gabriel Rodrigo crashing out at turn three after just five laps of action and Jaume Masia challenging Romano Fenati at the top of the times. Migno became the next to succumb, at turn seven five minutes later, on the cool and green surface.
Suzuki led the way with a 1’42.542 after 15-minutes of play with a pair of Petronas Hondas sitting second and third as Binder and McPhee circulated in the low 1’43’s. Stefano Nepa advanced to second at the halfway stage, Foggia doing likewise for fifth as Jeremy Alcoba, Fenati, Kaito Toba, Masia and Xavier Artigas rounded out the top-10.
Foggia continued his assault as the second half began, slotting in behind Suzuki after becoming the next rider to break into the 1’42’s, Nepa fell foul of turn five moments later before Masia became the next victim, after a rapid highside at turn nine with just 13-minutes to go.
The closing three minutes saw the pace increase as the top-nine all homed in on Suzuki’s 1’42 effort. Foggia outdoing the SIC58 rider in the final minute with a 1’42.272, as Niccolò Antonelli joined him in second.
As the chequered flag waved, however, it was Binder who took charge with a 1’41.8, before Foggia pounced once again, ending the session on top thanks to a 1’41.748 in the dying seconds. Binder sat second from Migno, Fenati, and Rodrigo with Antonelli, Pedro Acosta, Suzuki, McPhee and Nepa competing the top-10.
FP2 saw Masia return to the running after his monster crash left him sitting out of this morning’s final third. Binder headed back to the top of the standings as the opening laps registered before Suzuki took charge once again, already under the morning’s best time, with his fourth lap. Foggia joined the top group on his next attempt with McPhee trailing his teammate in fourth before Fenati demoted the Scot one position with 10-minutes gone.
Close contact saw Deniz Öncü navigate a moment with championship leader Acosta at turn 13 as the Turk’s front wheel grazed the rear of his fellow KTM, Artigas managing to avoid the duo while getting an extreme close up view of the action.
Migno was the only change to the fastest riders at the halfway stage as the Snipers rider advanced to fourth, Masia making his way up to eighth as Acosta slid out at the first corner. A massive highside cutting Suzuki’s run short at turn nine with 16-minutes left as spots of rain began to make their presence felt.
Binder was back up to second with his 12th lap as Masia continued his climb, to fifth, and Toba hit eighth. The pack peeling back into the pits ahead of their final runs in the concluding 10-minutes of action as the white flags flew.
Izan Guevara circulated with Öncü for company as the clock counted down, the majority choosing to remain in the garage due to the inconsistent track conditions with Matsuyama cruising on the racing line and sending the rookie off track in the penultimate minute.
No change at the top allowed Suzuki to retain control despite his earlier accident, Binder, Foggia, Migno and Masia completing the top-five from Fenati, McPhee, Toba and Nepa, with Antonelli, Artigas, Alcoba, Acosta and Rodrigo rounding to the session’s top-14. Sergio Garcia the only rider in the combined times to retain his provisional Q2 promotion despite not having improved on his morning effort, Alcoba the unfortunate recipient of demotion in the overall standings.