Leopard’s Dennis Foggia continued his Silverstone form with Moto3’s fastest time at the Red Bull Ring on Friday.
Red Bull KTM Tech3’s Deniz Öncü and Sterilgarda Husqvarna’s John McPhee completed the top three at the Austrian manufacturer’s home track with the leading trio covered by just 0.049s.
A wet Red Bull Ring greeted the Moto3 class as the Austrian GP weekend got underway on Friday morning. Heavy storms overnight leaving a saturated track with further rain expected across the day.
Newly signed BOE rider David Muñoz headed the initial standings as the rookie continued to impress with fellow 2022 recruit Mario Aji running second before Leopard’s Tatsuki Suzuki claimed the position with MTA’s Stefano Nepa slotting into third.
The opening ten minutes found McPhee and VisionTrack Honda’s Scott Ogden circulating on the fringes of the top ten and narrowly adrift of championship leaders Sergio Garcia and Izan Guevara before a shuffle to the standings promoted the rookie above the Aspar riders with his sixth lap.
Garcia topped the times at the halfway stage with a 1’52.669 on the GasGas machine from Suzuki and Muñoz before his teammate bettered by three-tenths next time around and Tech3’s Öncü slid into third. CFMoto’s Carlos Tatay headed Rivacold Snipers’ Andrea Migno in sixth and seventh with Sic58’s Lorenzo Fellon, MT Helmets’ Ryusei Yamanaka and Aji completing the top ten.
Migno advanced to third as the second half played out with team-mate Alberto surra joining him to lock out the top four for the Aspar and Snipers squads. Silverstone winner Foggia arrived to sixth as the final ten minutes prepared with Brits Ogden, McPhee and Josh Whatley running 20th, 25th and 27th respectively.
Six minutes to go and Garcia topped the session then dropped the GasGas at turn three next time around, the pace out front now a 1’51.116 from Migno and Guevara. As the track continued to dry in the closing minutes it was Migno who claimed the final honours with a 1’50.378 from KTM’s Daniel Holgado. Suzuki sitting third and on the 1’51 bubble as teammate Foggia stopped out on track. Öncü, Garcia and Ivan Ortola - recently confirmed as staying with the MTA team for 2023 - splitting the two Leopard’s in the top seven.
A dry afternoon saw times immediately quicker as Nepa headed the pack with a 1’42.291. Red Bull KTM Ajo’s Jamie Masia running second from Sterilgarda Husqvarna’s Ayumu Sasaki before Holgado bettered overall. Foggia was the next to take charge on the bubble of 1’43 before the barrier was broken by the rookie twice in quick succession.
Sasaki hit the top with a 1’42.249 on his sixth attempt before improving again on his next attempt as teammate McPhee joined the front runners, from fifth. CIP Green Power’s Kaito Toba and Joel Kelso holding the gateway positions at the edge of the promotion zone as the second half began with Garcia narrowly ahead in 12th.
Ricardo Rossi joined the top three fight on the Sic58 in the final quarter of an hour before Suzuki arrived to second. Guevara finding improvements with sixth position after a mid-session lull as both his teammate and Öncü dropped out of Q2 contention.
Ogden ran in the midst of a six-rider group as the session counted down. The Brit holding 18th, just second off the outright pace, with 10 minutes left on the clock.
Holgado was back in charge for the final five minutes before he saw his 1’41.9 time deleted. Garcia advancing to secure his promotion with a P2 worthy time as Öncü did likewise in fourth before Guevara joined the fight and Masia bettered overall.
The red sectors kept coming as the session counted down. Öncü breaking the 1’42 barrier with his 17th lap before a collision with Fellon sent the two crashing out at turn one. The Turk, however, looked to maintain control as the chequered flag came out before Foggia grabbed the glory in the dying seconds with a 1’41.774.
McPhee claimed third with his final effort, 0.049s shy of the outright target while Ogden dropped out of the promotion zone as the session concluded. The rookie less than a tenth adrift of the gateway time and seven-tenths off the leader with his 1’42.571 best.