Tech3 KTM’s Iker Lecuona showcased a commanding performance at the Red Bull Ring braving slicks on the damp Austrian track as MotoGP FP2 concluded.
Having circulated inside the top times for the majority of the 45-minute session, the Spaniard was the first to brave slicks in the closing stages. Setting an impressive 1’27.520 on his final lap he took the practice over three-seconds clear of second-placed Johann Zarco.
FP2 began with a barrage of thunder, lightning, torrential rain and no track action. The garages working hard to adapt the bikes to the changing conditions as the skies once again began to clear.
As track conditions improved, practice began on soft wets for the majority, Tech3’s Iker Lecuona holding court in the opening laps. Jack Miller pushed the pace with his fifth lap of the Spielberg circuit, Ducati team-mate Pecco Bagnaia joining him one lap later with near identical pace.
Miller continued to hone his wet weather skills on medium Michelin rubber as he advanced the times with a 1’33.372. Lecuona likewise improving as he held tight to third position with Aleix Espargaro half a second down in fourth. The KTM rider’s confidence was going from strength to strength in the tricky conditions as he leapfrogged the Australian with a 1’33.218 after 20-minutes, Johann Zarco completing a Ducati trio behind as the Frenchman slotted into third.
The Espargaro brothers circulated in fifth and sixth - just four-hundredths of a second separating the pair - before Marc Marquez demoted them one position as he arrived to fifth and his Repsol teammate took his shot at the standings with a 1’33.125. It was short-lived, however, as conditions continued to improve. Lecuona, Miller and Marquez all taking their turn at the top thanks to 1’32 efforts, with the Honda man holding court with his next two hot-laps, 1’32.312 now the time to beat.
It was a different story for Suzuki as the session approached the final 15-minutes, Joan Mir struggling in 17th with Alex Rins narrowly ahead in 13th, while Valentino Rossi circulated as fastest Yamaha in 11th.
Miguel Oliveira suffered a technical issue as he pushed his KTM back to the garage, from eighth, as the session wound down, the second RC-16 joining forces in the standings as Brad Binder took ninth moments later.
Brighter skies brought faster times in the closing 10-minutes. A Repsol one-two headed a gaggle of Ducatis as Lecuona maintained his grip in the mix of the red bikes, from fourth. Alex Marquez and Aleix Espargaro sat seventh and eighth before the LCR man improved to fifth, Fabio Quartararo finally making his presence known, after circulating at the back of the field for the majority of the session, to take the position from the Aprilia rider.
The KTM battle for team honours continued as Binder swiped 10th from Oliveira, Rins leading Luca Marini and Jorge Martin as Rossi sat behind in 15th while Mir continued to struggle.
Out front and Marquez improved again, 1’31.693 the current best with four minutes remaining, Lecuona the first to head out on slicks as he stormed the standings with a 1’30.490. Miller did likewise as the clock counted down, while the Tech3 struck again, this time for a 1’29.574.
As the chequered flag came out, the Aprilia advanced to second, 2.6s adrift of Lecuona’s earlier effort before Zarco secured a 1’30.9 to take the runner’s up spot. The Tech3 man, however, had one more in the tank, crossing the line 3.3s clear of the next-best rider, thanks to a 1’27.520.
Marquez sat fourth from Miller and his younger brother, while Rins headed Espargaro, Quartararo and Binder to complete the top-10. Zarco remaining top overall thanks to the changing weather with no improvements made on the morning times.