Ecstar Suzuki’s Maverick Vinales topped the opening MotoGP free practice session at Austria’s Red Bull Ring which saw three big front-end crashes, one of which left Dani Pedrosa’s Repsol Honda stranded on top of a deflating section of air fence.
Cold track temperatures saw Pedrosa, Stefan Bradl and Eugene Laverty all fall with the Spaniard and German going down while braking in a straight line. None of the trio suffered any injury but the session had to be red-flagged to repair the damage done by the Honda man’s accident.
Vinales, who debuted some new wings, hurtled to the top of the timesheets with his 16th lap, setting a 1’25.866 but he was chased hard by the factory Ducatis who are expected to dominate this weekend. Vinales was just 0.079s ahead of Andrea Dovizioso who, in turn, was a tenth ahead of team-mate Andrea Iannone in third.
The Desmosedicis were easily the quickest in testing a couple of weeks ago but aren’t finding quite as much grip in the colder conditions. Expect the times to drop considerably this afternoon if the sun comes out. In terms of top speed, Dovizioso is four km/h faster than Jorge Lorenzo.
Movistar Yamaha’s Valentino Rossi took fourth place with a 1’26.232 on his final lap to end 0.366s off the pace while Yonny Hernandez slipped from top spot to fifth on the Pull and Bear Ducati but is only 0.074s behind The Doctor.
Marc Marquez, who didn’t test at the track as the works Honda team weren’t invited by Ducati, ended in sixth while Jorge Lorenzo left it late to find a decent lap, setting a 1’26.375 to finish half a second in arrears.
Jack Miller ended his session in eighth, one ahead of Danilo Petrucci while Ducati test rider Michele Pirro completed the top ten.
New dad Cal Crutchlow was top British rider in 11th place, one ahead of Scott Redding’s Octo Ducati with Pol Espargaro and Bradley Smith next along and just over a second off the pace. The three session crashers sit at the foot of the timesheet.