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MotoGP Mugello: Nakagami fastest in FP1

LCR Honda Idemitsu’s Takaaki Nakagami led the times as free practice fired up in the Mugello hills with a 1’46.662 lap time.

The only man under the 1’47 barrier was four-tenths ahead of his nearest rivals, with a trio of riders on near identical pace in the top four. Aprilia’s Aleix Espargaro and Ducati Lenovo’s Pecco Bagnaia both setting a 1’47.070 with Suzuki Ecstar’s Alex Rins 0.001s back after 45 minutes on track.

Friday’s free practice kicked off with news that RNF is moving to Aprilia machinery for 2023 and 2024 as an independent outfit. The first time the Noale factory will field a satellite team and four bikes on the MotoGP grid, with provisions in place to allow the partnership to continue for future seasons in a two plus two deal. Question marks therefore surfacing over who will be on the extra RS-GP’s and how many Yamaha’s will be represented next year.


Freshly liveried purple Pramac Ducati’s took to the track as the session fired up, with title-sponsors Prima joining the Italian firm for the next three seasons. Michele Pirro joining the action and topping the initial times on the Aruba.it Ducati - as the WorldSBK outfit entered the GP paddock for the first time.

Le Mans winner Enea Bastianini sat second on the Gresini Racing GP21 with a trio of Aprilia’s locking out the top five in the opening laps as Maverick Viñales headed test rider Lorenzo Savadori - showcasing the new aero configuration - and main teammate Espargaro before the standings shuffled.

Pirro remained top as the first rider running 1’47 pace from Mooney VR46’s Marco Bezzecchi and Repsol Honda’s Pol Espargaro before Viñales returned with a 1’48.073 to claim second. The Aprilia duo bettering themselves next time around as ‘the Captain’ headed the newer recruit with Franky Morbidelli splitting them for third with his fifth effort of the morning.

Rins took charge with a 1’47.423 after ten minutes on track with defending champion Fabio Quartararo joining his Monster Energy Yamaha teammate in the top six. Espargaro boosting the RS-GP to the top with a 1’47.161 next time around with Nakagami arriving on the LCR Honda less then two-tenths adrift.

Bagnaia began his home race from ninth in the times ahead of rookie Bezzecchi before he advanced to sixth. KTM’s Miguel Oliveira heading Repsol’s Espargaro and Marc Marquez with Luca Marini and Alex Marquez rounding out the top 15 after 15 minutes action.

Bagnaia completed a solitary run as he swept through to the lead with a 1’47.070 on his eighth lap of the morning. Espargaro matching with an identical time four laps later with Rins just 0.001s adrift in third. Nakagami spoiling the trio’s dominance 0.03s faster as he took charge on the LCR Idemitsu next time around.

Ducati power launched Bastianini and Johann Zarco to fifth and sixth as the final ten minutes counted down. Pirro circulating eighth with Jack Miller just half second off the fastest time in twelfth. Quartararo cutting a lonely Yamaha figure just adrift of his countryman with Morbidelli the next M1 down in 15th.

The final action saw Nakagami cement his dominance with a 1’46.662 to sit four-tenths clear of his closest rivals. Aleix Espargaro completing the session in second from Bagnaia and Rins with Bastianini heading Viñales, Miller and the younger Espargaro in the top eight. Zarco and Marini rounded out the top ten with Quartararo 0.01s adrift heading into the afternoon. Marc Marquez running 19th, behind Mir, Morbidelli and both factory KTM’s at the close of FP1.

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