Having swapped from Red Bull KTM Ajo to Tech3 for 2023, Danial Holgado was the man to beat in Moto3 practice at Portimao on Friday.
The Spaniard’s 1’47.320 second practice effort topped the times by 0.15s as KTM locked out the top three. MT Helmets -MSI’s Diogo Moreira and BOE Motorsports’ David Muñoz completing the leading trio while Britain’s Scott Ogden made his case for direct Q2 promotion from ninth overall.
A new name in the Moto3 paddock for 2023 wasted no time in showcasing his incoming talent, duel Red Bull Rookie and JuniorGP Champion Jose Antonio Rueda running immediately in the top five as the lightweight action began on Friday morning. It was a solid KTM quintet after the opening quarter of an hour, Holgado leading the two Red Bull KTM Ajo riders Deniz Öncü and Rueda with Angeluss MTA’s Ivan Ortola and Stefano Nepa slotting in between from second and fourth.
A steady start for the VisionTrack Brits found Scott Ogden circulating in 17th two seconds adrift of Holgado’s 1’48.607 benchmark, while Josh Whatley got his 2023 campaign started on 1’52.307 pace.
CFMoto’s Joel Kelso and Xavi Artigas joined the fight with ten minutes to go of first practice, the Australian launching to second with his PruestelGP teammate fourth, splitting the improving MTA’s as Holgado, then Moreira advanced the outright pace on the bubble of 1’48. CIP Green Power’s David Salvador improved to sixth with Leopard’s Tatsuki Suzuki in hot pursuit before David Alonso on the GasGas Aspar arrived to third.
The closing three minutes saw Ogden up to 11th before a rapid shuffle dropped him back. Riccardo Rossi advancing the Sic58 Honda to eighth as Rueda returned to sixth.
A trio of late session crashes caught out Rossi, Filippo Farioli and Matteo Bertelle as the chequered flag prepared. The waved yellows preventing further progress from the pack as Moreira topped the session thanks to his 1’48.006.
A dry and bright afternoon allowed the Moto3 class to get quickly back up to speed in second practice. Sic58’s Kaito Toba edging close to the overall target after ten minutes on track with Muñoz and Öncü less than two tenths adrift. Rookie Colin Veijer suffered a final corner low side on the Liqui Moly Husqvarna while Alonso spun his Aspar at turn five for the second time in quick succession.
Ogden promoted his Honda to 13th in the session as the halfway point approached, the 19 year-old still adrift of the Q2 promotion zone and 20th in the combined times, with Nepa the current gatekeeper, before the action intensified.
Ayumu Sasaki took charge as the clock struck 15’ to go. The Husqvarna rider setting a 1’47.787 to claim the standings by three tenths of a second before attempting to push the pace further next time around. Holgado and Ogden were the next to strike as the pair claimed second and third in the session, with the Brit fourth overall, but with ten minutes left to run the times began to tumble.
Holgado ultimately edged out Moreira with a 1’47.320 as Ortola and Kelso shuffled Ogden down to sixth. Muñoz improving to steal the position at the five minute mark before placing the BOE in third next time around.
Two minutes to go and the typical lightweight tactics returned as a train of riders hunted for a late tow. Leopard’s Jaume Masia comfortably circulating away from the rest, but with teammate Suzuki on his wheels, as the pair secured 12th and 13th before the flag prepared. Öncü the final recipient of provisional promotion with Rueda cut adrift - by a mere 0.033s - as the session came to a close.