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MotoGP Portimao: Rookies reign as Aji tops Moto3, Ogden ninth

Rookies reigned supreme at Portimao on Friday as Mario Ajo and Diogo Moreira lead the way in Moto3 practice.

The Honda and KTM riders were matched on mid 2’02 pace by Ricardo Rossi and Carlos Tatay as the afternoon session came to a close with Daniel Holgado’s morning talents enough to secure fifth at the final flag. Britain’s Scott Ogden showcased his confidence at the Algarve International Circuit with the ninth fastest time of the opening day.

A sodden wet Portimao track greeted the Moto3 field as free practice action got underway on Friday morning. Temperatures just above single figures as Tech3 KTM’s Adrian Fernandez became the first victim of the treacherous conditions at turn nine in the opening minutes. Ryusei Yamanaka, Elia Bartolini and Lorenzo Fellon doing likewise at turns four, nine and fifteen respectively before the opening ten minutes were complete.


PruestelGP’s Carlos Tatay headed the initial times with a tentative 2’06.084, Red Bull’s factory rookie Daniel Holgado following, before the CFMoto crashed out at turn four and Sergio Garcia took charge on the GasGas Aspar. The number 11 suffering his own high-speed crash at turn seven with 15-minutes dispatched.

Holgado led the times at the halfway stage with 2’04.266 pace, Garcia and Mario Aji rounding out the top three ahead of Tatay and Rivacold Snipers Andrea Migno. VisionTrack Honda’s Scott Ogden began his Algarve adventure from the edge of the top ten with teammate Josh Whatley three places back, as the pair circulated ahead of both Leopard riders and a number of big hitters in the challenging conditions.

Izan Guevara and Ricardo Rossi joined the leading times as the second half counted down, Aji bettering the pair on his tenth lap of FP1 with Holgado once again dominating overall, nine-tenths ahead thanks to a 2’03.387.

The final ten minutes saw progress from Tatsuki Suzuki up to seventh while teammate Dennis Foggia continued to struggle, three seconds off the pace in 21st. Ayumu Sasaki bettered for fifth moments later, David Salvador once again joining him in the Sterilgarda Husqvarna box as John McPhee’s return to action was postponed until at least Le Mans.

Fellon recovered from his earlier fall to find third with five minutes to go, Holgado continuing to advance the pace out front with a 2’02.854 before surviving a moment next time around. The pace picking up in the closing minutes as the top ten continued to shuffle.

Foggia found eighth before Ogden immediately bettered, four tenths of a second covering sixth to thirteenth as the top five continued to push the pace. BOE SKX losing both riders in a matter of seconds as Gerard Riu and Ana Carrasco succumbed to the conditions. The latter still carrying a ruptured tendon from Argentina.

Holgado claimed the session as the chequered flag came out, followed by Fellon, Migno, Guevara and replacement rider Salvador, Honda Tram Asia’s Taiyo Furusato, Sasaki and Yamanaka heading Ogden and Rossi in the top ten.

The afternoon action fired up without Fernandez after the Tech3 rider fractured two fingers in his earlier crash. The track still wet but with conditions brightening after a torrential downpour late morning.

Fellon endured his second crash of the day, this time at turn three, on his first timed lap of FP2, Furusato doing likewise one corner later on the Japanese rider’s debut at the track. Holgado led the times once again as the initial efforts came in before Diogo Moreira bettered on lap three.


A double crash at turn 13 found Bartolini and Xavi Artigas down with ten minutes gone, Holgado hitting the deck at turn eight moments later as the attrition rate began to rise.

Aji and Tatay joined the top three after 15 minutes of action, Jaume Masia and Suzuki rounding out the top five as Aspar wildcard, and Red Bull Rookies winner, David Alonso tumbled out at turn nine.

Aji continued to improve as he advanced the overall pace with a 2’02.491, Moreira remaining in check, less than two tenths behind and the only other rider inside the 2’02 barrier, with Suzuki further back in third.

Tatay and Yamanaka were the next to run under the 2’03 barrier, with Masia now on the bubble, Ogden impressing once again with a 2’03.340 to sit sixth at the halfway stage.


Sic58 had further work to do as Fellon crashed again on his out lap as the final quarter of an hour began, this time at turn four. The Frenchman’s morning time sitting him eighth overall in the combined times, 0.777s behind the Honda’s best out front.

As the sky darkened the rain returned resulting in a quiet final ten minutes. Deniz Öncü sliding out in a shower of sparks at turn 15 with the Tech3 rider adrift of Q2 potential, in 16th.

The red flag came out with eight minutes to go due to safety conditions as the wind increased, the pit lane canopies taking a battering in the process.

Limited action resumed as the session was given the green light but the rain continued.

Aji concluded the day on top from Moreira and a late session move from Rossi with Holgado’s FP1 time enough to round out the top five. Ogden staked his claim on Q2 promotion from ninth overall with Whatley beginning his Portimao weekend from 24th, just five places behind championship leader Foggia.

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