Sterilgarda Husqvarna’s John McPhee dominated proceedings at Silverstone on Friday with easily the fastest Moto3 time of free practice.
The Scot sat just over half a second clear of his nearest rival, Gaviota GasGas’ Izan Guevara, at the close of day one after securing a 2’10.939 lap in FP2. CFMoto PruestelGP’s Xavi Artigas the biggest mover in the final minutes to take third with his last effort after a previously understated start to the weekend.
McPhee led the way in the first half of the morning session as preparation for his home Grand Prix kicked into gear. The Max Racing team sitting first and second at the top of the lightweight times with the Scot setting the 2’13.304 pace.
Aspar’s Guevara circulated in third, three places ahead of his championship leading teammate Sergio Garcia with Leopard’s Tatsuki Suzuki and rookie standout David Munoz splitting the pair. VisionTrack Scott Ogden began his first world championship showing in front of the home fans from 14th in the FP1 times, just over a second adrift of his countryman with Josh Whatley learning the vast track on the Honda from 25th.
Sic58’s Lorenzo Fellon hit the top as the final ten minutes of the morning began, The Frenchman running almost four-tenths faster with the first 2’12.9 of the day as Garcia and Daniel Holgado on the KTM advanced to round out the top four.
The standings continued to shuffle as the session counted down. Garcia outpacing Fellon with a 2’12.868 to take command, MT Helmets’ Ryusei Yamanaka and Guevara demoting McPhee to fifth next time around with Ricardo Rossi completing the top six 0.036s behind.
Ogden looked to impress in the penultimate minute before traffic in the final sector derailed his front running effort. McPhee likewise picking himself through a slower moving group on his final shot of the opening 40-minute session.
Late progress found Deniz Öncü push the Tech3 KTM to third with Kaito Toba climbing fifth on the CIP Green Power machine. Dennis Foggia made an appearance on the Leopard for eighth before striking for second as the chequered flag flew, with Ayumu Sasaki bettering his Husqvarna teammate for eighth with his last attempt. McPhee completed the morning in 10th after a final shot from MT rookie Diogo Moreira with Ogden frustrated and settling for 16th.
Öncü kicked off the afternoon session at the head of the times with a 2’12.469 as his opening effort. KTM Ajo rider Jaume Masia heading Munoz and Guevara as best of the rest with Foggia completing the top five in the early stages.
Guevara slotted into second after the opening ten minutes with McPhee matching the Aspar’s pace with his fifth effort, the pair circulating 0.041s apart as Ogden started FP2 from 13th.
Suzuki stormed the standings with his sixth attempt, 2’12.457 the new target as the Leopard rider put his head down for more next time around. Rossi decimating his effort by over half a second two laps later to set a 2’11.944 with quarter of an hour left to run.
Progress for Toba and Foggia demoted McPhee to seventh as the final ten minutes began. Guevara talking control overall with a blistering 2’11.372 from Rossi, Munoz and Garcia as the latter pair improved in quick succession but with the two teammates a full second adrift of each other in the top four.
The pace continued to pick up as the clock counted down. Masia rising to second before McPhee bettered for provisional glory with the first 2’10 of the weekend. The Scot meeting traffic as the next lap began to derail further progress. Ogden finding his own progression with a 2’12.338 to sit him precariously on the edge of the promotion zone.
As the chequered flag dropped the final laps brought limited threats. Foggia and Masia consolidating fifth and sixth before a mid-pack gaggle demoted them to the fringes of the top ten. Artigas collected third on the PruestelGP from Suzuki, Fellon and Rivacold Snipers’ Andrea Migno with Munoz heading Foggia, Masia and Sasaki. The late shuffles denied Ogden a top-14 on the opening day of his home GP with the Brit settling for 16th at the flag - two ahead of series leader Garcia - while teammate Whatley completed Friday in 28th.