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MotoGP Valencia #2: Arbolino tops Moto3 Friday practice with lap-record pace

Tony Arbolino started his Valencia GP in fine form with a Moto3 lap record and the fastest time of Friday practice, with just his 15th lap of the day, set during FP1.

Jaume Masia and Sergio Garcia joined the Snipers rider in the overall top-three after late-afternoon progress, with Deniz Öncü and Romano Fenati’s morning efforts enough to secure fourth and fifth in the combined times.

A cloudy but dry Ricardo Tormo Circuit witnessed a dramatic beginning to Moto3 action with two crashes in as many minutes, for Öncü and Filip Salac. The former leaving the track clutching his wrist but able to continue, while the latter was sent to the medical centre looking concussed before travelling to hospital for further checks and ultimately being ruled out of the weekend due to a chest injury.


Albert Arenas held the top of the times after the opening 10 minutes of morning practice, the Spaniard looking to run a strong weekend, with the title in his sights, after his controversial actions during Valencia’s first race, last weekend. Arbolino took the reins five minutes later on 1’39.4 pace from Arenas, Ayumu Sasaki, Fenati and Darryn Binder, with John McPhee sitting 21st, Ai Ogura 27th at the halfway stage.

The midsession saw Carlos Tatay and Binder increase the outright pace, McPhee likewise finding his rhythm as he rose to fourth before a synchronised crash for Sky riders Celestino Vietti and Andrea Migno at turn 10 ended their morning early.

Binder continued to advance the times as the countdown hit 10 to go with Fenati and McPhee joining the South African in the top-three as the field prepared for their final run of the session. The latest race winner, Raul Fernandez, returned to his impressive Friday form with a 1’38.7 in the closing five minutes while a recovered Öncü raised the stakes further as he made his presence known two minutes later.

A frenetic shuffle of the times in the closing minute was ultimately settled by Arbolino, the Italian besting Öncü and an impressive solo effort from countryman Fenati, to take the session with a new lap record of 1’38.413. Arenas and Ogura finishing in tandem in 12th and 13th with McPhee 17th.

The afternoon got up to speed with Fenati and Migno vying for the early honours, Vietti and Niccolò Antonelli joining the all-Italian battle at the top before morning-man Arbolino slid back into contention, in second, at the 30 minutes mark.

The pace was still running seventh-tenths shy of the Snipers rider’s best as Antonelli maintained his hold on the times at the halfway stage from Vietti and Arbolino. Arenas displaced Fenati for fifth while Ogura circulated in 12th and on the fringes of the Q2 promotion spots but a slow start to the afternoon found McPhee running a disappointing 29th for the first 20 minutes before the Scot began to show any signs of improvement.

The last 10 minutes saw Binder join Antonelli on 1’38 pace as the majority of the field began their final run. Fernandez and Yuki Kunii split the pair with five to go as Tatsuki Suzuki and Masia also advanced to the top-six but with the timing screens a blaze of red the action was far from done.

Masia came out victorious as the dust settled on the session’s frantic finish but the Leopard’s time was not enough to outdo Arbolino in the combined standings. Garcia, Antonelli, Suzuki and Fernandez secured FP2’s top-five, with Öncü and Fenati’s morning efforts demoting the latter three in the overall times.

Ogura’s last-lap of the afternoon promoted him to sixth in the session and ninth overall - easily inside the Q2 safety-zone - but Arenas was not so lucky, although the Spaniard sat 13th at the close of play he lost out in the combined times, sitting 15th. McPhee concluding both FP2, and Friday in general, somewhat adrift in 21st.

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