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MotoGP Valencia: Vietti sets Friday pace after rain-hit Moto3 practice

Celestino Vietti set Friday’s Moto3 pace at Valencia with a rapid 1’45.356 to head the combined times in the closing stages of FP2, a drying track allowing the times to tumble with a flurry of activity late on.

Sergio Garcia set the second fastest time after recovering from a teammate tangle, with Romano Fenati claiming third. Having fought at the top of the standings throughout the afternoon, John McPhee concluded the day in 10th.

A wet Valencia track greeted the Moto3 class as the final Spanish double-header began. Andrea Migno staking his claim on FP1 from the opening laps and maintaining the position, under repeated challenge from Tatsuki Suzuki, as the first half unfolded. Vietti and Jaume Masia circulated in third and fourth for the opening 10 minutes before the Leopard rider advanced to second on his fifth lap, Tony Arbolino and McPhee bettering the Sky VR46 machine for top-five honours on their following efforts.


Mid-session saw Alonso Lopez challenge for the fastest time before Migno, again, responded, Carlos Tatay rising to the top-three as Yuki Kunii became the weekend’s first victim at turn 14. The last 15 minutes saw McPhee move up to third, from Suzuki and Arbolino while the majority of the field prepared for their final run of the morning, Ai Ogura and Albert Arenas floundering in 19th and 27th respectively as the clock ticked down.

The wind picked up in the closing minutes causing a number of bikes to tumble. A turn five slide with eight minutes to go halted Arbolino’s progress, the Italian sitting second as he bowed out early, before Jason Dupasquier high-sided at turn two. Suzuki, Barry Baltus and Khairul Idham Pawi all fell foul at turns 12 and 14 in quick succession shortly after, with a nasty turn four flick grounding the Championship-leader in the penultimate minute.

Aragon race-winner, Masia, concluded the morning session as the only rider to break the 1’50 barrier, a 1’49.840 the time to beat, from Suzuki and last race podium-sitter, Kaito Toba, with Lopez, Arbolino and Migno rounding out the top-six. A strong performance from McPhee gave the Scot an early seventh, while Ogura and Arenas struggled to improve on 20th and 25th.

With the rain abating, the afternoon action got underway on a patchy track. Migno again setting the benchmark from Kunii and the newly-returned Ricardo Rossi, with McPhee and Raul Fernandez soon matching the early pace. The Scot advanced to the top on his fourth lap of the session before his 2021 teammate, Darryn Binder, bettered him on the next revolution, however, the Petronas rider returned with confident pace as the duo continued their battle for supremacy for the next 10 minutes, albeit half-a-second shy of this morning’s best.

Tatay was in control for the final 15 minutes, just 0.007 behind Masia’s opening effort, with Filip Salac narrowly behind for second. Continuing to improve his times, McPhee sat third from Niccolò Antonelli and Binder with Vietti sixth, until the VR46 rider took charge at the top with 10 to go. An ugly crash at turn one, saw Ryusei Yamanaka and Garcia collide after switching positions across the line, the Japanese rider initially being stretchered from the track before eventually walking away.

The closing minutes saw the pace increase rapidly as the Sky duo of Vietti and Migno edged the low ’48’s, Lopez setting a seemingly dominant ’47.9 before Vietti replied again, almost a second clear. The drying track allowing further confidence as the timing screen was ablaze in red and the laps began to tumble. Vietti won out with an impressive 1’45.356, Garcia quickly recovering to take second, from Fenati, Fernandez, Salac and Arbolino. McPhee’s best of 1’46.760 awarded him 10th, and a provisional Q2 promotion, while Ogura and Arenas continued to struggle in 16th and 18th respectively.

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