Bagnaia makes history in a superb FP3 session
The lap record fell again – and again, and again on Saturday morning in Germany
Another free practice session, another new lap record at Sachsenring. It was MotoGP™ FP3 history at the Liqui Moly Motorrad Grand Prix of Germany as Ducati Lenovo Team’s Francesco Bagnaia took on the challenge from Aprilia Racing’s Aleix Espargaro for now. Pecco had just set another fastest lap in its history on the German circuit on Friday afternoon, and he was the fastest of a total of five drivers to go even faster on Saturday morning by setting a time of 1: 19,765.
Breaking the 80 second barrier
No one had ever lapped the Sachsenring in less than 80 seconds before the MotoGP™ peloton arrived this weekend, and even Bagnaia was 0.018 seconds away from doing it in FP2. Aleix Espargaro then went very close by twice resetting the Ducati rider’s brand new lap record with just over 10 minutes remaining in FP3, with a 1:20.013 and a 1:20.007 over consecutive laps. He may have even lost time when he bumped into Franco Morbidelli (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP™) at the end of the final lap, gesturing towards the Italian as a 1:19 continued to elude him.
Between Bagnaia himself, who reclaimed first place with a 1:19.833 and followed immediately with a 1:19.765, just over a quarter of a second faster than he had gone in the second session of the weekend. Ducati Lenovo teammate Jack Miller, who was on a hot lap with eight minutes to go when he was held off by Johann Zarco (Prima Pramac Racing), regrouped to take second with a time of 1: 19.873 in the last four minutes. An all-Desmosedici top two was on the cards for the third straight session until Aleix Espargaro shot in 1:19.829 seconds later on his RS-GP, and that’s how the top three would finish.
The twisty Sachsenring is not a track that should traditionally suit Bologna bullets, but Ducati has a well-rounded package these days, and their depth was on display when Prima Pramac Racing placed both of its riders in the top five. Zarco and Jorge Martin both broke FP2’s then defeated all-time lap record of 1:20.018 when they set a 1:19.959 and 1:19.969 respectively. The fifth and final Desmosedici GP22 rider in the field, Mooney VR46 Racing Team’s Luca Marini, finished eighth in 1:20.133.
An unusual problem for Quartararo
The drama was not limited to the clock, however, and World Championship leader Fabio Quartararo contributed to it even though he managed to get his Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP™ safely into Q2 with a time of 1 :20.038, which earned him the sixth best time. He, like Aleix Espargaro, had an early gravel excursion at Turn 1, but the most notable moment was when the Frenchman’s crash helmet visor came off minutes from the end. After trying to get it back in place, Quartararo had to give in to pit lane to fix the problem, but it wouldn’t cost him too much in the end.
To complete the top 10, Joan Mir (Team Suzuki Ecstar) is seventh ahead of Marini, Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda Idemitsu) and Maverick Viñales (Aprilia Racing). Nakagami secured an automatic spot in the second stanza of qualifying this afternoon despite a late crash at Turn 1, while Viñales’ margin over the 11th fastest rider, Miguel Oliveira (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing), did not was only 0.020 seconds.
Oliveira will therefore have to go far if he wants to fight for pole position in Germany, even if he was only half a second – exactly – slower than Bagnaia. Marco Bezzecchi (Mooney VR46 Racing Team) finished 12th after an early crash at Turn 12, while Alex Rins (Team Suzuki Ecstar) is 17th in combined time thanks to his exploits in FP2, as he continues with a fractured wrist . Enea Bastianini (Gresini Racing MotoGP™) will be looking to improve on his 18th place on the time sheet, while Alex Marquez (LCR Honda Castrol) is 23rd after a late crash in FP3.
If it was “only” FP3, then Q2 promises to be even more exhilarating. It’s time to work on race pace when FP4 kicks off at 1.30pm on Saturday, then it’s Q1 at 2.10pm (GMT +2).
Top 10 MotoGP™:
1. Francesco Bagnaia (Ducati Lenovo Team) – 1:19.765
2. Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing) +0.064
3. Jack Miller (Ducati Lenovo Team) +0.108
4. Johann Zarco (Prima Pramac Racing) +0.194
5. Jorge Martin (Prima Pramac Racing) +0.204
6. Fabio Quartararo (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP™) +0.273
7. Joan Mir (Suzuki Ecstar Team) +0.333
8. Luca Marini (Mooney VR46 Racing Team) +0.368
9. Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda Idemitsu) +0.416
10. Maverick Vinales (Aprilia Racing) +0.480