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Practice report
MotoGP Catalan GP

MotoGP Catalan GP: Espargaro on top as Marquez crashes in FP1

Aleix Espargaro led an Aprilia 1-2 at the start of the Catalan Grand Prix in first MotoGP practice, as Marc Marquez crashed for a 17th time in 2023.

Aleix Espargaro, Aprilia Racing Team

Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

The 11th round of the 2023 season marks the beginning of a frantic run in to the end of the year over the next 10 events, with the Catalan GP the first of a back-to-back with Misano.

Espargaro – who last year lost a podium after miscounting how many laps he had remaining, and who is now wearing a special helmet referencing this – kicked off proceedings fastest of all with a 1m39.809s set on fresh soft rubber at the end of FP1.

This put him 0.264s clear of long-time session leader Maverick Vinales on the other side of the factory Aprilia garage, with Pramac’s Jorge Martin third.

Predicting a difficult weekend, Honda’s Marc Marquez was 1.6s off the pace down in second-to-last after suffering a crash at Turn 5 in the final five minutes of running.

The 45-minute session got under way with Martin setting the initial pace at a 1m41.873s on the low-grip Barcelona track, before Vinales took over with a 1m41.336s.

Vinales then improved to a 1m40.878s just over five minutes in, before Espargaro shot to the top of the order for the first time on the sister RS-GP 23 with a 1m40.497s.

Team-mate Vinales would depose him upon switching to a fresh medium rear tyre with just over 20 minutes to go, the Spaniard producing a 1m40.073s.

This would stand as the benchmark until the closing three minutes, when Espargaro – fitted with a fresh soft front and rear set of Michelins – fired in a 1m39.809s to see out FP1 on top.

Marco Bezzecchi, VR46 Racing Team

Marco Bezzecchi, VR46 Racing Team

Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

Martin was a further 0.2s adrift of the Aprilia pair, with Brad Binder the leading KTM in fourth ahead of reigning world champion Francesco Bagnaia on the factory Ducati.

Pol Espargaro made a late surge to sixth on the Tech3 GasGas after fitting a fresh medium rear to clock a 1m40.917s, edging ahead of RNF Aprilia’s Miguel Oliveira.

Franco Morbidelli had a small off-track excursion at Turn 4 early in FP1, but ended the session as the leading Yamaha rider in eighth ahead of 2022 Catalan GP winner Fabio Quartararo.

Johann Zarco rounded out the top 10 on his Pramac Ducati ahead of Jack Miller on the factory KTM and Gresini Ducati’s Alex Marquez, with Enea Bastianini trailing him on his factory GP23.

Marco Bezzecchi, who announced earlier this week that he will remain with VR46 for 2024, was a low-key 16th ahead of the leading Honda of Joan Mir.

A crash at Turn 5 marked Marquez’s 17th tumble of the 2023 campaign and left him sandwiched between the LCR duo of Takaaki Nakagami in 20th and Iker Lecuona in last.

MotoGP Catalan GP - FP1 results

         
Driver Info
   
Cla Rider # Bike Laps Time Interval km/h Speed Trap
1 Spain A. Espargaro Aleix Espargaro Aprilia Racing Team 41 Aprilia 15 1'39.809 170.497
2 Spain M. Viñales Maverick Viñales Aprilia Racing Team 12 Aprilia 19 +0.264 0.264 170.047
3 Spain J. Martin Jorge Martin Pramac Racing 89 Ducati 19 +0.464 0.200 169.708
4 South Africa B. Binder Brad Binder Red Bull KTM Factory Racing 33 KTM 22 +1.050 0.586 168.722
5 Italy F. Bagnaia Francesco Bagnaia Ducati Team 1 Ducati 18 +1.091 0.041 168.654
6 Spain P. Espargaro Pol Espargaro Tech 3 44 KTM 17 +1.108 0.017 168.625
7 Portugal M. Oliveira Miguel Oliveira RNF Racing 88 Aprilia 19 +1.135 0.027 168.580
8 Italy F. Morbidelli Franco Morbidelli Yamaha Factory Racing 21 Yamaha 21 +1.195 0.060 168.480
9 France F. Quartararo Fabio Quartararo Yamaha Factory Racing 20 Yamaha 21 +1.202 0.007 168.468
10 France J. Zarco Johann Zarco Pramac Racing 5 Ducati 19 +1.208 0.006 168.458
11 Australia J. Miller Jack Miller Red Bull KTM Factory Racing 43 KTM 20 +1.335 0.127 168.247
12 Spain A. Marquez Alex Marquez Gresini Racing 73 Ducati 20 +1.356 0.021 168.212
13 Italy E. Bastianini Enea Bastianini Ducati Team 23 Ducati 17 +1.374 0.018 168.182
14 Spain A. Fernandez Augusto Fernandez Tech 3 37 KTM 21 +1.409 0.035 168.124
15 Italy F. Di Giannantonio Fabio Di Giannantonio Gresini Racing 49 Ducati 18 +1.456 0.047 168.046
16 Italy M. Bezzecchi Marco Bezzecchi Team VR46 72 Ducati 20 +1.495 0.039 167.981
17 Spain J. Mir Joan Mir Repsol Honda Team 36 Honda 19 +1.530 0.035 167.923
18 Italy L. Marini Luca Marini Team VR46 10 Ducati 19 +1.592 0.062 167.820
19 Spain R. Fernández Raúl Fernández RNF Racing 25 Aprilia 15 +1.595 0.003 167.815
20 Japan T. Nakagami Takaaki Nakagami Team LCR 30 Honda 20 +1.597 0.002 167.812
21 Spain M. Marquez Marc Marquez Repsol Honda Team 93 Honda 16 +1.639 0.042 167.743
22 Spain I. Lecuona Iker Lecuona Team LCR 27 Honda 21 +2.116 0.477 166.958

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