The holidays are over and it’s the flying Frenchman who finds 1.7 seconds in FP2 to take Friday honours from the Championship leader
Fabio Quartararo (Petronas Yamaha SRT) had been quiet for most of Friday’s action at the Monster Energy Grand Prix České republiky but a late flyer from the flying Frenchman saw his snatch P1 from Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team), with Jack Miller (Pramac Racing) and Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team) setting identical times in P3 and P4.
With rain forecast for Saturday morning, Free Practice 2 was an extra important session in terms of getting yourself into the top 10. Team Suzuki Ecstar’s Alex Rins almost immediately jumped up to top spot on the combined times having finished FP1 in P9. Marquez was also improving his time early in the session before Rins emerged with Suzuki’s new front aerodynamic package.
In terms of times, Maverick Viñales (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) was the first major improver. The Spaniard was third after FP1 but he soon found himself 0.590 clear of the field, but it wasn’t the same story for teammate Valentino Rossi. The nine-time World Champion had to nurse his M1 back to the pits with just over 20 minutes to go after a mechanical issue and at this stage, the likes of ‘The Doctor’, Danilo Petrucci (Ducati Team), 2016 Czech GP winner Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda Castrol) and Quartararo were outside the top 10.
That would all change in the last 10 minutes though. The soft tyres were put in and Marquez stuck his Repsol Honda top of the pile, with the likes of Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda Idemitsu) and Miller improving just before the reigning World Champion went quickest. Riders such as fourth place in FP1 Miguel Oliveira (Red Bull KTM Tech 3) and fifth place on Friday morning Sylvain Guintoli (Team Suzuki Ecstar) were holding top 10 spots at the expense of some big names. But then, a certain rookie sensation was on a roll.
17th place Quartararo set the timing screens alight and went P1 ahead of Marquez, somehow finding 1.7 seconds from his previous best lap. The 20-year-old, who finished 18th in FP1, would hold P1 as the session ended, with Crutchlow, Rossi and Petrucci all putting in late personal best laps to earn top 10 positions – how crucial could that be?
Viñales completed the top five behind Quartararo, Marquez and the Ducatis of Miller and Dovi, 0.282 separating those guys, with Rins sitting sixth. Petronas Yamaha SRT’s Franco Morbidelli jumps up one place from his P8 in FP1 to P7 in FP2, with Crutchlow taking eighth on Friday afternoon – a big improvement from the Brit who managed 15th in the morning. Rossi recovered from his mechanical issue to place ninth, one place better than his FP1 effort, Petrucci climbs three places to P10.
Nakagami and Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini) crashed in FP2 – both riders are ok.
Less than a second covers the top 13 riders at the end of play on Friday and with wet weather expected on Saturday morning, your Q1 and automatic Q2 places could well be set. Can Quartararo fend off Marquez in qualifying? And what about the Ducatis and Yamaha of Viñales? Plenty of questions will be answered on Saturday in Brno, tune in for FP3 at 09:55 local time (GMT+2) and 14:10 for qualifying.
Combined top 10:
1. Fabio Quartararo (Petronas Yamaha SRT) 1:55.802
2. Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) +0.023
3. Jack Miller (Pramac Racing) +0.269
4. Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team) +0.269
5. Maverick Viñales (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) 0.282
6. Alex Rins (Team Suzuki Ecstar) +0.423
7. Franco Morbidelli (Petronas Yamaha SRT) +0.617
8. Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda Castrol) +0.641
9. Valentino Rossi (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) +0.725
10. Danilo Petrucci (Ducati Team) +0.791