Liqui Moly Intact GP’s Marcel Schrötter is the man to beat in Moto2 after the experienced German found a late lap to jump to the top of the timesheets on the opening day at the Tissot Grand Prix of Portugal. He holds an advantage of over half a second ahead of Saturday’s FP3, with Texas podium finisher Jake Dixon (Autosolar GasGas Aspar Team) and COTA polesitter Cameron Beaubier (American Racing) his closest rivals.
There wasn’t an awful lot to report from FP1 apart from the fact that it rained… a lot. Top spot, in the end, went the way of Zonta van den Goorbergh (RW Racing GP) but the Dutch teenager’s fastest lap was over two seconds slower than what the Moto3 field managed earlier on Friday morning, such was the drastic drop in conditions as the rain came down.
Gresini Racing’s Alessandro Zaccone was 1.5 seconds adrift of the Dutchman in P2, ahead of fellow Italian Niccolo Antonelli (Mooney VR46 Racing Team) as the rookies used the track time to gain a little wet weather running. Fourth on the timesheets was the more experienced Joe Roberts (Italtrans Racing) but the Californian did suffer a crash at Turn 13 in the closing stages. Completing the top five was Autosolar GasGas Aspar Team’s Albert Arenas.
Only eleven riders set a lap time, and three more ventured out to check conditions before pulling immediately back down pitlane.
After the downpour in FP1, the intermediate class were relieved to get some slightly more favourable conditions in the afternoon. It took until four minutes of the session remained before Schrötter jumped to the top though, displacing Dixon in the process after the Brit has been the rider to beat. Beaubier quickly put his Austin disappointment behind him by taking the final spot inside the top three.
A fraction behind his compatriot was Roberts, who didn’t let his earlier off in FP1 affect him too much. Elf Marc VDS Team’s Sam Lowes sat seven tenths adrift of Schrötter in fifth, with Augusto Fernandez (Red Bull KTM Ajo) close on the Brit’s tail.
FP1 pacesetter van den Goorbergh, Moto3 World Champion Pedro Acosta (Red Bull KTM Ajo) and Spanish sensation Fermin Aldeguer (Lightech Speed Up) all crashed out in the afternoon. Flying Dutchman van den Goorbergh went down over the brow of the hill at the exit of Turn 8, Acosta surfed his way to the gravel trap at Turn 1 and Aldeguer also tucked the front at Turn 1.
Provisional Q2 places
Everyone improved in the afternoon down to van den Goorbergh in P21, so the first half of provisional Q2 entrants comprises Schrötter, Dixon, Beaubier, Roberts, Lowes, Fernandez and COTA winner Tony Arbolino (Elf Marc VDS Racing Team). Eighth went to former Algarve podium finisher Aron Canet (Flexbox HP 40) ahead of an impressive P9 for Barry Baltus (RW Racing GP). Indonesia winner Somkiat Chantra (Idemitsu Honda Team Asia) is P10 after Friday.
The final four on to move through as it stands are Arenas, an impressive return for Thai rookie Keminth Kubo (Yamaha VR46 Master Camp Team), Championship leader Celestino Vietti (Mooney VR46 Racing Team) and Zaccone… will that remain true after FP3?
Tune in for that in the morning to see if the weather improves, before qualifying from 15:10 (GMT +1) for Moto2