Honda Team Asia’s Mario Aji ended the opening day of the Tissot Grand Prix of Portugal at the top of the timesheets, the Indonesian managing to master the rain to finish 0.053 ahead of another rookie: Diogo Moreira (MT Helmets – MSI). Riccardo Rossi (SIC58 Squadra Corse) completed the top three, with Carlos Tatay (CFMoto Racing PrüstelGP) fourth and still within a tenth of the top after a close FP2.
Red Bull KTM Ajo’s Daniel Holgado set the pace in the morning, with the weekend wet from the outset and with some tough conditions. Still, rookie Holgado closed out FP1 an impressive six tenths clear of SIC58 Squadra Corse’s Lorenzo Fellon, who managed to close the gap with his final lap despite crashing out earlier at the final corner.
Veteran and COTA podium finisher Andrea Migno (Rivacold Snipers Team) was third fastest but three-quarters of a second adrift of Holgado’s 2:02.658, with Izan Guevara (Valresa GasGas Aspar Team) slotting into fourth. The number 28 was only a fraction ahead of David Salvador, who has been drafted in to replace John McPhee at the Sterilgarda Husqvarna Max Racing squad after the Scotsman was declared unfit on Thursday.
The rain made for tricky conditions and there were a number of crashes: Adrian Fernandez (Red Bull KTM Tech3), Ryusei Yamanaka (MT Helmets – MSI), Fellon, Rossi, Team MTA’s Ivan Ortola, Tatay and teammate Artigas, QJMOTOR Avintia Racing Team’s Matteo Bertelle and Elia Bartolini, Max Racing’s Ayumu Sasaki, Aspar’s Sergio Garcia and BOE SKX’s Gerard Riu. All riders ok with the exception of Fernandez, who has been declared unfit for the remainder of the weekend after fracturing both his fourth and fifth fingers on his left hand.
Super Mario took over in the afternoon as the Indonesian posted a 2:02.491 in the final ten minutes of FP2 to take top spot, that enough to end the day ahead of fellow rookie Moreira. The Brazilian is back on track after his COTA crash left him needing to be passed fit, and as a former polesitter and podium finisher at Portimão in the Red Bull MotoGP Rookies Cup – in his first ever weekend of competition in the series, no less – the wet weather form in Moto3 adds to his slightly ominous CV of late.
Rossi and Tatay kept the timesheets close within a tenth in P3 and P4, with MT Helmets – MSI’s Ryusei Yamanaka in fifth, three tenths off the group ahead. Friday morning’s fastest man Holgado showed more good speed next up in FP2, but the young Spaniard had a few more issues in the afternoon, becoming one of seven riders to find the gravel trap.
Provisional Q2 places
From FP2 it’s Aji, Moreira, Rossi and Tatay, with Holgado’s FP1 best putting him in fifth overall. Yamanaka and COTA winner Jauma Masia (Red Bull TKM Ajo) are next up, both courtesy of their afternoon bests, with Fellon’s FP1 effort slotting him into eighth.
Rookie Scott Ogden (VisionTrack Racing Team) and Leopard Racing’s Tatsuki Suzuki complete the top ten on combined times. Migno, Sasaki, Guevara and Garcia are the final four set to move through as it stands, with that leaving Championship leader Dennis Foggia (Leopard Racing) looking for more in FP3.
That FP3 begins at 9:00 (GMT +1) as the field look to improve ahead of qualifying. With the weather still looking changeable for Saturday, there’s plenty to play for so tune in for qualifying from 12:35 as the grid gets decided for Moto3