Rins leads FP1 from Vinales

MotoGP’s return to Spain for its second of four races in the country began under perfect conditions, with home favourite Aleix Espargaro setting the early pace on his Aprilia with a 1m41.734s.

The Spaniard comes into the ninth round of the campaign in Barcelona just eight points off the championship lead after becoming just the third rider on the current grid to score four-consecutive podiums in a season last time out at Mugello.

Joan Mir on the Suzuki would quickly depose Espargaro with a 1m41.215s, which he bettered on his following tour to a 1m40.907s as the 2020 world champion looks to end Suzuki’s points drought since it made its shock decision to quit MotoGP at the end of 2022.

Espargaro returned to the top of the pile with a 1m40.745s with just over 10 minutes of the 45-minute session gone.

But once again the Aprilia rider’s stint at the head of the field was short-lived, as Yamaha’s Franco Morbidelli shot to the top of the order with a 1m40.695s.

The three-time MotoGP race winner’s lap would stand as the benchmark until the final six minutes, as Alex Rins on the sister factory Suzuki headed out on fresh medium rubber to end the session.

Maverick Vinales, Aprilia Racing Team

Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

His first lap on new tyres was a 1m40.631s, before he found a big improvement on his next lap with a 1m40.101s.

As the chequered flag came out, Rins’ time would go unchallenged, leaving him to top the session by 0.195 seconds.

Maverick Vinales joined Rin in fitting fresh medium rubber for a late time attack and jumped up to second with a 1m40.296s, with Morbidelli rounding out the top three.

Aleix Espargaro was fourth in the end after his early stint at the top of the timesheets, with his Honda-mounted brother Pol Espargaro as his absent team-mate Marc Marquez underwent successful surgery on his right arm in America on Thursday.

LCR Honda’s Takaaki Nakagami was sixth on his RC213V, which has a new chassis and swingarm Marquez had been using previously.

Team-mate Alex Marquez was seventh ahead of 2021 Barcelona race winner Miguel Oliveira on the factory KTM, Mir and Gresini’s Enea Bastianini, who was the only Ducati rider inside the top 10 in FP1.

Championship leader Fabio Quartararo – who announced a new two-year deal with Yamaha on Thursday – put almost race distance on his tyres in FP1 and was 13th at the end of the session on his M1 behind Tech3 rookie Raul Fernandez and Pramac’s Johann Zarco.

Mugello race winner Francesco Bagnaia also didn’t switch tyres at the end of FP1 and shadowed Quartararo in 14th ahead of KTM’s Brad Binder, while Jack Miller was 18th on the sister factory team Ducati.

Pramac’s Jorge Martin was the only crasher in FP1, the Spaniard – who will have surgery on a nerve issue in his right hand on Monday – taking a tumble late on at Turn 2.

He was 20th, with Marquez’s Honda replacement Stefan Bradl 23rd at the end of FP1.

FP2 for the 2022 MotoGP Catalan GP will get underway at 2:10pm local time (1:10pm BST).



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