Márquez completes first phase of Italian job in Mugello
Team Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS rider Álex Márquez got his bid for Mugello Moto2 glory off to the best possible start today.
With all eyes on home crowd favourite and dominant World Championship leader Franco Morbidelli, it was the Spaniard who seized the initiative with a dazzling display under glorious sunshine in the Tuscany mountains.
A fastest lap of 1’52.229 proved to be the opening day benchmark, with Márquez exactly a tenth-of-a-second faster than closest rival Takaaki Nakagami after he lapped 0.5s faster than his pace that took him to third fastest in FP1 this morning.
His quickest lap was just over 0.3s inside of Team Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS colleague Tito Rabat’s 2015 race lap record. And what made his performance today even more notable was the fact that he is still riding in some discomfort from the fractured bone in his left foot suffered in a practice crash in France almost two weeks ago.
Morbidelli brushed aside the pressure and expectation of delivering a fifth win in the opening six races of 2017 in front of his partisan home crowd when he brilliantly topped the timesheets this morning with a best of 1’52.568.
Temperatures in FP2 fell only a fraction shy of an energy-sapping 30 degrees and Morbidelli couldn’t extract the full potential out of Dunlop’s soft compound rear tyre in the closing stages.
He ended FP2 down in sixth position but his pace this morning was still fast enough to secure him a place inside the top three on combined standings.
Álex Márquez: 1st – 1’52.229
“Mugello is a fast and technical track and it is always a good feeling to be fastest at a place like this. We worked very well in both sessions and I felt very comfortable and confident on the bike, although I felt some pain in my foot this morning. I didn’t take any painkillers and I could feel it more than I expected, so I took painkillers for FP2 and it was much better and not a distraction at all. We are going to have to find some more speed tomorrow though in qualifying because the pole record is still quite a bit faster than my lap time today. But I’ve been strong right from the beginning and this is very pleasing. The only area where we seem to be missing out on a little bit is in the chicanes. I need to be faster and on a tighter line in the first part of the chicanes and if I can do that I’m sure we can be battling for pole position.”
Franco Morbidelli: 3rd – 1’52.568
“I was very happy to start this morning with the fastest time but this afternoon I struggled a lot more than I expected. I didn’t have a great feeling from the bike and I had a lack of grip. I felt pretty fast on the hard tyre, which looks good for the race, but I couldn’t lap any faster with the soft tyre and that is something we need to solve ahead of qualifying tomorrow afternoon.”