Morbidelli and Márquez star in Spielberg premiere
Team Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS riders Franco Morbidelli and Álex Márquez played leading roles on the opening day of Moto2 action at the scenic and spectacular Spielberg track in Austria.
After a well-deserved three-week summer break, today’s opening day of practice felt anything like summer, with both practice sessions run in surprisingly cold conditions at the 2.684 miles venue, which is hosting a MotoGP World Championship round for the first time since 1997.
Morbidelli started the second half of the season off in positive fashion after a lap of 1.29.979 placed him fourth on the combined timesheets.
Slightly hotter temperatures for FP2 resulted in improved grip levels and Morbidelli capitalised superbly by knocking 1.1s off his best to climb 10 places up the rankings. The Italian was only 0.042s away from a place in the top three and he was just a fraction over 0.2s adrift of day one pacesetter Thomas Luthi.
Spielberg’s breathtakingly fast layout and jaw-dropping undulation was expected to favour the attacking riding style of Márquez and the Spaniard didn’t disappoint in this afternoon’s session.
He was a serious contender for the top three throughout and a lap of 1.30.160 eventually put him seventh on the timesheets. He too was able to improve by a second in FP2 and his pace this afternoon bodes well for a strong top six challenge in Sunday’s 25-lap race.
Franco Morbidelli: 4th – 1’29.979
“I am very happy with the work and progress made today. The positive thing is I set my fastest lap all on my own and my pace has been fast and consistent. We have to keep working and hopefully be faster tomorrow to make sure I can qualify inside the top six because the first corner is very tight and a good grid position will be essential. I also hope it is a bit warmer tomorrow because today it was too cold!”
Álex Márquez: 7th – 1'30.160
“I felt really good on the bike today and the most pleasing aspect is my rhythm. I made a long run and I was fast and consistent and it felt like the times were coming relatively easy. We can still improve my pace over one lap for qualifying but I think we have good pace and a good base to use as a solid platform for a strong weekend.”
Pete Benson: Franco Morbidelli Chief Engineer
“I wasn’t too worried about Franco’s position this morning because we opted to run the hard tyre and save the best for the better conditions that we should get for the rest of the weekend. We had a couple of things we needed to test so this morning was what we expected. Franco is more a racer than a tester so we expected to see him more competitive and closer to the top than when we tested here in the summer break. We are still too far off the front, so we will work hard again tonight to improve and get him closer.”