Yamaha MotoGP rider Alex Rins came second in Practice 1, 0.273 seconds behind session leader Francesco Bagnaia. However, the Ducati rider has been given a three-place grid penalty for Sunday’s Grand Prix race after an incident with Gresini Racing rider Alex Marquez.

By Nida Anis

Bagnaia set a storming lap at the end of Practice 1 with a lap time of 01:44.938. However, a post-session investigation by the FIM MotoGP Stewards determined the Italian rider to be “riding slow on-line” and “disturbing” Alex Marquez at Turn 12. He was awarded a three-place grid penalty for the race on Sunday.

Rins’ best lap in Practice 1 was a 01:45.211, putting him second in the session classification and securing his place in Q2. However, his Yamaha teammate Fabio Quartararo was further down the order in 11th, missing out in a Q2 place by just 0.019 seconds.

It was a challenging session for both Honda teams, as all four Honda riders languished down in the bottom six of the Practice 1 standings. Both LCR Honda riders were faster than their Respol Honda counterparts.

Japanese rider Takaaki Nakagami led the manufacturer’s efforts to finish 19th with a time of 01:46.079. His LCR Honda teammate Johann Zarco followed closely behind, finishing 20th with a time of 01:46.514.

Meanwhile, Repsol Honda riders Joan Mir and Luca Marini finished 21st and 24th, with the latter 2.124 seconds off Bagnaia’s pace.

Rins reflects on “unbelievable” lap time; Quartararo frustrated with P11 finish

Yamaha rider Rins reflected on the session. “For sure, the test helped a little bit, but it helped just in the first 15 laps of the morning session. I think that we are doing a good job since this morning,” he said.

“Honestly, here, with used tyres, I feel quite strong. Then, on the last run, I was riding alone, and I saw on the pit board ‘P11’, and I said, ‘No, not this time’. So, I tried to push 100%, and I did an unbelievable lap time.

“I’m quite happy about this,” he continued. “The lap honestly wasn’t perfect, there were some mistakes, so maybe we can improve some tenths, but not that much. We need to keep working on our base set-up.

“I’m looking forward to tomorrow after analysing all the data.”

“It was frustrating to finish in P11, so close to Q2,” said Rins’ Yamaha teammate Quartararo.

“We are only about 0.1 seconds from P3 and 0.2 seconds from Alex. In the test, Alex was also faster than me here, so we have to analyse why that is,” he said.

“My feeling here today was much better than during the private test though. Like I said, making more laps with a new aero is good, it gets better. It’s nice to see that I can ride the bike in a more natural way.”

“Consistent” but “difficult” day for LCR Honda riders

There were mixed feelings among LCR Honda’s riders. Nakagaami called Friday “a consistent day”, adding: “I’ve had the possibility of testing different things, which is always essential.

“I like the new aero package; I’ve felt better on the bike today, especially regarding top speed.”

Meanwhile, his LCR teammate Johann Zarco was more muted. “It’s been a difficult day, but I always want to look at the bright side. Testing different things helps us get information to understand our direction.

“We’ll try to take a step forward ahead of tomorrow’s Sprint.”

Repsol Honda riders reflect on a session that “didn’t all go to plan”

Repsol Honda rider Joan Mir said, “We tried a new aerodynamic package today and it was positive. I’m happy with this evolution. It changes the behaviour of the bike a bit, so we need to keep working to improve the setup. Already I’m feeling better than last weekend, so it’s a good starting point for the weekend.

“In the last two exits, we were able to improve our feeling a lot, but I couldn’t put together a lap because of other riders and some small mistakes. I think our potential was a high 45, which would put us in a good position. I’m optimistic with the potential we have.”

Mir’s teammate Luca Marini shared similar views. “Everything today was better than in the test, we’ve made a step again and the feeling is much better. Unfortunately, in practice, it didn’t all go to plan, so we had to adapt and we missed out to take those final tenths in our one-lap speed.

“There’s work to do with the steering because when you change something like the aero, many things also need adjusting. Overall, our feeling isn’t as dramatic as the time sheets show so I think we can be fighting with the other Honda riders tomorrow.”

Header photo credit: Yamaha MotoGP Team

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