The action of the CryptoDATA Motorrad Grand Prix von Österreich went underway on Friday at the Red Bull Ring, with the MotoGP™ class facing a capricious sky. If the sun was shiny and warm in the morning, rather threatening clouds quickly covered the green hills of Styria in the afternoon, and small drops of rain joined the party in the middle of Practice. GASGAS Factory Racing Tech3’s boys Pol Espargaro and Augusto Fernandez completed Friday in P15 and P20, as the red GASGAS RC16 took over the Austrian layout for the very first time.
After making his big return in Silverstone two weeks ago, which was highlighted by a P12-finish on Sunday’s race, Pol Espargaro arrived in Austria motivated to do well on the Red Bull Ring, one that holds a special place in his heart. Looking to continue seeing how the body reacts to the return on the saddle, the GASGAS Tech3 rider worked pretty well on Friday, as the feelings appear to be coming back, session after session, lap after lap. He completed FP1 at the doors of the top 15 in the morning, in sixteenth, with a best lap in 1’30.746, 0.908 seconds from the morning’s fastest man. Later on, small (but annoying) drops of rain started to fall on the Red Bull Ring, making it tricky for the riders in the middle of a key session for the qualifying spots. After five runs, Pol came out fifteenth of the one-hour session, with a fastest lap in 1’29.486, more than one second faster than the morning.
Trying the MotoGP™ machine for the first time in Austria, rookie Augusto Fernandez appeared to be on the lookout for good feelings today, after completing the day in twentieth, a bit far from his target. In FP1, or shall we call it the discovery session, the number 37 rode his best in 1’31.020 which placed him P19, just behind the lap in 1’30.856 from multiple World Champion Marc Marquez. The small drops of rain during Practice forced the rookie to re-think his strategy and work around the conditions, which he did pretty well as he managed to take his time down to 1’29.867. Although he is still a bit far in the standings at the end of play today, Fernandez will be eager to return on track tomorrow morning, as we will see the qualifying sessions start at 10:50 LT, just after the second free practice scheduled at 10:10. Finally, both Pol Espargaro and Augusto Fernandez will line up for the tenth Tissot Sprint of 2023, at 15:00.