Quartararo fastest as Catalan GP gets underway

Fabio Quartararo tops the timesheets in Friday practice, with team-mate Franco Morbidelli in sixth position.

PETRONAS Yamaha Sepang Racing Team made a fantastic start to the Catalan GP weekend, with Fabio Quartararo setting the best time on the first day of practice in Barcelona – where he took his first Grand Prix win [in Moto2] last season – just one week on from an operation on his right forearm. Franco Morbidelli finished in a solid sixth place on the combined timesheets.

Quartararo was quick from the morning session onwards, clocking the second fastest time in FP1. The Frenchman showed good pace in his first two runs, eventually stopping the clock at 1min 40.803secs on his last lap. Morbidelli set his best time early in the morning session. The Italian took just five laps to put in his 1min 41.160secs time, briefly leading FP1. He spent the rest of the session working on his pace with used tyres and would take a final spot of eighth.

In the afternoon, the two PETRONAS Yamaha SRT riders were able to lower their times in FP2. Quartararo produced an amazing lap on his last run with a soft front and rear tyre, claiming the top spot with a 1min 40.079secs. Morbidelli also took a step forward in his last run of the session, finally claiming sixth position overall with his 1min 40.517secs lap.

Tomorrow, Quartararo and Morbidelli will participate in FP3 in the morning. Qualifying will take place at 2:10pm (Q1) and 2:35pm (Q2) local time.

#21 Franco Morbidelli
“It’s been a good day for us. In the morning we found things a little harder, but we improved a lot in the afternoon. The grip level was not fantastic, so we suffered in that aspect, but our speed and pace were good, and I felt strong when going for a fast time. I finished sixth, which is not bad. We will have to see what the weather is like on Saturday, but so far I have a good feeling. Tomorrow morning will be different, because it will be colder. Speed is going to be the main aspect for us to improve, and then in the afternoon we’ll have to see what our pace is like.”

#20 Fabio Quartararo
“Today was a great day. We were first on the combined timesheets and I had a great feeling. I didn’t know how my arm would react after my operation, but things went very well. I had some pain to deal with, but I feel good. The first run was hard, but after a while everything went better. It was a matter of getting used to the pain, but I didn’t expect to go so well at this Grand Prix. We have to stay calm, which is the most important thing. We have a lot of work to do tomorrow morning and of course we will do our best to get onto the front row, but right now our goal is to be on the first three rows and go straight into Q2. We’ll see if we can have a good qualifying.”