moto3 / Quartararo third on Friday at the Austrian GP
The French rider proved fast on the first day of riding at the Austrian track of Spielberg, Mir and Locatelli continuing to improve and closed to within a second of the leader.
Friday saw the Grand Prix of Austria begin with Free Practice, the tenth round of the 2016 World Championship ending the long summer. It may have just been summer, but conditions were far from hot as the morning began. Despite low temperature and high humidity, the three Leopard Racing riders got to work and confirmed their pace in the afternoon.
At the end of the day, Fabio Quartararo was the best of the team, finishing third in both sessions and with a best time of 1’37.190. Like his teammates, the talent from Nice carried his speed over from the Austria test at the end of July, ending the day just 0.120s from the top of the times.
Joan Mir has a strong start as well, second overall in the morning FP1 session. The rookie from Palma de Mallorca then improved his time by more than half a second in the afternoon session, ending the day in tenth overall and just 0.029s from Bagnaia on the Mahindra. The young Spaniard is set to focus on refining his setup on Saturday to ensure better grip on the slippery track.
Andrea Locatelli also expressed a good feeling with the Spielberg track. The Italian, still beaming from his podium at Sachsenring, finished 13th on the combined times and within a second of the day’s fastest rider. The 19 year old tried a variety of tyres and is confident for tomorrow.
Saturday will open with the third and final Free Practice session before the spectacle of Qualifying later in the afternoon. Who will start on pole for the first Austrian GP in 19 years?
#20 Fabio Quartararo – 3rd (1’37″190):
“It has been a very positive day. This morning it was very cold, then in the afternoon the temperatures were a bit better. I managed to get a good rhythm, I need to improve on the brakes: it slides a lot and we need more grip. I am equally pleased and I hope that tomorrow the best weather.”
#36 Joan MIR – 10th (1’37″934):
“I’m very happy today, I and the team have worked well together. I think this was the best Friday since the beginning of the season. My best time has come touring by itself, a good omen on the eve of tomorrow’s qualifying.”
#55 Andrea Locatelli – 13th (1’38″055):
“Today I met some difficulties with the hard tyres: I have not had the feeling that I had found during the tests at the end of July. Only in the last minutes with the intermediate, I regained confidence and was able to improve. Unfortunately I found myself riding into a group of riders and I was slowed down. Tomorrow will be crucial to find the right reference.”
Moto3™ Combined Free Practice Times:
1 – Brad Binder / RSA / Red Bull KTM Ajo / KTM / 1’37.070
2 – Enea Bastianini / ITA / Gresini Racing / Honda / 1’37.075
3 – Fabio QUARTARARO / FRA / Leopard Racing / KTM / 1’37.190
10 – Joan MIR / SPA / Leopard Racing / KTM / 1’37.934
13 – Andrea LOCATELLI / ITA / Leopard Racing / KTM / 1’38.055
Moto3™ Schedule (Local Time, GMT +2):
Saturday, 13th August:
09:00-09:40 – FP3
12:35-13:15 – QP
Photo credit: Leopard Racing