Franco Morbidelli has got his Moto2 title campaign back on track on the first day of action at the Austrian Grand Prix, holding off rival and last weekend’s winner Thomas Luthi for the top spot despite a fall for the Italian.
It was a tricky day at the Red Bull Ring circuit, with a number of high profile fallers – but despite that, the Marc VDS rider was able to use a late lap to end up only 0.031 ahead of the Swiss rider when the chequered flag dropped on free practice two.
“I’m really happy to be fastest at the end of today because it has not been all plain sailing for us. It was a long day because my crew had to rebuild my bike after this morning’s big crash, so to give them P1 to say thanks for their effort is perfect. You can always improve and I’m sure we still have more potential to come.
“This is a short track with not a lot of corners, so you must be very precise with the set-up. In the rain this morning it was quite complicated. You have three big braking points at this track and in those parts there is a lot of rubber debris left by all the cars that use this facility. If you don’t get the right line in the braking it is easy to crash because those pieces of rubber mean you have very little grip in the wet.”
Miguel Oliveira was third at KTM’s home race, with Mattia Pasini, Isaac Viñales and Fabio Quartararo rounding out the provisional second row.
It was a disappointing day for replacement rider Danny Kent, however, with the 2015 Moto3 world champion and 2018 Speed Up rider coming home in 31st after getting taken out by Alex Marquez in free practice one.
Fellow Brit Tarran Mackenzie was 32nd, one place behind Kent but still making constant improvement to finish only 2.6 seconds off Morbidelli in the ultra-competitive class.