Alex Marquez tops the opening practice in Mugello

Alex Marquez tops the opening practice in Mugello

Gresini Ducati rider Alex Marquez took the top spot in the opening practice for the Italian Grand Prix at Mugello.

Alex Marquez was on fire as he edged off Fabio Quartararo by less than a tenth of a the first practice session for the Italian Grand Prix at Mugello.

The Gresini Ducati rider confirmed his remarkable form by his speed early in the 45-minute session when he set the fastest time with a 1:46.852s effort. However, Ducati test rider Michele Pirro immediately pushed him back with a 1:46.824s.

Aprilia rider Aleix Espargaro spent a troubling 45 minutes fighting back tears following his first run on the RS-GP. Espargaro had been observed nursing an undisclosed injury throughout his Thursday media appearances.

After getting out on the track, he hunched the front over the sweeping Bucine left-hander and crashed, limiting his session to eight laps. He needed marshal assistance to leave the scene of the crash.

The final mini-qualifying shootout began as the session entered its final five minutes. Aprilia rider Maverick Vinales got the session started with a 1:46.404s, but was quickly overtaken by Pramac’s Jorge Martin and Quartararo, the Yamaha rider who had been showing promising speed earlier in the weekend.

However, Marquez had a bit more in the tank than Quartararo, who posted a 1:46.121s to take the lead by just 0.087s in the first practice session, depriving the 2021 MotoGP world champion from setting a record time.

When the late-session soft-tyre time attacks began, the leading Ducati 1-2-3-4 had transformed to a Ducati 1-2-3-4-5-6, with Ducati wildcard Michele Pirro in the lead since he had completed an earlier run on the soft rear.

Marquez, who had been in the lead for the majority of the session, reclaimed first place with a time of 1m16.121s. Other manufacturers, especially Aprilia and Yamaha, traded the lead within the last minutes.

Brad Binder, riding a KTM RC16, was in third place, only 0.17 seconds ahead of Yamaha rider Fabio Quartararo, who finished close behind in second place. Three different bike manufacturers featured in the top three.

On Bezzecchi’s quickest lap, Honda’s Marc Marquez and Yamaha’s Franco Morbidelli both tucked in behind him, securing them seventh and ninth place finishes respectively, with Maverick Vinales’s leading Aprilia in eighth place.

However, despite Espargaro’s situation, Vinales was not the only Aprilia in the top 10. RNF’s Raul Fernandez, who is now back in shape following what he believes will be a season-changing arm pump surgery, rounded out the top ten.

Pirro finished the practice out of the top 10, moving up to 11th just ahead of the LCR Honda duo of Alex Rins and Takaaki Nakagami. Factory Ducati riders Enea Bastianini and Francesco Bagnaia, who finished the outing in 15th and 16th place, were left with work to do for FP2. Bagnaia, who was still recovering from an ankle fracture, did not utilize the new soft rear while Enea Bastianini, who was returning, did.

The other injured riders included Miguel Oliveira, who finished 21st with RNF Aprilia, and Luca Marini, who finished 18th for VR46 Ducati after recovery from thumb ligament damage.

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