Michele Pirro fastest in opening practice of San Marino MotoGP

Michele Pirro fastest in opening practice of San Marino MotoGP

Michele Pirro was the fastest in the opening practice at the San Marino MotoGP as title leader Francesco Bagnaia made his triumphant recovery from his catastrophic crash in Barcelona.

Ducati test rider Michele Pirro took the early lead in MotoGP’s return to Misano for the San Marino Grand Prix, finishing ahead of fellow countryman Luca Marini by 0.115 seconds, with Francesco Bagnaia down in 20th.

The Ducati test rider got right to work as he started his second wildcard appearance of 2023. Pirro led the majority of the session on a 1:32.405s as he sought to gather data for the factory Ducati team’s lone rider this weekend, Bagnaia, as Enea Bastianini is out with a broken ankle after his crash in Barcelona.

Five days earlier, during the opening lap of the race in Catalunya, Bagnaia experienced a significant highside and was struck by Brad Binder’s KTM, which went over the Italian’s legs without having the opportunity to evade the situation at hand.

The race was put on hold as Bagnaia had to be taken to the hospital, but miraculously, he suffered no fractures and was cleared to race this weekend at Misano.

The San Marino MotoGP opening practice initially appeared to be a battle of the test riders for the top spot as KTM’s Dani Pedrosa later edged ahead of Pirro with a 1:32.250s. Jorge Martin later put them in their place with a time of 1:32.066s as the practice was approaching its final minutes.

However, Pirro proved to be a force to be reckoned with as he turned in an impressive 1:32.018s at the very end to secure the session’s benchmark time.

VR46 Ducati’s Marini finished the practice 0.115s behind Martin in second place thanks to his earlier laptime, which also held off Pramac’s Jorge Martin in third place.

On the sister VR46 entry, Marco Bezzecchi sealed an all-Ducati top four, while Raul Fernandez produced an impressive performance to round out the top five for RNF Aprilia.

See also  Quartararo leads San Marino GP F2 as KTM and Yamaha dominate top 10

KTM test rider Dani Pedrosa finished sixth, three tenths adrift the lead. This comes as Pedrosa recently signed a new contract with the Austrian manufacturer to remain as a test rider in 2024. He is currently racing in his third MotoGP race this season as a wildcard.

The 37-year-old, who finished third in the MotoGP World Championship three times and won 31 races (all with Honda), was instrumental in facilitating the development of the RC16.

Pedrosa joined KTM’s testing team in 2019 after ending his full-time racing career at the end of 2018. At Misano, he will make his new carbon fiber chassis premiere.

Aprilia’s Maverick Vinales, who finished second to teammate Aleix Espargaro in a historic one-two finish for the Italian manufacturer last weekend at Catalunya, finished ahead of Pramac Ducati’s Johann Zarco in seventh place.

Four tenths behind Pirro, Aleix Espargaro on the sister Aprilia and Gresini Ducati’s Alex Marquez rounded out the top 10.

The fastest full-time KTM driver was Brad Binder, who finished 11th overall, slightly ahead of Yamaha’s Franco Morbidelli. Fabio Quartararo’s sister factory M1 finished 15th.

The best-placed RC213V was piloted by Honda test rider Stefan Bradl, who finished in 16th place, only half a second off the benchmark time. The German wildcard was three places ahead of LCR’s Takaaki Nakagami but only a few hundredths faster.

Bagnaia finished 20th overall. The reigning MotoGP world champion led both factory Hondas of Marc Marquez and Joan Mir, who finished 21st and 23rd respectively, throughout the session as he attempted to ease himself back into action after his nasty crash less than a week ago in Barcelona.

The only rider to crash during the test was GasGas’ Augusto Fernandez, who crashed into Turn 14 early on and finished the first session of the weekend in 22nd place.

Leave a Reply