Bengaluru, June 15: You cannot keep a good man down goes the adage and it came true on the opening day of the free practice sessions of the Catalunya GP at the Circuit de Catalunya in Barcelona as rookie sensation Fabio Quartararo (Petronas Yamaha SRT) came straight out the blocks from arm pump surgery to lead the way.
Quick in FP1 and his fastest in FP2 enough to take over at the top, he ended the opening day clear of the competition by almost three tenths.
That competition made it an impressive four factories in the top four, however, with Andrea Dovizioso (Mission Winnow Ducati) in P2, Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda Idemitsu) in third and Pol Espargaro (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) in fourth - with all three within 0.033 on the chase.
The morning session was a fairly quiet one by MotoGP standards, with a bit of a hairy entrance into Turn 10 for Jack Miller (Pramac Racing) and a little snap at the same place for Marquez two of the stand outs. But it would nevertheless prove a crucial session for the reigning champion as he was the only rider in the top ten who didn't improve his laptime in the afternoon. He didn't fit a new soft tyre but was able to stay in ninth, so the 'extra' tyre on Saturday could prove a masterstroke.
It wasn't by much at Catalunya, however, with Valentino Rossi (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) an infinitesimal 0.003 behind compatriot and VR46 Riders Academy member Morbidelli. After a tougher run of late, especially on Friday and Saturday, it was a big step forward for the 'Doctor' at a venue he's reigned more than anyone.
See how the cards play out in FP3 as it decides those heading straight through to Q2 at on Saturday where qualifying begins at 2.10pm local time (5.40pm IST) and the grid for Round 7 is decided.
(By a special arrangement with Dorna Sports)