Nakagami fastest during exciting first free practice in Argentina

Takaaki Nakagami | © Dorna

Takaaki Nakagami was fastest in the first free practice session for the MotoGP class at Termas de Río Hondo. In an entertaining session, the Japanese, who arrived in Argentina only on Saturday morning, set the fastest lap time ahead of Fabio Quartararó and Pol Espargaró.

On Saturday at 12:35 PM local time, 5:35 PM Dutch time, the first free practice session for the MotoGP class finally started at Termas de Río Hondo. It was a long night for many teams as their equipment arrived late at the track after all the commotion with the transport problems. Especially for Gresini Racing and Mooney VR46 Racing it was a very tough challenge to be ready in time for this session, they had to start from scratch after the arrival of the last cargo plane because all their gear was in this plane.

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The timetable has therefore also been adjusted for this Argentine Grand Prix, which will therefore be held over just two days. The MotoGP class will have two free practice sessions of one hour on Saturday, after which there will be immediately qualified. The top ten for direct passage to Q2 will therefore be determined in these two free practice sessions.

Most drivers took to the track in this first free practice session with the soft-compound front and medium-compound rear tires to get back to the track after a three-year absence. Red Bull KTM Factory Racing drivers Brad Binder and Miguel Oliveira, as well as World Championship leader Enea Bastianini, immediately had the hard-compound front tire fitted. After the track was still very dusty at the start of the day, it was cleaned up again after two free practice sessions of the Moto3 and Moto2 classes and it was immediately possible to drive hard.

There was soon a small collision between Pol Espargaró and Fabio di Giannantonio in which the Italian lost part of his winglet.

Halfway through the session it was Fabio Quartararó who was the only one to dive below the 1’40 limit. With Maverick Viñales, Jack Miller, Pol Espargaró and Brad Binder behind them, the six different manufacturers were all represented in the top six.

In the final phase of the session, the pace was further increased and many fast lap times were set in succession. It was Takaaki Nakagami, who would have to miss the Grand Prix of Argentina due to a positive Covid-19 test, who set the fastest lap time with a 1’39,028 ahead of Fabio Quartararó and Pol Espargaró. Aleix Espargaró set the fourth fastest time ahead of the impressive rookie Marco Bezzecchi and Alex Rins. Miguel Oliviera made it six manufacturers in the top seven, followed by Maverick Viñales, Brad Binder and Joan Mir in the top ten. The first ten drivers were only 0.399 apart, the first nineteen drivers were within one second.

The second free practice for the MotoGP class at Termas de Río Hondo will start on Saturday at 3:45 PM local time, 8:45 PM Dutch time. Qualifying will follow at 10:05 PM.

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