Iker Lecuona ended Friday for the Austrian Grand Prix at the Red Bull Ring fastest after pioneering an early switch to slicks, the Andorran 3.3 seconds faster than anyone else.
A heavy rain shower soaked the Austrian venue shortly prior to the start of the second practice session, with several riders-including Lecuona and Tech 3 team-mate Danilo Petrucci-venturing out onto the track early on to get a feel for the conditions on wet-weather rubber.
Lecuona led the way early on with a 1:33.997s, though as conditions continued to improve throughout the 45-minute test several riders enjoyed brief stints at the head of the timesheets, with Jack Miller’s Ducati as well as Honda duo Marc Marquez and Pol Espargaro taking the top spot on occasion.
Lecuona though consistently managed to find himself back at the head of the field as the clock ticked down on the session, the circuit now starting to yield a dry-line that made a late change to slicks an ever greater possibility.
It would be the Tech 3 KTM man that elected to take the risk first, soon finding his feet as he posted a 1:30.490s to put himself well clear of the rest.
He would continue to find chunks of time over the final few laps of his run before the chequered flag was shown, Lecuona ending up with a 1:27.520s that left him a full 3.3 seconds clear of Johann Zarco’s Pramac Ducati, the FP1 leader setting his best effort on wet-weather tyres.
Aleix Espargaro ended up third fastest on the sole Aprilia entered this weekend due to team-mate Lorenzo Savadori suffering a broken ankle in last weekend’s Styrian GP, while Marquez and Suzuki’s Alex Rins completed the top five.
Miller as expected also decided to brave a set of slicks in the final few minutes, though the Aussie found himself unable to generate enough heat in his rubber-leaving him only able to set a time good enough for sixth.
Alex Marquez was seventh overall on his LCR Honda ahead of the factory RC213-V of Pol, with series leader Fabio Quartararo and KTM’s Brad Binder rounding out the top ten.
Only 12 riders posted classified times in the tricky session, Styrian GP victor Jorge Martin and the other LCR Honda of Takaaki Nakagami finishing off the competitive order.