Aleix Espargaro continued his domination at the Circuit de Barcelona Catalunya on Friday as he paced the second practice session of the weekend by 0.362s ahead of team-mate Maverick Vinales.
The Aprilia racer focussed on completing long runs throughout the session as his rivals took turns in leading the way as the times tumbled well below Espargaro’s FP1 leading effort.
The Spaniard came out swinging in the final part of the 60-minute test as he looked to secure the Friday scratch time, first moving to the head of the timing screens on a 1:39.389s before swiftly being relegated by Pramac Ducati’s Johann Zarco and then Vinales, who posted an impressive 1:39.048s.
Espargaro still had a chunk of laptime up the sleeve of his leathers though a she strung together a blistering tour to shoot to the head of the standings by a commanding 0.362s, his 1:38.686s gambit a new two-wheeled lap record of the Circuit de Barcelona Catalunya.
Aprilia thus locked out the top two positions on Friday with Vinales in second just ahead of championship leader Francesco Bagnaia, while Zarco eventually claimed fourth after being pushed back late on.
Brad Binder moved his KTM into eighth overall having looked to be in a precarious position outside the top ten with just a few minutes left on the clock, the South African heading Gresini’s Alex Marquez and VR46 Ducati’s Marco Bezzecchi.
Fabio Di Gianantonio illustrated improved speed so far this weekend as he grabbed the eighth best time on the Gresini-run Desmosedici, while another pair of Ducati’s in the shape of factory man Enea Bastianini and Pramac’s Jorge Martin rounded off the top ten.
GasGas’ Pol Espargaro continued to get himself rapidly up to speed since returning to competition at the start of August to end the day 11th and just outside the automatic Q2 spots, a deficit of just 0.028s keeping him in Q1 on Saturday morning.
Jack Miller also has work to do on Saturday after ending up 12th on the factory KTM, while Raul Fernandez impressed by outrunning RNF Aprilia team-mate Miguel Oliveira – the duo ending up 13th and 14th respectively.
Luca Marini’s Ducati ended up costing many riders a chance to improve at the death after the machine cut out with just moments remaining – and leaving him 15th to boot – while it was a similarly dismal afternoon for the Yamaha and Honda factories.
Fabio Quartararo could manage only 17th – a full 1.4 seconds off Espargaro’s benchmark – with factory Yamaha team-mate Franco Morbidelli 18th, while Marc Marquez was the best-placed Honda in a lowly 19th – all four Honda’s rounding out the 22-man field.