Aleix Espargaro and Aprilia displayed scintillating form in the opening MotoGP practice outing of the Catalan Grand Prix weekend as he led team-mate Maverick Vinales by 0.264s.
Espargaro shot to the head of the times in the early goings of the test on a 1:40.497s just clear of Vinales, though the latter managed to wrangle away the top spot soon after with a 1:40.073s effort – leaving him nearly half-a-second clear of the field.
His time remained unbeaten for the bulk of the session as the bulk of the field focussed instead on gathering important race data ahead of the more crucial Friday afternoon practice session that decides who will progress directly to Q2.
Espargaro couldn’t help heading back out for a quick three lap run at the end of the session though, the British GP victor posting a trio of 1:39s gambits to take over the top spot, a personal best of 1:39.809s enough to keep him on top as the session came to a close.
Vinales was just a couple tenths-of-a-second adrift of his team-mate in the end, while Pramac Ducati’s Jorge Martin was the only one to get within a second of the flying RS-GP’s in third overall, the Spaniard lapping just under half-a-second away from Espargaro.
Brad Binder was fourth for KTM and 1.050s away from the peak of the timesheets, with series leader Francesco Bagnaia fifth just ahead of GasGas’ Pol Espargaro.
Miguel Oliveria was seventh on his RNF-run Aprilia narrowly clear of Yamaha duo Franco Morbidelli and Fabio Quartararo – the former suffering a brief off at Turn 4 early on after running wide through the gravel – while Johann Zarco completed the top ten on the sister Pramac entry.
VR46 had a quiet opening test of the weekend as Marco Bezzecchi and Luca Marini ended FP1 16th and 18th on the timesheets respectively, the duo split by the fastest Honda of Joan Mir in 17th overall – the 2020 MotoGP world champion lapping 1.530s slower than Espargaro.
Marc Marquez suffered a late crash at Turn 5 after locking the front wheel of his Honda en-route to 21st in the times, the six-time premier class champion split by fellow Honda pilots and LCR duo Takaaki Nakagami and Iker Lecuona, the latter standing in for the still-injured Alex Rins at Barcelona.