Despite some drizzle threatening the final practice session for the premier class, it never turned into a serious threat and riders managed to put some solid work into their race pace. None more so than Alex Rins, the Spaniard quickly climbing up the timesheets and taking over top spot in the final five minutes with the first 1:30 time of the session. Takaaki Nakagami was one of a handful or riders tempted by the hard front tyre and the LCR man made it work for him as he climbed into second position, one tenth down on top spot and with just as impressive pace.
Results and summary of qualifying for the Moto3 class in Valencia:
The rain scare from earlier today was completely gone by the time the intermediate class took to the track and it showed, with Friday’s benchmark quickly improved by several riders but most notably Marco Bezzecchi, the Italian keeping top spot until the checkered flag. Early leader Marcos Ramirez looked like his main rival throughout, but Hector Garzo snuck in between the two to grab second on the timesheets on his final flying lap and with a deluxe tow from championship leader Enea Bastianini.
After a rain shower shortened track time for the lightweight class, sun greeted the premier class but with track conditions still requiring rain tyres there were few takers early on. With the likes of Joan Mir and Fabio Quartararo out of the provisional top 10, they were particularly keen to see the conditions improved and the Frenchman was the first to be tempted by slick tyres 15 minutes into the session, quickly followed by the Spaniard.
The Ricardo Tormo Circuit gave a nod to last week with some light rain to open proceedings on Saturday and there was little useful running to be done by the lightweight class. After around 20 minutes of dry but cold conditions, riders spent the rest of the time wandering down pitlane to figure out if it was worth having an outing on rain tyres. In the end they all decided against it and Deniz Oncu headlined the session with only 8 laps on the board and three hundredths of a second faster than Albert Arenas.
"Well, for sure I think we are not the fastest, but it's only Friday." A common enough refrain after FP2, with another day of practice and qualifying to go before the race on Sunday. But when it is championship leader Joan Mir saying it, on the weekend he could wrap up the title, is it a sign of trouble?
So far, Mir has been remarkably calm and composed under pressure. He has impressed even nine-time world champion and MotoGP legend Valentino Rossi. "Nobody bet on Mir at the beginning of the season, but already in the last races of last season he did a big improvement and also in the winter test he was strong," Rossi told us on Friday evening. "For me he's very mature, it's like he has more experience considering he is a very young rider and it's just the second year in MotoGP and also he did just one season in Moto2. So he's an unbelievable talent, I think. Nobody expected that he can win the championship this year. But I think that if he will win he deserves it 100% because he was the more constant, that this year is very important."
The intermediate class closed the Friday show in Valencia but didn’t make that much of an impression on the combined timesheets, with the FP1 benchmark not being challenged. However, the gaps throughout the field on their second outing were minuscule, with Fabio Di Giannantonio claiming the top of the standings for the final time attack by less than a tenth of a second. Behind the Italian, the championship contenders kept in close proximity, Sam Lowes finishing second and only two hundredths of a second ahead of rival Enea Bastianini.
Much like their Moto3 colleagues before them, the premier class were in no rush to improve their FP1 times, while nearly inseparable within the top ten. Takaaki Nakagami was the first rider to surpass his own FP1 benchmark as the Japanese rider anticipated the time attack. However, Jack Miller reclaimed his title of Friday King of Valencia, although in much improved conditions this time, going nearly a tenth of a second faster than Nakagami in the final minute of the session. Pecco Bagnaia surprised as he joined the top three as second Ducati.
After the rush of speed in the morning session, FP2 was a more sedate affair, riders leaving it to the final five minutes to improve their times from FP1. Niccolo Antonelli led for most of the session, until the time attack, when the Italian was robbed by Jaume Masia and Sergio Garcia, the Spaniards only separated by one hundredth of a second at the front. Antonelli stayed in the top three of the session, although none of those men managed to improve Tony Arbolino’s record breaking time from FP1.
The intermediate class returned to the Ricardo Tormo Circuit and brought their best form with them, quickly posting laptimes faster than anything they achieved one week ago. Nice and dry conditions greatly contributed to Jorge Navarro’s top time in the high 1:34s, while Luca Marini looked to have recovered some form as the Italian jumped into second position, only two hundredths of a second slower than the leader. Compatriot Fabio Di Giannantonio made it an extremely tight top three, only covered by eight hundredths of a second.