Aleix Espargaro fastest as Honda woes continue with Marc Marquez fall

Aleix Espargaro led a dominant showing from Aprilia in FP1 for the Catalan MotoGP, while Marc Marquez suffered a late fall.
Aleix Espargaro, Aprilia MotoGP Catalunya 2023
Aleix Espargaro, Aprilia MotoGP Catalunya 2023

As every rider opted for a soft front and medium rear tyre to begin FP1, it was Maverick Vinales who led an all-factory Aprilia 1-2 from Aleix Espargaro. 

Espargaro then overhauled his teammate by setting a time of 1:40.497 which was three tenths clear of Vinales.

Yellow flags were then deployed for the first time as Franco Morbidelli ran off circuit at turn four.

The Italian managed to avoid crashing despite coming to an unsteady stop in the gravel. Fellow VR46 academy rider Marco Bezzecchi had his own scare moments later, after running into the rear of Iker Lecuona.

However, contact was very light between the pair which resulted in no damage or either rider suffering a fall. 

The low grip conditions in Barcelona were proving difficult for riders as Fabio Quartararo came close to losing the front-end of his M1 at turn one. 

With more than half the session gone, Vinales responded to Espargaro’s early lap time by going over four tenths clear.

Vinales’ lap time came after fitting a new medium rear tyre as he also came close to breaking into the 1m 39s barrier.

The top three continued to consist of Vinales, Espargaro and Francesco Bagnaia, while Miguel Oliveira moved up to fourth with less than a third of FP1 remaining. 

As Ducati, Aprilia, KTM and Yamaha all showed pace, Honda endured a nightmare start to FP1 as Takaaki Nakagami, Marc Marquez, Joan Mir and Iker Lecuona occupied the last four places on the leaderboard with under ten minutes to go.

Making it three different manufacturers inside the top four positions, Brad Binder replaced Bagnaia in third. 

However, the gaps between the top three riders were significant as Vinales led Espargaro by four tenths, which was a similar margin to what the 34-year-old held over Binder. 

As Espargaro and Jorge Martin opted for a time attack run, Marc Marquez became the first rider to fall at turn five. 

Martin was first to put his soft rear tyre to good use as he went second, which soon became third as Espargaro set a time of 1:39.809s in order to finish the session fastest.

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