The rain stayed away for MotoGP FP1 at the Red Bull Ring in Austria, allowing Hector Barbera to cause an early surprise, the Spaniard leading the way on Friday morning in a Ducati one-two.

Barbera had just seen his name displaced at the top of the time sheets by Andrea Dovizioso’s late, late lap, only for the Italian’s time be to chalked off, due to exceeding track limits at turn one. Dovizioso is unlikely to see it as a major drama, with the 30-year old second in spite of lost his quickest time.

Aside from the expected Ducati strength, Honda showed it will be a force to be reckoned with this weekend, as riders Dani Pedrosa and Marc Marquez were third and fifth, split only by Maverick Viñales’ Movistar Yamaha.

The end result will no doubt come as a minor relief to Dovizioso, Pedrosa and Viñales, after all witnessed championship leader and current form man Marquez lead the way by a full half second for more than half the session.

Should the Honda man win here, around a track on which he so notably struggled a year ago, that would represent a significant blow to the title hopes of his rivals. Indeed it took Dovizioso to fit Ducati’s new aerodynamic bodywork before he showed a notable pace.

Behind Marquez, Johann Zarco showed fine speed to sit sixth at the close of the 45 minutes, ahead of Danilo Petrucci – another user of the Bologna factory’s radical fairing – (seventh) and Scott Redding (eighth), the Englishman appearing unburdened in the wake of learning a seat in Aprilia’s factory squad in 2018 is secured.

Jorge Lorenzo spoke of the gains he has felt courtesy of Ducati’s new fairing on Thursday. He began the weekend ninth fastest, one place ahead of Cal Crutchlow and two of quickest KTM Pol Espargaro, the Catalan’s Brno pace translating to the open Austrian straights.

Valentino Rossi was a concerning twelfth, with Jonas Folger (13th), Andrea Iannone (14th) and Aleix Espargaro (15th) rounding out the top 15.


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