Maverick Vinales tops the MotoGP timesheets for the first time as an Aprilia rider, during a rain-interrupted opening practice for the 2021 San Marino MotoGP at Misano.

Vinales expected to close the gap during his second Aprilia race weekend, helped by a prior Misano test, and the former Yamaha rider backed up his words by being fast from the start of FP1, then topping the session with 15mins to go.

When rain, which is a threat throughout this weekend, began to pour down a few minutes later Vinales was confirmed on top of the timesheets by 0.080s over Suzuki's Joan Mir.

Francesco Bagnaia, who took his first MotoGP win after a thirrling showdown with Marc Marquez last weekend in Aragon, was an early session leader before being kept in the Ducati pits by some technical issues.

Bagnaia finished the session in third, just ahead of team-mate Jack Miller.

World championship leader Fabio Quartararo gestured his discomfort with a shaking Monster Yamaha on his way to seventh place, just behind the top Honda of Pol Espargaro. Repsol team-mate Marc Marquez and wild-card Stefan Bradl made it three RC213Vs in the top ten, whcih was completed by Vinales' team-mate Aleix Espargaro.

This morning's session also saw Andrea Dovizioso's first grand prix weekend laps since 2020 and first on a Yamaha since 2012.

The former triple title runner-up is taking over Franco Morbidelli's ex-Petronas Yamaha A-Spec bike for the remainder of the season ahead of a full 2022 campaign. The former Ducati star settled back into MotoGP with 24th and last this morning, +2.5s.

Morbidelli meanwhile made his return from a lengthy absense due to left knee surgery to make his debut at Monster Yamaha, as Vinales' full-time replacement alongside Fabio Quartararo. The Italian, a winner one year ago, was 16th quickest in FP1.

As well as Bradl, Michele Pirro (Ducati) is also making a wild-card appearance this weekend.

A two-day official test will be held next week while the second Misano round, also the final home MotoGP appearance for local legend Valentino Rossi, will take place on October 22-24…

San Marino MotoGP, Misano - Free Practice (1) Results
1Maverick ViñalesSPAAprilia Gresini (RS-GP)1'32.666s15/15296k
2Joan MirSPASuzuki Ecstar (GSX-RR)+0.080s13/15292k
3Francesco BagnaiaITADucati Team (GP21)+0.135s8/11294k
4Jack MillerAUSDucati Team (GP21)+0.193s10/13297k
5Alex RinsSPASuzuki Ecstar (GSX-RR)+0.219s13/18295k
6Pol EspargaroSPARepsol Honda (RC213V)+0.353s13/16298k
7Fabio QuartararoFRAMonster Yamaha (YZR-M1)+0.358s14/16289k
8Stefan BradlGERHRC (RC213V)+0.381s11/11296k
9Marc MarquezSPARepsol Honda (RC213V)+0.434s6/15295k
10Aleix EspargaroSPAAprilia Gresini (RS-GP)+0.436s5/11294k
11Johann ZarcoFRAPramac Ducati (GP21)+0.477s11/14298k
12Enea BastianiniITAAvintia Ducati (GP19)*+0.648s7/11297k
13Takaaki NakagamiJPNLCR Honda (RC213V)+0.743s7/13297k
14Jorge MartinSPAPramac Ducati (GP21)*+0.785s12/12295k
15Michele PirroITADucati Team (GP21)+0.816s10/11293k
16Franco MorbidelliITAMonster Yamaha (YZR-M1)+0.904s8/14286k
17Iker LecuonaSPAKTM Tech3 (RC16)+1.044s13/13290k
18Alex MarquezSPALCR Honda (RC213V)+1.100s6/13296k
19Valentino RossiITAPetronas Yamaha (YZR-M1)+1.125s10/12290k
20Danilo PetrucciITAKTM Tech3 (RC16)+1.284s12/14289k
21Brad BinderRSARed Bull KTM (RC16)+1.356s12/15293k
22Miguel OliveiraPORRed Bull KTM (RC16)+1.360s8/13294k
23Luca MariniITASky VR46 Avintia Ducati (GP19)*+1.371s12/12293k
24Andrea DoviziosoITAPetronas Yamaha (YZR-M1)+2.545s13/13288k

* Rookie
Official Misano MotoGP records:
Best lap:
Maverick Vinales SPA Yamaha 1m 31.007s (2020)
Fastest race lap:
Francesco Bagnaia ITA Ducati 1m 32.319s(2020)

By Peter McLaren