Aleix Espargaro was quickest in the opening practice sessions for this weekend’s Italian Grand Prix on Friday, as MotoGP championship leader Fabio Quartararo struggled for pace.
Aprilia rider Espargaro posted the fastest time in Mugello of one minute and 45.891 seconds.
The Spaniard sits second in the riders’ standings, just four points behind reigning champion Quartararo after seven races.
Frenchman Quartararo had to settle for ninth on Friday’s timesheets, more than six tenths of a second slower than his title rival.
“I didn’t feel good on the bike,” said Quartararo. “It’s not just a question of speed, more feeling and confidence.”
Ducati bikes made up the next five places behind Espargaro at the manufacturer’s home race, with Francesco Bagnaia only 0.049secs slower than Espargaro and Jack Miller rounding out the top three.
Japan’s Takaaki Nakagami was fastest in the first session but ended the day 13th quickest, just behind six-time MotoGP world champion Marc Marquez.
This weekend marks the return of supporters to the Tuscan track for the first time since the Covid-19 pandemic.