Argentine rider suffers fractures in a late FP2 highside, Arbolino and Suzuki complete the top three.
Gabriel Rodrigo (Kömmerling Gresini Moto3) went fastest on Friday in the Monster Energy Grand Prix České republiky, with the Argentine rider two tenths clear by the end of a cloudy first day of action at the classic track. That was, however, before a crash in the last few seconds of FP2 as he highsided out, breaking his collarbone and pelvis and ruling himself out of the remainder of the weekend. Tony Arbolino (VNE Snipers) and Tatsuki Suzuki (SIC58 Squadra Corse) completed the top three, with 16 riders ending the day within a second on the combined timesheets.
Jaume Masia (Bester Capital Dubai) topped FP1 ahead of Rodrigo, but it was game on on Friday afternoon to get into the provisional Q2 graduation zone as bad weather seems to be on the horizon for Saturday and FP3. In the end though some of the fastest in FP1 remained threats on the combined timesheets, with Masia retaining fifth overall, slotting in behind a top three chased by Celestino Vietti (Sky Racing Team VR46). The ever-impressive Italian rookie gained over twenty places from his FP1 slot.
Championship contenders Lorenzo Dalla Porta (Leopard Racing) and Aron Canet (Sterilgarda Max Racing Team) were next up, with the two rivals taking P6 and P7 respectively…split by just 0.030 as they prepare for another crucial battle on Sunday. Dalla Porta was also involved in an incident with Vietti at Turn 3 in FP2, both riders ok.
Niccolo Antonelli (SIC58 Squadra Corse), currently third in the Championship, was eighth quickest on Friday, with the Italian ending the day just under a tenth and a half off Canet. He headed up an incredibly close squabble, with compatriot Romano Fenati (VNE Snipers) 0.003 back, Marcos Ramirez (Leopard Racing) another 0.008 off and John McPhee (Petronas Yamaha SRT) within only 0.014 of Spaniard Ramirez ahead of him. The Scot’s best lap was from FP1.
That was also true of the man just behind him, rookie Ai Ogura (Honda Team Asia), and the man behind him, Andrea Migno (Bester Capital Dubai), in P13. Home hero Filip Salač (Redox PrüstelGP) took P14 and is the last man currently in the provisional graduation zone for Q2, with Kaito Toba (Honda Team Asia) the first to lose out.
Crashers on Day 1 included Can Öncü (Red Bull KTM Ajo), Kazuki Masaki (BOE Skull Rider Mugen Race), Darryn Binder (CIP – Green Power), Albert Arenas (Sama Qatar Angel Nieto Team), Sergio Garcia (Estrella Galicia 0,0) and Alonso Lopez (Estrella Galicia 0,0).
Will the weather hold out on Saturday for FP3? Find out at 9:00 local time (GMT +2), before qualifying from 12:35.
1 – Gabriel Rodrigo (ARG – Honda) 2’08.125
2 – Tony Arbolino (ITA – Honda) +0.200
3 – Tatsuki Suzuki (JPN – Honda) +0.308
4 – Celestino Vietti (ITA – KTM) +0.394
5 – Jaume Masia (SPA – KTM) +0.490