Nakagami tops times in Teruel MotoGP practice

·2-min read
Takaaki Nakagami has an outside chance in the MotoGP championship
Takaaki Nakagami has an outside chance in the MotoGP championship

Takaaki Nakagami celebrated signing a new contract with Honda-LCR by riding the fastest lap in Friday's practice for the Teruel MotoGP, pipping championship contender Maverick Vinales to top spot in Alcaniz.

Nakagami, who was second to Alex Marquez after the first session earlier on Friday, posted a best time of one minute, 47.782sec in his penultimate lap, which left him 0.175sec ahead of Yamaha's Spanish rider Vinales.

The result comes a day after the Japanese rider agreed a contract extension with Honda-LCR "for 2021 and beyond", where he will be joined by Alex Marquez -- the younger brother of six-time MotoGP champion Marc Marquez.

Vinales, the sole Yamaha factory rider in action this weekend following the coronavirus-enforced absence of Valentino Rossi, was the only other rider to dip below 1min 48sec.

"I think today was quite good, because I noticed an improvement," said Vinales.

"Actually, the track seemed to have less grip today compared to last week (when the Aragon GP was staged at the same circuit). That makes setting good lap times more difficult, but we did a good job anyway."

Championship leader Joan Mir was fifth fastest, 0.400sec back as the Suzuki rider prepares to defend his wafer-thin lead at the top of the standings in Sunday's race.

In the absence of injured Marc Marquez the title is being hotly contested, with eight different winners in 10 races.

Mir is six points ahead of Frenchman Fabio Quartararo, with Vinales and Andrea Dovizioso both within 15 points of the Spaniard.

Nakagami is 29 points back in fifth with four races left in the 2020 season and is still in with a chance of  the title.

Quartararo, 21, improved on his dismal 18th in the first practice session to jump up to fourth, ahead of Mir and 0.382sec behind Nakagami.

Times after Friday's two free practice sessions for the Teruel MotoGP:

1. Takaaki Nakagami (JPN/Honda-LCR) 1min 47.782sec, 2. Maverick Vinales (ESP/Yamaha) at 0.175sec, 3. Cal Crutchlow (GBR/Honda-LCR) 0.329, 4. Fabio Quartararo (FRA/Yamaha-SRT) 0.38, 5. Joan Mir (ESP/Suzuki) 0.400, 6. Alex Rins (ESP/Suzuki) 0.408, 7. Iker Lecuona (ESP/KTM-Tech3) 0.578, 8. Aleix Espargaro (ESP/Aprilia) 0.644, 9. Pol Espargaro (ESP/KTM) 0.657, 10. Alex Marquez (ESP/Honda) 0.661

Selected

13. Johann Zarco (FRA/Ducati-Avintia) 0.750, 18. Andrea Dovizioso (ITA/Ducati) 1.458 

td/pb/dj