Oliveira continues to dominate on opening day at German MotoGP

·3-min read

Miguel Oliveira continued to set the pace in MotoGP when he recorded the fastest time in free practice ahead of the German Grand Prix on Friday.

The Portuguese KTM rider, who won the last race in Catalonia, was fastest in the afternoon, when every rider recorded better times than in the morning session.

"It was a good day," said Oliveira. "We hoped and expected to have a good time attack and at the end we managed to do it. There was no pressure to be super-fast today, but it just kind of happened."

The top 18 were separated by less than a second on a day when the wind created an additional hazard. They had to dodge a twisting column of what appeared to be wisps of grass on Turn 11.

The closest challengers to Oliveira's best lap of 1min 20.690sec were the two factory Yamahas.

French championship leader Fabio Quartararo was 0.22sec back after outpacing Spanish team-mate Maverick Vinales as the session ended with a flurry of fast laps.

After a slow start to the season, KTM changed its chassis and its fuel and Oliveira finished second in Italy before winning in Catalonia.

"I feel like I have found and I manage to use well the strong points of our bike," said Oliveira.

Oliveira has been in pole position once, at his home race in Portimao at the end of last season.

"I feel confident," he said on Friday. "Hopefully the second pole position is on the way."

Quartararo started the day with a spectacular crash in the morning session. Although he walked away holding a shoulder, he seemed not to be suffering any ill effects in the afternoon.

"We crash straight away but I feel good."

The Frenchman was impressed by Oliveira.

"KTM has made huge progress and Miguel is going super fast, so we have to keep an eye on him," said Quartararo.

- 'Riding style' -

But Quartararo also singled out Marc Marquez as a rider he feared.

The Spanish six-time world champion has won all ten of his races at the Sachsenring including the last seven in MotoGP. He took pole position before each victory.

"We know that Marc on this track, he is amazing," said Oliveira.

Marquez was fastest in the morning session on his Honda.

It was the first session he's topped this season.

The Spaniard was ony 12th in the afternoon, although that appeared to be partly the result of strategic choices as he tried out different tyre combinations and did not attempt a flying lap at the end.

"Here I feel less physical limitations," said Marquez, who has had a long and complicated recovery from a crash at the start of last season.

"But I still don't think I am riding at my best. I can manage it and we have a good pace at the moment but for sure a focus for tomorrow is working on riding style."

The Ducati trio who are chasing Quartararo in the standings were all down the field on a track that does not suit the raw speed of their bikes.

Frenchman Johann Zarco of satellite team Pramac, who is second in the standings, was eighth, 0.49sec slower than Oliveira.

Australian Jack Miller, who is third in the standings, was ninth while his Italian factory Ducati stablemate Francesco Bagnaia was 22nd and slowest, 1.521sec off Oliveira's pace.

Miller was the repeatedly fastest through the opening two sectors but could not maintain the pace over the narrow twisty track.

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