Tough AragonGP opening day for Vierge and McPhee
Friday’s Moto2 Free Practice at MotorLand Aragon ends with Xavi Vierge 18th and John McPhee 31st
The opening day of the Gran Premio de Aragon proved to be a tricky one for PETRONAS Sprinta Racing’s Xavi Vierge, who ended the day 18th, while John McPhee was 31st – as he makes his Moto2 debut as stand-in for Jake Dixon.
Vierge got his home GP off to a good start; staying inside the top-14 on the timing screens early on in FP1 and sitting as high as fifth momentarily. At the end of the 40 minutes the Spaniard had posted the 12th fastest time – 1min 54.470secs. FP2 also started well for Xavi, who posted the fifth fastest time – 1min 53.833secs – on his first flying lap on hard tyres. After switching to the soft tyres, he was unable to improve upon this and ended the day 18th overall.
Making his Moto2 debut this weekend, as stand-in for Jake Dixon, McPhee spent FP1 familiarising himself with the Kalex machinery. Having made good progress throughout the session, he ended the morning 32nd with a 1min 57.695secs lap. The Scot was further able to improve in the afternoon’s FP2 session and reduced his lap time by 2.4secs, setting a 1min 55.274secs lap. Unfortunately a Turn 16 crash brought John’s Friday to a conclusion three minutes earlier than planned and he ended the day 31st.
FP3 will begin for Vierge and McPhee at 10.55am local time (6.55pm MYT) tomorrow, ahead of the first of the two Moto2 Qualifying sessions at 3.10pm local time (9.10pm MYT).
Xavi Vierge, 18th (1’53.833): “It has been a really strange day. This morning we had an issue with the rear tyre, so we changed it and then I had a good feeling with the bike again. In FP2 we started really well with the hard tyre and had a good race pace, but then when we switched to the soft tyre we couldn’t improve.
We expected a lot more from it. All of the other riders improved by at least half a second with this tyre, so we need to understand why. We know we have a good pace but we need a fast time over one lap for Qualifying. So our objective tomorrow will be to try to figure this out.”
John McPhee, 31st (1’55.274): “I’ve enjoyed it so much today and had so much fun! It has been a big learning curve and I feel like a sponge trying to absorb everything. I made a big step from FP1 to FP2 and went 2.4 seconds faster, so that’s good progress. I’m enjoying the bike a lot, although there’s still much to learn and improve. I’m hoping that if I keep doing that then I’ll be able to fight with some guys in Sunday’s race. I did crash in FP2, which is frustrating, and I’m sorry to the team.
It wasn’t from pushing too much; I just braked a little bit too late into the last turn, went straight out and hit the kerb trying to get back onto the track. My target is to keep closing the gap to the others and I feel like I can still improve a lot just by altering the way I’m riding. If we continue improving and enjoy ourselves then I think it will be a successful weekend.”