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Zarco puts Avintia on top of Portuguese MotoGP FP2 with new lap record

Johann Zarco banged in a new lap record at the Algarve International Circuit to head the timesheets at the end of second practice for the Portuguese Grand Prix.

The Frenchman rather kept himself to himself in the early stages of FP2 having ended the opening session on Friday morning a lowly 14th, though he fired himself into the conversation for a top time late on after bolting on fresh rubber.

Yamaha looked strong once again as Maverick Vinales became the first man to lap underneath the 1:40 barrier as the 70 minute session entered its final segment, the Spaniard leading Petronas SRT Yamaha racer Franco Morbidelli.

Ducati’s challengers soon entered the fray though, Jack Miller wheeling his Pramac-run Desmosedici to the top of the times with a rapid 1:39.895 effort, before shaving a fraction more from his benchmark on his following tour.

Zarco piggy-backed his fellow Ducati pilot seconds later as he moved to the top of the timing pylon for the first time, though Vinales would relegate him back to second by the best part of a tenth soon after.

The two-time Moto2 world champion still had one last sting in his tail though, banging in a 1:39.417 to fly ahead by over two-tenths.

This would prove to be an unbeatable benchmark across the final couple of minutes, Zarco heading Vinales by 0.119 after the factory Yamaha racer inched closer on his final push lap.

Aleix Espargaro backed up Aprilia’s strong FP1 showing with his second third place finish in as many sessions, while Fabio Quartararo and Brad Binder’s factory KTM completed the top five.

Joan Mir was Suzuki’s highest-placed charge in sixth overall ahead of Andrea Dovizioso’s Ducati, while Pol Espargaro made it two KTM’s in the top eight.

Miller ultimately slipped to ninth by the end of the session after being unable to improve his previous time in the final laps, while Morbidelli ended Friday tenth overall.

FP1 leader Miguel Oliveira could only muster up the 13th best time on Friday afternoon after finding himself unable to string together a competitive final two sectors of the 4.3 km Portimao course, while Stefan Bradl once again shone for Honda in 11th after leading once again as FP2 entered its final third.   

Alex Rins continued to struggle on the second Suzuki GSX-RR down in 17th, albeit only 0.796 from Zarco’s time having sustained a crash at Turn 8 shortly after the start of the test, while Takaaki Nakagami and Valentino Rossi also suffered spills, both coming at Turn 4.

Nakagami ended up 12th overall by the end of the session, while Rossi could only manage 21st ahead of only Tech 3 KTM stand-in rider Mika Kallio.

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