Espargaro quickest in practice for Catalonia MotoGP

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Local boy Aleix Espargaro set the pace during Friday's two practice sessions for the Catalonia MotoGP, edging his Aprilia teammate Maverick Vinales.

Espargaro, who was born not far from the Barcelona circuit, was just over three-tenths of a second faster than his fellow Spaniard with the Italian Enea Bastianini (Ducati-Gresini) just behind.

Official Ducati team riders Francesco Bagnaia and Jack Miller were fourth and seventh while world championship leader Fabio Quartararo could manage only the ninth fastest time over seven-tenths of a second behind Espargaro.

The reigning world champion, whose contract with Yamaha has been renewed until the end of the 2024 season, said he had been stymied by the poor grip of his tyres on the track.

"The track conditions are not good for me," said the Frenchman.

"When you put on new tyres but you feel like you've already done 10 laps with them... it was really bad."

One man missing from this weekend's race is six-time world champion Marc Marquez who has undergone surgery on his right arm in the United States, with doctors declaring on Friday the operation was successful.

Marquez will remain in America for a few days before returning to Spain to continue his recovery. He is expected to miss the rest of the 2022 season.

Top times from the first two practice sessions at the Catalonia MotoGP:

1. Aleix Espargaro (ESP/Aprilia) 1min 39.402sec, 2. Maverick Vinales (ESP/Aprilia) at 0.303, 3. Enea Bastianini (ITA/Ducati-Gresini) 0.488, 4. Francesco Bagnaia (ITA/Ducati) 0.548, 5. Jorge Martin (ESP/Ducati-Pramac) 0.587, 6. Brad Binder (AFS/KTM) 0.681, 7. Jack Miller (AUS/Ducati) 0.693, 8. Alex Rins (ESP/Suzuki) 0.699, 9. Fabio Quartararo (FRA/Yamaha) 0.721, 10. Franco Morbidelli (ITA/Yamaha) 0.802

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