Marco Bezzecchi topped the timesheets in FP2 with the best time of the day, a 1'28.533 which shattered the previous track record by two and a half seconds. The Italian rider, in recent days at the centre of controversy over his future, with Ducati who would like him to be official in the Pramac satellite team, while the youngster would instead like to stay in VR46, but with a factory bike.
While waiting for the proverbial Gordian knot to be untied, Bez once again demonstrated his competitiveness this season, which has taken him to 167 points with two victories and four podiums, and he is third in the standings battling for the all-Ducati championship with his friend and rival Bagnaia and Spain’s Jorge Martin. Irrespective of today's result, which sees him as one of the candidates for a podium, or a victory (crashes permitting, as happened at Silverstone), there is also the Austrian circuit, which lends itself well to the potential of the Borgo Panigale bike, to conquer. Expectations are therefore reasonably high for what promises to be a Ducati home race, even if the circuit bears the name of a rival manufacturer, that of Binder and his KTM.
"I'm satisfied, it was a positive day - says Bez - I don't know if I'll be first but I know I can be fast on this track. When it started to rain during the second session, I immediately went back to the pits to change tyres, some riders were waiting, others came back in immediately. As I was already second or third in the standings I preferred not to risk, and I was able to wait an extra minute, but the rain was never a problem. Instead, we had a problem during one of the time attacks, when after changing the tyres, I restarted without them putting in the fuel, so I was left stranded".
Do you feel that you are the rider to beat tomorrow? Who do you think will be the most competitive on this track?
"I don't feel like I'm the best, I’m keeping my feet on the ground. As for the others, I haven't had the chance to have a look at the times yet, so I don't have a precise idea."
As a rider do you think you have reached your maturity? Do you feel that you still have weaknesses that you need to improve on?
"You’re never okay - continued Bez - it depends on weekend to weekend, in some tracks I struggle more in some points, in others I have other difficulties. What has perhaps become more consistent compared to other riders is the experience, I feel I have acquired enough".
Yet today you lapped two tenths below the track record. Starting a weekend like this bodes well for the race weekend.
"It's one of the reasons why I'm happy today, but it's still only Friday, it's too early to claim victory. The goal is to go as fast as possible. After the mistake at Silverstone, a good result here would also be a way to reconfirm myself as among the most competitive riders".
Choosing the tyres should be easy though.
"With these temperatures, the two hard tyres are almost an obligatory choice. I generally have difficulties here with the medium and the soft, if I had a choice, I would always use the hard compound".
Valentino was present in the box, what did you ask him?
"I prefer not to reveal these details, otherwise everyone will read them and there would be no more secrets. It was nice to have him there".
The playful spirit of the Italian rider has also made him well-known for his bets with the team. After the one about growing a moustache, did you do another one?
"There's another one, a silly one, but it's something that maybe you'll see in case of victory. But it would not regard my hair, I'd never bet on that" commented Bez.