News 23 Apr 2016

Lorenzo leads both Friday practice sessions at Jerez

Miller 20th at conclusion of day one upon return from injury.

Source: Supplied.

Source: Supplied.

There were a number of new parts introduced in FP2, but once again all eyes were focused on Jorge Lorenzo who led from Marc Marquez and Aleix Espargaro.

Free Practice 1 had seen several upgrades and experimental parts from teams such as Movistar Yamaha MotoGP and the Repsol Honda Team.

In Free Practice 2 yet more new parts were introduced as the MotoGP World Championship embraced winglets, at least one bike from each manufacturer running winglets in the second session.

Aleix Espargaro’s (Team Suzuki Ecstar) GSX-RR had a total of six winglets with three small ones down each side of the fairing, Suzuki had planned to test them on Monday but Espargaro pushed to use them before.

Stefan Bradl’s (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini) RS-GP also had winglets fitted, looking very similar to the ones used by Yamaha and Ducati just under the front fairing.

Having stolen headlines in the build up to the weekend, Jorge Lorenzo (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP) again grabbed all the attention as he topped both Friday practice sessions.

A 1m39.555s saw him end the opening day as one of just two riders able to drop below the 1m40s barrier. Lorenzo had also led FP1, able to improve his time by 0.7s in the second session to end 0.345s ahead of Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team).

This weekend is all about Lorenzo looking for victory to try and close the 21-point gap to Marquez in the championship standings.

Marquez, with winglets fitted, slid his way around the Jerez circuit in 1m39.900s to set the first sub 1m40s lap of the 2016 Gran Premio Red Bull de España. He would be bested by Lorenzo, the only other rider in the 1m39s, ending the day 0.345s back.

Although he was behind Lorenzo, Marquez’s improvement between the session was even more impressive as he dropped almost a full second off his time. With the lead in the championship, Marquez can afford to settle for the podium this weekend.

A late flying lap from Aleix Espargaro made it three different manufacturers inside the top three. The elder Espargaro brother is continuing to ride on a wave of confidence after his return to the top five in America.

On paper the layout of the Jerez circuit should suit the Suzuki GSX-RR more than any of the previous circuits and Epsargaro’s early pace is certainly proving the prediction true.

Like Marquez, Espargaro made major steps forward with his one lap pace in the second session as he improved his best time by 0.9s. His fastest time was set on a GSX-RR without winglets.

Once more it was Hector Barbera (Avintia Racing) who was the leading Ducati rider as he nestled into fourth, 0.674s from the top.

The return to Europe has brought with it a change at the top, a number of new riders such as Barbera able to mix amongst the established order. Barbera continues to prove that there is life in the GP14.2, despite it being several seasons old.

Valentino Rossi (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP) completed the top five, once again working tirelessly throughout the session as he again completed 20 laps.

0.727s separated Rossi from his teammate at the top of the timesheets, while the gap may be significant, the Italian has always been a rider able to improve come race day and is currently unphased.

Maverick Viñales (Team Suzuki Ecstar), Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team), Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda Team), Scott Redding (Octo Pramac Yakhnich) and Eugene Laverty (Aspar Team MotoGP) rounded out the top 10. Pedrosa was the only rider unable to improve his time in FP2, 0.102s slower in the second session.

A number of big names were absent from the top ten on combined times and will have significant work to do on Saturday or risk having to fight through Q1.

Andrea Iannone (Ducati Team) struggled in both practice sessions, ending the day in 11th overall. Ducati revealed that their data from the test in November was of little use due to the changes to the Michelin tyres since then.

Both the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 riders also had a difficult start to the Spanish GP, Pol Espargaro ending 14th with Bradley Smith a distant 16th and neither rider within a second and a half of Lorenzo’s time.

Smith has been struggling for several rounds now and is eagerly awaiting the test on Monday to get some much needed track time to solve his issues.

Meanwhile, Espargaro’s troubles have seemingly come out of the blue as the Spaniard had been strong in all three previous rounds. He’ll need to work hard overnight with his team or risk losing fourth place in the world championship.

Australia’s Jack Miller ended the opening day of his return in 20th position at 1m41.904s, ahead of only Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS teammate Tito Rabat on the timesheets.

Dynavolt Intact GP’s Jonas Folger flew in the second Moto2 Free Practice, but it was Takaaki Nakagami (Idemitsu Honda Team Asia) who led the intermediate class on combined times. Third overall was Lorenzo Baldassarri (Forward Team).

A crash filled Moto3 session saw late improvements from Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Ajo), Nicolo Bulega (Sky Racing Team VR46) and Andrea Antonelli to promote themselves into the top three.