Fresh from a first victory of the season at Jerez a fortnight ago, Repsol Honda’s Dani Pedrosa continued his good form by leading a Repsol Honda 1-2 in Friday practice at Le Mans.

Dani Pedrosa, Repsol Honda Team
Dani Pedrosa, Repsol Honda Team

Photo by: Repsol Media

Pedrosa was quickest in both free practice sessions today but set the benchmark time of 1'34.035 on his last lap of FP2 to end the day 0.134 seconds ahead of teammate Marc Marquez in the standings. Third quickest today was Yamaha Factory Racing’s Valentino Rossi who set a personal best time just four-thousandths of a second behind Marquez. In what is now almost a customary position for the Spanish rider, Power Electronics Aspar’s Aleix Espargaro was the best of the CRT riders in Friday free practice, his best time of 1’35.045 slotting him into P10 and looking good for direct qualification into tomorrow’s Qualifying Practice 2.

All riders set their personal best times in the second free practice session, with the top ten riders all setting their best time on the combination of the harder front and softer rear slick options. The cool track temperature this morning resulted in riders preferring softer option slicks front and rear, before riders gradually switched to the harder option, soft compound front slick tyre as track temperatures increased. Rear tyre choice today was almost exclusively the softer rear slick options for both the works and CRT riders, as planned evaluation of the harder rear options in FP2 was shelved by some riders due to rainfall immediately before the start of the session. Only PBM’s Yonny Hernandez assessed the harder rear slick option today, however more widespread evaluation of the harder rear slicks will likely take place in tomorrow’s FP4 session if warm and dry track conditions are encountered.

The riders will be back on track tomorrow morning at 0955 local time tomorrow (GMT +2) for Free Practice 3 for a final chance to qualify directly for QP2 tomorrow afternoon.

Shinji Aoki – Chief Engineer, Bridgestone Motorsport Tyre Development Department

“It was good that we had two sessions of dry track time today, though the rain before FP2 did mean some riders weren’t able to try out the harder rear slick options in the afternoon like they originally intended. Track temperatures were quite cool in the morning session but all riders were happy with the warm-up performance of the tyre options we brought here and thankfully today’s sessions were almost incident free. The weather here is always unpredictable and the forecast indicates rain is a possibility tomorrow, so there was a real push to make a good lap time in FP2. In the end, almost every rider set their best lap time on the same combination of the harder front and softer rear slicks, though if we have good track conditions in FP4 I think we will see some riders assess the performance of the harder rear slick options. It is pleasing to see how close the lap times for the top ten riders were today and I think that no matter what the weather brings tomorrow, FP3 and Qualifying tomorrow will be very closely fought.”

Bridgestone Motorsport