Lorenzo continued his form on the first free practice sessions of this weekend’s Australian Grand Prix.
Movistar Yamaha MotoGP riders Jorge Lorenzo and Valentino Rossi were back on track at the Phillip Island circuit today for the first free practice sessions of this weekend’s Australian Grand Prix.
Still thrilled to have won the two previous Grand Prix, Lorenzo was quick to find the pace around the Phillip Island circuit. Riding in the cold and windy conditions, the Spaniard was able to hold second position for most of the morning session, finishing just 0.160s from the front runner.
Lorenzo continued his form in the afternoon session when he posted a 1’29.602 on his fourth lap and held on to the lead for the rest of the second Free Practice session. The Spaniard spent what was left of the session testing the asymmetrical tyre. He suffered a fall at turn four, but was able to walk away unharmed.
Teammate Rossi also came out fighting as he briefly topped the first Free Practice session with his first flying lap. Throughout the session he bettered his time by almost 1,7 seconds to a 1’30.051 lap.
In the afternoon the nine-time World Champion further improved his times and dropped under the 1’30 mark with a 1'29.954 lap, just 0.352 behind his teammate.
The results put Lorenzo in first place in the combined times and Rossi in sixth.
Jorge Lorenzo (1st / 1'29.602 / 14 laps): “I didn’t expect the crash because I was braking more or less at the same point with similar pressure as the previous laps but suddenly, without any warning, the front tyre closed. Within one tenth of a second I was in the gravel. It was quite a violent crash, but luckily it wasn’t so hard that I got injured.
My leathers are completely destroyed, but I am ok, which is the most important thing. I think the asymmetrical front tyre was too hard for these cold conditions. These things happen and you just have to learn from it. Now we have to choose between another 31 or another asymmetrical. It’s a critical decision because tomorrow if it’s hotter, the asymmetrical tyres might be the better option.”
Valentino Rossi (6th / 1'29.954 / 20 laps): “I was supposed to try the asymmetrical front tyres but Jorge crashed at the exact moment that we put the front tyre on the bike, so we decided to wait and see whether he crashed because of a problem with the tyre and we decided to continue with the softer tyre instead. It depends on the weather, but I feel very good with softer tyre so I hope it will be strong enough to last for the whole race.
Tomorrow we will also try the asymmetrical tyres. I am happy with Bridgestone’s work, because the tyres have more resistance and it feels a lot less scary on the bike. We lost a bit of grip, but that’s normal. The track also has a lot less grip compared to last year, because last year the asphalt was brand new and now it’s been used. It’s natural. In Phillip Island you always slide and spin, but it’s good fun!”
Massimo Meregalli - Movistar Yamaha MotoGP Team Director: “Today we had a very positive start in the first two practice sessions. We are in a good position because this track suits the Yamaha M1 well. Right away both Jorge and Valentino found a good base set up in the morning session and had a good pace.The feeling of the riders has been great and they seem confident with the set up and the extra soft front tyres, which is important. During the afternoon session Jorge tested the special asymmetrical front tyres. Despite his crash it looks like the bike is working well on those tyres too. We’re very satisfied with today’s results but we’ll keep working hard for the rest of the weekend to get the best possible results.”
Determined Espargaro opens Australian campaign in eighth
Monster Yamaha Tech3 rider Pol Espargaro kicked off the opening day of the Tissot Australian Grand Prix at the spectacular Phillip Island circuit in a positive fashion by clinching eighth position. The young Spanish rider, who has won twice in succession at this track in the intermediate class in recent years, started the day by finishing 11th as he set about experimenting with tyre options as well as beginning to establish the setup of his Yamaha YZR-M1.
In the afternoon, the reigning Moto2 World Champion remained fully focused on upping his level at the 4448 meter Australian circuit yet fell at turn four but luckily remained uninjured, at the halfway mark in the practice.
However, Espargaro showed resilience and sprinted back to the pit box before returning to the track straight away on his second bike and then powering through to set a best lap of 1’30.103. This time saw him seize eighth with it being only three tenths from the front row which further strengthens the Spaniard’s ambition to clinch a top six result in the qualifying session tomorrow.
Meanwhile, Bradley Smith made progressive steps forward as well by exploring setup and tyre options on the Yamaha YZR-M1 before finishing in 11th position in the tightly contested afternoon session in Australia. The British star opened the first practice at the Phillip Island circuit by riding to eighth in the morning under sunny conditions at the coastal track.
As the afternoon practice began, Smith got down to business and remained determined in setting himself up to qualify strongly ahead of the battle on Sunday where he intends to fight into the top five. The British rider completed the FP2 practice with a personal fastest lap of 1’30.313, which was a steady improvement of over three tenths of a second from his morning time.
In addition, the lap was merely 0.359 from fifth place. Smith’s start today leaves him optimistic and confident of lowering the gap to the leading bikes further tomorrow, before fighting to qualify as high as possible during the all-important qualifying session in the afternoon.
Pol Espargaro (8th / 1'30.103 / 20 laps): “Fortunately, I am fine and not injured at all after the fall in the afternoon, even if it was quite a fast one. We still do not exactly know why it happened as I was on the hard tyre compound which felt good and comfortable when turning. Therefore we need to work out why this occurred because I fell when I was still straight and on the brakes. A possible reason might be that the previous corners are lefts and then when we eventually get to the fourth turn, the right side of the tyre is a bit too cold and in this case, it could still be an issue with the asymmetric tyres during the weekend.
We tried all of the tyre combinations today and I prefer the hard option despite the crash, but we will continue our research to find the best option. There is quite a big difference to Moto2 and at the moment, I think it’s more fun on the intermediate bikes. However, this is due to my inexperience and I need to learn more. In the afternoon my performance was a little better but there was still a gap to the front that I need to close so we will work hard to improve in order to get a good qualifying tomorrow.”
Bradley Smith (11th / 1'30.313 / 23 laps): “Overall, the first day has been quite constructive for me at Phillip Island. We were able to try the new Bridgestone tyre which is available here and they’ve done a good job to create it, as it looks like it will last the full race distance, which is obviously very important. However, it does require a slightly different setup to what we are used to, in order to accommodate the tyre, so we’ve been trying to learn and understand exactly what it needs.
Yet, in general I am pleased with what we have achieved. I was consistent but unfortunately I finished in 11th as it was a close session, so tomorrow we will look to improve straight away in order to get straight into Q2. In my opinion, the track has lost a bit of grip compared to last year, but with the good weather and less wind today, we’ve still been able to perform well. My aim is to ride a 1’29 lap time tomorrow, so with a bit more improvement I am confident that I can qualify well.”
Great start for Aleix Espargaro at Phillip Island
The NGM Forward Racing rider Alex Espargaro impressed at Phillip Island, that this weekend hosts the Australian Grand Prix, 16th round of the 2014 season. The Spanish rider found a very good feeling with his Forward Yamaha this morning, topping the FP1 with a lap time of 1.29.749 and securing the second fastest time of the combined classification of the first day. In the afternoon Espargaro focused on the race pace, remaining close to the first riders, but without being able to further improve his lap time.
It was a difficult day for Alex De Angelis, who despite the technical problems was able to set a lap time of 1.31.108, finishing in 14th position. The rider from San Marino was obliged to stop twice at the garage, losing important time to work on the bike set up in preparation of the race.
Aleix Espargaro (2nd / 1'29.749 / 20 laps): “I’m very happy with today’s result. This morning I was able to find a good feeling and to ride fast on this technical track. Compared to Japan, here we don’t have hard acceleration and we can be competitive. In the afternoon I could ride with a very good pace and this is very important for the race. Tomorrow we aim at making another step forward for the qualifying and to continue working in preparation of the race.”
Alex De Angelis (14th / 1'31.108 / 19 laps): “I’m really disappointed. We couldn’t solve the technical problems that we had last week in Japan and I lost some time in both sessions trying to find a solution. In the afternoon we tested some news things in terms of set up and the feeling was good. I was able to improve of almost four tenths compared to the FP1 but I couldn’t complete the long run in preparation of the race.”