Yamaha Factory Racing’s Valentino Rossi lapped under the race lap record at the Circuit de Catalunya today to lead the field in a scorching day of action.
Having set impressive times on the harder rear slick option earlier in the FP2 session, Rossi switched to the softer rear slick, paired with the harder front slick option to set a time of 1’42.297 to end the day 0.049 seconds ahead of teammate Jorge Lorenzo.
Clearly revelling in the conditions at his home circuit, Power Electronics Aspar rider Aleix Espargaro was the top CRT rider in today’s sessions, finishing tenth fastest with a time of 1’43.204.
Track temperatures soared today under a blazing Spanish sun, with a peak of 54°C recorded during the afternoon FP2 session. The hot tarmac resulted in many teams evaluating the harder option rear slick, with some riders able to set their best lap time of the day on this option.
Front tyre choice today was also varied, with the softer front slick preferred in the morning FP1 session as the riders evaluated the condition of the track, before the trend shifted towards the harder front slick in the hot afternoon session.
The warm track temperatures enabled riders to get up to pace quickly in FP1 and despite the very hot conditions in the afternoon, the pace quickened even more on what was reported by riders to be a good track surface.
Hot conditions are also expected for the rest of the race weekend, with the next session, FP3, scheduled for 0955 local time tomorrow (GMT +2).
Shinji Aoki – Manager, Bridgestone Motorsport Tyre Development Department: “Today’s very hot weather helped the riders set a good pace almost right away, and considering the conditions I believe our decision on Wednesday to change our original tyre allocation and provide harder front slick options was the right choice, as these handled the high track temperatures excellently.
The riders tried all the slick options available to them today, though further evaluation tomorrow is needed until decisions about race tyre choice can be made. The good thing is that this weekend it looks like we will have similar conditions in each session, so the riders will have a lot of opportunities to test each tyre option.
Today we saw that the pace for the top riders with both the soft and hard rear slick tyre options was very good, so the signs are promising for an exciting qualifying session tomorrow.”