Jorge Lorenzo and Valentino Rossi were back on track at Montmelò circuit.
Movistar Yamaha MotoGP riders Jorge Lorenzo and Valentino Rossi were back on track today for the first free practice sessions of this weekend’s GP Monster Energy de Catalunya.
Both Lorenzo and Rossi were quick to re-familiarise themselves with the Montmelò circuit in the first session, Lorenzo leading most of the session before wrapping up in second with Rossi in fourth, just 0.022 seconds behind his teammate.
The afternoon practice saw scorching hot weather and track temperatures of 52 degrees, changing the track conditions and slowing the times a little. Both Lorenzo and Rossi were quick to get on the pace, taking turns to run in the top spot in the first minutes on the medium compound tyre. They dropped a few places down the timesheets having taken pit stops but were back in the hunt towards the end of the session having switched to the harder compound rear tyre.
The results put Lorenzo in fifth in the combined times for the day on 1’42.282 and Rossi in seventh on 1’42.423.
The Monster Yamaha Tech3 Team had a great start of the weekend. With 5 minutes to go in the afternoon session, rider Bradley Smith rode a brilliant lap, boosted him to 1st position for FP2 and second place in the combined classification. Tomorrow, the British rider will aim to continue in this form by gunning for a front row grid position in qualifying. Young local hero Pol Espargaro also began the race weekend in a positive manner, finishing in 8th in the combined standings. For tomorrow he looks optimistically towards the qualifying session where he will be aiming for a top six start at his home GP.
The best scorer of the day was NGM Forward Racing Team’s Aleix Espargaro who finished the morning session with the fastest time, a 1’41.672. Nobody was able to improve on his laptime in the afternoon session, putting the older local hero in first place in the combined classification, while teammate Colin Edwards finished in the 16th place.
Jorge Lorenzo (5th / 1’42.282): “In the morning it was good so I didn't expect to have so many problems in the afternoon, but the track was much hotter and we had problems with grip and tyre consistency. Tomorrow we have to decide which tyre to use in the front and rear and try to make the bike more stable in acceleration."
Valentino Rossi (7th/ 1’42.423): “It's a shame because the track is fantastic but it’s very difficult to ride, especially with the high temperatures, the tyres suffer very much because the load on them is very hard. The surface has a lot of bumps and not much grip. I think we have to work for the future because the surface is quite finished. It’s difficult to control the bike and I’m not very happy about my speed and position. We followed one way with the setting but it was not the right way. This afternoon when it was very hot I suffered in the entry of the corner. We will check the data and decide on the tyres as all options are possible. We also have to decide on the strategy for qualifying."
Massimo Meregalli - Movistar Yamaha MotoGP Team Director: “We started very well this morning, both Jorge and Vale were quickly comfortable and we were able to set a competitive pace for the first session. Unfortunately in the afternoon the temperatures rose considerably and made the situation more complicated, changing the track conditions a lot. With this heat it is more challenging for us to find grip on the corner entry for Vale and stability under acceleration for Jorge, tyre life is certainly an issue. The track surface is also not great which doesn't help matters. We will take the data form today and work to find solutions for tomorrow's third practice."
Bradley Smith (2nd / 1'42.123): "To finish in 1st in FP2 is certainly great. I am pleased as we undertook some key work in Mugello and the results are shining through here as well. The setting is very positive with the bike although I wasn’t able to show it last time unfortunately. The main thing we looked at today was the front contact, the turning of the bike as well as front tyre choices. There are still a few areas we need to make some small adjustments on such as the balance and how it behaves in sector 4 of the circuit which is a bit tough. Overall, I feel confident and happier plus I enjoy Barcelona as I run strongly here. It’s been a tricky few races but we have always worked hard and now I aim to keep this positive momentum for this weekend and the next few MotoGP races and continue to try my best."
Pol Espagaro (8th / 1'42.608): "I believe we can be satisfied with our performance today. The first sessions are always tricky for us as I need to understand the lines and get the feeling of how to ride a MotoGP bike on the track and especially here it has been an emotional start, as its just so close from where I have grown up. But finishing 5th this afternoon, whilst improving our lap times also with the hotter conditions, is really positive and gives me a lot of confidence for tomorrow. It goes without saying that we still have a margin to improve and also Bradley doing such a great job during the second session which proves that we can definitely go faster, but we will check the data now to understand what we need to change to be even more competitive tomorrow."
Aleix Espargaro (1st / 1’41.672): "I’m happy with this morning’s result. We were able to do a fast lap and also the pace was quiet good. We suffered more in the afternoon with the hot temperatures as the track was very slippery and the traction control was not supporting us as we would like. We made some changes on the front and we tested some different electronics settings, but we couldn’t improve our lap times and tomorrow we will keep on working on the electronics.”
Colin Edwards (16th / 1’43.819): “This morning we tried different settings and in the afternoon we continued with positive results. We need to find the best way to integrate the new chassis with this engine and electronics. In the afternoon the feeling improved a bit and also the lap times, but we will keep on working on the electronics to make it more consistent.”