Lorenzo and Rossi had their wet riding skills tested to the max on the treacherously slippery track.
There was little fun to be had today by the Movistar Yamaha MotoGP riders in the first two practice sessions for Sunday’s 'Grand Prix di San Marino e della Riviera di Rimini' at the Misano World Circuit Marco Simoncelli.
Persistent rain throughout the day meant both Jorge Lorenzo and Valentino Rossi had their wet riding skills tested to the max on the treacherously slippery track.
Lorenzo started slowly, finding his confidence in the wet and was able to make a big improvement over the two sessions, taking nearly four seconds off his time by the end of Free Practice 2 to finish in eighth in the combined standings.
The morning practice saw Rossi as one of the many GP riders to have their session interrupted by a fall. Luckily the Italian was unhurt and ready to continue. Like his teammate Lorenzo, Rossi was able to make a big improvement in the afternoon wet session, taking just over two and a half seconds off his lap time to finish in tenth overall.
Despite all the work in the wet the weather is now forecast to be dry with sunshine for the remainder of the weekend, meaning the team will start again from the beginning in the third practice tomorrow in the hunt for the best dry set up for the track.
Jorge Lorenzo (8th / 1'51.541 / 15 laps): “At least we didn't crash because today almost everyone did. We have been one of the few lucky ones. The pace has been very difficult to find. I needed a lot of laps to get onto a good rhythm. The tyres didn’t give me so much confidence, that is one of the reasons, but the other is me. I needed more time than the others to build my confidence but I found it in the end to get eighth position. Obviously we need to improve the bike in the rain as our competitors are faster but I also need to improve my riding.”
Valentino Rossi (10th / 1'51.738 / 17 laps): “Today was a difficult day for everybody, especially in the morning. Unfortunately we had to go on the track with a hard option tyre. It was very dangerous and very difficult, especially because the grip of the track was very low and the asphalt is a bit damaged so there were a lot of crashes. This afternoon it was coming better with a softer tyre and the feeling with the bike improved a lot. Personally speaking we are still not fast enough. We tried some different settings for the rear part of the bike mainly but I don't have enough feeling and I don't have enough grip in the corner entry, so we have to work and we have to improve.”
Massimo Meregalli - Movistar Yamaha MotoGP Team Director: “We’ve experienced very difficult conditions today in the wet looking for the best set up for both Vale and Jorge. It looks like we have a lot of work tonight for tomorrow but as we have already done in the last GPs, we will work hard and be ready. We are positive, the weather forecast for the weekend is getting better and better so we expect dry conditions from tomorrow morning and a dry race.”
Espargaro dodges rain to be quickest Yamaha on day one at Misano
Monster Yamaha Tech3 rider Pol Espargaro began the opening day of action at the Misano World Circuit Marco Simoncelli in superb form, storming to sixth position despite the treacherous conditions caused by a continuous downpour of rain throughout the day.
The young Spanish rider started the first session positively but fell midway through, however he remained resolute and after running on foot back to the pits, he recommenced his practice campaign before finishing in eighth.
In the afternoon, the reigning Moto2 World Champion set a best lap of 1’50.761 having valiantly battled through the unchanged slippery conditions. This time was the fastest of all of the Yamaha MotoGP bikes as well as remarkably being only four tenths of a second from third place in what was an impressive performance for the premier class rookie.
In addition, the 23-year-old Spaniard posted the quickest sector time in T2 as he now optimistically looks towards tomorrow’s qualifying session where a position on the first two rows is the aim.
On the other side of the Monster Yamaha Tech3 garage, Bradley Smith endured a tricky start to round 13 at the 4226 meter Misano circuit as he gallantly battled through the relentless rain. The 23-year-old rider initially began the morning practice optimistically but lucklessly fell on his first lap and then took the decision to sit out the remainder of the session.
The British star intended to bounce back strongly this afternoon and he worked with his team to tirelessly rebuild the Yamaha YZR-M1 as fast as possible to compete on the Misano track. As the FP2 session progressed, Smith posted a series of competitive lap times which positioned him inside the top ten as he consistently improved, yet a crash near the end of the practice prevented his run from proceeding any further and left him in 18th position in the combined standings.
Despite this unfortunate end, the British rider remains confident and will now refocus on the qualifying tomorrow where he will determinedly intend to assert himself right behind the factory MotoGP bikes.
Pol Espargaro (6th / 1'50.761 /18 laps): “Overall I have to say that I'm satisfied with our result today, even if the weather conditions were far from ideal. The track was really slippery this morning and with the hard Bridgestone wet tyre compound it would wasn’t difficult to crash out. However, the softer option we got for this afternoon improved the situation significantly.
Finally we had some grip and I felt comfortable on the bike, which is crucial in these conditions. Yet, the standing water on the track still made it difficult to ride and I believe the surface of the circuit is a bit risky in wet conditions, which was illustrated by the numerous crashes today.
In any case I am convinced that we learnt more than what we would have done during another dry session and I'm looking forward to the rest of the weekend with the hope that the conditions will improve tomorrow.”
Bradley Smith (18th / 1'53.329 /16 laps): “The track conditions were very tricky today with the rain falling, but firstly I want to say sorry to the team for the two crashes I had. However, with these conditions it is very easy to make a mistake and the slightest error can cost you a lot. Both of mine were quite comparable as I fell during the braking in the straight.
They were strange crashes and there was not a lot I could do to control them as it was not about being too quick or carrying too much angle, nor opening the throttle too soon. Moreover, it was the straight braking that caught me out which is usually ok on these bikes.
Before I fell, the times I was producing were quite competitive plus, had I not lost the last five laps, we could have certainly improved more and been inside the top ten. Yet, despite today’s tough start I am looking forward to tomorrow where we will come back stronger, hopefully with some better weather.”
Wet start for the NGM Forward Racing Team
The first day of the San Marino and the Riviera of Rimini Grand Prix was characterised by the bad weather with both free practice sessions on the wet.
Sixth in the FP1 and twelfth in the combined free practice times, the Spanish Espargaro worked on the wet set up of the machine. Despite two crashes, fortunately without consequences, Aleix could improve his feeling and is confident for the race weekend.
It was a hard day of work also for his teammate Alex De Angelis who finished 11th in the morning session. A crash without consequences in the FP2 prevented him to improve his lap time and he finally finished in 20th position. The rider from San Marino is determined to do well in his home GP and tomorrow he will continue working on the bike set up.
Aleix Espargaro (12th / 1'52.164 / 14 laps): “Due to the rain in both sessions, there was no grip and we struggled as the asphalt was very slippery. The final result doesn’t reflect our potentiaI so I’m confident for this weekend. I crashed twice loosing the front, but fortunately without consequences.”