As one of the two protagonists for the title, Yamaha Factory Racing’s Jorge Lorenzo came out fighting in the two free practice sessions.
Action got underway today at the Ricardo Tormo circuit in Valencia ahead of this Sunday’s championship showdown, the Gran Premio Generali de la Comunitat Valenciana.
The defending champion carried his speed straight into the afternoon session, leading from the start. As rivals Marquez and Pedrosa increased the pace, Lorenzo made some set up changes and moved to second position behind Pedrosa. The last ten minutes then became a flurry of activity as the three Spaniards turned in hot laps, Lorenzo delivering a 1’31.378 to finish third in the combined times, 0.158 seconds from the top.
Teammate Valentino Rossi started the weekend’s action strongly in the morning practice. The nine-time world champion led early on before dropping to sixth, just 0.68 seconds from the top as the frontrunners increased the pace.
Rossi got straight down to business in the second practice, holding second on the timesheets from the beginning behind his teammate in first. By mid session the Italian was sitting in third place, having reduced the gap to the top to just over 0.3 of a second. As the later lap times tumbled Rossi was able to close the time gap from the morning session, finishing in fifth in the combined times with a 1’31.639, 0.419 seconds from first.
Jorge Lorenzo (3rd / 1'31.378 / 27 laps): “This afternoon was very windy so it was very difficult to make the same lap time of the morning but we managed to improve it a little bit. We adjusted the bike a little electronically and also the suspension. We are quite close to everyone and ready to keep working tomorrow.”
Valentino Rossi (5th / 1'31.639 / 27 laps): “Today was not so bad, especially this afternoon. I am quite satisfied with the practice. The level is very high and the top seven or eight riders are very close. This afternoon we were able to close the gap, I am now just 0.4 from pole position and I have quite a good pace. I’m quite happy with the work on the bike. I’m quite fast in the middle of the track but I lose some time on T1 and T4 so we have to work a bit. We have to try to do a good result for the last race of the season, stay close to the top three and see what we can do.”
Wilco Zeelenberg - Yamaha Factory Racing Team Manager: “The first day of practice is done. The boys are very tight at the top. We have space to improve but it looks like the weekend will be nice weather so different from the last couple of years here. Lap times are already quite fast but I guess tomorrow we will break lap records because the tarmac is good and the grip is very good. The boys are very close together so I think it will be tight tomorrow. So far we are happy with the result but of course we need to work and try to improve.”
Massimo Meregalli - Yamaha Factory Racing Team Director: “We are not leading but we are satisfied. For the first day we were able to get a lot of information. Both riders are quite happy. We are for sure going to work and improve the areas where we are suffering. We were also able to test both tyre compounds and we know we can make a step tomorrow.”