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Lorenzo Leads as European Grand Prix Action Kicks Off in Jerez

The first European Grand Prix weekend of the 2013 season, The Gran Premio bwin de España, got underway today at the Jerez de la Frontera circuit in Southern Spain. Yamaha Factory Racing’s Jorge Lorenzo started his first home Grand Prix of the year as he means to go on, one of the fastest riders of the morning he waited until the last second to retake the top spot in first practice. The afternoon saw more of the same from the reigning World Champion, Lorenzo leading from the start of the session and remaining unchallenged to the end, wrapping up in first position 0.171 seconds ahead of satellite Yamaha rider Cal Crutchlow in second.

Valentino Rossi was also quick to find form today, spending the morning session firmly embedded in the fastest rider group within the top four and ending in third position. Having initially started the afternoon practice on the harder option tyres, Rossi switched to the softer with 10 minutes remaining, holding off the advances of Marc Marquez and moving up in the time sheets from fifth to fourth, completing the day just 0.312 seconds from Lorenzo in first.

Jorge Lorenzo, 1st, Time – 1’39.562

“At the beginning of the second practice I felt better than this morning but with the warmer temperatures it has been difficult to keep the same pace. We will have to work on the settings to keep the same pace for tomorrow. We need to try to improve our pace by three or four tenths, to ride comfortably in the 39s will be a good feeling. I’m happy that we are first in today’s two sessions but I want more.”

Valentino Rossi, 4th, Time -1’39.874

“The first and second practices were not so bad. We tried to work and understand a good balance for the bike. We still haven’t found the perfect way yet. We also tried to understand the right tyre choice for the race because it is difficult with the soft and also with the hard so we need to make sure we make the right choice to go fast on Sunday. Anyway, we are in fourth place and not so far from pole position. Tomorrow we have to try to continue to work in this way because it will be important for the race to start at the maximum within the first five.”

Wilco Zeelenberg – Yamaha Factory Racing Team Manager

“For sure I think a good day today, I would say at least a healthy day. We started with good circumstances for everybody, no wet conditions and good track temperatures. Like the test we were immediately fast. We’re still not quite where we want to be but of course we are working on it. Jorge has a good feeling and the speed is there so let’s see what we can do tomorrow in qualifying.”

Massimo Meregalli – Yamaha Factory Racing Team Director

“So far the results confirm our expectations. We still have some work to do to improve the best lap and also the consistency. We were able to test two different things with good feedback so we’ll check the data tonight and compare it with the riders’ feelings. From the results we intend to come with some new solutions for tomorrow’s sessions.”

Crutchlow dazzles in Spanish sunshine

Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Team rider Cal Crutchlow made a flying start to the European phase of the 2013 MotoGP World Championship today, the British rider launching a stunning challenge for the top three in both practice sessions at the Circuito de Jerez. Fourth quickest in cooler than anticipated conditions in FP1 this morning, Crutchlow was only 0.046s outside of the top three to continue his fantastic form at the Jerez track. The 27-year-old battled for the podium right to the finish line in Jerez a year ago and he produced an impressive performance in the final winter test session at the Spanish venue in late March to top the timesheets. With air and track temperatures increasing significantly in bright and sunny conditions for FP2, Crutchlow was able to improve his pace and position to once again comfortably finish as the fastest non-factory rider. A best lap of 1.39.733 elevated Crutchlow into second place behind reigning World Champion Jorge Lorenzo, who was only 0.171s quicker in a session that saw the top five split by just 0.327s. The former World Supersport champion finished third fastest on the combined leaderboard and after such a positive start to the weekend, Crutchlow is optimistic he will be in the hunt for a podium in Sunday’s 27-lap race.

Bradley Smith enjoyed a productive start to his weekend too, the 22-year-old helped by the fact that he has lapped the Jerez track previously on the YZR-M1 machine during the winter testing schedule. He took it steady this morning with a track temperature of only 20 degrees and a lap of 1.41.778 put him 17th on the timesheets. Smith was able to improve by almost a second in hotter conditions for FP2, which saw the track temperature soar to 45 degrees. Smith lowered his pace to a 1.40.990 and that lap time secured him an encouraging 13th on the FP2 leaderboard and 14th overall, with the British rookie hoping he can take another big leap forward tomorrow to challenge for a place in the top 10 on the grid for round three of the 2013 World Championship.

Cal Crutchlow 3rd, Time – 1’39.733

“It was quite a tough day because we made a lot of changes that meant the bike was set-up completely different than the way we had it at the test. We made it a little bit longer and lower to give me a good feeling because while I was able to set the fastest time at the test, the track temperature was much higher today and it meant the bike was not working perfectly with the set-up we ran at the test. I was changing bikes during FP2 and doing a lot of laps to try as many things as possible and I am positive for the rest of the weekend. We’ve got a few ideas to improve even further tomorrow and I will sit down with my crew tonight and have a good look at the data to come up with a plan of attack for the rest of the weekend. My Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Team is doing a great job again and being competitive and fast today gives us a lot of confidence to take into Saturday and Sunday.”

Bradley Smith 14th, Time – 1’40.990

“The nice thing about today is I was able to go a little bit faster than I managed at the test, so the gap to the front is still quite similar. I haven’t lost anything but I’m a little bit disappointed that I didn’t gain anything as well. I am a lot happier after this afternoon’s session though and my main focus was on trying to ride the bike in a smoother way. It is so important to be smooth on a MotoGP bike and I’m still working on that. I’m losing most of my time in sector 4 and we’ll check some data and see where I can improve. But it was another good day of learning and I’m looking forward to taking another step forward tomorrow.”

2013 MotoGP Spain

Valencia 03/05/2013

1 Jorge Lorenzo Yamaha ESP 1’39.562
2 Cal Crutchlow Yamaha GBR 1’39.733
3 Daniel Pedrosa Honda ESP 1’39.757
4 Valentino Rossi Yamaha ITA 1’39.874
5 Marc Marquez Honda ESP 1’39.889
6 Alvaro Bautista Honda ESP 1’40.507
7 Andrea Iannone Ducati ITA 1’40.574
8 Hector Barbera FTR ESP 1’40.736
9 Aleix Espargaro ART ESP 1’40.738
10 Nicky Hayden Ducati USA 1’40.837
11 Andrea Dovizioso Ducati ITA 1’40.884
12 Michele Pirro Ducati ITA 1’40.902
13 Bradley Smith Yamaha GBR 1’40.990
14 Stefan Bradl Honda GER 1’41.053
15 Randy De Puniet ART FRA 1’41.078

Circuit Length:
4005

Weather:
Sunny

Lap Record:
1’32.582
(Casey Stoner, 1-1-2008)

Fastest Lap Ever:
1’30.844
(Daniel Pedrosa, 11-11-2012)

Last Years Winner:
Daniel Pedrosa