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Espargaro & Suzuki Lead Catalunya GP 1st Day

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Team Suzuki Press Office – June 12.

Team SUZUKI ECSTAR’s Aleix Espargarò and Maverick Viñales both put in stunning performances at the Catalan Grand Prix opening day in Spain with both riders secure in the top-five positions for almost the duration of both FP1 and FP2.

Espargarò scored today’s best time with a 1m 41.158s lap that gives him the provisional pole, as Viñales consistently-improved his lap-times and finally managed to find the confidence that allowed him to start exploring the pace further; setting a positive series of laps which resulted in an excellent 1m 41.992s-lap that puts him in fifth position.

Local riders Espargarò and Viñales have both enjoyed the Catalan circuit of Montmelò today, as they both started positively, albeit with different approaches: Espargarò immediately started to explore the engine updates brought to the circuit by Suzuki’s engineers in Japan, while Viñales was more conservative, working initially to find a confident set-up with his original machine and eventually only riding the new one in afternoon. The different level of experience of the two riders figured strongly in this choice, but both took advantage of knowledge of their home track and set their times in the higher echelons of the classification almost immediately.

Davide Brivio – Team Manager:

“Today has been excellent. Of course the highlight is that Aleix got the best lap time of the day, but we are satisfied also because his performance has been consistent throughout both the sessions. He stayed consistently in the leading positions and very close within the top riders; then he made an extraordinary quick-lap which gave him the best time. Maverick as well did a very good job; he continues to improve, session-after-session and lap-after-lap he learns and he improves and this is something very positive. He worked hard to find the best set-up and finally showed what he is capable of. Being in first and fifth place, even if provisional, says that we are working in the right direction and even if it’s only Friday – and tomorrow all riders will improve even further – for the moment we can enjoy this feeling.”

Aleix Espargaro:

“It’s a very positive feeling. This race means a lot to me and I feel very comfortable on this track, therefore it is emotional to be leading the pack. I know it’s only Friday but we’ve done a huge job, also because this track requires a very fine-handling machine and my GSX-RR excels at that. We mainly worked to find a good set-up and started immediately to use the new engine developments that arrived from Japan; I don’t feel an extraordinary difference but for sure we showed some improvements. Of course we still need to work on them to find the best set-up and electronics settings. Apart from the results, which are very satisfying, the best feeling is that Suzuki is giving me unbelievable support; everyone is working very hard and deeply believe in the project: This is something that makes me very proud and happy.”

Maverick Viñales:

“I’m happy for the day and for the job we’ve done. The track is unbelievable, I like it so much, even if I had to struggle a little to adapt my reference points compared to previous years. This is why my crew and I decided to start in the morning with my original machine and find a good set-up with it, which was then the base to introduce the evolution bike and engine in the afternoon. The feeling is very good, we did many laps, very fast and we now need to investigate further the set-up for overall pace. Tomorrow will be important to find a balance that makes me comfortable, both for the consistent race-pace and for the quick-lap attack in FP3 and in qualifying.”

GP of Catalunya – Classification after FP2:

1. Aleix ESPARGARO Team SUZUKI ECSTAR – 1’41.158
2. Marc MARQUEZ, Repsol Honda Team – 1’41.443 +0.285
3. Dani PEDROSA, Repsol Honda Team – 1’41.789 +0.631
4. Andrea DOVIZIOSO, Ducati Team – 1’41.823 +0.665
5. Maverick VIÑALES , Team SUZUKI ECSTAR – 1’41.922 +0.764