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Lorenzo Flies to First Place in Sunny Spanish Free Practice Sessions

Movistar Yamaha_042216

Movistar Yamaha MotoGP’s Jorge Lorenzo and Valentino Rossi bring on the heat at a sunny Circuito de Jerez as they prepare for an action-filled Gran Premio de España on Sunday. The team-mates found solutions to improve their settings early on in the first free practice session and carried forward their impressive pace in the afternoon to take first and fifth place respectively in the combined timings.

The first European round of the 2016 MotoGP World Championship got underway on the Jerez track today with the first two free practice sessions ahead of Sunday’s Gran Premio de España.

Despite the search for rear grip and an anti-wheelie solution, Jorge Lorenzo and Valentino Rossi were both quick to find a very competitive pace. The Movistar Yamaha MotoGP duo put their names at the top of the time sheets as soon as they hit the Spanish track, making clear they mean business this weekend.

Lorenzo was cheered on by his home fans as he rode his YZR-M1 around the Circuito de Jerez, one of his favourite tracks. Initially in fourth place, the Spaniard proved that the combination of the tight and twisty nature of the circuit, the nimbleness of the Yamaha and his ever smooth riding style are unbeatable when he puts the hammer down. He spurred on his Yamaha in the final minutes of FP1 and set a best lap of 1’40.270 for first place, 0.257s ahead of his closest rival.

He duplicated this strong form in the afternoon. Making full use of the sunny yet not too hot conditions at the Jerez circuit to test various set-up options, he secured provisional second place. He held this spot for a large part of the session before dropping a hot lap in the final minutes and taking over at the top with a 1’39.555s, creating a 0.345s margin to second place.

Team-mate Rossi was also strong out of the gate. Having topped the rankings early on in FP1, he maintained a quick pace throughout the session and proved his key protagonist role once again when he took provisional first place with 20 minutes left on the clock. He held the position with a best lap of 1’40.676s until being moved down to third in the time sheets, 0.406s from the front, in the final minutes of the morning session.

The Doctor continued working on his setting in the afternoon and looked competitive holding a top 3 position for the majority of the session, before the pace picked up in the final stages of FP2. He ended the session in fifth place with a best lap of 1’40.282s, 0.727s from his team-mate.

Today’s results see Lorenzo top the combined times of the Friday free practice sessions, with Rossi not far behind in fifth place.

Massimo Meregalli – Movistar Yamaha MotoGP Team Director

“It’s definitely been a positive start to the weekend. This morning we suffered of lack of rear grip and too much wheeling, but we have been able to improve both aspects throughout the day by trying different settings during the two sessions with both our riders. We have also been able to test almost all the tyre options ahead of Sunday’s race. The riders did a good amount of laps with all the tyre solutions. Jorge really wanted to do a fast lap at the end of the second session and set an impressive 1’39.555s on a new set of tyres. Valentino was more focused on improving his setting. He kept the same tyres for the entire session and maintained a good pace until the end. As usual we will continue working and are keen on improving a couple of areas further for tomorrow.”

Jorge Lorenzo
1st / 1’39.555 / 34 laps

“My first feelings are positive. We started the first day with some problems and a different feel than what we had in the last two races but little by little we solved these problems and adjusted the electronics, setting and everything. Now we have a good set-up and can keep working to improve the small details. First place this morning and first place this afternoon, I think, is a good beginning of the weekend!”

Valentino Rossi
5th / 1’40.282 / 41 laps

“I’m very happy to be back in Europe, because here the track is fantastic and the atmosphere is special. It’s always great, the Jerez weekend, especially with good weather and also the track was not so bad, because I was quite competitive from this morning. We started with a good base setting and I felt good with the bike. I was also quite fast in the afternoon and I was always within the top 5, so this is OK. There are some points on the track where we have to improve, especially the feeling with the front, but I already feel good with the bike and we will try to continue like this.”

Tech3 pair kick off European run

Today the Monster Yamaha Tech3 team rider Pol Espargaro bolted into action in the opening shakedown at the Circuito de Jerez as he embarked on setting up his Yamaha YZR-M1 for the round four battle on Sunday. When FP1 commenced, the Spaniard got straight to work and completed 19 laps, which left him in 12th and confident of improving in the afternoon. Here, the 25-year-old continued his efforts before finishing in 14th, yet just a mere 0.307 from 8th. Espargaro now focuses on tomorrow where he intends to up the pace and clinch a top tier qualifying position.

Meanwhile, Bradley Smith pushed determinedly at the beginning of his Jerez fight and closed the day just behind his teammate by 0.120 of a second. The 2015 top satellite rider got into gear as soon as the wheels started turning in the morning practice and he worked on establishing a solid setup for the 27-lap sprint. In FP2, Smith carried on his preparation and set his best time in the final stages of the session. Nevertheless, the British star will look to make further steps forward tomorrow ahead of the all-important qualifying shootout.

Pol Espargaro
14th / 1’41.167 / 39 laps

“To be honest, the first day has not been super positive and the position is far from where we want to be, but we will keep on pushing. This situation seems to be reoccurring this year and by that I mean that we are only closer to the other satellite riders when it comes to race day. Anyway, to preserve tyres we used the same set from FP1 in the afternoon. This was in order to keep some new tyres for tomorrow, but even though I was on old rubber, it’s not nice to end up where we did. Therefore, we have to really go for it tomorrow so that we can go straight through to QP2 even if that may seem like a bit of a challenge at the moment. We have to solve a few issues as the grip is very low and we are struggling with the traction. In addition, if we check the data with the factory guys, we cannot compare it because they are running completely different setups, which are not compatible with our bikes. Nevertheless, my focus is on qualifying which is the most important thing for me, as it is vital to have a good grid position in order to have a better chance of doing a solid job on Sunday.”

Bradley Smith
16th / 1’41.287 / 40 laps

“The positive thing about today is that we are continuing the progress that we made at the Circuit of The Americas. Everything that we undertook in Texas seems to be working ok here and we are proceeding to learn and make steps forward with the setting. As a result, the team and I will aim to continue going in this direction. By FP2, we already had a decent pace, but it seems as though we are struggling a little bit all around the track and not in one particular sector. Therefore, we will focus on the task ahead and also analyse the Yamaha data, because the information about Jorge’s 1’39.5 lap is going to be valuable to look at and then we will see where we can improve. I am generally quite satisfied with the feeling that I have with the bike, but we need to cut the time and try our hardest to move up the field so that we can get into Q2 tomorrow.”