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Movistar Yamaha Start Action at Slippery Argentina Free Practice Sessions

Movistar Yamaha_040116

The Movistar Yamaha MotoGP team began action at the Termas de Río Hondo Circuit today ahead of this weekend’s Gran Premio Motul de la República Argentina. Valentino Rossi and Jorge Lorenzo tested the new Michelin tyres at the very hot and still somewhat dirty South American track for the first time and finished the day in seventh and fourteenth place respectively in the combined times.

Movistar Yamaha MotoGP riders Valentino Rossi and Jorge Lorenzo were on track today at a sunny Termas de Río Hondo Circuit for the first free practice sessions. However, the day was overshadowed by a lack of grip, causing them to finish in seventh and fourteenth place respectively in the provisional overall free practice times.

Due to dirt on the track, Rossi’s morning outing was largely spent on finding a solution to improve the grip-level, which will be key to being competitive in Sunday’s race. The Doctor gained confidence as the session went on and he got used to the new tyres’ behaviour, securing sixth place with a fastest lap of 1’44.181s.

Aware of tomorrow’s forecasted rain, the Italian rider worked tirelessly in the afternoon to further improve his setting in order to secure a top10 finish. He left it until the final stages of the session to put on some new tyres and make his move. He was able to better his time to a 1’42.565s and wrapped up the session in seventh place.

Teammate Lorenzo had a cautious start on his first laps in the morning session as he tried to get a feel for the low-grip conditions. With his mind set on duplicating his performance at Qatar, he began to work on the setting and improved his time consistently until the end of FP1. His best time of 1’44.742s left him 12th in the morning standings.

As the conditions heated up even more in the afternoon, Lorenzo picked up work were he left off in the morning. He focused on getting a better feeling with the front tyre and started the session on used tyres to perfect his set-up before pushing hard to set a hot lap on new hard tyres at the end of FP2. He soon moved up to third in the provisional rankings with a 1’42.819s lap, but as times dropped at the end of the session, Lorenzo was unable to respond and ended the day in 14th position.

The Movistar Yamaha MotoGP teammates will be back in action tomorrow at 09:55 AM local track time.

Massimo Meregalli – Movistar Yamaha MotoGP Team Director

“It’s been a difficult start of the weekend for each of our two riders in both sessions, FP1 and FP2. We focused our work on improving the lack of confidence in the front and managed to partly rectify the issue but we couldn’t fix it entirely during these two sessions. The track conditions were quite challenging due to the heat, the dirt and the bumps. The track conditions were worse than last year and these aspects surely didn’t help us. It is fundamental to understand what is causing this issue and prepare a counter measure for tomorrow’s FP3, when we will also start working on tyre choice for the race. I have confidence in the capability of our engineers, we will be ready for the qualifying session.”

Valentino Rossi
7th / 1’42.565 / 32 laps

“Difficult day for everybody because these were challenging conditions. The track was very dirty and in the afternoon it became better but it remained very slippery and also the temperature was very high so it was difficult to maintain the pace lap by lap. It looks like we suffered a bit with the lack of grip on the track, we slide and also the front tyre was not very good. We need to work, so from this moment we need to improve the setting step by step and hope the track will become better and that the weather conditions will become more cold but not wet.”

Jorge Lorenzo
14th / 1’42.819 / 27 laps

“The track is much worse than last year and I don’t know why. There are some more bumps and less grip. It looks like our rivals are a lot better under these conditions. We have to understand what we can do to be fast with our bike. We hope it doesn’t rain tomorrow and that the tarmac improves a little bit. Let’s see if we can work on the bike to make it a more comfortable to ride.”

Smith kicks off round 2 fight positively on day one in Argentina

Monster Yamaha Tech3 Team rider Bradley Smith began his campaign at the Gran Premio Motul de la Republica Argentina by taking the first solid steps forward on the opening day of action. After wrapping up the FP1 shakedown in 9th, the British rider continued his push in the afternoon, before setting a lap time that left him just 0.220 from fourth. He now looks on to tomorrow’s all-important qualifying, fully confident of clinching a top tier grid position.

Meanwhile, Pol Espargaro fought the challenging Termas de Rio Hondo circuit as he started setting up his Yamaha YZR-M1 for the 25 lap sprint. After gathering data and building speed, the young Spaniard set off in Free Practice 2, determined to close the day with a solid finish. His final time was eventually less than two tenths of a second from his teammate, yet his hopes of cutting the gap further were thwarted when he fell at the first corner in the final moments of the session. Nevertheless, the 25 year old optimistically awaits the qualifying shootout tomorrow.

Bradley Smith
9th / 1’42.595s / 34 laps

“On the whole, the first day in Argentina has been quite positive. I feel that we made some good progress and now have a solid platform to move forward from. We had to face a lot of different conditions because the temperature and the grip changed considerably, so we needed to be attentive to these. In the morning, the circuit was dirty, so we used the session to clean up the track a bit and also learn how the tyres perform here. Then, in the afternoon it was much hotter and the track surface had warmed up by almost as much as 20 degrees. As a result, we were able to study the medium and hard tyre compounds. In the end, I was pleased with my final run and with being able to undertake a 1’42.5 lap time which meant that I finished inside the top ten. For tomorrow, we need to continue learning and assessing in order to get the hard tyres to work in the optimum way.”

Pol Espargaro
13th / 1’42.774s / 34 laps

“In all honesty, the day has not been bad as it seems to be, yet for sure, it’s no reference point for the weekend as the times are a long way off last year’s performances. At the moment we are struggling to run 1’42’s and in 2015 the fastest lap in FP1 was 1’40.8. That is a clear indication of how dirty the surface is and all we can do is continue to ride on it in order to improve the grip level. Currently, it’s the Moto2 class on track and tomorrow morning there will be one more Moto3 session, so by the time we go out again, things might have improved. Still it’s a real pity about my two crashes today, we know exactly what went wrong and as soon as you are a little bit off line with these conditions, you can’t save the bike. For tomorrow, I hope that the weather changes slightly because some clouds would definitely help us because at the moment, the track temperature is pretty much the same as during the preseason tests in Sepang.”