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Movistar Yamaha MotoGP Take Charge in Catalunya Free Practice

Movistar Yamaha MotoGP_060316
Movistar Yamaha MotoGP’s Jorge Lorenzo was quick to return to his Mugello form at a somewhat dusty Montmelò circuit today and wrapped up the first day of the Gran Premi Monster Energy de Catalunya at the top of the combined free practice time sheets. Teammate Valentino Rossi was also fast in the sweltering conditions and showed a competitive pace throughout the day to take sixth place in the combined rankings.

Lorenzo had been looking forward to riding in front of his home fans again this weekend and immediately stormed to first place on his flying lap. Riding with a special, by Anna Vives designed, 99 rider number to raise awareness for people with disabilities and the importance of teamwork in ‘connecting abilities’, he did not relinquish his provisional lead until the final five minutes of the session. He secured second place with a best lap of 1’42.143s, just 0.078s from the front.

The afternoon practice saw the track temperatures go up to 26 degrees, changing the track conditions. Lorenzo remained unaffected and only took three laps to drop a 1’42.281s to take the top spot again in the first minutes of FP2. He led until the pace picked up as the session came to a close. The local hero was quick to respond with a 1’41.712s and regained first place to end the day 0.242s ahead of his closest rival.

Rossi has named Montmeló as one of his favourite places to visit on the MotoGP calendar and was clearly enjoying being back at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya. He steadily improved his pace in the morning session to move up to second position, behind his teammate. He then put his attention towards improving tyre-life and finished FP1 in third place with a 1’42.536s, under half a second from the front.

In the afternoon he upped the pace further. He set a 1’42.365s for second place on his third lap and maintained this spot throughout most of the session. He focused on bettering his bike’s settings and testing various tyre options and was pushed back to sixth when various riders put in a hot lap at the end of the session. He wrapped up the day with a best time of 1’42.296s, 0.584s behind his teammate.

Massimo Meregalli – Movistar Yamaha MotoGP Team Director

“In terms of lap times, bike setting and also the pace we are in a quite good position, as displayed by Jorge’s fastest lap times and also Valentino’s competitive pace. However, we were not expecting to have this unforeseen tyre behaviour for both the front and rear. Even though we tried all the tyre choices, we still have a lot of doubts about which option would be best suited for the race. We have collected a lot of information in both sides of the garages because many things have been tested today. We will study the data deeply to prepare something for tomorrow’s practice sessions, mainly to elongate the tyre life and rear grip.”

Jorge Lorenzo
1st / 1’41.712 / 32 laps

“I’m very happy with the start of this weekend because from the first lap I was very fast and had a huge difference compared to our rivals on the first laps. In the other practice session, on new tyres, we also got close but the pace was fantastic this morning. This afternoon, with hotter temperatures, the conditions were more difficult; there was less grip on the track. We are trying some settings and all the tyres, and we still have a gap to the others, mainly in terms of pace, so this is very positive.”

Valentino Rossi
6th / 1’42.296 / 38 laps

“Here in Montmeló it’s always difficult with the tyres because the asphalt has a low grip-level, so after some laps the performance of the tyre goes down a lot. It’s very important to have a good balance of the bike but also have a good pace when the tyres have done more than five or six laps, so we worked on that. I’m quite happy about my speed and pace and the bike is not so bad. We have to work, but the feeling is good. This weekend we have three fronts and three rears, because Michelin brought some new rubbers, so it’s very important to know the way to work for tomorrow. We have three different tyres but the quantity is the same, so it will be crucial to have the right plan. For the Friday it wasn’t so bad.”

Espargaro bolts into action at home Grand Prix

Monster Yamaha Tech3 team riders Pol Espargaro confidently concluded the first day at the Cataluña circuit as he looks to impress at his home Grand Prix on Sunday. The young Spaniard launched straight into gear when the event got underway and completed the opening shakedown impressively in 4th. In the afternoon session, he continued the setup work on his Yamaha YZR-M1 as the track temperature increased at the physically demanding circuit. His time from free practice one leaves Espargaro in 13th in the combined standings, but only 0.513 of a second from 4th and he now intends to up his pace tomorrow morning ahead of the all-important qualifying shootout.

On the other side of the pit box, Bradley Smith methodically began to set up his Yamaha YZR-M1 for the 23 lap sprint as he aims to follow up his strong result at the previous round in Mugello with another determined performance on Sunday. The 25 year old tirelessly completed 20 laps in the morning session, more than another other MotoGP rider, and finished less than a second back from third. Smith got straight back into the groove in FP2 as he carried on the vital setup work whilst he sampled the various compounds of Michelin tyres. His personal best from FP1 leaves him in 16th overall and with a firm plan of action in place for tomorrow, where the young Briton will seek to bounce back strongly and seal a top tier grid position.

Pol Espargaro
13th / 1’42.709 / 31 laps

“Overall today was a positive opening to the weekend. The fourth position this morning showed that we are working in the right direction, but unfortunately I had a very strange feeling with my front tyre on the last run during the second session. As a result, this afternoon so we weren’t able to lower the lap time as much as we expected to. I think it was just this tyre, because we used the same compound before and it was working ok, but of course, if things like this have to happen, it’s better that they occur on Friday and not later in the weekend. However, overall my feeling with the bike was good even though the grip level wasn’t high, but that’s the same for everybody. Now I’m focusing on tomorrow morning’s session, which is the most important one for us and where my aim is to definitely pass straight through to QP2 so that I can get a strong qualifying position for my home GP on Sunday.”

Bradley Smith
18th / 1’43.470 / 40 laps

“I think it’s been a bit of a tricky start for everyone in Cataluña today. We had three types of compound for both the front and rear so we wanted to try as many as possible. However, it looks like some of the compounds were a bit too soft for this conditions, and now it looks like we will have to use the harder option for the race and the rest of the weekend. As a result of assessing the tyres, we haven’t found the optimum chassis setting at the moment, because with sampling all the tyres, you have a different feeling and feedback and it’s time consuming. However, I am comfortable on the bike but we need to focus on the front turning for tomorrow and it’s a small change but it makes a big difference because there are a lot of high-speed corners at this racetrack. In addition, we also need to improve our corner speed. Overall, the bike balance is ok as well as the rear grip. We will analyse everything further tonight, but we currently have two clear options that we want to try tomorrow with bike one and two, anyway we are certain that we can lower the lap time and get back inside the top ten.”