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Slippery Start to Sachsenring Weekend for Movistar Yamaha MotoGP

Movistar Yamaha_071516

The GoPro Motorrad Grand Prix Deutschland kicked off today under difficult track conditions. The morning practice was run on a fairly cold circuit, which became partly damp as rain began to fall half way through the session, while in the afternoon the riders had to cope with a drying track.

Movistar Yamaha MotoGP rider Valentino Rossi had a cautious start to the race weekend, gradually building up speed to finish in 14th place. The morning session saw Jorge Lorenzo crash out going into turn eleven. The Mallorcan escaped relatively unscathed and was able to join the afternoon session, wrapping up in 16th place.

Valentino Rossi was quick to find a good rhythm at the challenging German circuit during the morning free practice session. He set the fourth fastest time, 0.577s from first, when spots of rain interrupted the proceedings. The change in track conditions saw the Italian sit out the second half of the session, as the wet surface meant there would be no opportunity for him to improve on his best time.

Rossi was the second rider to head out on a drying track in the afternoon session, which he used to find a set-up that suits the twisty Sachsenring circuit. He improved 0.725s on his time from the morning session, but just missed out on putting in a hot lap at the end of FP2 and wasn’t able to climb in the rankings. He ended the first day of practice in fourteenth position overall, 1.373s from first.

Teammate Jorge Lorenzo had a challenging start to the German Grand Prix. He was looking to move up from a provisional top ten position when he suffered a high-speed crash in turn eleven during FP1. The Mallorcan was quickly back on his feet, but had x-ray scans taken of his left hand at the Clinica Mobile as a precautionary measure. He was cleared of a fracture after the medical check but was unable to rejoin the session in time and finished in twelfth position in the morning time sheets.

Lorenzo returned to the track during the FP2 session after waiting for the rain to stop and the track to dry. With action resuming, the Spaniard mainly focused on improving the balance of his bike and he managed to better his morning time by 1’529, to eventually finish sixteenth in the combined times, 1.663 from the front.

Massimo Meregalli – Movistar Yamaha MotoGP Team Director

“We weren’t expecting such a difficult start and the weather conditions made it more complicated, which didn’t help us. Luckily Jorge was cleared for any fractures in his left hand after this morning’s crash and was able to take part in FP2 as usual. It was a pity that Vale got stuck in traffic and missed the opportunity to put in a hot lap by just three seconds in the afternoon. We still have a lot of work to do in both sides of the garage to improve the bike set-up. It looks like the weather forecast for tomorrow should be good and we have to exploit these circumstances and drastically improve our speed in order to directly promote to Q2.”

Valentino Rossi
14th / 1’23.534 / 25 laps

“This was a difficult day for all the Yamaha riders, especially because we were struggling to find the right feeling with the front and the right temperature with the front tyre. Also the softer option is a bit too hard and we don’t have the feeling or enough confidence to push to the fullest. This afternoon I also had another problem: I was stuck in traffic and wasn’t able to do the lap at 100% and in fact I’m very far behind, so we hope for tomorrow and Sunday to have a better temperature and a little bit more sun, that can help us a lot.”

Jorge Lorenzo
16th / 1’23.824 / 18 laps

“It looks like these are very cold and slippery conditions and you have to be very careful with the tyres. This morning I had a crash going downhill so to be honest I didn’t get good confidence in any of the corners of the track and I felt really slow. All the Yamahas are struggling at the moment in these conditions and I’m the slowest one, so let’s see if we can improve our speed. My physical condition after the crash is OK and will not be a problem for Sunday.”

Tech3 duo dodge the rain on day one at Sachsenring

The Monster Yamaha Tech3 team rider Pol Espargaro kicked off his German GP campaign by finishing the opening day of action in Saxony in 11th. The young Spaniard jumped into action when the first session commenced as clouds hovered above the undulating circuit and he completed 8 laps before the rain began to fall, and thus, he concluded the practice in 6th. In the afternoon, he carried on from where he left off and the rain did not return as he powered onwards whilst continuing his set-up work in preparation for Sunday’s race. He eventually completed 24 laps, which was more than any other MotoGP rider and his fastest time was set on the 18th lap, that puts him less than half of a second back from the top five. The 2013 Moto2 World Champion will look to take another step forward tomorrow and clinch a solid grid position for the 9th round of the 2016 MotoGP World Championship.

On the other side of the Monster Yamaha Tech3 pit box, Bradley Smith battled the physically demanding circuit and he finished day one right behind his teammate as he prepares to fight for the top independent position on Sunday. The young Briton got straight to work when the opening session commenced, and he took the first steps in adjusting the setup of his Yamaha YZR-M1 to suit the twisting circuit. The track time was cut short due to the mixed conditions, yet Smith optimistically looked on to the afternoon. Here, he gradually built up his pace, before speeding to a personal best, which leaves him only 0.060 behind his teammate. With better weather expected tomorrow, Smith confidently focuses on seizing a top tier qualifying position for the 30-lap sprint on Sunday.

Pol Espargaro
11th / 1’23.400 / 32 laps

“The weather has clearly influenced the opening day here in Germany, because neither myself, Michelin nor anybody else expected Germany to be like this in July. Therefore, I suffered but especially with the front. Altogether I would say, that the compounds that we have available seem to be a bit too hard, and it’s not at all easy to bring them up to the right temperature. Anyway, we were able to get out on track and try a few setup solutions, but we can say now that the bike is working well overall so I’m confident for the rest of the weekend. I believe that today’s results can’t be taken into account too much as a lot of riders changed tyres at the end of the session, and we didn’t do this, but nevertheless I am sure that we can make a big improvement on new rubber. We decided to finish on the same compounds that we used all day in order to have a higher number left for FP3 and the qualifying session because the allocation here is quite tight. Now we look forward to better weather for tomorrow.”

Bradley Smith
12th / 1’23.460 / 27 laps

“Obviously, conditions like these always make it difficult here in Sachsenring because it’s a track that only has three right corners. You expect the circuit temperature to be around 30 degrees as it’s July, but I don’t think it was even above 20 today which of course, makes the job more difficult for Michelin. We saw the usual crashes that we unfortunately expect at turn eleven and hopefully all the riders who fell are ok, but there are always a few falls on the first day, as we begin to adjust the setting and our riding style for the remainder of the weekend. On the track I felt good, especially this afternoon and we kept the tyres from this morning so in the end, after doing four runs, we did full race distance by the end of FP2. In addition, I did my best lap on my last which means we are looking quite strong in terms of endurance. Yet, I am disappointed to be outside of the top ten, but we are not too far away from that target and my teammate is only a small step in front. It looks like we have room for improvement tomorrow so we’ll make some minor changes and wait for better track conditions, then hopefully, with a bit more temperature, the front tyre and rear will work better, but overall, I am pleased with our start.”