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Lorenzo and Rossi Straight Back on the Pace in Brno

Movistar Yamaha_081916
The Movistar Yamaha MotoGP team delivered a solid performance today at the start of the HJC Helmets Grand Prix Ceské republiky weekend. Jorge Lorenzo and Valentino Rossi firmly held the lead in both FP1 and FP2 for a large part of the 45-minute practice sessions and secured third and fifth respectively at the end of the first day at the Automotodrom Brno.

Jorge Lorenzo got straight down to business at the first day of the Czech Grand Prix. Just fifteen minutes into FP1 he dropped the first 1’56 lap of the weekend to temporarily take over the lead in the rankings from his teammate. The Factory Yamaha riders held their key protagonist status throughout the session, with Lorenzo finishing in third place after setting a provisional personal fastest time of 1’56.673s, 0.484s from the leader.

The Spaniard and his crew worked hard in the afternoon to perfect his setting and booked steady progress throughout the session. Having made some modifications to his bike, he posted a 1’56.228s in the final stages to take over the provisional lead and was also the first rider to clock a 1’55s, setting a 1’55.977s to ultimately end the day in third position, 0.137s off today’s fastest time.

Rossi made his podium aspirations clear during the morning session. The Italian was pleased to find his setting working well from the start of the weekend and took provisional first place after ten minutes with a 1’57.113s before focusing on the balance of his YZR-M1. He was soon lapping in the low 1’56s to finish in second place, 0.265s from the front with a best time of 1’56.454s.

In the afternoon, the nine-times World Champion was eager to shave off a few more tenths in order to narrow the gap to the leading time. He again topped the rankings early on in the session and comfortably led until halfway through, when the times began to drop. His best time, a 1’56.174s positioned him in fifth place, 0.334s from first.

Massimo Meregalli – Movistar Yamaha MotoGP Team Director

“It has definitely been a positive day, especially compared to the first day in Austria. Both riders have been comfortable on their bikes since the beginning of the morning practice and they have been consistently fast in both sessions. We made progress between FP1 and FP2 and we were able to compare a couple of different tyre specifications, getting important information for this weekend’s race. We still have a margin for both riders to improve in different areas and it will also be important to find the right tyre choice for Sunday afternoon.”

Jorge Lorenzo
3rd / 1’55.977 / 32 laps

“Today we had a good day at the Brno circuit. In the morning during the practice some drops of rain came down and it was a bit colder but in the afternoon we found the track to be perfect with good conditions. We were able to be fast both on one lap as well as keep up the pace, so I’m quite satisfied with the bike. The track has some bumps, even more than last year, but it is the same for everyone. Tomorrow we have some margin to improve.”

Valentino Rossi
5th / 1’56.174 / 35 laps

“The first feeling was not so bad: this morning and also this afternoon I was quite fast, we worked a lot. We have some different options and some different settings and also some different tyre choices on the front and the rear. I’m not so bad, I’m fifth but I’m not so far from pole position. All the top riders are fast so we have a lot to do, a lot of work on the bike, but the first impression is positive. The lean angles changed a lot compared to last year’s tyres, because last year we were able to lean more, with Michelin a little bit less because it’s a different shape of tyre. It’s just a feeling that you have to understand, usually it’s the bike that tells to you how much you can do, that’s always the limit. The best riders are able to go close to limit but not too much.”

Smith kicks off Czech GP with positive opening day

Monster Yamaha Tech3 Team rider Bradley Smith got off to a promising start at Brno and finished the opening day in 8th after conducting a thorough shakedown. The British rider leapt into action and began making the initial adjustments to the setup of his Yamaha YZR-M1 in FP1. He rounded out the session with a lap that left him just a blink of an eye outside the top ten, with his fastest time being cancelled due to exceeding the track limits. Then, in free practice 2, Smith carried on from where he left off and focused specifically on the behaviour of the tyres over race distance. In addition, he was able to impressively improve on his best time from this morning by 1.1 seconds, as opposed to the overall fastest lap which was cut by only three-tenths of a second. After undertaking a positive start today, the 25-year-old will now seek to continue the momentum tomorrow and seize a strong qualifying position.

On the other side of the garage, Pol Espargaro suffered a tricky first day in the Czech Republic as he started his round 11 campaign at the undulating Masaryk circuit. The young Spaniard got straight to work as he began taking the first steps in setting up his Yamaha YZR-M1 and he completed the opening practice in 13th after posting his best time on the last lap. The 2013 Moto2 World Champion remained focused, as he continued to adjust his MotoGP bike, and he completed sixteen laps in the afternoon session before eventually finishing in 15th. Now Espargaro determinedly looks on to tomorrow where he intends to reduce the gap to the top of the time sheets and also undertake a successful qualifying performance.

Bradley Smith
8th / 1’56.494 / 32 laps

“It was a good first day and the nice thing is that we were able to take some of the positives from Austria so we could continue to work on those points straight away. I always like the back-to-back races, because I feel more natural on the bike on a Friday and as a result, I got up to speed quite quickly. We commenced FP1 well and I felt comfortable with the setting straight away, but unfortunately my best lap time got cancelled as I exceeded the track limits. Having said that, it looked like I was inside the top 8 and then I remained in that position this afternoon. For the first two runs in FP2, we tried to work as much as possible on old tyres just so that we could understand our weakest points when the tyre starts to drop. Then after that, we extracted the best from the new set of Michelins and posted a competitive time. Brno is quite a bumpy track, therefore, having a stable bike is very important and this is what we will work towards tomorrow. We were able to confirm two of the tyre options for both the front and the rear today and we have a clear direction of where to head towards next. I’ve ended the first day positively, so we must try to stay inside the top ten so that we can pass straight through to QP2.”

Pol Espargaro
15th / 1’57.335 / 31 laps

“This first day has not gone quite to plan with regards to the result but also when considering my feelings on the bike. Normally, Brno is a circuit where we have faced a few issues in the past, yet I hope that it would have been a bit different with the new tyres. During the first practice session, I didn’t feel comfortable and we were working to find more rear grip, which is the main issue that I am struggling with. However, maybe we ended up trying too many things at once. In the afternoon, I rode both of my bikes which had different settings, but used the tyres from this morning, even then, the result hasn’t been what we were expecting. Fortunately, at the end, we found a base that I’m quite happy with even if we are a bit further back at the moment. This evening we have a lot of work to do in the garage as we have to analyse all the data so that we can try to understand where we can improve, in terms of bike setting or my riding style. We will also analyse what the other Yamahas are doing so that we can understand what the differences are. Nevertheless, I am confident that by the third free practice we will have some new ideas that will allow me the rediscover the feeling that I had with the bike a few weeks ago, in order to help us to get back into the top ten.”