MotoGP 2018 – Round 14 – Aragon
Friday Wrap from Aragon
After Ducati dominated Friday morning at the Gran Premio Movistar de Aragon with a 1-2-3-4 led by Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team), Championship leader Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) responded in the afternoon to finish Friday on top.
Marc Marquez – P1 – 1’47.382
“Today we worked quite well and improved a lot from morning to afternoon, especially with the rear tyre. It was our first day at the track this season and we had to adjust the setting of the bike and the electronics. We must also keep working in this way tomorrow. In the end of FP2 everyone put on a new rear tyre, even us. This was maybe the first Friday that we did that this year! It’s important for understanding the outcome of a few things we changed on the bike. Now we have less doubts, but also we want to reconfirm something tomorrow. Luckily the weather is fine, and actually very hot. Ducati has tested here so we don’t want to leave anything out in order to be at same level.”
Jorge Lorenzo (Ducati Team) moved up the timesheets to pip his teammate and take over as quickest Ducati in second overall, with Dovizioso left to round out the top three by the end of play. MotorLand Aragon looks set to stage another Honda vs Ducati battle.
Jorge Lorenzo – P2 – 1’47.520
“I’m satisfied with today, especially because we made a step forward and we improved our performance from the morning to the afternoon. I felt really good on the bike, especially in my final exits in FP2, and that’s a good sign. I think that the lap time I set will be good enough to take me though directly into Q2 and so tomorrow we will be able to focus on improving our pace and work in view of the race. Overall, I’m happy with the feeling and now we only have to sort out a few details and try and improve a bit in every corner.”
Andrea Dovizioso – P3 – 1’47.835
“Today has been very positive, because we were able to start off the day by immediately regaining the good feeling we had achieved in the test in August, and so now we’ve already got some pretty clear ideas about the tyres and the set-up. This will enable us to work on the details tomorrow because I think that the conditions will improve a bit and so we’ll be able to understand how the tyres will really behave. As always we must try and be quick while consuming the tyres as little as possible: in every track this is the characteristic, but here at Aragón it’s even more important. At the moment there are three of us who have a very similar pace, but it won’t be enough and so tomorrow we’ll have to improve a bit more.”
Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda Castrol) kept that raging just outside the top three too, with the Brit taking fourth and ending Day 1 fastest Independent Team rider as he vies to extend his lead this weekend in those standings.
Cal Crutchlow – P4 – 1’47.862
“Yeah, it was not too bad today, I felt quite good with the bike. We tried two different settings on the Honda today, both had some positives and negatives so we’re just in the middle of trying to build something in between. The bike felt good on the track and was working well. I made a big mistake on my fast lap when I ran into the back of Pol (Espargaro) at the last corner and went out of the track, but I still managed to do a decent lap time, so there’s some positives from that as we can probably gain three tenths on that time. I feel good, I have to continue to concentrate on our race set up and see how well we can qualify tomorrow.”
How it unfolded
It wasn’t until the final five minutes when the battle for Friday’s honours started to heat up at a scorching MotorLand Aragon, with Dovizioso setting the first sub 1:48 laptime of the weekend and Crutchlow quickly following suit.
However, with fresh soft rear rubber, six-time World Champion Marquez soon marked ‘his’ territory – with a 1:47.382 putting him 0.453 faster than the rest. Lorenzo, meanwhile, had dropped to outside the top ten but on his final lap of FP2, the Spaniard turned up the wick to launch himself into P2 to finish the day 0.138 behind Marquez.
Behind the top four, Team Suzuki Ecstar’s Andrea Iannone put his GSX-RR into fifth as the day came to a close, with the Italian the only other rider to venture into the 1:47s as he led for the majority of FP2.
Andrea Iannone – P5 – 1’47.919
“We’ve started in a good direction; good pace with the bike and good feeling. It’s important that we improve on the braking points at angle a bit and the tyre drop-off. I tried the medium and the hard rear and we lost a bit of time with the degradation. We’ll try to fix these issues tomorrow and have a good day.”
After finishing P2 in FP1 as part of Ducati’s early domination, Danilo Petrucci (Alma Pramac Racing) had to settle for sixth in the second session and ended Friday just behind Iannone.
Danilo Petrucci – P6
“I’m quite happy for this first day of activity even though I can’t be satisfied with what we did in FP2. The tests have given us positive indications and I think we can improve tomorrow. The high temperature, however, will be a problem”.
Last home race for Pedrosa before he retires
Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda Team) had a much-improved afternoon in his penultimate home race before retirement. The ‘Little Samurai’ was 18th and 1.9 seconds off in FP1 but managed to find some speed at a track he’s got a good record at and he took seventh overall.
Dani Pedrosa – P7 – 1’48.389
“Today we mainly concentrated on testing the tyres, suspension, and on getting the feeling with the track. Conditions were quite hot and apparently they’re going to stay that way during the weekend, so it’s important to try and get a good feeling for the race. We didn’t put fresh tyres on at the end of FP1, but we did it for the last run in the afternoon. We couldn’t improve our lap time as we wished with the soft tyre, so we need to look into this, as well as keep working on our race pace.”
Compatriot Alvaro Bautista (Angel Nieto Team) was another home hero in the top ten and he continued his rich vein of form to complete the opening day at MotorLand in P8.
Álvaro Bautista – P8 – 1:48.452
“The distance to the frontrunners here is large, but my feeling isn’t bad and the times have been fast. In the morning we worked to find references, and we didn’t even change tyres. In the afternoon we switched things up and we tried others like the hard compound, which I liked. At the end I tried to put in a good lap and, although we are up there, I think I can improve both in terms of the electronics and my riding in order to lower the time a bit and secure the spot in Q2. We will study the data so that we can improve tomorrow.”
Rossi top Yamaha in ninth
Rounding out the provisional Q2 places were the two Movistar Yamaha MotoGP riders: Valentino Rossi and Maverick Viñales. Can the Yamahas bridge the gap to the front on Saturday and stay in that top ten at a more difficult venue than Misano?
Valentino Rossi – P9 – 1’48.501
“It’s very important to stay inside the top-10, because it will be a difficult weekend, as historically we always suffer more here than in Misano. Already there our performance wasn’t fantastic. The problem here is also that, although I’m inside the top-10, the gap to the front is big. So it will be hard, we have to stay concentrated and try to work in all the areas on all the small details, and try to make the result as good as possible.”
Maverick Viñales – P10 – 1’48.552
“I think the track is much better than when we were here last for testing. I don’t know why, but the bike is not working the same way as it was back then. We have to keep working, stay patient, and try to do our best. We’ve kept the setting completely the same, but it’s not working. We have zero grip on the rear tyre, that’s the feeling I have, and the tyres look very damaged when I return to the garage. During the test we could do 30 laps on each tyre and it was perfect. We’re trying to figure out what the problem is, but it’s difficult. So, the test was not very useful for today – I feel very different out on track, but I myself am feeling really good, it’s just that the bike is working differently. We now need to gather information and prepare for tomorrow.”
Jack Miller 12th on day one
Jack Miller had to settle for 12th, after a technical issue in his final sector put a damper on managing fourth in FP1, with his pace proving he’s up there with the frontrunners.
Jack Miller – P12
“I had a problem in the first lap of the time attack when I was going very fast and this made me lose precious tenths of a second. The race pace, however, is very positive with the used tyres. I am confident that I can qualify well tomorrow”.
Marcel Schrötter ends Day 1 at the Gran Premio Movistar de Aragon at the top of the combined timesheets thanks to his FP1 time of 1:58.570, with the Dynavolt Intact GP rider once again unleashing some serious pace on Friday. The German took his first podium last time out at Misano, and he’s picked up somewhat where he left off. Francesco Bagnaia (Sky Racing Team VR46) was quickest in FP2 but unable to beat the benchmark, with Alex Marquez (EG 0,0 Marc VDS) rounding out the top three.
Marquez was the only rider inside the top six to improve his time in the second session of the day, just 0.058 off Bagnaia’s quickest in FP2 to end Friday 0.272 off the benchmark. Sam Lowes (Swiss Innovative Investors) sits fourth on the combined timesheets after finishing third fastest in FP1 and tenth in FP2 – a good day’s work for the British rider who heads into Saturday as the leading KTM.
Fabio Quartararo (MB Conveyors – Speed Up) was edged into fifth overall, with Mattia Pasini (Italtrans Racing Team) sixth on board his Kalex machine. Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Ajo) did manage to better his FP1 time in the afternoon to end FP2 in third but it wa seventh overall for the South African, with Andrea Locatelli (Italtrans Racing Team) having a solid Friday to end the day eighth on the combined times.
Tasca Racing Scuderia Moto2’s Simone Corsi vastly improved from P18 in the morning to go P9 on the overall times, finishing just 0.019 ahead of Championship protagonist Miguel Oliveira (Red Bull KTM Ajo), who was tenth.
Remy Gardner started Friday at the Aragón GP competitively, working on his pace at the demanding MotorLand. The Australian eventually finished day one 1.094 seconds from the top.
Remy Gardner – P21 – 1’54.664
“It has been a really difficult Friday. We got some issues to sort out for tomorrow. I still think we can have a strong weekend, we just have to work hard tonight and get everything ready for tomorrow. Anyway, it’s definitely a track we struggle with and maybe we have a tough weekend ahead of us. But I hope to pull it all together for Sunday and sort things out.”
Enea Bastianini (Leopard Racing) ends Friday at the Gran Premio Movistar de Aragon as the fastest rider in the Moto3 field after pulling out two tenths on Gabriel Rodrigo (RBA BOE Skull Rider). Nicolo Bulega (Sky Racing Team VR46) moved up to take third on his final lap to lock the Spaniards out of the top three on their home turf.
Bastianini ended FP1 in eighth place, but the number 33 looked in supreme form after putting in consecutive fastest laps towards the end of FP2, eventually setting his best time on his final lap as Rodrigo maintained his P2 from FP1 to round off a very solid opening day.
Bulega displaced Championship leader Jorge Martin (Del Conca Gresini Moto3) for third at the end of the FP2 session, with the Spaniard setting his lap times on his own to finish fourth on the combined timesheets. Niccolo Antonelli (SIC58 Squadra Corse) rounds out the top five on Friday despite finishing the morning session outside the top 20, with Aron Canet (Estrella Galicia 0,0) stringing a strong last run together to claw himself up the combined timesheets to fifth.
Misano winner Lorenzo Dalla Porta (Leopard Racing) ends the opening day at MotorLand Aragon in seventh, with Kazuki Masaki (RBA BOE Skull Rider) eighth fastest after an impressive day for the Japanese rookie. The morning’s pacesetter had been Jakub Kornfeil (Redox PruestelGP) and he was the only rider in the top 20 who failed to improve his time in the afternoon. It was ninth overall for the Czech rider after a crash in FP1, with teammate and Championship contender Marco Bezzecchi rounding out the top ten.