MotoGP 2018 – Valencia Friday Report

Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) completes Day 1 at the Gran Premio Motul de la Comunitat Valenciana as the fastest man in some tough and wet conditions thanks to his FP1 time of 1:39.767, with the Spaniard heading Alma Pramac Racing’s Jack Miller and Danilo Petrucci with the top three split by just 0.140 on Friday.

MotoGP Valencia Fri Marc Marquez
Marc Marquez

Just like FP1, the FP2 session was red-flagged in the early stages due to unsafe track conditions. This came after debris was left on circuit after Johann Zarco (Monster Yamaha Tech 3) crashed at the tricky Turn 12, but the Frenchman was ok and returned to the pits. A short delay followed before the riders headed back out, but with the rain heavier than it was in FP1, none of the riders were able to improve on their morning times and the top three – and ten – were decided for the day.

Marc Marquez – P1

“Honestly, it was a difficult day because not only were there wet conditions with a lot of water, but also because it was very cold. When there’s so much water on track, it’s a kind of lottery, and the only thing you can do is try not to crash. This situation made things more complicated, but luckily the track here in Valencia has very good drainage and very good grip all things considered, and this allowed us to actually ride today. That said, I felt very good on the bike and was able to feel the limit and be fast, which is very important. It looks like the weather will be a bit better tomorrow, only to worsen again on Sunday, so we need to be ready for whatever condition we may find if we wish to fight for the podium.”

MotoGP Valencia Fri Marc Marquez
Marc Marquez

Jack Miller had clocked the second fastest time in the FP1 session and looked as though he was going to the top of the charts after lighting up the red helmet late in the session before a fall cost the Australian his chance. 

Jack Miller – P2

“The feelings are very positive. This morning we did very well and in the afternoon we preferred not to do too many laps not to wear out the soft rear tyre in sight of qualifying and the race. I’m satisfied.”

MotoGP Valencia Fri Jack Miller
Jack Miller

Danilo Petrucci topped the wetter FP2 session by a significant margin, 0.407 was the gap back to Marquez with Valentino Rossi the only other rider within a second of the Ducati rider in the second session. It was P12 overall for ‘The Doctor’, however.

Danilo Petrucci – P3

“The conditions we found in FP2 are better for me. However, I have to admit that in some parts of the circuit it was not easy as the visibility was really limited. But I am happy because the feeling was very good from the start”.

MotoGP Valencia Fri Danilo Petrucci
Danilo Petrucci

Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team) sits fourth overall and the Italian was P12 in FP2, with Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda Team) completing the top five on Day 1 despite conditions that have often been more difficult for the newly-inducted Legend this season.

Andrea Dovizioso – P4

“This morning, despite the rain, the track had good grip but in the afternoon we encountered different conditions: there was really a lot of water and I didn’t have a particularly good feeling with my bike. In any case we managed to do a few tests with the tyres: the session was useful for this reason, especially because this year we haven’t lapped much in the rain, and we picked up some good indications for Sunday’s race, should it be wet.”

MotoGP Valencia Fri Dovizioso
Andrea Dovizioso

Dani Pedrosa – P5

“It seems it’s going to rain quite a lot this weekend! The track changes when the water increases, and in some points it’s a bit difficult to ride. That was the case this afternoon, so I just did very few laps. On the other hand, when there’s a bit less water, like at a certain point during FP1, you can be much faster. So we must wait and see what conditions we’ll have over the weekend. This will also affect the tyre choice and the rhythm of the race.”

MotoGP Valencia Fri Dani Pedrosa
Dani Pedrosa

Andrea Iannone (Team Suzuki Ecstar) – fourth in FP2 – ends P6 on the combined times, with Maverick Viñales (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP) ending the day as the fastest Yamaha rider in P7 overall.

Andrea Iannone – P6

“Today was not so bad, and it’s only Friday. The conditions are a bit difficult, but that’s the same for everyone. We worked well today and found a few areas we can improve on – especially on the braking point and cornering. So for tomorrow we hope we’ve found the solutions for these areas. We’ll give our best for qualifying and my feeling is positive and good. The grip on the track is really good, but when there’s a lot of water we get some spinning, especially on the straight. But we just have to deal with these conditions.”

MotoGP Valencia Fri Andrea Iannone
Andrea Iannone

Maverick Vinales – P7

“I didn‘t feel so bad, and honestly it was better than I expected. In the morning I was a bit faster than I was this afternoon, because there was a lot of water on the track. There are still some things to improve on, but I‘m actually happy. Let‘s see if we can take another step tomorrow. Our objective is to be in the top-5, if it‘s raining and conditions are similar to today, that result would be great. Today I announced that next season, and starting from next Tuesday at the Valencia test, I will be riding with a new number: 12. The reason why I decided to change the number is that I used to ride with number 12 when I was a kid, for at least five or six years, and I was really successful. I also feel that number 12 identifies me a bit more, though I‘ve been riding with number 25 for quite a few years.”

MotoGP Valencia Fri Vinales
Maverick Vinales

Wildcard and Ducati Team test rider Michele Pirro sits P8 overall thanks to his FP1 time, a strong showing for the Italian, as Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Pol Espargaro grabs a provisional Q2 spot by ending Friday in P9. A P6 in FP2 – along with teammate Bradley Smith’s P8 – caps off a good day for the Austrian manufacturer in the wet conditions.

Michele Pirro – P8

“It was a day with really a lot of rain, but this morning we worked well in any case and in the afternoon we tried a few things in view of the race that might be useful because on Sunday it seems as if the conditions could be similar to today. With such changeable weather it was important to finish the day inside the top 10: I managed to do this, I’m eighth and this is positive. Let’s hope we can continue to work like this also tomorrow.”

MotoGP Valencia Fri Pirro
Michele Pirro

Alex Rins (Team Ecstar Suzuki) rounds out the top ten, but just 0.002 ahead of compatriot Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini) in P11.

Alex Rins – P10

“I’ve been feeling very good today, both in FP1 and FP2. The bike is working well and we’re preparing for race day. It looks like it will be wet all weekend but we are ready for that. It’s really difficult to ride in these conditions, and during FP2 the track was so wet that all of us riders were experiencing a bit of aqua-planing and spinning on the straight, but I think the track will be OK for the race. I came into the box towards the end of the session because the risk was a bit higher and my feeling was already good.”

MotoGP Valencia Fri Alex Rins
Alex Rins

Aleix Espargaro’ – P11

“Today I really felt good. Finishing FP1 close to the top 10 and fifth in FP2 is a great sign. The bike’s grip is very good and I was fast, confirming that we have made some steps forward from this point of view because the grip problems get worse in the wet. If the weekend should continue along these lines, we’ll be able to aim for important positions in the race.”

MotoGP Valencia Fri Aleix Espargaro
Aleix Espargaro’

Valentino Rossi – P12

“It was a busy day and fully wet. It’s actually a good thing, because it looks like the weather will be very bad on Sunday, so we need to understand which tyre we will try to use and also work on the balance of the bike. This morning the track was a bit faster because there was less water on it, but unfortunately I didn’t feel fantastic with the bike, it wasn’t a perfect combination. But we made some good modifications so in the afternoon I was stronger. It’s a shame we couldn’t improve our laptime from this morning. I’m outside of the top-10, but with a good feeling and also a good pace, so in the end it’s not so bad.”

MotoGP Valencia Fri Rossi
Valentino Rossi – The effectiveness of the chin spoiler on the back of the bottom fairing can be seen here in this shot of Rossi in the rain at Valencia

Jorge Lorenzo for the moment had to settle for nineteenth place with a time of 1’41.782 in his return to the MotoGP grid, and his final appearance with Ducati before the Spaniard joins Repsol Honda for season 2019.

Jorge Lorenzo – P19

“Undoubtedly these aren’t the best conditions for my come-back, because the track today was treacherous. My wrist still hurts, especially under braking and coming out of the corners, and even more when I do more than five laps continuously. I can’t be too aggressive and I have to make smooth movements that make me lose speed. With very little water on the track I feel better, but when it rains a lot everything becomes more complicated. Let’s see if conditions improve a bit tomorrow and we’ll try and get inside the top 10 to go straight through into Q2.”

MotoGP Valencia Fri Jorge Lorenzo
Jorge Lorenzo

A completely wet day in Valencia looks like it will set the tone for the weekend.

Valencia Day One MotoGP Combined Free Practice
  1. MARQUEZ  Marc SPA Repsol Honda 1’39.767
  2. MILLER Jack AUS Alma Pramac Ducati 1’39.873 / 0.106
  3. PETRUCCI Danilo ITA Alma Pramac Ducati 1’39.907 / 0.140
  4. DOVIZIOSO Andrea ITA Ducati Team 1’40.179 / 0.412
  5. PEDROSA Dani SPA Repsol Honda 1’40.467 / 0.700
  6. IANNONE Andrea ITA Suzuki Ecstar 1’40.685 / 0.918
  7. VINALES Maverick SPA Movistar Yamaha 1’40.772 / 1.005
  8. PIRRO Michele ITA Ducati Team 1’40.836 / 1.069
  9. ESPARGARO Pol SPA Red Bull KTM 1’40.892 / 1.125
  10. RINS Alex SPA Suzuki Ecstar 1’40.965 / 1.198
  11. ESPARGARO Aleix SPA Aprilia Racing Gresini 1’40.967 / 1.200
  12. ROSSI Valentino ITA Movistar Yamaha  1’41.015 / 1.248
  13. ZARCO Johann FRA Monster Yamaha Tech 3 1’41.146 / 1.379
  14. ABRAHAM Karel CZE Angel Nieto Team 1’41.160 / 1.393
  15. SIMEON Xavier BEL Reale Avintia Racing 1’41.277 / 1.510
  16. BRADL Stefan GER LCR Honda 1’41.479 / 1.712
  17. SMITH Bradley GBR Red Bull KTM 1’41.489 / 1.722
  18. MORBIDELLI Franco ITA EG 0,0 Marc VDS 1’41.713 / 1.946
  19. LORENZO Jorge SPA Ducati Team 1’41.782 / 2.015
  20. NAKAGAMI Takaaki JPN LCR Honda 1’42.471 / 2.704
  21. BAUTISTA Alvaro SPA Angel Nieto Team 1’42.617 / 2.850
  22. REDDING Scott GBR Aprilia Racing Gresini 1’42.857/ 3.090
  23. LUTHI Tom SWI EG 0,0 Marc VDS 1’43.000 / 3.233
  24. SYAHRIN Hafizh MAL Monster Yamaha Tech 3 1’43.727 / 3.960
  25. TORRES Jordi SPA Reale Avintia Racing 1’45.001 / 5.234
MotoGP Valencia Fri Times MotoGP
Valencia Day One MotoGP Combined Free Practice

Moto2

Iker Lecuona (Swiss Innovative Investors) impressed in tough wet conditions after his FP1 time saw him end Day 1 at the Gran Premio Motul de la Comunitat Valenciana at the summit of the Moto2 combined standings. Because of the heavier rainfall in the afternoon, FP1 times would remain the fastest of the day for the intermediate class and Lecuona’s 1:46.705 in the morning was enough to see him better Alex Marquez (EG 0,0 Marc VDS) by 0.798, despite a crash for both. Miguel Oliveira (Red Bull KTM Ajo) sits third quickest on the combined times – 0.912 off Lecuona.

Fourth overall and P4 in FP2 was American rider Joe Roberts (NTS RW Racing GP), who showed his incredible pace in the wet once again, despite a crash. He was just ahead of Lorenzo Baldassarri (Pons HP40), who was fifth on Day 1 and third in the second, trickier session. World Champion Francesco Bagnaia (Sky Racing Team VR46) ends Friday in P6 overall but was P13 in FP2, with Marcel Schrötter (Dynavolt Intact GP) seventh quickest overall.

Second of the NTS wet weather heroes was Steven Odendaal (NTS RW Racing GP), the South African crashing in both sessions but quick, with two MotoGP-bound riders completing the top ten: it was P9 for Joan Mir (EG 0,0 Marc VDS) and P10 for Fabio Quartararo (HDR Heidrun – Speed Up).

Remy Gardner – P24

“Today has been quite good. I definitely thought that I would be stronger in the wet, but I always struggled in Valencia, so I knew it’s going to be a tough one. I had a bit of a strange crash this morning, but anyway, we got a bit softer clutch setting which helped in the afternoon, where I just did laps and found confidence. We were back inside the top 10 in FP2, my feeling was pretty ok, although the conditions were a lot worse than this morning. We’re still working on the setting and we still have to do some things before Sunday, as it looks like it’s going to be wet.”

FP2 saw no less than 16 crashes: Lukas Tulovic (Forward Racing Team), Hector Garzo (Tech 3 Racing), Khairul Idham Pawi (Idemitsu Honda Team Asia), Jorge Navarro (Federal Oil Team Gresini) twice, replacement rider Tommaso Marcon (HDR Heidrun – Speed Up), Xavi Cardelus (Marinelli Snipers Team), Tasca Racing Scuderia Moto2’s Simone Corsi, Tetsuta Nagashima (Idemitsu Honda Team Asia), Sky Racing Team VR46’s Luca Marini, Mattia Pasini (Italtrans Racing Team) and Sam Lowes (Swiss Innovative Investors), riders ok.

MotoGP Valencia Fri Times Moto
Valencia Day One MotoGP Combined Free Practice Moto2

Moto3

Rookie Alonso Lopez (Estrella Galicia 0,0) went fastest on his final flying lap in FP2 to end Friday at the Gran Premio Motul de la Comunitat Valenciana on top; his 1:51.873 enough to oust Marco Bezzecchi (Redox PruestelGP) – despite a late crash – from the summit by just 0.039. Fabio Di Giannantonio (Del Conca Gresini Moto3) took P3 in FP2 and on the combined times after a P15 in the morning, and the top three overall were split by just 0.094 on Friday.

A wet FP1 and a wet FP2 was the order of the day as the lightweight class machines completed their final Friday of the year in a rain-soaked Valencia. The aforementioned home rider Lopez takes the honours to top the two Italians, with Tatsuki Suzuki (SIC58 Squadra Corse) fourth in a tight top four – 0.140 was the gap from the Japanese rider to the Spaniard after he ended the first session in P13. Lorenzo Dalla Porta (Leopard Racing) completed the top five on Friday.

World Champion Jorge Martin (Del Conca Gresini Moto3) – who didn’t venture out in FP1 – ended the day sixth fastest, just ahead of Andrea Migno (Angel Nieto Team Moto3), who rounds out a solid day in P7 after ending FP1 inside the top three. Wildcard and Red Bull MotoGP Rookies Cup Champion Can Öncü (Red Bull KTM Ajo), meanwhile, took an impressive P8 to end his first day in Grand Prix racing in the top ten despite a crash, with fellow former Asia Talent Cup rider Nakarin Atiratphuvapat (Honda Team Asia) P9 overall. Niccolo Antonelli (SIC58 Squadra Corse) took P10 and was another who crashed in tough conditions.

Crashes were aplenty in the wet conditions, with replacement rider Izam Ikmal (Petronas Sprinta Racing) the first rider to crash, joined by Tony Arbolino (Marinelli Snipers Team), Kazuki Masaki (RBA BOE Skull Rider), Raul Fernandez (Angel Nieto Team Moto3), Vicente Perez (Reale Avintia Academy 77) for the second time of the day, Aron Canet (Estrella Galicia 0,0), Bester Capital Dubai’s Jaume Masia and Gabriel Rodrigo (RBA BOE Skull Rider) – riders ok.

MotoGP Valencia Fri Times Moto
Valencia Day One MotoGP Combined Free Practice Moto3