Aleix Espargaro (NGM Forward Racing) produced the fastest ever lap of the current Assen track (1’33.653) towards the end of FP2 on a soft rear tyre, the Spaniard beating Casey Stoner’s 2012 lap record (1’33.713). Espargaro had also been second quickest in the morning session.
Repsol Honda’s young World Champion Marquez was second overall, a 0.211 gap behind Espargaro, with Dani Pedrosa in third place (0.416s) at a track which is usualy regarded to favour Yamaha.
Indeed the fastest factory Yamaha lap was set by Jorge Lorenzo (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP) in fourth place, just under half a second off P1 pace.
Another good showing from Pramac Racing’s Andrea Iannone left him fifth, despite a run-off track in both Thursday sessions for the Italian.
Bradley Smith (Monster Yamaha Tech3) and Valentino Rossi (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP) were classed in sixth and seventh respectively, with an identical 1’34.286 lap time.
Pol Espargaro (Monster Yamaha Tech3) was eighth after riding fastest in FP1, with Stefan Bradl (LCR Honda MotoGP) and Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team) completing the top ten.
Nicky Hayden (Drive M7 Aspar) was down in 17th as he continues to ride with wrist problems, whilst in 22nd place Danilo Petrucci (IodaRacing Project) returned for the first time since Jerez following a wrist injury of his own.
Moto2™: Dutch action rounded up with Rabat at top
The intermediate class standings leader Rabat (Marc VDS Racing Team) registered an impressive 1’37.869 lap and demonstrated a strong race pace to underline his strength on the first day of practice in the Netherlands.
Rabat did not have such a good time in FP1 due to technical problems and a brief ride the wrong way down pit lane which resulted in a fine from Race Direction.
In FP2 with another new livery rookie Lowes (Speed Up) impressed again in second place (0.081s) at a circuit where he has previous experience, whilst Aegerter (Technomag carXpert) was third overall – having recently tried a MotoGP™ machine with Avintia Racing in the post-Barcelona race test.
Completing the top five were FP1’s fastest rider Jonas Folger (AGR Team) and Spaniard Jordi Torres (Mapfre Aspar Team Moto2), both just under half a second behind Rabat.
The top ten was completed by Johann Zarco (AirAsia Caterham Moto Racing), Sandro Cortese (Dynavolt Intact GP), Mika Kallio (Marc VDS Racing Team), Ricard Cardus (Tech 3) and Luis Salom (Pons HP 40). For Salom it was a chance to test his fitness after fracturing a finger in Barcelona and he ended the day 0.662s off P1.
Moto3™: Impressive Bastianini fastest on first day of practice
Rookie Bastianini (Junior Team Go&FUN Moto3) took more than a second off the previous lap record pace, putting in a superb late 1’42.366 to stun the rest of the field.
Championship leader Miller (Red Bull KTM Ajo) was fastest in FP1 and improved in the afternoon, the Australian way ahead of his rivals before Bastianini’s late hot lap left Miller 0.206s off P1.
Viñales (Calvo Team) was almost half a second down on Bastianini’s time in a sunny afternoon session with the threatening rain ultimately not materialising.
Behind the all-KTM top three was Efren Vazquez (SAXOPRINT RTG) in fourth on his Honda, whilst another KTM rider Romano Fenati (SKY Racing Team VR46) was fifth.
The top ten was completed by Niklas Ajo (Avant Tecno Husqvarna Ajo), Alex Marquez (Estrella Galicia 0,0), wildcard Jasper Iwema (KRP Abbink Racing), John McPhee (SAXOPRINT RTG) and Miguel Oliveira (Mahindra Racing).
Luca Grünwald (Kiefer Racing) crashed at Turn 5 and walked away holding his wrist in pain, whilst Alex Rins (Estrella Galicia 0,0) went down at turn 9 towards the end of the session, only to be transported back to the pits on a scooter having initially tried to remount.
In the morning session the pace was already quick with Miller heading the timesheet with a 1’42.865, a lap well under the circuit record of 1’43.414 set by Oliveira in 2013.
Juanfran Guevara (Mapfre Aspar Team Moto3) missed FP1 due to a mechanical problem, with Aspar replacing the engine for the afternoon session. Guevara finished the day 30th overall.
Movistar Yamaha MotoGP riders Jorge Lorenzo and Valentino Rossi were able to begin their Dutch weekend unaffected by the predicted rain as sunshine and warm weather set the scene for the first Assen TT practice sessions.
Both riders were quick to find pace in the first morning session, enjoying what is a favourite circuit for the two. Lorenzo and Rossi were consistently among the fastest riders in the session, ending with Lorenzo third, 0.206 seconds from first and Rossi sixth, 0.444 seconds from the front.
The afternoon practice saw more of the same from Lorenzo, the Spanish rider consistently in the top four and wrapping up the final practice of the day in fourth in the combined times, 0.495 from first.
Teammate Rossi worked on two different settings in the afternoon session and he ended the day in seventh in the combined times, 0.633 seconds from first.
Monster Yamaha Tech3 rider Bradley Smith kicked off proceedings in a firm and encouraging manner to clinch 5th position in the morning’s overcast yet dry practice session with his time only 0.385 behind his teammate who topped FP1. The clouds withdrew in the afternoon and glorious sunshine soaked the 4542 metre legendary Assen circuit where Smith persevered to notably improve his morning time by over 6 tenths of a second which meant that it was also quicker than last year’s pole position. The 23-year-old British rider set his best time with his Yamaha YZR-M1 around the fast flowing track on his 20th and final FP2 lap which resulted in him being just over two tenths of a second from 3rd position and in 6th position. Smith’s strong start to the weekend sees him prepared and geared up for tomorrow’s qualifying session, illustrating his clear intentions to finish round 8 of the Moto GP world championship as the leading satellite bike.
Pol Espargaro began the opening practice period in superb form by finishing in 1st position after setting a phenomenal time of 1.34,530 which was a just over a tenth away from last year’s pole position time. Furthermore, the reigning Moto2 world champion blazed through the speed trap at 312.7 kilometres per hour to set the quickest speed of the weekend so far. In the afternoon session Espargaro who visits the Iveco Daily TT Assen Grand prix for the first time aboard his Yamaha YZR-M1 MotoGP bike, continued his confident streak to set a best time of 1.34,408, only slightly over one tenth of a second back from his teammate. With his pace already up to speed, the 23-year-old Catalan is confident to be able to compete for another top grid spot in qualifying tomorrow.
The Dutch TT couldn’t start better for the NGM Forward Racing Team on the legendary Assen racetrack with Aleix Espargaro on top of the time sheets. With a superb 1’33.653, Espargaro also signed the new Circuit Best Lap that belonged to Casey Stoner (1’33.713) from 2012.
Aleix, who will celebrate his 150th GP this weekend, was able to find a good set up and ride fast quickly in the morning session, setting the second fastest time behind his brother Pol, while his team mate closed 12th.
Espargaro further improved in the afternoon riding with good rhythm with both soft and hard tyres. In the FP2 Colin Edwards continued to work on the set up of the machine, improving the confidence and he finally closed in 15th place with 1’35.590.
Jorge Lorenzo – 4th / 1’34.148 / 19 laps – “This morning with low temperatures and a soft tyre in front we didn’t have any problems but in the afternoon we found some issues. We don’t have enough weight on the front so for tomorrow we will try to put more on to solve this problem without compromising the rear. We’ve made the bike more stable to improve the pace but it’s still not perfect, we need to make further adjustments to make some tenths. Let’s see if the weather stays the same so we can solve the problems. The bike is a little better, I was expecting more but we still have to work on it. I hope the sunshine stays as we need to find two or three-tenths more.”
Valentino Rossi – 7th / 1’34.286 / 21 laps – “I’m just in seventh place but we are all very close. I’m not so bad, especially in the last exit we modified the bike and I was able to improve my lap time, which is positive. We have to work a lot because after three or four laps the rear starts to move a lot and we have to slow the rhythm. For tomorrow this is the target, to improve the bike, especially the rear to use the tyres and get ready for qualifying so we can start in the top five.”
Massimo Meregalli – Movistar Yamaha MotoGP Team Director – “A positive first day here in Assen, we were able to work well and put together a good base set up. The pace is good, tyre life also. For sure we still have some things to adjust but overall things are ok. Most likely we won’t be able to benefit from today’s work because it looks like rain is coming for the rest of the weekend. It’s raining for everybody though so we will all start from zero together. We will work to be ready and give our best.”
Bradley Smith – 6th / 1’34.286 / Laps : 41 – “Overall I am very pleased with how the first day of practice in Assen has gone. The settings and speed we found through our work at the post Barcelona GP test has been carried straight over to this round and I have been able to ride comfortably and at pace from the start. There weren’t too many modifications that needed to be undertaken today but we still tried a few settings for both the rear and the front of the bike to increase stability for this high speed track, especially when compared to the layout of Barcelona. However, now we will use this afternoon to analyse today’s data to make further steps of progress, to be prepared for what will be a tough contest in qualifying.”
Pol Espargaro – 8th / 1’34.408 / Laps : 43 – “Today has been a really positive opening to the weekend here in Assen and I can’t deny that it was nice to finish the morning session on the top of the timesheets for the very first time in MotoGP. Now we will keep working hard to one day be in the same position on a Sunday afternoon. However, the big positive from today is that our rhythm is very close to my fastest lap time as I didn’t really manage to squeeze the last bit out of my bike and me during my fast lap. But I did the whole session on my own and normally it’s not easy for me to understand the right line during the very first day so I am truly pleased and convinced that we still have plenty of margin to improve tomorrow.”
Aleix Espargaro – 1st / 1’33.653 – “I love Assen and I didn’t expect to be so fast from the first day. It’s a great satisfaction to sign the new Circuit Best Lap, especially on this legendary track. I’m confident as we have a good rhythm with both soft and hard tyres and tomorrow we will keep on working with the soft tyre, that can be an option here for the race. Our target is to finish tomorrow on the front row. We arrive after a very positive race in Barcelona and we want to continue in this direction”.
Colin Edwards – 15th / 1’35.590 – “We made a couple of changes to have more load on the front and we tried some new things. We improved a bit the set up and I feel more comfortable, but the biggest improvement comes from me. I have been racing here for almost 20 years both in WSBK and MotoGP, I know all the braking points, the references, but I need to start fresh and get the best possible result with this bike”.
Repsol HRC Report
It’s been a positive first day at the Assen TT for Repsol Honda’s Marc Marquez and Dani Pedrosa. This morning on a ‘green’ track, the riders were placed 4th and 8th respectively, but as the temperatures and track improved in the afternoon, they found their rhythm in FP2.
Marc finished the day in 2nd with his best time of 1’33.864 arriving on lap 18 of 19 and Dani was just behind him in 3rd, recording his top time of 1’34.069 on his final lap of 20.
Marc Marquez – 2nd – 1’33.864 – “Today went pretty well and I’m happy, because last year we suffered a lot at this track. I think is a good track for both Honda and Yamaha; they were better here last year but maybe this year we have taken a step forward and I feel very comfortable and happy with the pace that I have. We’ll see tomorrow, because it seems that we’re not so strong in the low temperatures, but I am convinced that we can match the competitors level”
Dani Pedrosa – 3rd – 1’34.069 – “Today we were fortunate to have two dry sessions here in Assen. In the morning the track was cooler but in the afternoon we had a very good track temperature, which allowed us to improve our feeling a little and in general we had good conditions for riding. We’ll have to wait until tomorrow to see what condition the track is in, and then hope for a good qualifying session”
The Ducati Team kicked off the race weekend with the first two free practice sessions at the TT Assen circuit, where the eighth round of the 2014 MotoGP World Championship will take place on Saturday. In rather unusual conditions for this area – a dry track and fair weather – Andrea Dovizioso set tenth quickest time, while his team-mate Cal Crutchlow was unable to go any higher than thirteenth place.
Due to the threat of rain tomorrow, Dovizioso aimed above all to make it into the top ten and he was quite satisfied with today’s work. Crutchlow on the other hand had a bit more difficulty in the two sessions, and together with his team he will now have to find a good set-up for tomorrow, especially at the front end of his GP14.
Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team #04) – 10th (1’34.460) – “We did a good job today and I am quite satisfied, especially if I compare the feeling I have here this year with what I had twelve months ago. We did some tests with both bikes, but the changes to the set-up didn’t give the expected results and so we reverted to what we had before. My time was good even though it wasn’t a perfect lap, but I did two almost identical laps and this is a good sign. I’m quite happy therefore with the bike’s feeling, a bit less because of the fact that there are a lot of very quick riders out there. It was important to get into the top ten because of the risk of rain tomorrow.”
Cal Crutchlow (Ducati Team #35) – 13th (1’35.469) – “It’s been a tough day. After our usual briefing yesterday the plan was to just ride the bike today and not make so many adjustments with the settings. But I didn’t feel too comfortable, the lap time is too far away from the other guys and the other Ducati riders. We will have to improve a lot to get into the top ten tomorrow. I feel a bit at the limit with the front of the bike, so now we have to investigate the data to understand the reason why.”
Gresini Honda Report
The Team GO&FUN Honda Gresini enjoyed a positive start to the historic Assen TT today after Alvaro Bautista and Scott Redding both obtained good feelings aboard their Honda MotoGP machines during the first two free practice sessions of the weekend.
The eleventh position of Alvaro Bautista in the combined classification does not really reflect the situation of the Spaniard, who found encouraging improvements compared to the last two races, but was slowed down by traffic, which didn’t allow him to complete a clean lap: his ideal time proves it: the sum of his best sector times is actually more than 0.3 seconds quicker than the 1’34”466 he clocked in the afternoon.
Immediately behind Bautista, Scott Redding finished the day in 12th position, setting a good 1’35”445 aboard his RCV1000R, more than three tenths of a second faster than the closest of the three other Open Class Honda machines.
Alvaro Bautista (11th – 1’34″466) – “Like in Mugello and Montmelo, here we have several fast corners, where we are struggling a lot, but today we tried different settings in order to improve my feeling and actually now I feel more comfortable. Our position in the timesheets doesn’t tell all the truth: I could have been was faster, but I couldn’t prove it because I found a lot of traffic and I was not able to make one clean lap. Therefore, I’m confident ahead of tomorrow because my feeling on the bike is much better right now. Today we also used some new braking parts tested in the Barcelona post-race test: we are talking about small details, but for us they are very important to make a little step forward. Tomorrow we will continue to work to improve cornering and we will se what we can do”.
Scott Redding (12th – 1’35″445) – “This morning was good, and also the afternoon session was not bad! The only thing is that this circuit has a lot of very fast corners and the bike is always spinning and wheeling… I went straight this morning on Turn 6 and I had a very scary time because you realize how fast you are going only when you go off the track! We are struggling a little bit on Sector 1, but in the other sectors the situation is not bad. I have a little bit of chatter in the front end, and we also need to find some more rear grip, but overall I’m very happy with the bike and I think the guys of the team are happy as well”.
Fausto Gresini – “I’m sorry for Bautista because actually today we worked really well, despite the final position; unfortunately, in the final stages of the afternoon session, when we tried to set a good time, Alvaro has always found in front of him other riders slowing him down. We definitely could have done a better lap time, therefore this result doesn’t tell the truth. Redding made two good practice sessions, keeping a good pace and confirming himself as the fastest Open Class Honda rider: the gap from the top is quite high, but our reference are the other Production Racer machines, so we can say that today we have done our job well”.
Drive M7 Aspar Report
As if inspired by the lap times in the Moto3 class the MotoGP boys wasted no time in getting down to lap record pace at Assen today, with Pol Espargaró dipping inside the 2012 circuit record (1.34’548) this morning and then his brother Aleix smashing the outright lap record (Stoner, 2012, 1.33’713) this afternoon with a sensational time of 1.33’653. The Spanish rider’s effort came at the end of a session that had been dominated by his compatriot Marc Márquez, proving that the fast and flowing nature of the Assen circuit could well lend itself to the non-factory machines – especially those using the soft tyre option.
For that reason it was a slightly disappointing day for the DRIVE M7 Aspar Team riders, who expected to be more competitive in the opening two free practice sessions. However, both riders reported improvements as the day progressed, Hiroshi Aoyama making some positive changes to his front fork set-up on his way to the sixteenth fastest time of the day whilst Nicky Hayden reported good performance from his bike in the flowing sections of the track, with work still to do in other areas when the action resumes tomorrow.
16th Hiroshi Aoyama 1.35.787 (40 laps): “We have been lucky that the weather has been on our side so far here in Holland. We have been able to do a lot of work on the set-up of the bike, especially this afternoon when I tested a new configuration for the front fork, which seems to work much better than the old one. I am really happy with the feeling I had with the bike today and even though we clearly need to improve I am satisfied we are on the right path. Hopefully we get more good weather tomorrow so that we can keep working in the same way. We tried the softest option tyre today and the feedback was good, also in terms of durability. If we can do full race distance on it then that will be our choice for Saturday. We’re still not clear about the front tyre yet though, that will depend on the track conditions.”
17th Nicky Hayden 1.35.891 (37 laps): “To be honest we expected to be more competitive in the first two sessions. We made some slight improvements this afternoon and got the bike handling better through the direction changes. This is a technical circuit and we will have to work hard. The good thing was that we got dry track all day today and were able to gather a lot of data. Even though we have the bike working better through the flowing sections we still have a lot of work to do in the other parts of the track. Physically I feel better than Barcelona although it has been tougher today than I expected. In Barcelona we also started slower than we expected but in the end we put in a good performance on race day so hopefully it can be the same story here.”
NGM Forward Racing’s Aleix Espargaro showed he will be a force to be reckoned with at this weekend’s Dutch TT after the Spaniard set a new Circuit Best Lap time of 1’33.658 at the Assen circuit.
Espargaro was second quickest in the morning’s Free Practice 1 session behind his brother, Monster Yamaha Tech 3’s Pol Espargaro, but Aleix improved again in the afternoon Free Practice 2 session to head the field using the combination of the soft compound slicks front and rear. His stunning lap saw him top the combined times by 0.211 seconds over Repsol Honda’s Marc Marquez who was second quickest. Third quickest on the first day of action at Assen was Repsol Honda’s Dani Pedrosa with a personal best lap time of 1’34.069.
After a cool start to the day, sunny conditions boosted track temperatures to a peak measurement of 43°C at the end of FP2. The low track temperatures in FP1 resulted in almost every rider utilising the extra-soft front slick for this session, before all the riders switched to either the soft or medium front slick for FP2. For both of today’s sessions, most riders preferred their softer rear slick option; medium for the Factory Honda and Yamaha riders, and soft for the Open-class and Ducati riders. If dry conditions present themselves tomorrow, it is expected that some riders, particularly from the Factory Honda and Yamaha teams will evaluate their harder rear slick options.
In addition to Aleix Espargaro setting a new Circuit Best Lap record, the top eleven riders on combined times today were quicker than the race record lap time of 1’34.548 – a strong indicator that a dry race on Saturday could be run at record pace. However, the forecast for the rest of the weekend indicates a chance of rain, with ambient temperatures similar to today.
Shinji Aoki – Manager, Bridgestone Motorcycle Tyre Development Department – “Today’s perfect weather created excellent track conditions and the riders made full use of this by already setting an extremely quick pace. This morning’s FP1 session was quite cool, so almost every rider went out on the softest slick options available to them at the start of the session. In the afternoon, most riders switched from the extra-soft slicks they used in FP1 to the soft front slicks, and their feedback indicates this gives the best balance of cornering performance and braking stability at this track. I expect this soft front slick to be widely used this weekend. Rear tyre choice has seen riders mostly use their softer rear slick option, but if we have fine weather tomorrow I expect some experimentation with the harder rear slicks. The top eleven riders today were within an eighth-of-a-second of each other which is remarkable, and I hope tomorrow’s qualifying sessions are just as competitive!”
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