15 riders within a second on Friday
Independent Team rider Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda Castrol) rules the roost in the Gran Premio Red Bull de España when actions ended on Friday, with the Argentina GP winner taking to the top in FP2 and leader on the combined timesheets.
On a very close Friday that put Crutchlow a slender 0.028 clear of Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda Team) in P2, 0.091 ahead of Johann Zarco ( Monster Yamaha Tech 3) and still not even a tenth in front of Andrea Iannone (Team Suzuki Ecstar) in fourth.
Cal Crutchlow – P1
“The bike feels good at the minute. The track is different to when I tested here in November, it was cold and very, very grippy then, now it’s quite greasy. I seem to be able to do the lap times quite well, the tyres are holding up well – the soft and medium anyway, on the rear – which we’ll use tomorrow. But we also need to try the hard as I think that will be the race tyre. But yeah, we’re confident enough with the bike, it’s going well. We went through some different settings, it didn’t feel great with the wings on the bike which I tried for the first time this year. It was quite windy out there and it was not reacting very well to that and we’ve had no time on the wings so the set up wasn’t great. But I feel good, it’s nice to be on top again. Now we have to work with the team tonight and then go into tomorrow with positivity and hopefully get on the front row.”
As well as the incredible equality of the top four within a tenth, the top 15 ended Day 1 within a second and the whole grid was covered by two seconds – a tantalizing prospect for race day if it remains the same.
The headlines didn’t stop there. 2017 Jerez winner Pedrosa, who is still recovering from a broken wrist, put in a stunning performance once again to not only threaten the top but also show some key consistency – with Zarco just behind him and top Yamaha.
Dani Pedrosa – P2
“This morning I started a bit slowly to test the condition of my hand, and from there I went, step by step, improving over the day, especially in the second session, when I was able to push a bit more. The positive aspect is that I felt better than at the last race, though I’m not yet 100% fit. I have more range of motion, and that allows me to move on the bike better in order to adopt a better position in the corners. What I still lack is full strength, and that still causes me to struggle and prevents me from riding exactly as I wish. Anyway, we did a good FP2 session and we know where we can improve further. I hope we’ll be able to do that tomorrow.”
Johann Zarco – P3
“I’m pretty happy to be competitive without a test here. FP1 was quite ok and in FP2 we were working with the tyres. MY feeling was quite good and every time we tried something on the bike, we were improving, which makes me truly happy. Now we want to keep working that good to feel even more comfortable and play with the bike. I hope, that we’ll have good weather tomorrow, so we can improve and prepare the race as well as possible.”
Iannone kept his solid form rolling after his rostrum finish in Texas, just ahead of what was another key moment of the day: reigning Champion Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team), despite having shown awesome pace throughout both sessions, crashing out towards the end of FP2 – rider ok.
Andrea Iannone – P4
“I’m really happy about today, we worked really well and things are going in a good way. The feeling with the bike is not bad, and between this morning and this afternoon we improved a bit more, which is interesting for us. I didn’t expect this speed on this track because last year we struggled a lot, but in any case today we are very close to the top, and this is the most important thing. We confirmed that we are close, and tomorrow is the most important day because of the qualifying – it’s important that we start from the front or second row, this will be key for the race. On the slow corners we struggle, but on the fast corners we can take the advantage, so it’s a compromise.”
Marc Marquez – P5
“I’m generally happy with my first day here at Jerez because I think we did good work. We did a lot of laps on used tyres, and that’s important in view of the race. I had a small crash in the end with a front tyre that already had 27 laps on it, but it was mainly my mistake because I just braked too late into the corner. It seems that the Hondas are strong here, especially Dani, so we’ll see if we can get closer. It will be interesting to see how the tyres react to the higher temperature that’s expected tomorrow. Hopefully we’ll be able to keep a good pace and continue our direction of work, which I think is the correct one. This track is usually a bit challenging for me, but this year I feel good on the bike and am ready to fight for the podium and even the victory.”
The man right behind Marquez after Day 1 was Championship leader Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team), who went fastest in FP1, with his teammate Jorge Lorenzo taking seventh on Friday at the track at which he took his first podium in red in 2017.
Andrea Dovizioso – P6
“It was a positive first day, one in which we confirmed the results of the test here in November and, even though the temperature was different today, I was able to establish a good feeling with my Desmosedici GP. This afternoon we tried some other things but we couldn’t improve and when I put the new tyre on I didn’t feel quite right on the second bike. All in all however we have started off with a good base, even though it’s still not enough and so tomorrow we will have to improve.”
Jorge Lorenzo – P7
“Today we did a lot of tests and we found some good solutions. Some of the updates we have brought here to Jerez have been positive, but there are some corners where I’m still really struggling to get the bike to turn and I’m losing a few tenths. I’m not completely satisfied because I wanted to finish the day inside the top 5, but on my good lap I had a small problem with the gearbox and I wasn’t able to get my time down. Today it didn’t rain in the end and I hope that the weather stays good tomorrow so we can continue to work like today, because I think we have a lot of room for improvement.”
Jack Miller (Alma Pramac Racing) was the top Independent Team Ducati rider in P8 overall after more solid top ten pace, with Valentino Rossi (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP) taking ninth overall after a late move up from outside provisional Q2 entry.
Jack Miller – P8
“It’s a very good day and I’m satisfied. I’m also happy to be back riding without pain after the injury that gave me some problems in Austin. The feeling with the bike is really good. In both the FP1 and FP2 I was easily in the Top 10 and this gives us great confidence in sight of tomorrow’s qualifying. It will be a battle anyway so we will have to improve”.
Valentino Rossi – P9
“It was a difficult day, especially in the afternoon, because in the morning I wasn‘t so bad, with the lower temperatures, but unfortunately with the higher temperatures we suffered. I‘m not happy with the balance of the bike, we need to improve, but we‘re also in trouble with the tyres. After some laps we lose grip and it looks like we have to slow down more than our opponents, so I think that will be difficult, but it‘s only Friday. We need to work and improve and we will try to better our understanding tomorrow.”
The man completing the top ten was Pol Espargaro (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing), after the Spaniard put in an incredible charge in FP1 to end that session in third and the day in tenth overall.
Maverick Viñales (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP) was P12 and will have his sights set significantly further up the timesheets on Saturday.
Maverick Viñales – P12
“Honestly, today I didn’t have the best feeling. I wasn’t feeling well during FP1 and FP2, it was difficult. In Austin we improved quite a lot, but since coming here the problems started again. The bike is moving around a lot, so we have to keep working and stay focused and we have to push – that’s the only way forward. Vale seems to be having the same problems, our lap times are quite similar. We have to find a solution that works for us.”
Massimo Meregalli – Yamaha MotoGP Team Director
“We knew that we would have a bit of catching up to do on the first day of riding in Jerez, because we didn’t attend the test here earlier this year, but we expected to be doing better by this stage. Both our riders gave positive feedback about the new asphalt – its surface is better, but grip-wise it wasn’t as good. As in the past, the lap times change quite drastically depending on the temperatures. We used both sessions to collect as much information as possible, trying various set-ups and tyre specifications. Ultimately, when we put on the soft tyre to do the time-attack, our expectations were not met. We have to improve the speed and the pace – the latter is the most important for the race. We only have two sessions to do it, but I’m confident that our engineers will come up with a good solution.”
Alex Rins (Team Suzuki Ecstar) was P14 but missed the Spanish GP in 2017 due to injury, turning a wheel in anger at the venue for the first time this year.
Wildcard Mika Kallio, riding a first version of the 2019 machine for Red Bull KTM Factory racing, was P16 on Day 1.
Marquez takes charge on Day 1
2017 Jerez winner Alex Marquez (EG 0,0 Marc VDS) marched to the top of the Moto2 timesheets on the opening day at the Gran Premio Red Bull de España, with his 1:42.537 almost three tenths clear of second place man Lorenzo Baldassarri (Pons HP40).
Álex Márquez – P1
“Jerez is a special place and it is always a good feeling here. In the morning session we did not use the softer compound tyre, just worked on set-up with the harder option. The conditions were different in the afternoon with the higher temperatures and we evaluated the soft tyre to get all our options for the race. I am missing a little confidence in the front but overall the feeling is good.”
Championship leader Franceso Bagnaia (Sky Racing Team VR46) failed to improve his time in FP2 after going fastest in the morning, and he ended the day P3 on the combined timesheets.
Former Jerez winner Sam Lowes (Swiss Innovative Investors), one of the quickest men at the preseason test at the venue, was fourth overall on the timesheets – his time of 1:42.836 was the exact same time Bagnaia recorded in FP1. Romano Fenati (Marinelli Snipers Team) impressed again in FP2 after going third quickest in FP1, finishing fifth on the combined practice times and taking the honour of top Rookie on the opening day.
Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Ajo), winner here in the Moto3 class in 2016 from the back of the grid, made a strong start to the weekend in sixth, with reigning Moto3 Champion Joan Mir (EG 0,0 Marc VDS) just behind him in P7.
Argentina GP winner Mattia Pasini (Italtrans Racing Team) didn’t finish FP2 after a technical problem on the back straight forced him to pull off track. However, the Italian had already improved his time from FP1 by over three tenths, ending the day in eighth – 0.571 off Marquez’ time.
Rounding out the top ten on Friday was Miguel Oliveira (Red Bull KTM Ajo), , with Iker Lecuona (Swiss Innovative Investors) in tenth – both of whom failed to go quicker in FP2 and their fastest efforts set in the morning.
Luca Marini (SKY Racing Team VR46) was an early faller in FP2, rider ok, but there was more drama as Bagnaia then clashed with Isaac Viñales (SAG Team) at the final corner at the end of the session, with both riders pushing for a quick time at the end of the day.
Antonelli sets incredible pace on the opening day
Niccolò Antonelli (SIC58 Squadra Corse) set a blistering pace on Friday afternoon at the Gran Premio Red Bull de España, improving his time by two seconds from FP1 to be the only rider to venture into the 1.46’s and go fastest overall. Championship leader Jorge Martin (Del Conca Gresini Moto3) was his closest challenger, however he could only get within 0.444 seconds of the Italian. Martin’s teammate Fabio Di Giannantonio rounded out the top three – the only rider in the top 12 to not improve his FP1 time.
Enea Bastianini (Leopard Racing) was third in the afternoon session, his 1:47.165 was enough to put him fourth on the overall times – 0.006 behind Di Giannantonio. Last year’s Jerez race winner Aron Canet (Estrella Galicia 0,0) improved on his FP1 time right at the end of his final FP2 run, ending the day P5 and 0.594 off Antonelli’s pace. Honda Team Asia rider Kaito Toba improved his time by nearly a second from FP1 to impress in P6.
Marcos Ramirez (Bester Capital Dubai) has found some form in Jerez so far this weekend, building on his solid FP1 display to finish seventh overall, with Lorenzo Dalla Porta (Leopard Racing) in eighth. Tony Arbonlino (Marinelli Snipers Team), who led FP2 in the early stages of the session, was 0.009 seconds back from Dalla Porta in ninth, with John McPhee (CIP – Green Power) improving by over a second in the afternoon to end Friday in P10 on board his KTM machine.
Top rookie was Kazuki Masaki (RBA BOE Skull Rider), as the reigning Red Bull MotoGP Rookies Cup Champion took P15.
Antonelli looks like an early candidate for pole position, can the chasing pack close the gap in FP3?
Gran Premio Red Bull de Espana
Jerez MotoGP 2018 Schedule – AEST
- Moto3 FP3 – 17:00
- MotoGP FP3 – 17:55
- Moto2 FP3 – 18:55
- Moto3 QP – 20:35
- MotoGP FP4 – 21:30
- MotoGP Q1 – 22:10
- MotoGP Q2 – 22:35
- Moto2 QP – 23:05
- Moto3 WUP – 16:40
- Moto2 WUP – 17:10
- MotoGP WUP – 17:40
- Moto3 Race – 19:00
- Moto2 Race – 20:20
- MotoGP Race – 22:00
MotoGP Championship Standings following COTA
- Andrea DOVIZIOSO – ITA 46
- Marc MARQUEZ – SPA 45
- Maverick VIÑALES – SPA 41
- Cal CRUTCHLOW – GBR 38
- Johann ZARCO – FRA 38
- Andrea IANNONE – ITA 31
- Valentino ROSSI – ITA 29
- Jack MILLER – AUS 26
- Tito RABAT – SPA 22
- Danilo PETRUCCI – ITA 21
- Dani PEDROSA – SPA 18
- Alex RINS – SPA 16
- Hafizh SYAHRIN – MAL 9
- Pol ESPARGARO – SPA 8
- Aleix ESPARGARO – SPA 6
- Jorge LORENZO – SPA 6
- Franco MORBIDELLI – ITA 6
- Takaaki NAKAGAMI – JPN 5
- Scott REDDING – GBR 4
- Alvaro BAUTISTA – SPA 4
- Karel ABRAHAM – CZE 1