The big news to come out of the second and final Friday practice session at the Chang International Circuit today was that Lorenzo may be out for the remainder of the weekend.
Lorenzo lost the rear entering turn three when it seemed as though the fire went out on the engine that powers the #99 Ducati Desmosedici as he entered the turn, spitting Lorenzo into yet another significant highside that saw him land very heavily on his back, and possibly also sustain further leg injuries.
His Ducati destroyed itself as it tumbled over the tarmac before coming to rest in the gravel trap.
His teammate Andrea Dovizioso slotted in soft Michelins at the both ends of his Ducati to top the timesheets with less than a minute remaining in the session.
Andrea Dovizioso – P1
“Today it went quite well. This morning the track conditions weren’t easy and we were struggling a bit, but in the afternoon we were able to make a step forward and my feeling improved. It’s still not enough because Marquez, and not only him, has an excellent pace and there are quite a few riders with good speed. We are all very close on lap times and so there’s still a lot of work to do. Let’s see what track conditions we will find tomorrow but, as I said, even though the feeling is a good one we still have to improve.”
FP1 fast man Maverick Vinales had held sway up until those dying seconds before being demoted to second.
“Being first and second in today‘s sessions, shouldn‘t mean these are my expectations for the race, it‘s only Friday. However, it‘s true that the feeling is much more positive than it was in Aragon, I feel better with the bike. We modified the settings in the way I needed it, and it seems to work – at least for me – especially on the hard tyre. It‘s completely different from what we had during the pre-season Thai Test and previous races. We went in another direction and did a quite solid FP1 and FP2. Let‘s see what more we can do tomorrow.”
Honda do look strong despite not topping the charts
Late in the session Cal Crutchlow leapt up to third place on the charts ahead of fellow Honda rider Marc Marquez.
It was that latter man that looked the most dangerous though, the #93 running the session on a single set of tyres and while not fastest, his consistent sector times warn his competitors of his potential race pace.
It was very tight at the top though, with less than a tenth of a second separating the top quartet and not much more than three-tenths separates the entire top ten.
Rossi tries some radical new aero
Valentino Rossi tried a new fairing for the first time and was a high as second in FP2 but eventually slipped to ninth as things hotted up late in the session.
“For me it’s a bit better than what I expected on paper, because me and Maverick were quite strong during the day. In the morning we had a fantastic first and second, but that was also because a lot of riders didn’t use a new tyre at the end of the session. But in the afternoon Maverick again did a very good lap time and I’m still in the top-10 even though I didn’t do a fantastic lap, I made some mistakes. We have to work on some points, especially to understand which rear tyre we should use for the race, but it looks like we can be a bit more competitive.”
Miller perhaps a dark horse this weekend
Jack Miller was well inside that top ten in FP1 where the young Aussie finished in P4 but a lack of progress in FP2, and the fact that he could not gel with the soft front tyre in FP2 saw Miller end day one 11th on the combined timesheets. Miller was the fastest Ducati during testing here early in the year and seems to enjoy the circuit, and of course with the ever present threat of a monsoonal downpour in this part of the world Miller is always going to be a chance.
Jack Miller – P11
“It wasn’t a bad day but I’m a little disappointed with the FP2’s time attack. I expected more from the soft tyres, especially from the front one which didn’t help me in braking areas. All things considered, we are still very confident for tomorrow’s qualifying”.
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