2020 MotoGP Round 13 – Valencia – Friday
Jack Miller (Pramac Racing) was the master of Day 1 at the Gran Premio de Europa in mixed conditions. A wet morning followed by a drying Circuit Ricardo Tormo saw the Australian set a best time of a 1:32.528 to take to the top, 0.092 ahead of second fastest Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini).
Franco Morbidelli (Petronas Yamaha SRT) was two tenths off Miller in FP2 to take third, fastest of the top six in the title fight. Friday also saw all six manufacturers represented in the top six, and the top four all hailed from Independent Teams.
Some drama hit for title challenger Maverick Viñales (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) though. The Spaniard will have to start the race from pitlane on Sunday, five seconds after the green light at pit exit, after uncorking a new engine outside of his original allocation of five. On the flip side, that will enable Vinales to spend all of his time on Saturday running on race set-up as he has no need to try for any single fast qualifying laps. Penalty Notice link follows 2020 MotoGP Round 13-Valencia-Fri-GP13_EUR_20_Vinales_MGP_12_Engine_Durability.
Valentino Rossi returns to his YZR-M1 for Saturday and Sunday in Valencia, having now returned the required two negative test results for Covid-19.
Miller was the fastest man in a rain-soaked start to the GP, heading Morbidelli by half a second by the end of FP1. Stefan Bradl (Repsol Honda Team) was third quickest, ahead of Johann Zarco (Esponsorama Racing) and Alex Marquez (Repsol Honda Team), who completed the top five despite a crash.
Of the other top six title challengers, Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team) ended FP1 in P9 just ahead of Viñales in P10. Team Suzuki Ecstar’s Alex Rins was in P13, whereas Championship leader and his teammate Joan Mir. The man second in the standings, Fabio Quartararo (Petronas Yamaha SRT), was last on the timesheets after a tougher morning.
Throughout the session, many eyes were on Garrett Gerloff (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) as the American headed out on track for the first time subbing for Valentino Rossi on Day 1. The performance was exemplary, the WorldSBK podium finisher ending the session in P16 – right ahead of Championship leader Mir and only a second and a half off the top.
Francesco Bagnaia (Pramac Racing) crashed unhurt at Turn 2.
With the rain halting for the time being in Valencia, a few of the riders headed straight out on slicks. A dry line had appeared by the end of the Moto3 session but there were still plenty of ominous-looking clouds hovering over the Circuit Ricardo Tormo, despite track temperatures holding at a steady 20 degrees Celsius.
On his first flying lap, Championship leader Mir set the fastest lap of the weekend – a 1:41.581, four tenths faster than Miller’s FP1 time in the wet. But the number 36 then had a moment on his second flying lap and that proved good warning that the track was still very treacherous, and the stakes high. The riders were pushing though and the red sector times were everywhere, vital track time on slick tyres ahead of what could be a wet FP3 – so crucial for an automatic place in Q2.
Despite the slight scare though, Mir was still setting the pace early doors – before Miller set a 1:37.029 to go top. From there the Championship leader was bumped down and further down to find himself in P16 with 28 minutes to go, such were the improving conditions. Meanwhile Bagnaia was feeling no ill effects from his Turn 2 crash this morning to slot into P2 midway through FP2, making it a Pramac Racing 1-2, before Gerloff stole a little more limelight.
The American enjoyed an incredible FP1 and it only continued in the afternoon. In the mixed conditions, he shot up to P5 with just under 20 minutes to go – continuing the impressive display at a track he’s never raced before. With the news that Rossi will be able to compete in the rest of the weekend confirmed on Friday, Gerloff most certainly made the most of the two sessions he was on the bike.
Meanwhile, Alex Rins had taken over at the top from Miguel Oliveira (Red Bull KTM Tech3) and Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda Idemitsu) as the rain held off. Mir then shot up to P3 as the riders headed out on soft tyres in a pretty important final 12 minutes, with rain potentially disrupting FP3 on Saturday morning. The times were being made to count and Pol Espargaro (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) took over in P1 with a 1:33.229 as Miller moved back into P2, but then Pol Espargaro upped the ante even further with a 1:32.952. That was the benchmark with eight minutes to go.
Morbidelli and Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda Castrol) then took turns as nearest challenger, and drama hit for Danilo Petrucci (Ducati Team) as he crashed at the final corner – completing the lap at a brisk jog, back into pitlane on foot. Unfortunately, the effort to get back was in vain as his second bike wasn’t ready to head out for the final couple of minutes.
In those final couple of minutes, rather crucially, Championship leader Mir was P12. His teammate Rins popped up into P8, before Mir then went P6 just before the chequered flag came out to get back into that all-important top ten. Quartararo was still lingering in P17, but that changed on his final lap as the Frenchman shot up to P6 – and Morbidelli took over at the top. It wasn’t over yet, however, as Miller then produced a late time attack masterpiece to claim P1 for the second time on Friday. Finally, Aleix Espargaro demoted Morbidelli and slotted his Aprilia into second – which also dropped Mir down to 11th. For the moment…
Behind the top three, Nakagami holds P4 overall as the Japanese rider finishes less than a tenth ahead of Pol Espargaro, with Rins’ P6 that final glorious piece to make it six manufacturers inside the top six on the combined timesheets. Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) landed a last lap good enough to put the South African P7 too, the rookie finishing just ahead of Dovizioso and Quartararo. The two title contenders are joined by Championship leader Mir in the top 10 after all, however, with a lap cancelled for Crutchlow due to a yellow flag infringement and that dropping the British rider to P12. Viñales splits Mir and the Brit, P11 overall, but the number 12 knows he has to start from pitlane.
Gerloff eventually finished P19 at the end of his only day’s work this weekend, but the American was just 1.5 seconds off Miller to add quite an accomplishment to his CV.
Valentino Rossi returns to his YZR-M1 for Saturday and Sunday in Valencia, having now returned the required two negative test results for Covid-19.
Friday MotoGP Rider Reflections
Jack Miller – P1
“I’m happy with how we started this morning and in the afternoon we even improved. We still have to work on some things but we are on the right way and the feeling with the bike is perfect. So far we have not found any grip problems so we will try to continue in this way.”
Aleix Espargaro – P2
“A strange day overall. This morning we lapped in the wet and it was the first good news for me. In fact, we changed the RS-GP compared to Le Mans, where I didn’t feel very good in the rain, and I must say that I felt more competitive straight away. The bike gained stability and I enjoyed riding. The first part of FP2 was rather risky with some demanding conditions. I usually have a low heart rate, but his afternoon it was beating a lot faster! The track improved progressively, so toward the end it was almost perfect and the times reflect that. I am satisfied.”
Franco Morbidelli – P3
“The conditions were not the best today: it was wet this morning and then this afternoon the track was a mix of wet and dry. It was a good day though as we were fast in both conditions. This afternoon I took it a bit easy to begin with, until I knew what the track was like, and then attempted the time attack to get into the top-ten. We managed to get into the top-three, which was a great performance, so I am very happy about that. It was good to see that we can be fast in both dry and wet conditions. We now have to wait and see what the weather’s like tomorrow: if it is wet then we can gather more data, if it’s dry then we can push to go quicker.”
Takaaki Nakagami – P4
“Today both sessions were very tricky, in FP1 it was wet conditions and we just tried to stay on the track and get some more feedback on the bike, which is good. FP2 was mixed conditions, some corners had a lot of wet patches and were very tricky. At the end, lap-by-lap I was improving my riding style and adapting to these conditions and we ended in P4 which is good. The performance all session was quite competitive and we’re going in the right direction. Hopefully we can keep this performance going tomorrow and the key thing is to stay in the top 10 in FP3 and go through to Q2.”
Alex Rins – P6
“The conditions were really difficult, it seemed like the track was fully wet for FP1 but there wasn’t actually much standing water so we struggled a bit with finding the grip level. In FP2 the conditions were also mixed, so it was quite hard to push. But my target was to be in the Top 10 and I achieved that with sixth place, so let’s see what happens tomorrow. I really like riding here, so I’m aiming for a good result.”
Andrea Dovizioso – P8
“Today, it was crucial to finish in the top ten, as there is a chance that it will rain tomorrow. Unfortunately, it wasn’t a linear day: the mixed conditions of the track, not extremely wet this morning and not completely dry this afternoon, did not allow us to significantly tests ahead of Sunday’s race. We hope that the weather will improve for tomorrow.”
Fabio Quartararo – P9
“FP1 was not good for us today: we tried many things to improve the feeling on the bike during the session, but we couldn’t find what we needed to. We planned a very different set-up for FP2, but then we had the mixed conditions, so we couldn’t try it. We might be able to try it tomorrow though if it rains. Although I struggled with the feeling today, I’m actually quite happy because we made it into the top-ten. This was important because it looks like tomorrow morning will be wet and we wanted to be in the Q2 places. I used the soft tyres today and I think the mediums might have been better for us, but it’s only Free Practice. I’m happy with the job we did and now we focus on tomorrow.”
Joan Mir – P10
“I’m coming into this weekend focused on my goal and today we got a lot of work to do in preparation for the race. It was quite tricky because the conditions of the track weren’t easy, so it was a bit difficult to set fast lap times and instead we worked on setup. I’m already inside the Top 10, so if it’s wet or cold tomorrow morning I could go directly to Q2, but either way I’m satisfied with 10th place today and we’ll keep working – I’ll just keep doing my best.”
Maverick Vinales – P11
“We’ve been managing the races with the engines we had left after we sealed one in Jerez. But before coming here, we saw that the last one I had left in my allocation was a bit damaged and we decided that it wouldn’t be safe to use it. If I did, we would risk putting oil on the track, and other riders could have had a big crash because of it. So we decided to put safety first and put in a new engine. We know I will have to start the race from pit lane because of this, but there’s nothing we can do about it. For sure it makes the fight for the title harder, but anything can happen in MotoGP. We’ll see. I’ll keep an open mind for this weekend. I don’t want to put a limit on myself. We’ll see if we can take away something positive from this GP.”
Cal Crutchlow – P12
“Today was a strange day on the track in Valencia because of the conditions. In the rain I didn’t feel too bad, even though the lap time didn’t show that and I believe we made some improvements in the session. If tomorrow is wet as well, we’ll be a lot faster. I didn’t really want to take any risks in the morning session, in the afternoon I rode well, I pushed well, but unfortunately race direction took my fastest lap time away due to a flag infringement. I couldn’t see the yellow flag and it seems completely impossible to see the yellow flag from the position I was in on the bike. So we’ll have to see the situation there, because if tomorrow morning is wet, we’ll have to do Q1 instead of being directly through to Q2 which I would have been, so it’s a little bit disappointing.”
Miguel Oliveira – P13
“This second session today was good, I had a strong feeling overall. Just on the last exit, there was a little misunderstanding and we didn’t change the front tyre, but just the rear. I still improved, but it was not what we needed to reach the top 10 today. I’m a bit disappointed about that. Anyway, it’s clear, what we need to do tomorrow.”
Stefan Bradl – P14
“It was not a bad day today, straight away in FP1 I had a good feeling with the bike and good confidence on rain tyres. This was a good start to the weekend. The afternoon was a little trickier with the drying conditions, but I think I could have had a better lap. Some small mistakes meant we missed the top ten today but overall it’s a positive day. We are looking good in these conditions so let’s see what happens with the weather and try to keep our position. It’s really tight here so even a small step can be a big improvement.”
Pecco Bagnaia – P15
“I feel quite satisfied, this morning I was not bad on the water sin that in the turn two i crashed but it was really slippery. This afternoon the feeling was positive, I felt good, we made a mistake probably using the new tire immediately. But I am happy and I have good feelings.”
Alex Marquez – P16
“Another day of learning MotoGP in different conditions as the track was changing in the morning so I was able to take profit of this time to understand how the tyres and bike behave. Then in the afternoon we had a track dry enough for slicks but it was not fully dry. I am physically OK after the crash; it was not a problem. Times are again very close, so I am not too worried about our final position as we’ll push again in FP3.”
Johann Zarco – P17
“Today was a strange day, especially in the afternoon. In the morning we started in the wet, I didn’t have a good feeling, but I could still go fast. In the afternoon the track had many patches, I was very afraid of stepping on any of them and falling, and with this fear you are unable to go faster. I am disappointed that I did not manage to be in the top 10, which is very important, especially because of the rainfall for tomorrow. In any case, we will adapt as best as possible to the track conditions.”
Danilo Petrucci – P18
“We were fast in both sessions on this first day. Unfortunately, in FP2, I crashed, and although I was able to return to the pit garage, I couldn’t get back on track for the last minutes of the session. Now let’s hope that the weather holds up for tomorrow morning. If the track is dry, I can try to improve my lap time in FP3 and aim to finish within the top ten.”
Garrett Gerloff – P19
“The M1 is quite a bit different from the superbike. The M1 is basically the R1, but at another level. But it’s still a very friendly bike to ride. It wasn’t too much of an animal, but it was definitely superfast. The tyres were amazing, especially this morning in the wet, and even later when the track was a little bit more half-and-half, I still felt pretty confident going over the wet areas with the slicks. All in all, it was just an amazing experience. It was unreal coming back after the second session and seeing Valentino right there and saying ‘Hey, awesome job, man!’ I mean, that is something that dreams are made of, you know? So, I’m super happy to have been able to do it and just a big thanks to Yamaha for giving me the opportunity.”
Lorenzo Savadori – P20
“What’s the saying – a wet début is a lucky début? It was definitely fantastic for me, even though it wasn’t easy, given the conditions. I have already learned a lot – where I need to improve and where the others make the difference. We plan to move forward step by step. Right now, it is important for me to get in as many miles as possible. If I had to analyse my performance, I’d say that we need to focus most of all on cornering. I know the guys already have a few changes in mind to meet my needs, so tomorrow we’ll try to make another step forward.”
Tito Rabat – P21
“A first day with very difficult track conditions to which I was unable to adapt. Both in the afternoon and in the morning, I have not had a good feeling with the bike. Looking forward to tomorrow we hope to take a big step forward and regain feeling on the track”
Friday MotoGP Combined Practice Times
Enea Bastianini (Italtrans Racing Team) left it late but turned the tables on Sam Lowes (EG 0,0 Marc VDS) by the end of play on Day 1 in Valencia, the ‘Beast’ denying key rival and Championship leader Lowes by just 0.057. Joe Roberts (Tennor American Racing) was third fastest, the American making his presence felt at the top in the afternoon. Wet in the morning and dry – ish – in the afternoon, laptimes tumbled but remained far from those set in ideal conditions. Jake Dixon fell and has a suspected broken wrist. Australian Remy Gardner was sixth quickest on Friday.
Friday Moto2 Combined Practice Times
|5||F.Di Giannanto||SPEED UP||+0.262|
Celestino Vietti (Sky Racing Team VR46) was fastest on Friday at the Gran Premio de Europa, the Italian therefore also the top title challenger on the timesheets after a day of tricky conditions. Vietti led 2019 Valencia GP winner Sergio Garcia (Estrella Galicia 0,0) by a couple of tenths, with Romano Fenati (Sterilgarda Max Racing Team) in hot pursuit in third.
Friday Moto3 Combined Practice Times
MotoGP World Championship Standings
2020 MotoGP Calendar
|13||08 November||Comunitat Valenciana-Ricardo Tormo|
|14||15 November||Comunitat Valenciana-Ricardo Tormo|
|15||22 November||Autodromo Internacional do Algarve|
Comunitat Valenciana-Ricardo Tormo Schedule (AEST)