The MotoGP World Championship returned from its summer break to provide copious amounts of entertainment on the first day of practice at the Red Bull Indianapolis Grand Prix.
It was Jorge Lorenzo who took advantage of the blue skies and almost ideal conditions (47ºC Track Temp) to top both Free Practice sessions ahead of Repsol Honda’s Marc Marquez. FP2 saw grip levels improved from the morning session as riders bedded in the track, and Lorenzo left it until his very last lap to set a 1’32.860. The double MotoGP World Champion topping the timesheets at a track that has traditionally played to the Honda’s strengths, with Lorenzo the last non-Honda rider to taste victory back in 2009.
Jorge Lorenzo – P1 – “I’m very happy, because with every change we made we were able to improve the bike a bit. I’m riding very well and had a good feeling with the bike so I was able to ride close to the limit for the moment. We had the same sensation with the harder tyre, while other riders had used a new soft tyre they couldn’t even get close to our time, so that was a very good sign in the morning and we confirmed it in the afternoon. Let’s see if we continue working this way and we’ll concentrate on improving the bike even more.”
Marquez was just three thousandths of a second further back in second overall and was the only other rider to break the 1’33 barrier, as he looks to make it 3 MotoGP wins in a row at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Marc Marquez – P2 – “It was the first day back after the break and I think it went pretty well overall. I felt comfortable on the bike and that is the most important thing. The track is gaining grip but we must continue working in the same way in order to continue improving. Currently Jorge is the rider that seems to be strongest, but tomorrow we will try to get a little closer to him.”
Ducati Team’s Andrea Dovizioso (+0.295s) completed the provisional front row ahead of his teammate Andrea Iannone (0.306s) in fourth, as they both seemed to benefit from a private test at Misano during the summer break.
Andrea Dovizioso – P3 – “I am quite pleased with the feeling today with my Desmosedici GP15. The base setting is good, but we still have a few limits and above all an annoying vibration at the front. There are various points of the track where I am unable to push as hard as I would like and on my fastest lap I also risked crashing by almost losing the front. We will have to work hard to improve our pace, especially because the top two are still some way ahead.”
Andrea Iannone – P4 – “All things considered today didn’t go bad at all, however I am not entirely satisfied because I feel we still have to work on various aspects if we want to have the right pace to be competitive throughout the weekend. For sure we are in a better position than in the last three races, and this is positive: in the afternoon we succeeded in improving our lap time a lot, but we still have to find a way to give me a better feeling with the bike.”
CWM LCR Honda’s Cal Crutchlow (+0.326s) improved by over a second throughout the day to finish as the leading Satellite rider in fifth, ahead of Pol Espargaro (+502s) on the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 M1 who suffered a nasty looking highside at the end of FP2 at turn 13.
Cal Crutchlow – P5 – “Today wasn’t a bad day, we’re quite happy at the moment although we need to improve our pace for tomorrow. The track was really difficult and we had to change the tyre in the end to go a bit quicker, whereas the top three riders didn’t so they seem to have a little advantage over us at the moment. Anyway, I am happy and confident with the work we have done so far. The CWM LCR Honda team are doing a great job and I am looking forward to riding tomorrow. I really think we can improve our lap time and overall position.”
Pol Espargaro – P6 – “Overall I’m pleased with how today went and it has been nice to be back on my Yamaha YZR-M1 here in Indy. This morning the track was really dirty and the bike was sliding a lot, so I think that neither me nor most of the other riders really felt comfortable at all as the grip level was so low. However, later on in the afternoon, the track conditions improved after the previous Moto2 and Moto3 sessions and the grip had notably increased which allowed us to have a good practice. The session went really well, aside from the crash at the end, which was my mistake, but fortunately there weren’t any consequences for me and there was just a bit of damage to the bike. I felt strong and although there is a margin of improvement to make, I am looking forward to getting back on my bike tomorrow morning.”
Dani Pedrosa (+0.517s) on the second Repsol Honda ended the day in seventh, while Scott Redding (+0.583s) continued to show signs of improvement on the EG 0,0 Marc VDS Honda to finish in eighth. Bradley Smith (Monster Yamaha Tech 3) set a time good enough for ninth overall.
Dani Pedrosa – P7 – “Today we tried the softer tyres in the morning and in the afternoon the harder compound. The track conditions were a little difficult, although they improved as the laps went by. In the afternoon it was quite hot and the tyres stepped out a lot. I’m sure we will have better grip in FP3 and we will go faster. Tomorrow we will try to improve the setup of the bike in the heat and set a good lap in qualifying.”
Scott Redding – P8 – “I felt pretty good on the bike today. The track conditions are quite tricky but the feeling on the bike wasn’t so bad. We just need to work on a few different areas in the second half of the season. I’m working to improve my corner speed, so we have to try a few small changes on the bike to help that. Overall, though, I’m quite happy with today, because I did most of my laps alone. Of course, we need to see what happens over the rest of the weekend but I’m happy to start with this rhythm.”
Bradley Smith – P9 – “It’s been a good start to the weekend and obviously, it’s great to be back on the YZR-M1 again. I have to admit that it does feel a bit strange after riding the YZF-R1 so much during the summer break, but I’m looking forward to seeing what we can do this weekend. We began quite well and I felt good today but unfortunately on my best lap in the afternoon session, I was slowed down by a couple of riders. After the result this morning, we did not panic, because we knew that the track would improve and this afternoon I felt much better on the bike. I was able to ride a really strong and consistent pace on the hard tyre as well as on the soft compound when we tried it at the end of the session. The good thing is the consistency is there already, so now we just need to find the next step in order to go forward, but overall I am quite pleased with the performance. We are just inside the top ten which is where we need to be tomorrow morning, but I am confident that we can have a strong qualifying session, plus the track conditions will improve also. However, we will need to use tomorrow for the race setup because we probably can’t take too much information from today due to the lack of grip. Having said that, we are starting from a good base and that’s what counts for today.”
Current Championship leader Valentino Rossi (Movistar Yamaha) found himself down in tenth on the combined timesheets, 0.672s behind his teammate Lorenzo.
Valentino Rossi – P10 – “It was a difficult Friday, because I wasn’t strong or fast enough, already starting from this morning. We have a lot of problems and I don’t feel good with the bike and was not able to ride at the limit. The main problem is that I didn’t have enough feeling with the front so I had trouble under braking, turning, and also in changing direction I’m very slow. The bike is too lazy and heavy so this means we don’t have the right balance. Like I said, it was a difficult day. We tried the soft tyre at the end and it was a little bit faster, but not enough. For tomorrow it’s very important that we try to understand the problem, do good work with all the data during this night and try to be more competitive, already starting from tomorrow morning, which will be important for the grid. The problem became bigger because Jorge and Marquez are very fast and consistent so we need to improve.”
Avintia Racing’s Hector Barbera was the leading Open class rider in 14th, ahead of the Factory Team Suzuki Ecstar GSX-RR of Aleix Espargaro in 15th.
Espargaro, who was 15th overall, struggled a little to find the best way to make his GSX-RR turn as he wanted, and with his team he tried many changes in his set-up to find consistency. In both sessions his lap-times settled between 10th and 15th position, but registered continuous improvements. At the end of the day his best lap time was 1’34.139 which sets him provisionally in 15th place.
Viñales on his side decided with his crew to change their strategy and to focus entirely on finding the most comfortable and consistent pace. He only used hard tyres and worked hard to improve his lap-times. but keeping a good rhythm. This, however, didn’t prevent him from popping into the top-10 occasionally in FP2 and he ended the day with 1’33.973, which leaves him in 13th place and 1.113s from the provisional leader.
Maverick Viñales – P13 – “It’s been an interesting day because with my crew we decided to change the strategy with which we approach practice compared to previous races and I’m happy to say that so far it worked pretty well. We decided not to pursue immediately the top-10 – which means direct access to Q2 – but to focus in finding the best set-up for consistent pace and improving from that point. This idea came from the feeling that in the race I am always consistent but the starting point of this consistency is too slow to allow me to fight with the top riders. The team has given me positive support with this strategy and we hope I will have a faster starting point and then go from there. This has in fact paid dividends already, because my best lap-time was in the last laps with a tyre that was as worn as if we were at the end of a race. This doesn’t mean that I underestimate the importance of a good fast lap attack: tomorrow we have one more session to enter Q2 and for sure I will pursue the best position possible on the grid, but another thing is that having used only two sets of tyres today – both hard – we have many more options for tomorrow.”
Aleix Espargaro – P15 – “This hasn’t been a good day for me, I struggled a lot in finding a good set-up that could allow me to take corners as I wanted. I felt the bike hard to handle in the slow corners and in turns with a quick change of direction; therefore I struggled to move up in the classification. It’s pretty strange because we had very positive feedback from the work we’ve done in Misano, but today we made a lot of changes but none seemed to improve the situation, therefore during the technical meeting this afternoon the team will try to understand how to be faster and define a way for working tomorrow.”
Jack Miller shook off some rust in the morning’s opening free practice session, when track conditions were not ideal, before making progress in the afternoon.
After shaving 1.2 seconds off his best lap and moving up two positions to finish the opening day in eighteenth, the Australian is confident of finding some extra front-end confidence tomorrow morning’s third free practice as he looks to step up his pace ahead of qualifying in the afternoon.
Jack Miller – P18 – “I’m pretty happy with today, we made a big improvement in the afternoon session although we are still not where I really want to be. In general I am happy with how the bike is feeling but we do need to get the front end working better. We have some ideas and I am looking forward to testing them tomorrow in FP3. Hopefully they work and help us to close that gap to the positions where I think we should be running.”
Hayden’s teammate Eugene Laverty managed to end the day in 19th.
The first day of practice at Indianapolis for the Aprilia Racing Team Gresini had Stefan Bradl making his debut astride the RS-GP, which the German rider will ride in the remaining races of the season. The first laps, straight away on a race weekend, allowed Bradl to gain familiarity with the bike and the team, limiting himself to making small changes in the setup. A lot of attention was focused on ergonomics, the position of the footpegs amd the handlebar as well as the conformation of the saddle in order to find a comfortable triangulation. The opinion at the end of the first day is definitely positive: Stefan found a serious bike with predictable reactions, particularly liking the electronics amd the seamless gearbox. His twentieth final time, two seconds behind the top time, is as encouraging as his improvement of about 1.5 seconds between the two sessions.
Stefan Bradl – P20 – “I’m very happy with the work we did today. This morning I took on an entirely new situation: I was able to see how very professional the team is and that gave me a lot of confidence. Obviously it’s still early to make any kind of real assessment with just two sessions under our belts but the work done today was definitely positive and the bike’s basic performance is good so I’m pleased.. We still have a lot of work ahead of us: tomorrow we’ll have to try and stay focused because we’ll need to continue working on a lot of aspects but I think we will be able to improve going forward step by step.I will also need to be careful because I am still feeling a bit of pain in my right wrist which in any case is not bothering my riding at the moment. I hope it doesn’t get worse but it won’t be easy anyway because I’ve been out of the saddle for six weeks.”
Alvaro Bautista is continuing his development work, bringing to the track his usual professional determination. After an initial session to size up the situation, testing the new asphalt and identifying a base setup, in the afternoon session Alvaro and his team began searching for better traction and solutions to improve performance in turns. The last lap on new tyres should have provided an idea as to the level the Aprilia RS-GP had reached but his efforts went up in smoke due to the traffic that characterises the end of every session. There is a lot of data to be analysed and Alvaro’s path towards improvement will pick up from here tomorrow.
Alvaro Bautista – P21 – “This morning we began our work which was supposed to continue in the afternoon,in particular looking for more grip on the rear and a way to make the RS-GP perform better all around . We tried a few solutions that helped, whereas a new swingarm didn’t give us the results we had expected . I went back to the setting I was most comfortable with and I went out with just a few minutes left in the second session , but in the two laps I took I ran into a lot of traffic and was unable to take advantage of my tyres. Tomorrow we’ll keep going in this direction as we need to improve the setup .”
Toni Elias, who is filling in for the injured Karel Abraham in the AB Motoracing team, finished the day in 23rd.
Reigning Moto2 World Champion Tito Rabat on the EG 0,0 Marc VDS Kalex ended the first day of practice at the Red Bull Grand Prix of Indianapolis on top of the combined timesheets.
Rabat, who was third fastest in FP1, manage to up his pace by almost a second in FP2 as he took advantage of ideal conditions and improving grip levels at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Rabat was the only rider to break the 1’37 barrier, and his 1’36.967 was less than a tenth off the Pole Record (1’36.883s) at the circuit set by Mika Kallio last year. Speed Up Racing’s Sam Lowes was 0.328s further back in second overall, with Takaaki Nakagami (+0.439s) on the Idemitsu Honda Team Asia Kalex completing the provisional front row.
Paginas Amarillas HP40’s Alex Rins (+0.479s) had topped FP1 in the morning but had to settle for fourth overall ahead of the current championship leader Johann Zarco (+0.481s) on the Ajo Motorsport Kalex in fifth.
Italtrans Racing Team’s Mika Kallio (+0553s) followed up his fifth place in FP1 by finishing the day sixth fastest overall ahead of Jonas Folger (+0.593s) on the AGR Team Kalex in seventh.
Franco Morbidelli (Italtrans Racing Team), Thomas Luthi (Derendinger Racing Interwetten) who crashed in FP1 but was unhurt, and Hafizh Syahrin (Petronas Raceline Malaysia) completed the top ten.
Race winner at the German GP Xavier Simeon (Federal Oil Gresini Moto2) found himself down in 15th, while Xavi Vierge, who replaced Ricky Cardus in the Tech 3 team, ended the day in 27th.
Vazquez ends day on top in Moto3
Leopard Racing’s Vazquez left it until his last lap of the day to top the combined Moto3 timesheets after the first day of Free Practice at the Red Bull Indianapolis Grand Prix.
The Spaniard, like most of the other top riders, spent most of FP2 on the same tyres he had used in the morning to try and bed in the track and improve grip levels. With ten minutes to go in the session, riders pitted for fresh rubber and the times began to tumble. Vazquez set a 1’41.266 in almost ideal conditions, with the sun shining and track temperatures reaching 47 °C.
Vazquez finished 0.168s ahead of Estrella Galicia 0,0’s Fabio Quartararo who impressed on his first visit to the circuit.Leopard Racing’s Danny Kent (+0.171s), who had topped the timesheets in FP1 despite a late crash, was the only rider not to improve in the afternoon as he ended the day in third overall.
Ongetta-Rivacold’s Niccolo Antonelli (+0.238s) incredibly managed to end the day in fourth, despite the Italian crashing twice during FP2. Jorge Navarro, who had fractured the 5th metatarsal in his right foot after crashing in FP1, managed to ended the day in fifth after improving by over two seconds in the afternoon. Red Bull KTM Ajo’s Miguel Oliveira was in sixth place, as he showed no ill effects from the surgery on his fractured hand sustained in practice at the German GP.
Karel Hanika (Red Bull KTM Ajo), Enea Bastianini (Gresini Racing Team Moto3), Jorge Martin (Mapfre team Mahindra) and Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Ajo) completing the top ten.
Remy Gardner – P13 –“I’m really happy with today’s result and performance because from the very first moment I’ve felt very comfortable with the track and with my bike settings. We must keep this line and confirm today’s results at qualifying. This is the result of the good job of everybody but Free Practices don’t give points. This must be our goal every day at every Grand Prix and the only way to reach it is keeping working”.
Husqvarna Factory Laglisse’s debutant Lorenzo Dalla Porta impressed in 15th on his debut, while the man he replaced Isaac Viñales, ended the day in 17th as he fills in for the injured Anna Carrasco in the RBA Racing Team. Scottish rider John McPhee struggled on the SAXOPRINT RTG Honda and could only manage to finish in 31st place, 2.141s behind Vazquez.
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