Dani Pedrosa the only man under the two minute barrier after a rain-affected and damp day
2017 MotoGP content on MCNews.com.au brought to you by Honda Genuine Oils
2017 MotoGP content on MCNews.com.au brought to you by Honda Genuine Oils
MotoGP 2017 – Round 14 – Aragon

Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda Team) is the man with a target on his back after Day 1 at the Gran Premio Movistar de Aragon, as the 2012 winner at the track went fastest in FP2 to top the combined timesheets on – the only man under the two minute barrier after weather affected track time for the premier class. Jorge Lorenzo (Ducati Team) was second quickest after similarly striking late on in the second session, ahead of rookie Johann Zarco (Monster Yamaha Tech 3).

Dani Pedrosa – P1

“I’m happy with this day, even if it was obviously a bit strange. Both times when we were preparing to go on track, it started to rain and we had to change setup and tyres. As it happened, we never had the opportunity to fit the slicks and didn’t do a lot of laps in the rain either because the track was wet, though not too much. This afternoon in particular, the last part of the track was almost dry, the long corner and the straight, and the tyres warmed up quite a lot. Tomorrow we’ll see which conditions we’ll have and what feeling we’ll be able to find.”

Dani Pedrosa
Dani Pedrosa

Jorge Lorenzo – P2

“I’m satisfied with my day because I was one of the quickest riders both in the morning and the afternoon, but the conditions in both sessions were very strange. The track surface was neither dry nor completely wet, so it is very difficult to draw any important conclusions after practice. I would have preferred to lap in dry conditions but just when we were about to go out on track it began to rain. Luckily the forecast for tomorrow says the weather is going to be good so we should have a chance to work better.”

Jorge Lorenzo
Jorge Lorenzo

FP1 was fully wet and saw reigning Champion Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) hit the ground running to go quickest, and the local rider was fourth overall after FP2. The skies were largely dry for the second session, but riders remained on rain tyres with some parts of the track much wetter than others and spray kicking up. That’s when Pedrosa and Lorenzo shone and laptimes improved, with the man in fifth also impressing – Pull&Bear Aspar Team’s Karel Abraham.

Johann Zarco – P3

“I am pretty happy about the opening day in Aragon. For me, it was good to do my first laps on a MotoGP bike here whilst it was wet. When it’s like this, I can take more time and I don’t need to stress too much. This is because when you have to push from the first lap onwards in the dry, it is quite difficult and then you can get a bit tired by Sunday. Therefore, I’m pleased that it was wet today and also, the feeling was positive. In Misano, I didn’t have a lot of confidence in the rain because of the asphalt. Yet, the track is good here and I was able to manage well and improve lap after lap. Even this afternoon, I lost some positions but I kept calm, waited and then pushed at the end of the session. Now, I am ready for tomorrow.”

Johann Zarco
Johann Zarco

Marc Marquez – P4

“Today was good, even if it was a particular one. In these kinds of conditions, it’s not possible to understand too much. The track was wet in the morning, whereas it dried quite a lot in the afternoon, toward the end of FP2. We decided not to take risks in the changing conditions and remained in the garage in the last minutes. Today it was actually good to work to reach a good feeling with the bike, but at the same time it was impossible to gather much information. Anyway, I felt good with the bike from the first lap. I was fast, so at the moment everything looks under control. Apparently it should be dry tomorrow and Sunday, so we’ll keep pushing and see where we are in dry conditions.”

Marc Marquez
Marc Marquez

Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda) had a good first day to go P6, ahead of compatriot Sam Lowes (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini) in an impressive seventh – the man who won the intermediate class race at the track last season.

Cal Crutchlow – P6

“It was not too bad, as you probably saw in that (second) session it was a little bit sore on my arm today, probably because this is a left-handed circuit and I’m still holding the bars really differently as I have to keep the finger completely straight. But we’ll work on that and see if we can improve that for tomorrow by moving the position of the bars a little bit.“I felt good and quite comfortable with the bike overall. I didn’t feel fantastic, but if we had been racing today we would have been competitive which is pleasing”. 

Cal Crutchlow
Cal Crutchlow

Sam Lowes – P7

“I think the Valencia test helped us. We were able to use a few solutions, especially in terms of electronics strategies. In these particular conditions today, I was fast without making any mistakes. It’s nice to be able to show my potential, although I would prefer to do so on a dry track. Tomorrow in FP3, there will be a lot of riders pushing to go straight through to Q2 and I wouldn’t mind that result, but I will be focusing on preparing for the race. This will be my first time here at Aragón on the MotoGP bike and I really like this track, so working with Sunday in mind is the most important thing.”

Sam Lowes
Sam Lowes

Championship challenger Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team) had a more muted Day 1 on the timesheets for eighth overall, just ahead of the second Aprilia of Aleix Espargaro.

Andrea Dovizioso – P8

“Today we weren’t very lucky because it started to rain just before each session and this made the day virtually useless. We worked a bit on the electronics, but as there was too little water on the track and the tyres wore out very quickly so we only did the required number of laps to set a top-ten time and tomorrow we’ll have to start from scratch.”

Andrea Dovizioso
Andrea Dovizioso

Aleix Espargaro – P9

“I like this track a lot and it is a good fit for the qualities of the RS-GP, so it was a pity not to be able to take full advantage of this first day. With the wet tyre, but not much water on the track, the conditions were less than ideal but we were able to be rather competitive. Tomorrow will be complicated. We will not have much time to test the tyres for the race where it will be crucial to make a good choice, since the forecast is calling for very high temperatures.”

Aleix Espargaro
Aleix Espargaro

His brother Pol Espargaro (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) was another top performer on Day 1, locking out the top ten on the KTM.

Alvaro Bautista (Pull&Bear Aspar Team), Jack Miller (EG 0,0 Marc VDS), Bradley Smith (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing), Andrea Iannone (Team Suzuki Ecstar) and wildcard KTM test rider Mika Kallio (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) – who was fifth in the wetter FP1 session – completed the top fifteen on combined times for Friday.

Jack Miller – P12

“It’s been a strange day for us today because it was wet this morning and starting to dry out towards the end of FP1. There was a small dry line where you could push a little bit harder but we couldn’t run anything like the pace we’d normally see on a fully dry surface. I feel like I’ve got a strong pace in full wet conditions and I’m happy with my pace on a drying track on rain tyres too. All in all, it was a pretty positive day but I think we can expect a pretty hectic FP3 tomorrow morning with everybody attacking for the top 10. It should be fun and I hope to be in the mix.”

Jack Miller
Jack Miller

It wasn‘t all smooth sailing over at the Movistar Yamaha garage. A search for a good set-up at the wet MotorLand Aragón track was the main challenge for the riders, who secured 17th and 20th place respectively. 

Massimo Meregalli Movistar Yamaha Team Director

“It has been a challenging start to the weekend for us. We suffered a lot due to a lack of grip. After Misano, we were not expecting to face this setback. Both Maverick and Valentino didn‘t get a good feeling on the bike and were experiencing a lot of spin, which caused a loss in power and prevented them from riding the way they wanted to. We didn‘t know what to expect from Vale on this first day of riding, but the wet conditions gave him a smooth transition coming back from injury. Today‘s goal was for him to get familiarised with the bike again. However, we are expecting dry conditions tomorrow and only then will we truly know where he stands.”

Valentino Rossi
Valentino Rossi

Viñales was eager to make strides in his championship quest at the start of this weekend, but sudden rain at the beginning of FP1 spoiled his plans. After a quick dry-to-wet set-up change, the Spaniard was cautious not to take unnecessary risks, as the weather forecast for the remainder of the weekend is ‘dry’. He set a fastest lap of 2’04.098s to finish the 45-minute session in 20th place, 2.855s from the front.

As the rain persisted in the afternoon, the local hero was determined to step up his pace by trying a new wet weather setting, but wheelspin kept him from threatening the top of the charts. He continued to work on the adjustment of the set-up throughout the session. His last run moved him up to 17th place in the final minute, when he dropped a 2’01.632s, securing 17th place, both in the FP2 and the combined results, with a 1.774s gap to first.

Maverick Vinales – P17

“It was very complicated. We were trying a new set-up for the wet, but unfortunately we didn‘t find a way to improve. We‘re having so much spin, the bike is not riding well, so we have many problems to set a good lap time. Luckily, it will be dry and we know we will have a strong package for those conditions. We are going to try to improve on the wet. We are trying and trying, but sometimes it gets difficult. We didn‘t improve compared to Misano, we took some steps back whilst trying to improve, but we‘re going to keep trying to do our best.”

Maverick Vinales
Maverick Vinales

Teammate Rossi made his highly-anticipated comeback to MotoGP racing this morning after 21 days of recovery since sustaining a leg injury. He started the FP1 session with the goal of getting a good feeling aboard the YZR-M1 again. After a brief period of familiarisation, he made his first steps forward whilst working on his bike‘s setting and clocked a 2’04.066s for 18th, 2.823s from the top of the timesheets.

Valentino Rossi
Valentino Rossi

The rain continued to add slipperiness as an extra challenge, but the Italian kept focused on perfecting his bike‘s set-up. He impressed with some red sectors throughout the session and improved on his morning time by more than two seconds, when he set a 2’01.917s, 2.059s from first. He wrapped up the first day in Spain in 20th place in the combined timesheets. 

Valentino Rossi – P20

“I‘m quite happy, because I feel comfortable on the bike. I was good already from this morning and also because the leg, after two practice sessions, is in a good condition, I don‘t feel a lot of pain. For sure on the wet it‘s a bit easier, because it‘s less demanding to ride the bike, but I hope we will have better weather conditions tomorrow and on Sunday, in order to try to understand my level on the dry and also so we can work on the setting and the tyres.”

Valentino Rossi
Valentino Rossi
MotoGP 2017 – Round 14 – Aragon – Friday Practice Times
  1. PEDROSA Dani 26 SPA Repsol Honda Team Honda 1’59.858
  2. LORENZO Jorge 99 SPA Ducati Team Ducati 0.214
  3. ZARCO Johann 5 FRA Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Yamaha 0.462
  4. MARQUEZ Marc 93 SPA Repsol Honda Team Honda 0.601
  5. ABRAHAM Karel 17 CZE Pull&Bear Aspar Team Ducati 0.613
  6. CRUTCHLOW Cal 35 GBR LCR Honda Honda 0.624
  7. LOWES Sam 22 GBR Aprilia Racing Team Gresini Aprilia 0.727
  8. DOVIZIOSO Andrea 4 ITA Ducati Team Ducati 1.104
  9. ESPARGARO Aleix 41 SPA Aprilia Racing Team Gresini Aprilia 1.157
  10. ESPARGARO Pol 44 SPA Red Bull KTM Factory Racing KTM 1.184
  11. BAUTISTA Alvaro 19 SPA Pull&Bear Aspar Team Ducati 1.245
  12. MILLER Jack 43 AUS Team EG 0,0 Marc VDS Honda 1.291
  13. SMITH Bradley 38 GBR Red Bull KTM Factory Racing KTM 1.492
  14. IANNONE Andrea 29 ITA Team Suzuki Ecstar Suzuki 1.613
  15. KALLIO Mika 36 FIN Red Bull KTM Factory Racing KTM 1.634
  16. REDDING Scott 45 GBR Octo Pramac Racing Ducati 1.658
  17. VINALES Maverick 25 SPA Movistar Yamaha MotoGP Yamaha 1.774
  18. FOLGER Jonas 94 GER Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Yamaha 1.887
  19. PETRUCCI Danilo 9 ITA Octo Pramac Racing Ducati 1.952
  20. ROSSI Valentino 46 ITA Movistar Yamaha MotoGP Yamaha 2.059
  21. RINS Alex 42 SPA Team Suzuki Ecstar Suzuki 2.219
  22. RABAT Tito 53 SPA Team EG 0,0 Marc VDS Honda 2.534
  23. BAZ Loris 76 FRA Reale Avintia Racing Ducati 2.819
  24. BARBERA Hector 8 SPA Reale Avintia Racing Ducati 3.077
MotoGP 2017 - Round 14 - Aragon - Friday Combined Practice Times
MotoGP 2017 – Round 14 – Aragon – Friday Combined Practice Times
Dani Pedrosa
Dani Pedrosa

Moto2 – Mattia Pasini heads Franco Morbidelli at MotorLand

As Moto2 wrapped up their second Free Practice session at the Gran Premio Movistar de Aragón, it was a case of history repeating with Mattia Pasini (Italtrans Racing Team) taking P1 while battling current Championship leader Franco Morbidelli (EG 0,0 Marc VDS). Finishing just 0.194 behind his fellow Italian, Morbidelli again secured P2 from Takaaki Nakagami (Idemitsu Honda Team Asia), as the trio closed out Day 1 in the same order as the recent Misano GP.

Not able to break through to the 54’s – Sandro Cortese (Dynavolt Intact GP) still enjoyed a quick second session to take P4 in front of Simone Corsi (Speed Up Racing). Corsi improved lap times considerably during a dry FP2, jumping to fifth overall as the chequered flag dropped and pushed Miguel Oliveira (Red Bull KTM Ajo) into sixth place.

Moto2 - Mattia Pasini heads Franco Morbidelli at MotorLand
Moto2 – Mattia Pasini heads Franco Morbidelli at MotorLand

Jorge Navarro (Federal Oil Gresini Moto2) was the only incident during FP2 – losing the front and falling at turn 12 in the very final minute. However, before crashing out, the Spaniard did manage to secure P7 on the timesheets, as well as the being the fastest rookie. Tom Lüthi (CarXpert Interwetten) lost race pace as the rain cleared and finished eighth over the combined sessions, with the top 10 completed by Tech 3 Racing’s Xavi Vierge in ninth and Pons HP40 rider Fabio Quartararo in the tenth position.

Marcel Schrotter (Dynavolt Intact GP) held P11 at the close of Day 1, the German rider 0.044 seconds ahead of Misano GP winner Dominique Aegerter (Kiefer Racing) in P12. Stefano Manzi (SKY Racing Team VR46) improved on his FP1 position to take P13, followed by rookie riders Augusto Fernandez (Speed up Racing) in fourteenth and Iker Lecuona (Garage Plus Interwetten) in fifteenth.

Remy Gardner produced a determined display in FP2 to end up only four-tenths of a second behind his teammate. The young Australian, who will remain with Tech3 for 2018, aims to take advantage of the expected dry weather tomorrow and clinch a strong qualifying position for the race on Sunday.

Remy Gardner – P20

“It was a strange first day here in Spain, but I’m ready for tomorrow. FP1 was wet but then this afternoon, it started to clear and we got a little bit of dry track time. The first feelings were not bad, yet, we still need to get more out of me as well as the bike. I am also very happy to say that I will stay with the Tech3 Racing Team for the 2018 season, which I am stoked for, and the hard work starts now.”

Remy Gardner
Remy Gardner
MotoGP 2017 - Round 14 - Aragon - Friday Combined Practice Times - Moto2
MotoGP 2017 – Round 14 – Aragon – Friday Combined Practice Times – Moto2

Aron Canet was the cream of the Moto3 crop on Day 1

Aron Canet (Estrella Galicia 0,0) topped Day 1 of the Gran Premio Movistar de Aragon, with his fastest lap from the morning session remaining the quickest on the combined timesheets after some rain in the mid part of the day. FP2 began wet and then subsequently dried out, but with times remaining slower than FP1. The Spaniard was quickest from compatriot and Championship leader Joan Mir (Leopard Racing) by only thousandths overall, and the slightly slower laptimes for both riders put them 1-2 again on the slower timesheets in FP2 – but in reverse order.

Niccolo Antonelli (Red Bull KTM Ajo) got the Aragon GP off to a good start as he was third overall with his lap from FP1, and backed that up with P5 in the afternoon. Enea Bastianini (Estrella Galicia 0,0) also had good pace, P4 on combined timesheets from the morning and third quickest later in the day.

Jorge Martin (Del Conca Gresini Moto3) completes the top five on Day 1 from his home GP, and the Spaniard sat out the majority of FP2 to not run the risk in the conditions, venturing out once the track was dry.

Nicolo Bulega (Sky Racing Team VR46), Tatsuki Suzuki (SIC58 Squadra Corse) and Bo Bendsneyder (Red Bull KTM Ajo) were P6 to P8 respectively, with title challenger Romano Fenati (Marinelli Rivacold Snipers) in ninth. Marcos Ramirez (Platinum Bay Real Estate) completed the top ten.

Dennis Foggia (Sky Junior Team VR46 Academy) had an impressive first day as a wildcard in eleventh, ahead of rookie Ayumu Sasaki (SIC Racing Team). Sasaki was the first of the improvers and took P12 with his FP2 laptime. Marco Bezzecchi (CIP) was another to move up in the afternoon and was thirteenth quickest, with compatriots Andrea Migno (Sky Racing Team VR46) – recently announced at Aspar in the category next year – and Fabio Di Giannantonio (Del Conca Gresini Moto3) locking out the fastest fifteen in Friday.

MotoGP 2017 - Round 14 - Aragon - Friday Combined Practice Times - Moto3
MotoGP 2017 – Round 14 – Aragon – Friday Combined Practice Times – Moto3