Jorge Lorenzo picks up where he left off…
Mugello race winner Jorge Lorenzo (Ducati Team) was the man to beat on the opening day at the Gran Premi Monster Energy de Catalunya, ending FP2 top of the timesheets after setting a 1:38.930 – the only rider to step under the 1:39 bracket and fastest overall.
The Spaniard improved his time by over 0.8 seconds from FP1 after finishing third in the morning, laying down the gauntlet ahead of qualifying on Saturday.
“We have begun this Catalan GP weekend well and have shown that we have a very competitive base. The track has changed but my feelings are very good and in addition the Montmeló circuit has always been one of those where I manage to get the best out of my riding style. Ever since the test a few weeks ago we were convinced that we could be very quick here and we confirmed it both this morning and in the afternoon, when we also lapped with a very good race pace. We must continue in this way tomorrow to try and get a front-row grid start, which will be very important for the race.”
Andrea Iannone (Team Suzuki Ecstar) was able to bounce back after a crash in FP1 and the Italian was the only rider to get within 0.4 seconds of the number 99 on Friday.
Andrea Iannone – P2
“It has been a positive day for us for sure, and I have a good feeling with my bike on this track, and during the test we worked really well which helped. This morning and this afternoon, at the beginning of the sessions, we tried a few different tyre configurations including the hard front and rear. In the end we have finished today with good lap times, we’ve improved a lot, and both me and the team have a really good feeling. It’s important to continue like this and try to improve a little bit more tomorrow, especially on the braking points.”
One of the biggest talking points from the opening day at the Catalan GP was Championship leader Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) finishing 12th quickest on the combined timesheets, provisionally missing out on a Q2 spot unless he can improve in FP3. The Spaniard also crashed at Turn 5 towards the end of the session when pushing for a quick lap.
Marc Marquez – P12
“Looking at the standings today, you could say we’re quite far back, but actually we’re not bad at all and most importantly, we worked very well on used tyres and have a good rhythm. We still have a small thing to adjust in the electronics setup, but we think we understood where we have to work; if we’re able to sort it out, we’ll have the possibility to improve a lot tomorrow. It seems that with the new asphalt, everything is very, very tight, and it’s more difficult to make a difference. There’s big difference between lapping on new tyres and on old tyres, so we must manage that aspect well.”
Meanwhile, third on the combined timesheets was Movistar Yamaha MotoGP’s Maverick Viñales, improving his time by over half a second from FP1 to round out the top three in the afternoon – 0.492 off Lorenzo’s quickest lap.
Maverick Vinales – P3
“I think we can make another step here in Catalunya for tomorrow, though we already improved the bike quite a lot today, especially in FP2 in the hot conditions. We have to keep working and keep focusing on the way to improve the bike. We‘ve been working a lot on improving my feeling in the first laps of the race and I think we also have an idea that we’ll try tomorrow. I‘m going to make all runs with a race set-up and do laps and more laps, that‘s what I like. To get onto the first row tomorrow will be very important.”
Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team) was second in FP1, with the Italian slipping down to fourth quickest overall in FP2 – 0.513 behind his teammate.
Andrea Dovizioso – P4
“It wasn’t a very easy day because, even though the track is really good with the new asphalt, the grip is strange and we will have to work well to be in good shape for the race. The behaviour of the tyres is quite strange and it’s not easy to manage the bike, but we have a good pace and we are amongst the fastest, so I’m happy with the way today went.”
2016 winner Valentino Rossi (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP), quickest in FP1, was the only rider in the top 11 who failed to go quicker in the afternoon session.
Valentino Rossi – P5
“To be in first position is always a good feeling. We used soft tyres this morning because this afternoon we needed to work a lot on the different tyres to try to get an understanding for the race. As always, the choice is very open, both front and rear. We tried to understand, but we need to make more kilometres tomorrow. We need to work on the bike also, but the first impression of the first day is positive.”
Rossi finished in P11 in FP2, but his time of 1:39.456 from FP1 was enough to see ‘The Doctor’ end the day fifth fastest overall.
Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda Castrol) improved his position by one place from FP1 to end the day sixth fastest, 0.002 behind Rossi’s time and top Independent Team rider.
Cal Crutchlow – P6
“I was happy with the afternoon session, the team worked well and I think we did a good job to try and use the hard front tyre this afternoon and save one for our allocation of the medium. Overall, the track condition seems to be getting a little bit better as well even though the heat was up in the afternoon. My team and Honda did a good job in FP2 to be able to solve a few issues that I seemed to have this morning and now we look forward to trying to rectify the others tomorrow”.
Fresh from signing a one-year deal with the factory Ducati team in 2019, Danilo Petrucci (Alma Pramac Racing) drastically improved on his 20th position from FP1 in the afternoon to finish seventh overall.
Danilo Petrucci – P6
“I’m happy with this first day. I went very fast also with used tires. We have to control the consumption of the rear tire but we have found a good way. Tomorrow will be a great battle and the goal is to enter directly into Q2”.
Johann Zarco (Monster Yamaha Tech 3) recovered from an early crash in the session to end the day eighth quickest overall, just ahead of home rider Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda Team) who improved by three positions from FP1 to end the day ninth.
Johann Zarco – P8
“I’m happy about this first day in Barcelona, because I feel much better than in Mugello and the test we did before was very useful. Immediately we felt good on the bike and we can play with a few things, while always being with the top guys. It’s always good to feel this again and we’re working. It’s complicate to go much faster, but I hope to understand everything together with my team in order to prepare the race in the best possible way. During this first day we’ve been competitive and much more comfortable than two weeks ago.”
Dani Pedrosa – P9
“I think today was positive enough, as we were able to improve our rhythm over the course of the day, after a slow start. We managed to exploit the track time quite well, testing a lot of tyres. That’s also good from the perspective of the work we’re doing, because we already understand which one we want to work with. I think that’s an important step in view of the race. Another significant aspect we would like to improve is our speed over a single lap, but as I said, we gained some pace today and I’m happy with that.”
Hafizh Syahrin (Monster Yamaha Tech 3) ensured he has a provisional automatic Q2 spot in FP2, the Malaysian rider finished the day an impressive tenth fastest, building on his solid FP1 session.
Hafizh Syahrin – P10
“I feel very good and happy, because it was my target to arrive in the top 10, ready for Q2, but tomorrow is another day and I’m sure that Marquez will be strong in FP3. Anyway, we made a huge step from the last test and I have a very good feeling with the bike. Thank you to all my guys, because they gave me a very good package on this first day. I think I have some kind of extra motivation, because this is like my second home GP. I try to push myself and give my best. The target is to go directly to Q2.”
Jack Miller was quite strong in FP1 and has shown good pace on the hard option rear tyre, particularly through the first three sectors. A coming together with Bradley Smith cost Miller his chance to push up the order on a soft tyre in FP2.
Jack Miller – P16
“We have made good progress in terms of set-up. We still need to solve some problems, especially in fast corners. All things considered I am satisfied with what we have done today. Tomorrow it will be important to make a good time attack in Fp3”.
Francesco Bagnaia’s (Sky Racing Team VR46) FP1 time was enough to keep the Championship leader at the top of the combined timesheets on Friday at the Gran Premi Monster Energy de Catalunya, leading a trio of Alex Marquez (EG 0,0 Marc VDS), Marcel Schrötter (Dynavolt Intact GP) and Joan Mir (EG 0,0 Marc VDS) – who all set a lap time of 1:44.340.
The afternoon session didn’t see the intermediate class times tumble, with Marquez the only rider in the top five to improve his lap time in FP2, finishing the session quickest ahead of Schrötter. Mir was seventh quickest in the second Free Practice session, unable to set a quicker time from this morning to remain fourth on the combined standings – all three riders sit 0.115 behind Bagnaia.
Pons HP40 replacement rider Augusto Fernandez had a great opening day at the Catalan GP, the Spaniard was 15th in FP2, however his time from FP1 was enough to keep him fifth overall on the combined timesheets. One rider who did improve his time in the afternoon, despite a crash at Turn 10, was Fabio Quartararo (HDR – Speed Up Racing). The Frenchman ended FP2 in third to propel himself into sixth on the combined times after finishing down in 23rd in the morning.
Tetsuta Nagashima (Idemitsu Honda Team Asia), 6th in FP1, managed to claim P7 on day one in Catalunya – a solid day for the Japanese rider. The leading KTM on Friday was Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Ajo), who finished sixth in FP2 to cement himself inside the top ten – the South African was eighth overall after failing to improve in the afternoon.
Xavi Vierge (Dynavolt Intact GP), however, did manage to go quicker in FP2, improving by over three tenths from FP1 to finish ninth overall. Rounding out the top ten was Mugello winner Miguel Oliveira (Red Bull KTM Ajo), who suffered a crash at Turn 9 in FP2 towards the end of the session. The Portuguese rider was eighth in FP1 and will be fit to fight for pole come qualifying.
Remy Gardner was back on his Mistral 610 again, just six weeks after breaking both legs while training and fighting his way back.
Remy Gardner – P29
“This was a pretty difficult day one. To be honest, I expected to be a bit faster, but everyone stepped up since I’ve been away. One second off before and you were in the top 20, one second now and you’re 22nd. I still have a bit of pain in my legs and was suffering at the end of the sessions with my fitness obviously. I guess this gives me a long weekend, but anyway, it’s good to be back and to be riding again. I think it was a good decision to return and starting the process of getting back on it. At the moment I just need more time, more laps and we just keep working for Sunday.”
The Moto2 field is looking incredibly close, with a second covering the top 22 riders ahead of Saturday’s track action.
Championship leader Marco Bezzecchi (Redox PrüstelGP) set the quickest time of the day on his final run in FP2 to take top honours on Friday at the Gran Premi Monster Energy de Catalunya. The Italian finished FP1 down in P10 after a crash, but improved his time by over a second in the afternoon to beat teammate Jakub Kornfeil by a slender 0.055 seconds.
The Czech rider built on his third-place finish in FP1 to end the day second on the timesheets, with Jerez race winner Philipp Oettl (Südmetall Schedl GP Racing) making it a KTM 1-2-3 – jumping up to third on his final lap of the session after finishing FP1 in 14th. Another rider to considerably improve his position from the morning session was Niccolo Antonelli (SIC58 Squadra Corse). The Italian ended FP2 in P4 after a late run to finish 0.117 behind compatriot Bezzecchi, improving his time by nearly 1.5 seconds.
Jorge Martin’s (Del Conca Gresini Moto3) time from this morning looked like it would remain the quickest of the day until a late flurry of times in FP2, but the Mugello race winner improved by 0.019 seconds to end the day fifth fastest. Bester Capital Dubai’s Jaume Masia ended the day in P6, leapfrogging six positions from the morning, with Darryn Binder (Red Bull KTM Ajo) having a solid afternoon to climb 20 positions from FP1 – the South African seventh quickest on Friday.
Scotland’s John McPhee (CIP – Green Power) climbed into the top ten on his final run, improving from P20 in FP1 to end the day eighth fastest. It was a good day for Nicolo Bulega (SKY Racing Team VR46), after finishing second in FP1, the Italian was able to cement a top ten finish on Friday in ninth, just ahead of Aron Canet (Estrella Galicia 0,0), who was fourth in FP1.
With just 1.008 seconds covering first place Bezzecchi down to 18th place Fabio Di Giannantonio (Del Conca Gresini Moto3), Saturday is shaping up to be a great day in the Moto3 class.