News 3 Jul 2010

MotoGP: Lorenzo leads from Stoner on Friday in Spain

Championship leader Jorge Lorenzo, took first blood in the stifling heat of Barcelona on Friday, topping the time sheet with a time of 1:43.259 at the end of this afternoon’s first MotoGP free practice session ahead of the Gran Premi Aperol de Catalunya.

With the ambient air temperature topping 37ºC and the track temperature rising to 52ºC during the session, free practice was demanding of riders, bikes and tyres this afternoon but Lorenzo, who is going for a third straight win this weekend in front of his home crowd, still managed to lap the 4.727km Catalunya circuit 0.153s faster than Casey Stoner.

“This was a good practice and I was fast straight away again, although I did think that I would be able to improve my lap time a bit more during the session,” Lorenzo commented. “Unfortunately the rear was sliding a lot which was partly to do with the heat, but we will try to improve this tomorrow.

“I love racing here, it’s so close to my home and it’s always extra special for me because all my family and friends come to watch. I hope I can give them a good show!”

Ducati Team rider Stoner had a run-off early on in the session at Turn One but it was a minor event, as he went on to record the second fastest time aboard his Desmosedici GP10 at a track he declared as fun to ride.

“I’m very happy about today,” Stoner explained. “We started off on the right foot and so far I’ve had no problems with my arm – we just need to spend a little more time on the set-up of the bike but at this point of the weekend we have to be happy with it.

“It feels good and it’s easy to ride but we still have a long way to go before we start setting the lap times we think will be necessary. We have to work a little bit more with the rear set-up and the gearbox and I think if we can get better in those areas we’ll notice a big improvement overall.

“It is very hot here but the tyres are working well and our bike works in a different temperature range to the others, which could work to our advantage.”

Completing the top three was Repsol Honda rider Dani Pedrosa who finished almost four-tenths of the time of his fellow countryman, Lorenzo. Seeking an improvement in the consistency of his results on his RC212V this weekend, Pedrosa started his quest in promising fashion at a track on which he has won races in three different classes.

“I’m quite happy with the first session today,” Pedrosa explained. “It’s not going to be easy to improve our lap times but for the first practice I’m reasonably happy with the bike. We started at the point where we finished in Assen and the bike feels ok. We have to discuss all the details from today in our team meeting tonight but I think we have found a decent direction.

“In general I’m quite happy so fa r. Already I can feel the anticipation building for this race and the support from my home fans so I’m excited about the rest of the weekend.”

Teammate Andrea Dovizioso was 0.094s further back in fourth, while Monster Yamaha Tech 3’s Ben Spies put in a hot penultimate lap to shoot up from 15th to fifth inside the final minutes of the session, as he set about learning another new track.

“The track is fun but the longer turns are pretty hard to learn,” Spies noted of his first experience at Catalunya. “The last three turns are definitely a little bit different but I felt I was slowly getting to grips with it and I’m really surprised I ended so high up in fifth.

“I went out on one bike and just worked on learning the track and when I switched to the other bike I found the turning was a lot better. It is obvious rear grip is vital here in the hot conditions and the key is going to be who can set the bike up for the end of the race when there’s not much grip. I’m looking decent on speed right now but we’ve got to manage it and make sure I’m fast for the end of the race.”

Aleix Espargaró’s improvements continued on board the Pramac Ducati as he set the sixth fastest lap of the session, just under nine-tenths off Lorenzo, whilst Randy de Puniet is also on track for another good result at Catalunya having finished seventh and just 0.06s behind Espargaró.

Nicky Hayden made a step up towards the end of the session to move into eighth spot, with Colin Edwards and Marco Simoncelli also posting top-ten lap times.

The only crash of the session occurred 23 minutes in when Álvaro Bautista fell on his tenth lap whilst running fifth fastest, with his team checking to see if a problem with his Rizla Suzuki GSV-R had caused the crash. The rookie was back out shortly after and completed a further ten laps, eventually finishing 12th – one spot behind teammate Loris Capirossi – despite having banged his injured shoulder once again in the crash.

San Carlo Honda Gresini’s Marco Melandri was 14th, a brave ride from the Italian, who looked to be in some pain with the shoulder injury and fractured sternum he sustained in a practice crash at Assen just eight days ago.

Wataru Yoshikawa started his first GP weekend as Valentino Rossi’s substitute on the Fiat Yamaha team and was 17th fastest, just behind Kousuke Akiyoshi who continues to fill in for the injured Hiroshi Aoyama on the Interwetten Honda.

Eager to delight a strong home crowd this weekend at Catalunya and with a Championship lead to maintain, Toni Elías made the perfect start by topping the opening practice session with a best lap of 1:48.425. The Gresini Racing Moto2 rider posted his effort on the 23rd of 25 laps, placing him 0.107s clear at the head of the timesheet.

Following him was Sergio Gadea who is looking to return to the scoring positions this weekend after his run of registering points in every race so far was broken at Assen. At just over a tenth off Elías, Gadea was 0.09s faster than Shoya Tomizawa, although it is the Japanese rider who lies second in the Championship standings ahead of Sunday’s race.

Interwetten Moriwaki Moto2 rider Tom Luthi continued to impress with the fourth fastest time, just eight-thousandths off Tomizawa. The Swiss rider, who has ridden in the last two races – finishing on the podium in each and currently lying third in the standings – with a damaged collarbone, only had surgery last Saturday after Assen but was again on the pace here in Catalunya.

In fifth was Andrea Iannone, who comes into this weekend off the back of his second win of 2010 at Assen.

Completing the top-eight positions were Gabor Talmacsi , Yonny Hernández and Julián Simón, with Jules Cluzel and Scott Redding both within 0.534s of Elías as they registered top-ten times as well.

Vladimir Leonov, Iannone, Redding, Cluzel, Alex de Angelis and Raffaele De Rosa all ran off track, but none were prevented from completing the session as a result.

Marc Márquez matched the scorching weather conditions in Barcelona on Friday afternoon by setting the hottest lap of FP1, topping the opening 125cc session of the weekend with a best time of 1’51.219. The Red Bull Ajo Motorsport rider is seeking his fourth straight win of 2010 at his home GP and made his intentions clear during the hour-long practice.

Second on the timesheet and searching for his second podium of the season, Bradley Smith was 0.246s off Márquez with the British rider’s Bancaja Aspar team-mate and current Championship leader Nico Terol in third, over half a second off his colleague’s pace as he made himself the final rider under the 1’52” mark. Pol Espargaró, who crashed without injury during the session, was a further 0.019s back in fourth.

The gap to fifth-placed Efrén Vázquez was far more substantial at 1.269s, just over two seconds off Márquez’s pace at the front. Jonas Folger, Sandro Cortese, Johann Zarco, Randy Krummenacher and Esteve Rabat were separated by less than two-tenths as they completed the top ten. British rider, Danny Webb, was 12th.

As well as Espargaró there were crashes for wildcard rider Peter Sebestyen and Louis Rossi towards the end of the session with none experiencing any lasting effects.