Aleix Espargaro's morning time held up as the fastest on the opening day of practice at the Catalunya circuit. Aleix Espargaro's morning time held up as the fastest on the opening day of practice at the Catalunya circuit. Photo courtesy motogp.com

Espargaro leads MotoGP practice at Catalunya

Written by  on Friday, 13 June 2014 16:12

Friday afternoon’s MotoGP™ FP2 at the Gran Premi Monster Energy de Catalunya ended with Bradley Smith setting the pace, as Stefan Bradl and Marc Marquez joined him in the top three. Aleix Espargaro was Friday’s fastest rider overall courtesy of an FP1 hot lap.

Monster Yamaha Tech3’s Smith set his best time of the afternoon with the track temperatures reaching over 50°C, his 1:42.123 lap well over a second quicker than he had gone in the morning.

The Briton ended the afternoon run just ahead of LCR Honda MotoGP’s Bradl and Repsol Honda Team rider Marquez, but it was NGM Forward Racing’s Espargaro who recorded the best time of the day (1:41.672) on a softer compound rear tire at his home track in the morning session.

“I’m happy with this morning’s result,” Espargaro said. “We were able to do a fast lap and also the pace was quite good. We suffered more in the afternoon with the hot temperatures as the track was very slippery and the traction control was not helping.

“We made some changes on the front and we tested some different electronics settings, but we couldn’t improve our lap times and tomorrow we will keep on working on the electronics.”

The 23-year-old Smith completed 20 FP2 laps and his efforts were rewarded with a time that boosted him from 12th to first in the final five minutes of the session. His pace in FP2 saw him 0.151s ahead of championship leader Marquez and is also already an improvement of almost half a second from his qualifying time last year.

“To finish in first in FP2 is certainly great,” Smith reflected afterwards. “I am pleased as we undertook some key work in Mugello and the results are shining through here as well. The setting is very positive with the bike although I wasn’t able to show it last time unfortunately. The main thing we looked at today was the front contact, the turning of the bike as well as front tire choices.

“Overall, I feel confident and happier plus I enjoy Barcelona as I run strongly here. It’s been a tricky few races but we have always worked hard and now I aim to keep this positive momentum for this weekend and the next few MotoGP races and continue to try my best.”

Bradl is aiming to continue his progression on Saturday with a specific focus on tire performance, with the heat in mind. There is also a possibility of rain on day two, which would of course complicate matters further.

He stated, "Obviously I am quite happy about today because first and second sessions both went quite well. Our base set-up is working well and we made some little adjustments ahead of the second session to improve the feedback from the front tire. We were trying hard and soft tire at the end of the session because it’s extremely important for the heat as Sunday will be probably very hot.

"We are not sure about the tire situation at this moment but overall our pace is quite good. Physically speaking I feel okay despite the tough weekend in Mugello. So I would say that this is another beginning for us and hope to continue in the same way on Saturday."

Completing the top five on the combined timesheet was the race winner for the last two years at Barcelona-Catalunya, Jorge Lorenzo (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP), who was just over 0.6s down on Espargaro’s P1 time. Lorenzo’s best lap came in the afternoon heat, with the many riders using harder option front and rear tires in the Mediterranean sunshine.

Sixth and seventh overall were Italians Andrea Iannone (Pramac Racing) and Valentino Rossi (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP) courtesy of their best times in FP1, with Iannone escaping unhurt from a turn 10 tumble into the gravel in the morning outing.

The overall top 10 was completed by Pol Espargaro (Monster Yamaha Tech3), Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda Team) and Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team).

Nicky Hayden (Drive M7 Aspar) rode 32 laps over the course of the day as he assessed the condition of his right wrist, on which he had surgery after missing Mugello. He ended the day 19thoverall.

The first day of Moto2 practice saw Tito Rabat (Marc VDS Racing Team) top both sessions. On the combined timesheet Jonas Folger was second with Mika Kallio third.

Rabat was the only rider able to drop into the 1:46s with a 1:46.955s in FP2, 0.746s clear of his closest rival Folger (AGR Team), who recorded a 1:47.701s lap in the afternoon to put him second overall. Kallio (Marc VDS Racing Team) did not improve on his FP1 time of 1:47.836s in the second session, but remained third in terms of combined times.

Sam Lowes (Speed Up) was fourth overall despite two crashes in FP2 and he was the only non-Kalex rider in the overall top five. Mattia Pasini (NGM Forward Racing) rounded out the leading quintet with a 1:47.951s, from FP1.

Moto3™ FP2 at the Gran Premi Monster Energy de Catalunya on Friday afternoon saw Niklas Ajo show his pace around the Mediterranean track, leading from Jack Miller and Isaac Viñales.

In hot and humid conditions at the Barcelona-Catalunya circuit, with ambient temperatures reaching 32°C, it was a demanding session for the riders - but Finnish youngster Ajo adapted best to the heat, to put his Avant Tecno Husqvarna Ajo machine top with a 1:51.930 lap.

The best times came late in the session with standings leader Miller (Red Bull KTM Ajo) and in-form rider Viñales (Calvo Team) joining Ajo in the top three, both within 0.015s of the top spot.

MotoGP Practice Results

1

Aleix Espargaro

41

ESP

NGM Mobile Forward Racing

YAMAHA

1'41.672

2

Bradley Smith

38

GBR

Monster Yamaha Tech 3

YAMAHA

1'42.123

3

Stefan Bradl

6

GER

LCR Honda MotoGP

HONDA

1'42.130

4

Marc Marquez

93

ESP

Repsol Honda Team

HONDA

1'42.274

5

Jorge Lorenzo

99

ESP

Yamaha Factory Racing

YAMAHA

1'42.282

6

Andrea Iannone

29

ITA

Pramac Racing

DUCATI

1'42.411

7

Valentino Rossi

46

ITA

Yamaha Factory

YAMAHA

1'42.423

8

Pol Espargaro

44

ESP

Monster Yamaha Tech 3

YAMAHA

1'42.608

9

Dani Pedrosa

26

ESP

Repsol Honda Team

HONDA

1'42.664

10

Andrea Dovizioso

4

ITA

Ducati Team

DUCATI

1'42.812

11

Alvaro Bautista

19

ESP

Go & Fun Honda Gresini

HONDA

1'42.833

12

Yonny Hernandez

68

COL

Pramac Racing

DUCATI

1'42.860

13

Scott Redding

45

GBR

Go & Fun Honda Gresini

HONDA

1'43.612

14

Michele Pirro

51

ITA

Ducati Team

DUCATI

1'43.644

15

Cal Crutchlow

35

GBR

Ducati Team

DUCATI

1'43.725

16

Colin Edwards

5

USA

NGM Mobile Forward Racing

YAMAHA

1'43.819

17

Karel Abraham

17

CZE

Cardion AB Motoracing

HONDA

1'43.905

18

Hector Barbera

8

ESP

Avintia Racing MotoGP

FTR-KAWASAKI

1'43.961

19

Nicky Hayden

69

USA

Drive M7 Aspar

HONDA

1'44.008

20

Hiroshi Aoyama

7

JPN

Drive M7 Aspar

HONDA

1'44.096

21

Michael Laverty

70

GBR

Paul Bird Motorsport

ART & PBM

1'44.450

22

Broc Parkes

23

AUS

Paul Bird Motorsport

PBM

1'44.681

23

Mike Di Meglio

63

FRA

Avintia Racing MotoGP

FTR-KAWASAKI

1'45.482

24

Michel Fabrizio

84

ITA

IodaRacing Project

IODA-SUTER

1'47.297

--From motogp.com

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John Hopkins

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