Yamaha Holds the Advantage after First Day at MotorLand Aragón
Movistar Yamaha MotoGP riders Jorge Lorenzo and Valentino Rossi did not waste any time today to step up their game at MotorLand Aragón circuit. They ended first and second after the first day of practicing ahead of this weekend's Gran Premio Movistar de Aragón.
Movistar Yamaha MotoGP's Jorge Lorenzo and Valentino Rossi got down to business today in the first two free practice sessions for this weekend's Gran Premio Movistar de Aragón, and secured first and second respectively, with Monster Yamaha Tech 3 rider Bradley Smith making it a perfect Yamaha top-three.
The weekend's Grand Prix is the last European race on the MotoGP calendar before the three back-to-back overseas rounds. To prepare themselves for the final stretch of the 2015 season, the Movistar Yamaha MotoGP tested at the MotorLand Aragón circuit three weeks ago and needed little time spurt to the top of the leaderboard.
Lorenzo was more eager than ever to score a top result and increase his chances of winning the championship. Trying to avoid traffic, he took his time getting out of the box in the morning practice. Once he hit the track he was quick to pile on the pressure, setting numerous fastest laps to finish the 45-minute session in the lead by 0.490s with a best lap of 1'48.249.
In the afternoon, the local hero again gradually upped his pace. While working on his setting he took over at the top after 20 minutes, posting a 1'48.307 lap. He held first place for most of the session, until the hot lap shoot-out started with ten minutes on the clock.
The Spaniard decided to accept the challenge and popped on a medium compound tyre to drop an impressive 1'47.517, the first 1'47 lap of the weekend, pleasing his passionate home fans to no end. His time was unchallenged for the remainder of the session, moving him back up to first place with 0,683s advantage over his closest rival and teammate Rossi. As Lorenzo was also the fastest in all sectors on his stunning fastest lap, his best time is also today's ideal lap time.
Teammate Rossi also enjoyed a solid start to the race weekend this morning at the sunny Spanish track. He briefly topped the standings with his first flying lap of 1'51.812 and went on to improve his pace further, setting a 1'48.824 for second. He held this position for most of FP1, but was pushed back in the final stages of the session and finished in third place.
The Italian dropped some more consistently fast lap times in the afternoon as he focused on perfecting his set-up, in the final stages, he was in provisional sixth place with a best lap of 1'48.884. The Italian put his head down and shot to the top when he set a 1'48.200, the fastest lap of the weekend up until that point. He was ultimately pushed back one place by his teammate and wrapped up in second place.
1st / 1'47.517 / 30 laps
"There's a big difference between how we have always felt here before and how we feel here now. The improvement is thanks to the work of the engineers, who improved the way the bikes work, so even at a difficult track such as Aragon we can be competitive. Our rivals don't sleep so, so they will be strong and tomorrow's pole will be fast. We need to further improve the setting to be able to make an even better pace."
2nd / 1'48.200 / 37 laps
"We did a test last month at Aragón, because it's our test track. We decided on this circuit because in the past we suffered a lot here on the Yamaha. The start of the weekend was not so bad because we could start with a good basis setting and in this practice both me and Jorge were very strong, but Jorge was a little bit faster, so we need to continue to work and try to improve in some sectors just a little bit. After that the tyre choice for the race will be very important. You can go with the medium or the hard, right now it's still too early to say. Tomorrow we need to improve the setting and make the right choice for the tyres. We tried the softer tyre at the end of the session but our main rival didn't. If they had done so, they would have been at our level, but as long as we are able to fight with them on Sunday it's OK, because they are usually a bit stronger here. We have to work on braking, to be able to go deep into the corner yet have a good agility."
Massimo Meregalli - Movistar Yamaha MotoGP Team Director
"It was a really good start to the weekend and we are very satisfied. It has been a good decision to test at Aragón three weeks ago, because we benefitted from our previously collected data and were able to start the first free practice sessions with a good base set-up. Jorge set incredibly fast times this morning and was the only rider to clock a 1'47 in the afternoon. Vale also posted some impressive times and showed he is on the pace. We were able to test both tyre options and finishing the first day leading the sessions is a very positive sign. There is still some room for further improvement, so we will perfect the setting for the third practice in order to be ready for tomorrow's track action."
Smith straight back in the groove as he closes opening day in third
Monster Yamaha Tech3 Team rider Bradley Smith carried his notable form over from the Misano GP and concluded the opening day of action at the MotorLand Aragon circuit by superbly clinching 3rd. The day's action began under sunny conditions and Smith wasted no time in getting up to speed as he powered to a best time of 1'49.790 which left him in 7th position at the end of FP1. During this practice, the British rider started his work by testing various settings for his Yamaha YZR-M1 in preparation for the 23 lap race on Sunday at the 5.1 kilometre track and once FP2 commenced, Smith continued his efforts. His determination shone through and he pulled the pin to speed to a fastest lap of 1'48.318 which saw him finish in third and inside the all Yamaha top three. In addition, the 24 year old also illustrated his relentless work ethic by completing 20 laps, which was more than any other MotoGP rider in the practice. He will now seek to follow up his strong start to the 14th round of the 2015 MotoGP World Championship where he aims to qualify on the front two rows for the fifth consecutive time in tomorrow's all important shootout.
Meanwhile, Pol Espargaro kicked off the MotoGP weekend in his home country by shaking down the opening practices in a positive manner and seeing out the day with a time of 1'48.445 that left him in 6th overall. The Spaniard, who intended to bounce back from an unfortunate end to the Misano Grand Prix, leapt onto his Yamaha YZR-M1 and bolted into action when the morning session began. He rode a best time of 1'49.868 which left him in 8th as he embarked on altering the setup of his MotoGP bike. When the afternoon practice started, Espargaro got straight back to work at the meandering MotorLand Aragon circuit and after pushing throughout the session, he finished in 6th. This was after completing 18 laps and in addition, he was only just over a tenth from his teammate. This encouraging start to the event leaves the 24 year old confident of a strong qualifying performance tomorrow as he aims to replicate his 2014 grid position at the front of the second row.
3rd / 148.318 / 38 laps
"It has been a positive start to the Aragon MotoGP weekend and 3rd is definitely a good position to close day one in. As soon as we kicked off proceedings this morning, I felt comfortable on the bike and I was able to quickly find a solid rhythm. Then in the afternoon, we worked more with the hard compound in order to evaluate the potential for the race. As a conclusion, the front is positive yet the rear is not quite as strong but it is still working well at this track. Moreover, we made some steps forward with the electronics regarding both the engine braking and the traction control which I am pleased about. So tomorrow, we will now work a bit more on the race pace and the setting in order to have a good performance for the whole GP on Sunday. Also, I would be pleased if we could improve the front stability in some corners, especially when braking on the maximum lean angle. Yet, to close the day in 3rd is a good start, so we will carry on our work and hopefully qualify on the front two rows."
6th / 1'48.445 / 37 laps
"I really wouldn't say that today has been the best day of the year for me, however considering the huge margin of improvement that we still have to make, a top six finish is a truly satisfying end to the opening day of action at Aragon. This morning when I got on the bike, my feeling was not the best straight away and then again in the second practice session, I struggled quite a lot with changing direction, especially in the fast corners. Yet, I remain convinced that we can rectify this situation for tomorrow morning after looking deeply into today's data as our goal is to still qualify on the front two rows of the grid."
Positive start for Baz and Elias at Aragon
The first day of work is over for the riders of the Forward Racing team who this weekend will be racing on the MotorLand track of Aragon, which is hosting the fourteenth race of the 2015 season. Loris Baz finished in 17th in the combined standings only behind Barbera among the Open bikes. Toni Elias, debuting on the Yamaha Forward, is in a positive 24th place.
It was a good start for the Frenchman, who is returning on track after the great result at Misano. Baz has made the most of both rounds of practice to fine-tune the set-up and try new solutions for the race. With a time of 1'49.700 he is sitting on 17th place, second best between Open, with a gap of just under half a second from Barbera.
It was also a solid start for his new team-mate Toni Elias who has lowered his lap-time by almost two seconds compared to this morning. The Spaniard, with a personal best of 1'51.162, is 24th in the combined standings closing in on his opponents.
17th / 1'49.700 / 32 laps
"It was a day of work. Aragon is a track that I know well: here I raced many times when I was in SuperBike, but riding a MotoGP is pretty different. I have to be less aggressive, especially when cornering, to be quick. I did a good lap despite the traffic using soft tyres; overall I'm positive. I tried two different settings on the bike and some new solutions. I am the second Open behind Barbera, a little less than half a second. Tomorrow in qualifying we can make a big step forward."
24th / 1'51.162 / 37 laps
"As it's only the first day on a new bike, I am satisfied. At Indy, after free practice, I was six seconds behind the other Open bikes. Here the gap is smaller and I'm positive for qualifying. First impressions are good: I get on well with the engine and electronics, but I have yet to find the right feeling with the front and a little of rear grip. I will have to do as many kilometers as possible to adapt the bike geometry and suspension to my riding style, but I have already made a step forward by more than two seconds since this morning. I can't wait to get back on track tomorrow."