Lorenzo Takes First Place in French Friday Free Practice Sessions
Movistar Yamaha MotoGP's Jorge Lorenzo positioned himself as a key protagonist for the French Grand Prix as he rode his YZR-M1 to first place today in the combined free practice session times. Teammate Rossi worked hard to find the right setting to suit the technical French track and ended the day in tenth place.
Movistar Yamaha MotoGP's Jorge Lorenzo was quick to display his consistent pace today as he prepared for Sunday's Monster Energy Grand Prix de France. The just turned 29-year-old dominated the second free practice session and was the only rider to dip under the 1'33s mark.
Valentino Rossi also put in a solid effort, but struggled to find a good stability. He was able to better his time throughout the day to take tenth position in the combined timings.
Lorenzo was looking strong in the morning and gradually improved his lap times in the cooler first 45-minutes free practice session. As he focused on finding a set-up to suit Le Mans circuit's stop-and-go nature he clocked a best time of 1'34.086s for second place, just 0.044s from the first.
The Spaniard continued to shave off time of his provisional best lap in the afternoon. Having found a good basis for his YZR-M1 in the morning, it only took a couple of minutes for him to take over at the top the timesheets with a hot lap of 1'33.572s lap. Though already in the lead, he had one more trick up his sleeve. With the expectation that tomorrow's conditions might not be as good as today's, he gave a final push in the final minutes of the session to be assured of a spot in Q2 and set a brilliant 1'32.830s lap for first place, with a 0.339s lead over his closest rival.
Teammate Rossi also was eager to start work at the beginning of the morning practice in France. He topped the provisional standing just a few minutes into the FP1 session, but was later held back due to stability issues on his bike. He went on to look for a good tyre and settings combination and booked progress throughout the session to finish in fifth place with a 1'34.452s lap, 0.410s from the front.
He continued to focus on improving the balance of his bike in the afternoon and was able to better his pace. Having found his rhythm at the end of the session, he was riding laps under the 1'34-mark with a best lap of 1'33.974s but was unable to climb up in the ranking order and wrapped up the day in tenth place, 1.144s behind his teammate.
Massimo Meregalli - Movistar Yamaha MotoGP Team Director
"Jorge had a strong start to the weekend and so far he is on schedule with the progress that he made in FP1 and FP2. He has been fast and consistent since the first session and was in a class on his own in FP2. Vale suffered from a lack of stability on his bike since the beginning of the morning session and whilst trying to solve it unfortunately it compromised a few other areas and the bike became heavier to ride, making him more uncomfortable. Both riders were able to compare different tyre choices, but it's too early to judge. Tonight we will certainly work on some solutions that we will test in FP3 tomorrow to further improve the set-up of the bikes."
1st / 1'32.830 / 39 laps
"I am very satisfied because from the beginning we started with a good setting and I was relatively fast, quite comfortably. In the afternoon we improved the bike a little bit and we went even faster with quite a big difference, a couple of tenths, to the rider in second place. It wasn't just one lap, we also had a good pace so it was a very good start to the weekend. Let's see if tomorrow we can increase the pace a little bit more and prepare for the race to our best capabilities."
10th / 1'33.974 / 41 laps
"We tried a lot of different things for the setting because this morning I wasn't fast enough, but unfortunately in the afternoon the situation was worse and we didn't find the right way. In fact, in the morning I was also quite slow and for this reason I didn't try the third tyre from Michelin, because we didn't have time. I will try it tomorrow morning."
Fantastic 4th for Espargaro on day one at Tech3 home Grand Prix
The Monster Yamaha Tech3 team rider Pol Espagaro began his round 5 campaign with instant speed at the stop and go Bugatti Circuit as he looks to impress in Sunday's race in front of the French MotoGP fans. The young Spaniard rocketed into action as he commenced in setting up his Yamaha YZR-M1 for the 28 lap sprint and positively closed FP1 in 7th. The 25-year-old continued his progress in the afternoon and eventually posted a best time that saw him finish only two tenths back from second and as the top independent team rider.
On the other side of the pit box, Bradley Smith got straight into gear as he started his in-depth setup work on the Yamaha YZR-M1 in preparation for Sunday. The British rider began the day by making the initial adjustments to the base setting whilst also sampling the new Michelin tyres and he finally ended the session in 11th. In the next practice, he carried on where he left off and pushed non-stop before completing 23 laps, more than any other MotoGP rider, and with a time that was half a second back from 8th.
4th / 1'33.406 / 42 laps
"The opening day went very well and just like in Jerez, we kept improving. In Spain we made some steps forward and then during the test we managed to comfortably ride a competitive pace, however, today we managed to progress even more. Of course, it's just the first day but for sure it has been a better start in comparison to other Grand Prix's. We improved the rear grip level and now I have the chance to ride the bike in the way that I want to. Furthermore, I'm even more pleased because the team is working very well and every time I stop in the garage and we make some modifications, I can actually feel them, which wasn't always the case last season and this is much more important than the actual result today. In addition, I have to say that I'm very happy about the job that Michelin is doing. The tyres might not be ideal in every corner of the track, but they really have made huge leaps forward in the last weeks and we can feel a clear improvement compared to the previous races."
14th / 1'34.306 / 45 laps
"In all honesty, it was a positive day overall for me even if the result doesn't really show our true potential or reflect what we achieved. I felt that it was more important to do long runs and gain some more experience with our new setting from Jerez. This was in order to try and ensure that I'm comfortable with the bike, my adapted riding style and how we can apply it to this track. The team and I only made some small changes with the M1 to try and gain a direction for tomorrow, however, we know more or less what we need so we didn't try anything too drastic. We wanted to find out what is best for me and we also focused on building a bike so that we can go directly into Q2 tomorrow and have a good starting point for Sunday. We tested both new front and rear Michelin tyres and now we have some useful information about the new rear options. Also, for the first time this year I am comfortable with both compounds of front tyre. Like I said, the end result doesn't really show the positives for today but we'll be able to show our potential tomorrow when it counts."