Movistar Yamaha’s Jorge Lorenzo finished 0.345s ahead of the rest of the field as the MotoGP circus rolls into Europe, with Spaniards dominating the opening day in Jerez.
With the ink on his new Ducati contract freshly dried, the Majorcan showed it hasn’t dampened his drive to succeed on the Yamaha, setting the fastest times in both the morning and afternoon free practises at a circuit he was won at three times in his MotoGP career.
Repsol Honda’s Marc Marquez was close behind in second, a position he was pushed down to by his compatriot in the closing minutes of FP2. Down in fifth position this morning, Marquez was able to come back out with a revised setting to shave a second off his time, setting a lap of 1.39.900; the two Spaniards are the only two to set sub 1.40 times so far.
Aleix Espargaro set the third fastest time aboard the Suzuki Ecstar machine, which he was able to secure after a late surge. Espargaro is using the winglets on the GSX-RR for the first time this weekend, after pushing the Japanese factory to bring forward the upgrade, and was able to improve on his time set this morning by 0.9s.
Fellow Spaniard Hector Barbera was the stand-out performance of Friday, putting his Avintia Blusens machine in second this morning and finishing the day in the top four. With a lap time of 1.40.229 he kept a competitive pace in front of his home fans and was the top Ducati of the day.
Valentino Rossi ended the day in the top five and although he is provisionally off the front row he only finished 0.7s behind his team-mate with a lot of work to do on his YZR-M1 ahead of qualifying tomorrow.
Ecstar Suzuki’s Maverick Vinales finished in sixth position, ahead of Andrea Dovizioso who had a lack-lustre day on the factory Ducati machine. Scott Redding finished in eighth ahead of Repsol Honda’s Dani Pedrosa and Irishman Eugene Laverty rounded out the top ten.
Andrea Iannone seemed to struggle on his opening day in Europe after such a strong start to the season, lapping a best time of 1.41.017 to put him almost a second and a half back from Lorenzo.
Reigning champion Lorenzo said of his solid opening day: “My first feelings are positive. We started the first day with some problems and a different feel than what we had in the last two races but little by little we solved these problems and adjusted the electronics, setting and everything.
Now we have a good set-up and can keep working to improve the small details. First place this morning and first place this afternoon, I think, is a good beginning of the weekend!”
For a full list of times from both sessions click here.