Saturday’s action provided a lot of entertainment for the vast Spanish crowds as extremely close margins and intense sessions dominated proceedings at the Circuit of Jerez – Angel Nieto.
The morning’s FP3 session was crucial as the riders battled it out to confirm their place in Q2. Alex Rins also made drastic improvements and dropped into the 1:38s. As FP3 drew to a close, Team SUZUKI ECSTAR’s riders found themselves close to the ‘drop zone’, but their hard work ensured their lap times were indeed good enough to give them direct passage into Q2.
In the FP4 session both riders were able to confirm again just how strong their pace is, with Andrea Iannone setting a 1:38.444 and Alex Rins a 1:38.820. These excellent laps gave Team SUZUKI ECSTAR a 1-2 at the top of the FP4 timesheet, this was the first time the team have had first and second in a session since 2015 (QP in Barcelona).
The afternoon’s Q2 session was predictably tight and frenetic, with very close margins between all the riders. Andrea Iannone chose to start on a medium-soft tyre combination, while Alex Rins opted for the hard-medium. Iannone showed his intentions early on with a very impressive 1:37.987 on his first flying lap, Alex Rins also put himself onto the provisional front row during the early part of the 15-minute session. After their final pit stop, the pair decided to stay with same tyre combinations they started with – with very few riders in the field selecting soft tyres. Iannone and Rins continued to push and set consistently quick laps, and as the chequered flag came out it would be a second row start with 6th place for the Spaniard, with his Italian team-mate just one place behind in 7th. Both riders were just three tenths of a second behind the pole time.
“Today has been really good, keeping up with the same work that we did yesterday. So, basically yesterday we focused on the set-up and today we focused on setting fast laps. It’s very close with many riders on a similar lap time, so the race will be interesting tomorrow and we have to see what we can do. We are working in a good way, the bike has a lot of potential, and I’m confident that I can be at my best tomorrow.”
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