Valencia Grand Prix: Day one roundup – MotoGP, Moto2, Moto3
Movistar Yamaha’s Lorenzo produced a 1’31.111 in glorious sunshine (Track temp 29˚C) during Free Practice 2 to end Friday at the Gran Premio Motul de la Comunitat Valenciana fastest. The Spaniard is bidding to lift his third MotoGP™ World Championship as he trails Rossi by seven points in the standings heading into the #TheGrandFinale. His time was less than a second off Marquez’s Pole Record from 2013 (1’30.237) and he managed to finish 0.364s quicker than his title rival Rossi, as Lorenzo aims to make it a clean sweep of the Spanish rounds in 2015, having already tasted victory at Jerez, Catalunya and Aragon.
Repsol Honda’s Marquez (+0.139s) was one of the few top riders not to improve his time in FP2, but his 1’31.250 that saw him top FP1 was good enough to secure second overall on the combined timesheets. The man who will have to hand over his MotoGP™ title on Sunday managed to pull off a couple of remarkable saves throughout the day, at turn 8 in FP1 and turn 2 in FP2, when it looked certain he was going to crash.
His teammate Dani Pedrosa (+0.266s), the man who has won two of the last three races and has six wins to his name at Valencia, completed the provisional front row. The Spaniard is aiming for his 100th MotoGP™ podium on Sunday and he would be only the second person to achieve the feat after Rossi. Ducati Team’s Andrea Iannone (+0.333s) improved by over seven-tenths throughout the day to finish in fourth as the leading Desmosedici.
Movistar Yamaha’s championship leader Rossi, who will be forced to start from the back of the grid in the race after his appeal for a stay of execution to the CAS was rejected, was just 0.031s further back from Iannone in fifth. The ‘Doctor’ improved by almost three tenths throughout the day and finished just 0.364s off the pace of his title rival Lorenzo, as he bids to lift his tenth world title come Sunday’s race.
Octo Pramac Racing’s Danilo Petrucci (+0.464s) improved by 0.999s after ending FP1 in 12th to finish in sixth overall on the Satellite Ducati. He finished 0.067s ahead of Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team) on the factory GP15 in seventh. Dovizioso was the only other rider in the top ten, along with Marquez, to not improve his time in FP2.
Pol Espargaro (Monster Yamaha Tech 3) came out on top in the battle of the brothers, as he finished in eighth, just four thousandths of a second ahead of Aleix Espargaro (Team Suzuki Ecstar) in ninth.
LCR Honda’s Cal Crutchlow completed the top ten, with Maverick Viñales (Team Suzuki Ecstar) in 11th and Avintia Racing’s Hector Barbera the leading Open class rider in 12th.
Ducati Team’s wildcard Michele Pirro was 13th fastest, while Bradley Smith (Monster Yamaha Tech 3) improved from 17th in FP1 to end the day in 15th overall, but was still 1.397s off the pace of Lorenzo. Smith won’t be too downhearted though as he was down in 14th after Friday’s practice at Sepang, but recovered to finish fourth in the race.
Nicky Hayden (Aspar MotoGP Team) celebrated being inducted into the MotoGP™ Hall of Fame during the break between sessions by ending the day in 17th as the leading Open Honda rider. Australian Jack Miller (LCR Honda) was 19th, with Irishman Eugene Laverty (Aspar MotoGP Team) in 22nd.
EG 0,0 Marc VDS’s Scott Redding struggled throughout the day and finished down in 23rd overall, over two seconds off Lorenzo’s pace. Anthony West, (AB Motoracing) filling in for the injured Karel Abraham was in 25th, while Alex de Angelis’ replacement Broc Parkes (E-Motion IodaRacing Team) finished the session in 26th.
Derendinger Racing Interwetten’s Lüthi managed to set the fastest time in Moto2™ at the Gran Premio Motul de la Comunitat Valenciana on a Friday that saw less than 0.9s separate the top 14 riders. Lüthi, who is aiming for his second win of 2015, continued the form that saw him finish second in Sepang to set a 1’35.560 in FP2. The Swiss rider’s time was just over half a second off Pol Espargaro’s 2013 Pole Record (1’34.957) and saw him head the rest of the Moto2™ field by over two tenths, despite crashing after the checkered flag had been shown at the end of FP2 at turn 11.
Speed Up Racing’s Lowes (+0.201s) was second fastest after he set his fastest time in FP1, the Brit failing to improve in the afternoon. Lowes is looking to bow out on a high with his team and add to his four podiums in 2015, before making the switch to the Gresini Team next year.
EG 0,0 Marc VDS’s Tito Rabat (+0.274s) was third on his return from the broken radius that has kept him out of the last three GP’s. The 2014 Moto2™ World Champion is making the step up to MotoGP™ next year with his team, and is clearly determined to end his Moto2™ career with a win.
Paginas Amarillas HP40’s Alex Rins (+0.434s) ended the day in fourth, despite crashing in FP2 at turn 8. He finished just 0.055s ahead of AGR Team’s Jonas Folger (+0.489s) in fifth, who is chasing his third podium in four races.
Rins’ teammate Luis Salom (+0.656s) failed to improve in the afternoon, but still ended the day sixth on the combined timesheets, just eight-thousandths of a second ahead of Julian Simon on the QMMF Racing Team Speed Up bike in seventh.
Takaaki Nakagami (Idemitsu Honda Team Asia), Simone Corsi (Forward Racing) and Sandro Cortese (Dynavolt Intact GP) completed the top ten, while Alex Marquez (EG 0,0 Marc VDS) had to settle for 11th after a crash with 10 mins to go in FP2 at turn 12.
Technomag Racing Interwetten’s Dominique Aegerter was 28th on his return from injury and just 0.001s behind the pace of his teammate Robin Mulhauser in 27th, but unfortunately Aegerter was forced to withdraw from the GP after FP2 due to the pain from his injuries and will be replaced by Josh Hook for the rest of the weekend.
Leopard Racing’s Danny Kent got his bid to become the first British World Champion since Barry Sheene (500cc) in 1977 off to the perfect start at the Comunitat Valenciana – Ricardo Tormo circuit by ending the first day of practice on top. The British rider leads the only man who can deny him the title, Miguel Oliveira, by 24 points with only 25 up for grabs on Sunday.
Kent set his fastest time in the morning as he headed FP1, as the majority of the leading riders failed to improve in the warmer afternoon FP2 session. Kent’s time of 1’39.930 was good enough to see him end Friday quickest, despite finishing down in fifth in a highly competitive FP2 that saw only a second separate the top 23 riders.
RBA Racing Team’s Isaac Viñales was only 0.036s behind the pace of Kent in second, as the Spaniard was the only other rider to break the 1’40 barrier. Kent’s teammate Hiroki Ono (+0.085s) completed the provisional front row as he looks to bounce back from two DNF’s in the last three races.
There were three Leopard Racing Honda’s in the top four as Efren Vazquez, who topped FP2, (+0.093s) set the fourth fastest time with less than a tenth of a second separating the top four riders.
Estrella Galicia 0,0’s Jorge Navarro (+0.131s) was fifth fastest as he improved on Friday afternoon, while Enea Bastianini (+0.174s) on the Gresini Racing Team Moto3 Honda was sixth.
Red Bull KTM Ajo’s Miguel Oliveira, who has won three out of the last five races, ended the day in seventh as he aims to become the first Portuguese World Champion, although he was only +0.180s off the pace of his rival Kent.
Niccolo Antonelli (Ongetta-Rivacold), Romano Fenati (Sky Racing Team VR46) and wildcard Niccolo Bulega (Sky Racing Team VR46) completed the top ten.
Fabio Quartararo was in 14th on his return from injury, while Scotsman John McPhee (SAXONPRINT RTG) ended the day in 24th.