Aleix Espargaro 7th and Maverick Viñales 9th on opening day at Brno
Team SUZUKI ECSTAR’s Aleix Espargaró and Maverick Viñales improved their lap-times in today’s opening practice sessions at the HJC Helmets Grand Prix Ceské republiky; both riding with completely different strategies.
In the cooler morning session, Viñales secured the seventh-best lap-time with a 1’57.176 around the 5.4 km Brno circuit in the Czech Republic with Espargaró a fraction behind on 1’57.538, that placed him 10th. But in the warmer FP2 this afternoon, Espargaró made a bigger improvement aboard his GSX-RR Suzuki with a time of 1’56.441 to finish seventh, with Vinales – who consistently filled the top-four positions for most of the session – ninth with a lap-time of 1’56.615.
Both adopted different strategies: Espargaró had to find back feeling with his injured hand – incurred last week in Austria – and check the pain level and also his strength, but he worked consistently on fast-laps as the feeling improved; while Viñales instead chose to give priority to the race-pace, without any time-attack attempt, but working on tyre durability throughout.
“Luckily my hand is feeling much better. In the morning I had to struggle with the pain, but in the afternoon it got much better. Only three days of rest are not much but I did a great job with the support of the Clinica Mobile guys who are helping me. I also have a specially-modified glove that allows me to feel more comfortable. All of this led to a positive day for me; we could improve the set-up and I feel comfortable with the machine. Here the track is very bumpy, but maybe I feel it even worse because we are arriving from the Red Bull Ring which was as smooth as a pool table. We suffer a lot of spin, which is unusual for me, but I feel very confident with the front. We have already made some steps forward from morning-to-afternoon, so if we manage to proceed positively tomorrow as well, it’s ‘gonna be a good day.”
“At the last race in Austria we had issues with the grip of the tyres in the second-half of the race, so for this weekend we decided to better-understand the tyre management and today’s work has been dedicated to find more efficiency in the pace without compromising the performance on the long distance. I don’t like to see myself in ninth position, but we didn’t even try a proper time-attack today, and because of this I will have a double-chance tomorrow as we spared tyres. However, although we didn’t make a fast-lap attempt, my lap-time was consistently close to the top of the sheets; until others put in new tyres, this means we have room for improvement for the qualifying.”