From a Movistar Yamaha press release.
After positively concluding pre-season testing a fortnight ago, Movistar Yamaha MotoGP team‘s Jorge Lorenzo and Valentino Rossi returned to the Losail International Circuit today to officially start the 2016 MotoGP season. As if the winter stop never happened, the teammates instantly fell back into their old groove and placed their YZR-M1s 1-2 in the ranking order.
Lorenzo felt confident and in a good physical shape after completing pre-season testing and his eagerness to get back into ’racing mode‘ didn‘t go unnoticed at this evening‘s free practice session once he hit the track. Having given the field a ’head start‘ to be guaranteed some clear space on track, he left his box as the second to last rider and immediately shot to the top of the leader board with his first flying lap. The Majorcan continued to set the bar high, dropping a 1‘55.693s, more than 0,6s faster than all his rivals, around the midway stage of the session. As the pace picked up during the end of the session, the reigning World Champion responded almost with ease and wrapped up the proceedings with a best lap of 1‘55.440s for the provisional lead in the standings.
Rossi was also not shy in claiming a key protagonist position in the first 45-minute practice session. Similar to his teammate he left his departure from pit lane late, but was quick to turn up the heat as soon as his tyres were warmed up. Fully focused on getting his setting exactly to his liking, he worked on the balance of the YZR-M1 with the new electronics and Michelin tyres and gradually moved up the timesheets. He ended the day with a long stint during which he skillfully made the traffic on the track work to his advantage. climbing up to second position as the session came to an end and finishing 0,267s from the leading time.
As Sunday‘s race will be held at 21:00 (GMT+3), the format of the race weekend has been changed to enable the riders to be fully prepared for the night event. There will be a second and third free practice session held tomorrow evening.
The new MotoGP season is now well and truly underway and we can be very satisfied with the results of today‘s first free practice session. Whenever we arrive at this track it takes a few sessions to get the initial dust and debris from the desert off the track, but today the conditions and level of grip were OK. Jorge started the season where he left off the previous year and showed his fast and consistent pace throughout the whole session. Vale was also fast right from the get go and his motivation showed in the lap times. Though there are still areas of the setting that we aim to improve on, we will try to sort this out before tomorrow‘s FP2.
I had a good start. From the first run I was able to have the best lap time and probably also the best pace, but we still have a margin for improvement both in lap time and pace. We will keep working on the setting and the electronics to improve in some areas for tomorrow. The track will also be better with more grip level tomorrow and the lap times will be faster.
The first practice was positive. I‘m quite satisfied, it was a strong way to start the season, because the second position is good and also the lap times are already not so bad. They’re in the 1‘55s and the pace is quite good. We start working from what we did in the test. This means that we did a good job during pre-season and we begin with a good base, but now we have to keep focus. The condition of the track changes a lot session by session and together with the team we have to deliver good work so we will be ready when the grip becomes better. I‘ll try to improve the feeling and also try to make the right decision for the tyres.