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Team SUZUKI ECSTAR’s Aleix Espargaró and Maverick Viñales put in strong performances in the opening Free Practice sessions at the Jerez MotoGP™ World Championship, with Espargaró positioning his GSX-RR into a provisional third place and Viñales into sixth.

The latest improvements, introduced by Espargaro’s crew on his GSX-RR, proved effective again after the positive performance shown in the recent Austin test in America. The Spaniard was competitive from the morning session today, also reporting a positive feeling and confidence with his team, and this finally resulted in the third fastest time of 1’40.093, which is just 0.538 off pole.

A new feature was introduced this afternoon when the GSX-RR was equipped with winglets, that has never been tested on the machine previously, and it’s something the team will investigate and develop further.

Viñales had a different job today; he had a full testing program and stuck to it. His performance in the morning session was a solid one, as he recorded several laps close to the top with a consistently-improving performance. The afternoon was also positive as he conducting several tests to better-evaluate the differences between the standard and the evolution chassis. Most of the work has been focused on set-up and pace, without any attempt on the time attack and his final lap of 1’40.448 set him sixth and gives him a provisional access to Q2.

Davide Brivio – Team Manager:

“At the moment we have both riders into the top-10, which makes the day a positive one. Aleix scored a good lap-time, which sets him in third place, he feels confident with the machine and could finally put himself in more-competitive place that he deserves. Maverick did a very intense job today, testing many different things and therefore it will be important to get an analysis that we will do tonight, in order to continue in the right direction tomorrow. We had the new winglets to test, the program was to start with them on Monday in the testing, but with Aleix we decided to anticipate timing and debut them today. It’s still an issue under evaluation, we will now evaluate the rider feedback and run them with the data, but it is a pretty hard job to be done in a stressful racing weekend, therefore we will probably wait until Monday.”

Aleix Espargaró:

“Finally I have very positive feeling with my machine; with my crew we did an incredible job to try different solutions and finally we are finding more competitiveness. The good thing is that with this we are calmer and also making steps forward is easier. Today the program was intense, and also we had the new winglets to try: I wasn’t supposed to use them until Monday, but I asked about the timing and the team gave me the green light. My impressions are very, very rough at the moment and for sure we need to test them in more depth, but for what I saw today, they are a positive improvement. It’s not something revolutionary, but they may give us an edge in certain conditions; more for my comfort riding than in absolute performance of the machine. Apart of that, I scored my best time when the GSX-RR wasn’t equipped with winglets, meaning that the progress we are making is solid.”

Maverick Viñales:

“Today was very tough in terms of activity, we had so many things to test that I almost condensed a two-day job in just two sessions. This is very positive because this will allow me to ride more easily tomorrow and concentrate to the set-up finalisation and then onto the time attack. Today we couldn’t try it because our plan was different, but despite this I am in sixth place, meaning that the room for improvement is very wide. It’s a positive feeling. My two machines are equipped with two different chassis’ – the standard one and the evolution one – and I tried them both today and then tonight we’re going to make our evaluations and decide which one is more effective on this specific track. It’s a good feeling, we’re doing a very good job and for sure tomorrow we will improve again. Today I didn’t try the winglets as they weren’t in our program of working, but I will probably have them equipped in the next day… or on Monday.”

GP of Jerez FP2 Results:

1 Jorge LORENZO Movistar Yamaha MotoGP – 1’39.555
2 Marc MARQUEZ Repsol Honda Team – 1’39.900 + 0.345
3 Aleix ESPARGARO Team SUZUKI ECSTAR – 1’40.093 + 0.538
4 Hector BARBERA Avintia Racing 1’40.229 – + 0.674
5 Valentino ROSSI Movistar Yamaha MotoGP – 1’40.282 + 0.727
6 Maverick VIÑALES Team SUZUKI ECSTAR – 1’40.448 + 0.893
7 Andrea DOVIZIOSO Ducati Team – 1’40.737 + 1.182
8 Scott REDDING OCTO Pramac Yakhnich – 1’40.860 + 1.305
9 Dani PEDROSA Repsol Honda Team – 1’40.925 + 1.370
10 Eugene LAVERTY Aspar Team MotoGP – 1’40.925 + 1.370