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The first day of MotoGP™ practice at the Le Mans circuit in France saw both Team SUZUKI ECSTAR’s Aleix Espargaró and Maverick Viñales have an intense day testing the new set-up options they found at the recent Jerez test and the final classification of the day sees them both well into the leading group.

Both the crews had a very tight testing plan, trying different configurations in the electronics and, most importantly, in the set-ups. The result was that both riders recorded important improvements, and finally in the second Free Practice session saw them knock over a second off their morning times to place sixth for Espargaró and seventh for Viñales with times of 1’33.595 and 1’33.613 respectively.

The day was also positive with the new tyres that Michelin brought to Le Mans and feedback from the riders is positive. Espargaró also had an issue with his first bike, which switched off around the middle of the session while exiting the second run. The issue is now under investigation but it seems it came from an electronic failure.

Davide Brivio – Team Manager:

“It has been a very intense day for both riders as we had many ideas after the Jerez test and we wanted to explore some solutions. Today Aleix seemed to be the one who most liked the new set-ups, finding himself confident and improving his lap times consistently. He had a little electronic issue but this didn’t affect his work and the feedback he had about the GSX-RR behaviour was positive, although there are still some margins. Maverick instead had a little harder day, he had positive feelings after Jerez but here he hasn’t found the proper way to exploit at its best. We are still working on his set-up, he lacks in traction and we need to deliver him a bike that can support him in strong acceleration. Overall we are pretty positive, we are not so far from the top and we have some more things to test so tomorrow we will try to be more effective.”

Aleix Espargaró:

“It’s been a positive day and we made many improvements. After the test in Jerez we had some positive hints and now we are trying to take advantage from that. My feeling is better, I can ride the bike more easily and be more effective. This circuit is not easy for us, we are strong in high-speed corners but we suffer in the stop-and-go, so this is the area we are focusing our efforts. We need to find better balance and try to be more competitive in that. We continued the work with the winglets: I don’t think they can give us a real advantage in such a tight circuit as Le Mans, but it is important to get ready for faster tracks such as Mugello and Montmelò. I also tried the new Michelin tyre, it was important because the harder one will not be a good choice and to have two softer options is good, although I need to test them further.”

Maverick Viñales:

“Today’s been a tough day, the lap time is not bad but I still don’t feel totally confident. We are struggling a lot with traction, I can’t be so effective in exiting the slow corners and we are working with different set-up options but so far we couldn’t find the proper way. The new soft tyre is not bad, I liked it, probably the harder one will not be an option so we will work on the other two. We have much information coming from Jerez, we are trying to find the best ones and so far we couldn’t’ find it, but with the hard work we are used to doing I believe we will find better configurations for tomorrow.”

Le Mans FP2 Results:

1 Jorge LORENZO Movistar Yamaha MotoGP 1’32.830
2 Andrea IANNONE Ducati Team 1’33.169 + 0.339
3 Marc MARQUEZ Repsol Honda Team 1’33.313 + 0.144
4 Pol ESPARGARO Monster Yamaha Tech 3 1’33.406 + 0.093
5 Andrea DOVIZIOSO Ducati Team + 0.168
6 Aleix ESPARGARO Team SUZUKI ECSTAR 1’33.595 + 0.021
7 Maverick VIÑALES Team SUZUKI ECSTAR 1’33.613 + 0.018
8 Dani PEDROSA Repsol Honda Team 1’33.748 + 0.135
9 Hector BARBERA Avintia Racing 1’33.951 + 0.203
10 Valentino ROSSI Movistar Yamaha MotoGP 1’33.974 + 0.023