Action got underway at the Motorland Aragón circuit today with the first two free practice sessions ahead of Sunday‘s Gran Premio Movistar de Aragón. Movistar Yamaha MotoGP‘s Valentino Rossi was quick to find a competitive pace and powered to a solid fourth place after FP2. Teammate Jorge Lorenzo struggled to find the right set-up in the afternoon to solve vibrations, but persevered. He caught up at the end of the afternoon session, securing seventh place in the combined rankings.
Rossi was quick to position himself as a key protagonist in the morning session. Whilst getting a feel for the track he set the provisional fastest time on his second flying lap, before putting his attention towards finding a perfect balance for his bike. As the session progressed he improved, found a solid rhythm and ended the morning practice with a best time of 1‘49.016s for second place, 0.186s from first.
The Doctor stuck to the same approach in the FP2 session, using the early stages to set a fast time for provisional first place before further improving his bike‘s set-up. In the final three minutes the Italian rider bettered his morning time by nearly half a second with a1‘48.669s lap and ended the first day of practice in fourth position in the overall standings, just 0.240s from the front.
Lorenzo had a good start to his home Grand Prix. Eager to win the Aragón Grand Prix for the third year in succession, he progressively built up his pace in the morning practice. Though he focused mainly on bettering his bike‘s set-up, he dropped into the mid-1‘49s towards the end of the session and went on to conclude the morning in fifth position with a 1‘49.573s, 0.743s from first.
The Mallorcan again displayed his determination in the afternoon. When faced with vibration problems, he spent the majority of the second session trying various tyre options in preparation for Sunday‘s race. His hard work paid off at the end of the session when he dropped under the 1‘49 mark, setting a fastest time of 1‘48.914s for seventh place in today’s combined times, 0.485s from first.
It‘s been quite a mixed but overall rewarding start to the Aragón Grand Prix. On Vale‘s side everything went very smooth and they were able to work well on almost all the stints. He has been quite consistent with his pace during both practices while he still kept a margin for the end when he signed off the day with a 1‘48.6s lap. Unfortunately, Jorge suffered a bit more in the afternoon, especially with the front feeling with the medium tyres and only at the end of the session he was able to set a decent lap with a front tyre that had already done 25 laps. Taking this into consideration, he has performed well. Tomorrow we have to focus on our main task to extend the rear tyre life, something we definitely need to improve. In the meantime, we have to better the reactivity of the bike in the change of direction, because for the moment the handling is still too heavy.
In both practice sessions, in the morning and the afternoon, I was always quite strong but we have a lot of work to do, because we are good with the new tyres, the hard and the soft, after some laps. We are concentrating on this point of view, because it will be interesting for Sunday. From this first day we take some data and are quite happy. The first impression is this: with the new tyres we are very good, but after some laps our main rival suffers less with less stress on the tyres. This is quite worrisome for us and we have to get closer.
In the morning it wasn‘t bad, I probably had the second fastest pace, but in the afternoon we struggled and we tried various tyres. The front medium tyres gave a lot of vibrations in the corners and the other option, the softer one from the morning that had a lot of laps, gave me a good confidence in the last free practice. All in all it wasn‘t a good day. Tomorrow we want to try a new setting and improve the electronics and let‘s see if we can be much faster.