The first European round of the 2016 MotoGP World Championship got underway on the Jerez track today with the first two free practice sessions ahead of Sunday‘s Gran Premio de España.
Despite the search for rear grip and an anti-wheelie solution, Jorge Lorenzo and Valentino Rossi were both quick to find a very competitive pace. The Movistar Yamaha MotoGP duo put their names at the top of the time sheets as soon as they hit the Spanish track, making clear they mean business this weekend.
Lorenzo was cheered on by his home fans as he rode his YZR-M1 around the Circuito de Jerez, one of his favourite tracks. Initially in fourth place, the Spaniard proved that the combination of the tight and twisty nature of the circuit, the nimbleness of the Yamahaand his ever smooth riding style are unbeatable when he puts the hammer down. He spurred on his Yamaha in the final minutes of FP1 and set a best lap of 1‘40.270 for first place, 0.257s ahead of his closest rival.
He duplicated this strong form in the afternoon. Making full use of the sunny yet not too hot conditions at the Jerez circuit to test various set-up options, he secured provisional second place. He held this spot for a large part of the session before dropping a hot lap in the final minutes and taking over at the top with a 1‘39.555s, creating a 0.345s margin to second place.
Team-mate Rossi was also strong out of the gate. Having topped the rankings early on in FP1, he maintained a quick pace throughout the session and proved his key protagonist role once again when he took provisional first place with 20 minutes left on the clock. He held the position with a best lap of 1’40.676s until being moved down to third in the time sheets, 0.406s from the front, in the final minutes of the morning session.
The Doctor continued working on his setting in the afternoon and looked competitive holding a top 3 position for the majority of the session, before the pace picked up in the final stages of FP2. He ended the session in fifth place with a best lap of 1‘40.282s, 0.727s from his team-mate.
Today‘s results see Lorenzo top the combined times of the Friday free practice sessions, with Rossi not far behind in fifth place.
It‘s definitely been a positive start to the weekend. This morning we suffered of lack of rear grip and too much wheeling, but we have been able to improve both aspects throughout the day by trying different settings during the two sessions with both our riders. We have also been able to test almost all the tyre options ahead of Sunday‘s race. The riders did a good amount of laps with all the tyre solutions. Jorge really wanted to do a fast lap at the end of the second session and set an impressive 1‘39.555s on a new set of tyres. Valentino was more focused on improving his setting. He kept the same tyres for the entire session and maintained a good pace until the end. As usual we will continue working and are keen on improving a couple of areas further for tomorrow.
My first feelings are positive. We started the first day with some problems and a different feel than what we had in the last two races but little by little we solved these problems and adjusted the electronics, setting and everything. Now we have a good set-up and can keep working to improve the small details. First place this morning and first place this afternoon, I think, is a good beginning of the weekend!
I‘m very happy to be back in Europe, because here the track is fantastic and the atmosphere is special. It‘s always great, the Jerez weekend, especially with good weather and also the track was not so bad, because I was quite competitive from this morning. We started with a good base setting and I felt good with the bike. I was also quite fast in the afternoon and I was always within the top 5, so this is OK. There are some points on the track where we have to improve, especially the feeling with the front, but I already feel good with the bike and we will try to continue like this.