Repsol Honda’s Marc Marquez led the field on the opening practice day for the French Grand Prix, as the current championship leader went quicker than the Le Mans Circuit Record with a time of 1’33.452 in Free Practice 2.
Marquez ended the day just 0.007 seconds ahead of Pramac Racing’s Andrea Iannone in second overall, while third quickest today was GO&FUN Honda Gresini’s Alvaro Bautista, who was 0.216 seconds behind Marquez. Marquez and Bautista set their quickest times on the combination of the soft compound rear and medium compound front slicks, while Iannone’s best time was achieved using the extra-soft rear slick paired with the medium front.
Fine track conditions greeted riders for Friday practice at the French Grand Prix, with track temperatures reaching a peak of 44°C during FP2. All slick options front and rear were evaluated by riders today but predictably, the riders opted for softer slick options front and rear in the cooler morning session. In the warmer FP2 session, many riders assessed their harder rear slick option; soft compound for the Ducati and Open-class riders and medium compound for the Factory Honda and Yamaha riders, but the softer rear options proved to be more popular on the low-grip Le Mans track. The higher track temperatures in FP2 also saw front tire choice shift towards the medium compound front slick for most of the riders.
Shinji Aoki – Manager, Bridgestone Motorsport tire Development Department
“Warm and dry conditions gave us a good start to the race weekend here at Le Mans with the pace of the riders already extremely quick. Compared to last year’s Friday practice sessions, the riders on average are lapping around half a second quicker so as well as being safer, it seems our 2014 specification tires have also given a boost to performance to the riders here at Le Mans. Similar conditions to today are forecast for the rest of the weekend, and I think some riders already have a good understanding of what their race tire choice is, although more data will still need to be collected tomorrow. If the riders continue to push at this quick pace and can improve their setup further, I predict we will see some super-quick lap times in qualifying tomorrow.”
Bob Ulrich was named Modern Tire Dealer editor in August 2000. He joined the magazine in 1985 as assistant editor, and has been responsible for gathering statistical information for MTD's "Facts Issue" since 1993.