NGM Forward Racing’s Aleix Espargaro was quickest in Friday practice for the Catalan Grand Prix, the Spanish rider setting a time under the current Circuit Record Lap in this morning’s Free Practice 1 session.
Espargaro reveled in the conditions at his home circuit, and at the end of FP1 with a new, soft compound rear slick fitted, set a scorching time of 1’41.672. Second quickest on combined times today was Monster Yamaha Tech 3’s Bradley Smith as the British rider was quickest in the scorching hot FP2 session in the afternoon with a personal best time of 1'42.123. Third quickest on the opening day at Montmeló was LCR Honda’s Stefan Bradl with a time of 1’42.130.
The sun mercilessly beat down on the Circuit de Catalunya-Barcelona today, sending track temperatures soaring. Track temperatures were already well into the 40°C range for the morning FP1 session and reached a peak of 54°C during FP2. The dry conditions enabled riders to assess many slick tire combinations, with all slick compound options front and rear being utilized today. Although more track time is needed before the best race tire combination for each rider can be decided, rider feedback from today’s sessions indicates that both rear slick options for the Factory and Open-class entrants are performing well, while for the front, the medium and hard compound slicks each have their own advantages depending on riding style and bike setup. Cooler conditions are forecast for tomorrow, yet this shouldn’t have a significant influence on tire choice for the practice and qualifying sessions.
Masao Azuma – Chief Engineer, Bridgestone Motorsport Tire Development
“We often experience very hot conditions at Montmeló and that was the case today, as we had extremely high ambient and track temperatures. One of the characteristics of this circuit in hot conditions is that the tarmac can get quite greasy which can make it difficult for the riders, but the riders reported that today tire performance was good, with lap times for the opening day being quite quick, while tire degradation is predictable which is helping the riders maintain consistent lap times during their runs. Tomorrow’s practice sessions will help riders decide on their race tire combination, and with cooler temperatures being forecast the general pace of the field should improve.”