Aleix Espargaro tops tightly-packed field in Sachsenring Friday practice
For the second successive Grand Prix Aleix Espargaro was the quickest rider on the opening day of practice, as the NGM Forward Racing rider set a rapid lap time of 1’22.041 at Sachsenring in Free Practice Two.
Using the combination of the soft compound front and rear slicks, Espargaro set the day’s quickest time on his very last lap to finish 0.117 seconds ahead of Repsol Honda’s Marc Marquez who was second quickest today. Third quickest on the first day of action in Germany was Movistar Yamaha MotoGP’s Jorge Lorenzo with a best time of 1’22.368. Sachsenring is the shortest circuit in MotoGP and this often results in a very competitive field and today was no exception, with the top seventeen riders setting personal best lap times within one second of each other.
The first two practice sessions of the race weekend took place in generally fine conditions, although a short rain shower in FP2 resulted in most of the field momentarily returning to their garages. Track temperatures in the afternoon practice session reached a peak of 44°C, so the light rain didn’t affect grip levels and the riders were able to increase their pace after the short interruption. As temperatures rose in the afternoon, the most popular front option was the hard compound slick as it provides maximum stability in the numerous, long-radius corners at Sachsenring. For the rear tire, the softer slick options were the most widely used for both the Factory and Open-class riders, but evaluation of the harder rear slick options yielded some positive results. Further evaluation of all rear slick options will take place in tomorrow’s FP4 session, as the Sachsenring is one of the most brutal for rear tires and an optimal bike setup and tire choice is a key factor in achieving a good race result.
Shinji Aoki - Manager, Bridgestone Motorcycle tire Development Department
“Sachsenring is one of those circuits where a good setup that uses the tires well is very important, so thanks to the fine weather the riders were able to test a few different tire combinations today. This is the first time we’ve brought our medium compound front slick to Sachsenring, and the feedback we received from the riders that tried it is that it’s working well, although the hard compound front slick is still the preferred option here. For the rear tire both the softer and harder options have their own distinct advantages at this track, and the riders will spend more time evaluating their options tomorrow to see what is the better choice for them. We often see many riders close together on lap times at this circuit, but to see the top seventeen riders within one second of each other is quite impressive and I hope this level of competitiveness continues over the rest of the weekend.”