Aleix Espargaro surges forward in Friday practice at Jerez
NGM Forward Racing’s Aleix Espargaro was quickest overall on the first day of action at Jerez, the Spaniard piloting his Forward Yamaha M1 to a time of 1’39.357 in this morning’s Free Practice 1 session.
The flowing layout of the Jerez circuit favours good corner speed over sheer power, and Espargaro was able to extract maximum performance from the Open-class only extra-soft rear slick to set a time quicker than the current Jerez race lap record. Second quickest overall was Movistar Yamaha MotoGP’s Jorge Lorenzo, whose personal best time of 1’39.714 also came during FP1. Repsol Honda’s Marc Marquez was quickest in the afternoon FP2 session and third overall with a lap time of 1’39.757.
Conditions today were hot and dry at Jerez, with track temperatures reaching a scorching 55°C towards the end of FP2; approximately 20°C warmer than recorded in FP1. Grip levels were reported by the riders to be normal for FP1, but the extremely high temperatures in the afternoon caused greasy track conditions which resulted in only ten of the twenty-four riders being able to improve on their lap times from this morning.
For both sessions today, the medium compound front slick was the most popular option, although many riders also evaluated the hard compound front slick in the warmer conditions during FP2. All three rear slick options were used today, with the riders showing a tendency towards choosing their softer rear option; extra-soft for Ducati and Open-class, soft for Factory Honda and Yamaha in the cooler morning session, and progressing to their harder rear option for FP2. With temperatures forecast to remain at a similar level for the rest of the weekend, today’s FP2 session provided a good opportunity for teams to assess their preferred tire options for qualifying and the race.
Masao Azuma – Chief Engineer, Bridgestone Motorsport tire Development Department
“It was very hot today at Jerez and we had quite a large variation in track temperatures between the morning and afternoon sessions. As track temperatures got above fifty degrees in the afternoon, many riders commented that the tarmac felt greasy and so it was difficult to improve their lap time from FP1. At this stage it seems like the riders are considering all of the rear slick options as a possible choice for the race, but we need more time tomorrow to see what will work best in what we expect to be hot conditions on Sunday. Front tire choice is still open as well, but considering how warm it is only the medium and hard compound front slicks are viable race options. The pace for the first day was very quick even though teams didn’t have the benefit of using setup data from a pre-season test like in previous years, so our new asymmetric rear slicks seem to have given the riders a good boost in performance and safety.”