Lorenzo leads Valencia free practice in MotoGP title fight
Movistar Yamaha MotoGP’s Jorge Lorenzo was the quickest rider on the opening day of the MotoGP season finale at Valencia’s Ricardo Tormo circuit, the Spaniard stopping the clocks with a 1’31.111 to seize the initiative in the title fight against his teammate Valentino Rossi who finished fifth fastest today.
Lorenzo was one of five riders to lap under race record pace at Valencia today and his quickest lap in this afternoon’s Free Practice 3 session ensured he ended the day 0.139 seconds ahead of Repsol Honda Team’s Marc Marquez on combined times. Third quickest overall was Dani Pedrosa on the other Repsol Honda Team RC213V machine, his best time of 1’31.377 leaving him just a tenth of a second behind his teammate. Overall, today’s practice sessions were extremely competitive with the top ten riders split by just 0.692 seconds on combined times.
Both of today’s practice sessions took place in fine and dry conditions, with persistent sunshine helping track temperatures reach a peak of 33°C during FP2. The frequent corners at the Ricardo Tormo circuit require a good bike setting and efficient tire usage for optimum performance, so the riders took advantage of the good conditions to evaluate a wide range of tire combinations. All three of the front slick specifications available at Valencia, the extra-soft, soft and asymmetric options were assessed by riders today. While the asymmetric tire was an excellent all-round option, in the high track temperatures this afternoon the soft compound front slick proved to be the most popular choice. All rear slick options were also evaluated today, with rider feedback indicating that all options are viable race choices at this stage of the weekend. Further tire evaluation in race simulations tomorrow will be critical in deciding which tire combinations each rider will use in Sunday’s thirty-lap race.
Shinji Aoki - Manager, Bridgestone Motorcycle Tire Development Department
“It was a typical opening day at Valencia, with the cool track temperatures in the morning increasing throughout the day which resulted in variable grip levels between the morning and afternoon sessions. All of the slick tire options in our allocation were evaluated by the riders today and overall we’ve had good feedback from the riders on their performance, the challenge now is to work with the teams and riders to identify which tire combinations work best for each machine and rider combination. The asymmetric and soft option front slicks worked particularly well today, while the medium compound rear slick was favored by the majority of riders due to its good combination of performance and durability. The pace is already very quick and the top ten on combined times are split by just 0.7 seconds – a very good sign that we will have a close race. I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Valencia Circuit Best Lap record beaten in Free Practice 3 tomorrow morning if conditions are favorable.”