Aleix Espargaro puts Suzuki on top in Friday practice at Montmeló
Aleix Espargaro once again showed he is a force to be reckoned with at his home circuit as the Team SUZUKI ECSTAR rider was the quickest rider in Friday practice at the Catalan Grand Prix for the second consecutive year.
On his final lap in the afternoon’s Free Practice 2 session, Espargaro set a stunning lap time of 1'41.158 – a time just three tenths off the Circuit Best Lap record – to end the day 0.285 seconds clear of Repsol Honda Team’s Marc Marquez who was second quickest today. Third quickest was Dani Pedrosa on the other Repsol Honda Team RC213V with a best time of 1’41.789. The general pace on the opening day of action at Montmeló was extremely quick, with the top eight riders on the timesheets setting times quicker than the existing race lap record.
Fine and sunny conditions were present for both of today’s sessions, with a mild start to the day giving way to hot temperatures in the afternoon. The peak track temperature recorded was 50°C – making the quick pace shown by the riders in FP2 even more impressive. A feature of the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya is that in hot conditions, the tarmac becomes quite greasy and this year is no exception. In order to find a tire combination that can effectively manage the tricky conditions, five of the six slick options brought this weekend were evaluated today. Today’s indications are that the medium compound front and rear slicks are the favourite amongst the riders, although the soft and hard compound rear, and hard compound front slicks also yielded positive results and are likely to be tested further tomorrow.
The weather forecast indicates that conditions tomorrow will be similar to today, so fine conditions should greet riders for the next MotoGP session, Free Practice 3 at 0955 local time (GMT +2) tomorrow.
Shinji Aoki - Manager, Bridgestone Motorcycle Tire Development Department
“Conditions were as expected today at Montmeló, with the track becoming quite greasy this afternoon as the track temperatures increased. We’ve changed our tire allocation for this year and the results have been good with the riders finding good points in many of our different compound options today. The medium compound front and rear slicks are the preferred options at this stage of the race weekend, but there will be more comparison work tomorrow during FP3 and FP4 before a decision on race tire choice will be made. Despite the greasy and bumpy track surface, lap times in FP2 were extremely quick so I hope we see this trend continue in qualifying tomorrow and we see the Circuit Best Lap record challenged.”