Marquez tops Friday MotoGP practice at Valencia
Repsol Honda’s Marc Marquez started his push for a record thirteen premier-class wins in a season in the best possible way as the 2014 MotoGP World Champion topped both Friday practice sessions at the Valencia Grand Prix.
Marquez’s quickest time of the day, 1'31.296 was set in this morning’s Free Practice 1 session and was three-tenths of a second under the current Valencia Circuit Record Lap, and 0.193 seconds quicker than his closest rival today, Movistar Yamaha MotoGP’s Jorge Lorenzo.
Third quickest on the opening day at Valencia was Ducati Team’s Andrea Dovizioso who set a personal best lap time of 1’31.558 to end the day just 0.262 seconds adrift of Marquez’s best effort. Lap times among the leading group of riders were extremely close all day, with the top ten riders separated by just 0.723 seconds on combined practice times.
The first session of the race weekend, Free Practice 1, was subjected to cool and blustery conditions which resulted in the majority of riders starting the session on softer compound slicks front and rear. Persistent sunshine helped boost track temperatures to 30°C during Free Practice 2 which enabled the riders to experiment with different tire combinations, with all slick compound options in Bridgestone’s tire allocation being utilized today. Bridgestone has brought two soft compound front slick specifications to Valencia, a symmetric and asymmetric option, and both of these options were evaluated today and further back-to-back testing will take place tomorrow as riders look for their preferred race tire.
In today’s sessions the majority of riders including the Factory Ducati, Honda and Yamaha entrants showed a preference for the medium compound rear slick, while many Open-class riders focused on getting the best performance out of the soft compound rear. The hard compound rear slick was also evaluated today with encouraging results but given the likelihood of cooler temperatures for the rest of the weekend, is unlikely to be widely used in the remaining sessions.
Fine yet slightly cooler conditions are forecast for tomorrow with the next MotoGP session being Free Practice 3 at 0955 local time (GMT +1) with the first qualifying session, QP1 scheduled to start at 14:10 local time.
Shinji Aoki – Manager, Bridgestone Motorsport tire Development Department
“Today was a good way to start the final MotoGP round of the year with a wide range of tires assessed by the riders and strong, consistent pace shown throughout the day. This was the second time we’ve brought an asymmetric front slick option to a race weekend and almost every rider took the opportunity to evaluate this option and hearing the good feedback we received from the riders, I expect this option to get a lot of use this weekend. That said, all our slick options are performing well and with cooler temperatures forecast for the rest of the weekend, tomorrow will be important for the riders to work on bike setup and try different tire combinations at a circuit where tire management is of key importance. Given how quick the pace is already I am confident that if we have dry conditions tomorrow we will see yet another new Circuit Best Lap record set during qualifying.”