Record pace sees Smith top Friday practice at Le Mans

May 15, 2015

Monster Yamaha Tech 3’s Bradley Smith put a smile on the faces of his team at their home race, as the British rider topped the timesheets in Friday’s Free Practice sessions at Le Mans.
In the afternoon Free Practice 2 session, Smith set a time of 1’33.179 to end the day 0.190 seconds ahead of Movistar Yamaha MotoGP’s Jorge Lorenzo, the second quickest rider on combined times today. Third quickest overall on the opening day of the French Grand Prix was Ducati Team’s Andrea Dovizioso, whose best time of 1’33.553 was a further two-tenths behind Smith’s benchmark time. The pace this weekend is proving to be extremely fast, with both Smith and Lorenzo’s best times being under the existing Circuit Record Lap of 1'33.548, set by Repsol Honda’s Marc Marquez in last year’.
Track conditions this morning for FP1 were challenging for the riders with cool temperatures and some damp patches on track following overnight rain. In the search for maximum grip and warm-up performance in the tricky conditions, tire choice for FP1 saw the majority of riders start with the extra-soft compound front slick – the softest option in Bridgestone’s line up – with either the extra-soft or soft compound rear slick. Although the tarmac was completely dry for FP2, persistent cloud cover and cool winds kept track temperatures low, with a peak reading of 28°C recorded at the end of FP2. Despite the cool temperatures, in addition to using the softer rear slick option, many riders evaluated their harder rear option - medium compound for the factory Honda and Yamaha riders, soft compound for the rest of the field – in FP2 with promising results. At this stage of the race weekend the soft compound front slick is emerging as the most popular option, but more evaluation of the different rear slick options tomorrow is needed before the riders decide which rear slick is their best race option.
Cool and cloudy conditions are forecast for tomorrow, with the next MotoGP session being FP3 at 0955 local time (GMT +2).
Masao Azuma – Chief Engineer, Bridgestone Motorsport Tire Development Department:
“Today we had typical weather conditions for Le Mans with cool temperatures and a strong breeze. The tarmac at this circuit doesn’t offer a lot of grip and this combined with the particularly cool conditions this morning, meant all riders started FP1 with the extra-soft front slick to ensure they had the maximum amount of grip available. As the riders became more acquainted with the track conditions, there was a shift towards using the soft compound front slick as this still offers a high level of grip and warm-up performance, but with better braking stability. For the rear tire, there was quite a bit of experimentation with both the softer and harder rear options, and more comparison work between the options is needed tomorrow before each rider can decide which rear slick specification will be their race tire choice. At this point of the weekend we already have riders lapping under race record pace, so it will be interesting to see how close the riders can get to the outright lap record in qualifying tomorrow. ”

French MotoGP: Top ten combined Free Practice 1 & 2 times

Pos. Rider                                 Team                                         Combined time       Gap

1 Bradley SMITH Monster Yamaha Tech 3 1'33.179 (FP2)  
2 Jorge LORENZO Movistar Yamaha MotoGP 1'33.369 (FP2) 0.190
3 Andrea DOVIZIOSO Ducati Team 1'33.553 (FP2) 0.374
4 Cal CRUTCHLOW CWM LCR Honda 1'33.652 (FP2) 0.473
5 Marc MARQUEZ Repsol Honda Team 1'33.670 (FP2) 0.491
6 Valentino ROSSI Movistar Yamaha MotoGP 1'33.686 (FP2) 0.507
7 Dani PEDROSA CWM LCR Honda 1'33.725 (FP2) 0.546
8 Pol ESPARGARO Monster Yamaha Tech 3 1'33.903 (FP2) 0.724
9 Aleix ESPARGARO Team SUZUKI ECSTAR 1'33.944 (FP2) 0.765
10 Yonny HERNANDEZ Pramac Racing 1'33.953 (FP2) 0.774