Repsol Honda’s Marc Marquez adapted quickly to the new tarmac and layout of the revised Indianapolis Motor Speedway circuit to lead the field on the first day of practice for the Indianapolis Grand Prix. Marquez set the day’s quickest time of 1’32.882 on the combination of the medium compound slicks front and rear to finish 0.222 seconds ahead of Pramac Racing’s Andrea Iannone in second place, who set his time on the same combination as Marquez. Third quickest today was Movistar Yamaha MotoGP’s Jorge Lorenzo whose best time of 1’33.424 — set on the medium front and hard compound rear – was just over half a second off Marquez’s benchmark time.
Light rain fell throughout the day at Indianapolis but track temperatures — which reached a peak of 38°C – were warm enough to ensure the track surface remained completely dry for both of today’s practice sessions. In the morning session almost every rider ventured out on track with their softer rear slick option; medium compound for the Factory Honda and Yamaha riders, and soft compound for the Ducati and Open-class riders, to evaluate the grip level of the new Indy tarmac. However, such was the grip available from the new track surface that some riders also evaluated their harder rear slick option in the first session and were able to lap extremely quickly using this option. All three front slick options were utilised today, although only Repsol Honda’s Dani Pedrosa evaluated the hard compound front. At this stage of the race weekend the majority of riders prefer the medium compound front, which is a new addition to the tyre allocation at Indianapolis this year. All slick options performed well on the first day of action at Indianapolis and with grip levels bound to change as more sessions are run, further evaluation in tomorrow’s practice sessions is needed for riders to determine their preferred race tyre combination.
“Overall today went pretty well and after the holidays it is always important to pick back up the pace and regain confidence on the bike. We could also test out the new track surface today; now there are almost no bumps and it seems that the grip has also improved from last year. In terms of the layout, perhaps the previous one suited us a bit better but this one is more natural and more fun. We were also able to try out the hard and soft rear tyres, gathering data that we will review to make further improvements. We’re happy with how today went and how we’ve progressed”.
“We were able to progress a lot in the afternoon and tried out all the tyres, but we still need to work to see what the pace will be like and find the limits of the track. Today the track condition improved the more laps we all put in, because the asphalt cleaned up and gave us much more grip. Tomorrow we will work on finding the limits and getting a good tyre combination for Sunday’s race. I don’t like this new layout as much; it seems less fun compared to the previous one, because we have three fewer places in which to overtake”.
“Finally the resurfaced track doesn’t seem so bad. The three corners that were in the past maybe a little bit too slow we don’t have to use first gear for now so we don’t lose so much speed on our competitors. Last year the bumps were quite bad, now the resurfacing of the track means they are gone. We were the only ones to start the second practice with the soft rear tyre, the other ones took the old one from the morning so they could use a new soft tyre at the end. Finally we tried the hard option and it was ok, so it could be the tyre for the Sunday.”
“The new lay-out of the track is good. I like it! It’s better than the old lay-out and especially the asphalt and the quality of the surface is a lot better, so it’s good. It’s easier to ride the bike because it has more grip. Here it’s difficult to decide on a tyre, because both the medium and the harder tyre are not bad. The softer tyre is a bit faster, but it will be difficult to make it last for the whole race, so we have to try to decide. I tried to put the softer tyre in on the end of the session and I improved my lap time. From the third position all riders are very close so I will have to do better!”
“It was great to return from the summer break with such a quick pace this morning and it’s certainly what we needed. We made the right choice and started on a soft tyre, before switching to a hard compound at the end of the first session. My feeling was good on the hard, so I began a long run which I continued this afternoon, prior to changing again to a soft one at the final stages of FP2, but there was much more grip than I expected and I couldn’t take full advantage of the new rubber. However, I still haven’t made a decision on tyres for the race as the grip levels will certainly change. In any case the modifications to the circuit are really good and it’s much better for us to ride on, but the only down side is that some of the passing opportunities are reduced due to the circuit being much faster. With regards to this afternoon, I am only 0.2 from the fastest Yamaha and very close to the front row. The team did a great job plus I am really happy to be back with the bike feeling as good as ever. It’s a long way until the race on Sunday, but my tactic is to continue the positive start today, be quick in qualifying and make no mistakes in the race.”
“I am happy with today’s performance as, although I finished lower than I wanted to be in the standings, I was only 0.3 of a second from the front row and Jorge who was the fastest Yamaha. Also I am especially pleased with the track improvements. The modifications of the corners definitely helps us to turn better which really adds to the enjoyment of riding this circuit, plus the grip levels have obviously improved a lot. I tried the hard compound this morning which was really positive and then later today I rode on the soft. At the moment, I am still unsure on the best compound to use but we need to work a little on the rear section of the bike as I am sliding a lot when entering the corner. In addition, I definitely need to work on adjusting my riding style more. Overall, I am happy with my final lap time so tomorrow we will work harder and continue to move forward.”
“I am happy with today’s result because we were competitive right away. I believe that the track will improve even further tomorrow, so we must not look too closely at the times, but the feeling with my GP14 is good. Tomorrow we will still have to work on our bike to make more improvements, but we are all pretty close in the times. The resurfaced track is much more enjoyable and I’m really pleased with the job that has been done here at Indy.”
“I think today went as expected, seeing as we had some settings to try with my bikes. One bike was clearly better than the other and only in the last run was I able to make an improvement. The lap time at the moment is not so good and not so consistent but we will look to improve that tomorrow. Despite everything, I’m quite optimistic about how things are going, although my arms felt a little sore because only a few weeks ago I had an operation on both of them. As for the new circuit layout, it seems quite nice as well and is a lot better to ride on.”
“We are close to the front row but we need to keep on working on the set up of the bike to be more competitive. This afternoon we made some big changes on the bike but I’m still struggling in making the bike turn, while we are strong under braking. I have always struggled on this track, but I like the new layout a lot and I’m confident for tomorrow.”
“Today we have been struggling and basically we’re having the same problems we had in the last few races: I have no grip at the rear, and the tyre seems moving everywhere, sliding also on corner entry; for me it’s quite difficult to ride the bike in this condition. Anyway, we are working and hopefully tomorrow I will have a better feeling in order to improve my lap times; the gap to the other riders is not so big, but at the moment I can’t ride in a comfortable way. Regarding the new track layout, I think that is really good, because before there was some tricky corners that now are more suited to our bikes. Also the new surface is really good and it offers a lot of grip”.
“This morning was nice, I felt immediately quite comfortable even though the track was a bit slippery. I knew that the other guys would have been faster in the afternoon, but also in the second session we made a good lap time, having been one second faster than the second placed Open Class Honda, and we kept a really goop pace. Now we just need to work on the tyre life, because I think that here everyone is truggling to make the tyres last, since the new surface is quite abrasive. However, we have some good ideas to figure it out, and I also need to work on my riding style to save tyres. Anyway, we will try to work on it tomorrow during FP3. Regarding the new track layout, I like especially the last corner because you exit it with much more speed than before”.
“Today we were able to try out the modified circuit here at Indianapolis and personally I much prefer it. It is easier to overtake and to maintain your speed through the corners. It wasn’t easy to pass here before but the track feels wider and there are different lines to take. It seems like the harder tyre has less grip and I felt safer on the soft compound, but the idea tomorrow is to improve the bike in all situations and pick the tyre that is going to last full race distance. I found it easier to set fast times this morning than this afternoon, when we made a change that didn’t work out as we hoped. We have to keep working tomorrow to try and find more grip.”
“The bike, the engine management system, the tyres… everything has been new for me today and very different to what I am used to riding. Even so I enjoyed myself, the bike seems good although obviously I have a lot to learn. I didn’t think I would fit on the bike but it felt much better than I expected. I love the Indianapolis track, in some ways it is similar to Silverstone, and the first corner is really impressive — you have the throw the bike in there and be brave. In general I am happy with how the day has gone but I need time to work on the lap time and to find some more speed. I am sure that as I learn the bike I will be able to manage it better in the corners. I tried the soft and intermediate compound tyres today and I liked them — they were unlike anything I have ridden on before.”
“The circuit has done a great job, I like the new layout a lot and it’s great to race in America. Indy is special and has a lot of history and for sure it will be an emotional weekend and I’m enjoying every single moment. We are working on the bike set up and tomorrow we will continue to be more comfortable.”
MotoGP Indianapolis combined Free Practice timings
- 1. Marc Marquez (SPA) Repsol Honda Team 1’32.882
- 2. Andrea Iannone (ITA) Pramac Racing 1’33.104
- 3. Jorge Lorenzo (SPA) Movistar Yamaha MotoGP 1’33.424
- 4. Andrea Dovizioso (ITA) Ducati Team 1’33.432
- 5. Dani Pedrosa (SPA) Repsol Honda Team 1’33.493
- 6. Stefan Bradl (GER) LCR Honda MotoGP 1’33.513
- 7. Yonny Hernandez (COL) Energy T.I. Pramac Racing 1’33.531
- 8. Aleix Espargaro (SPA) NGM Mobile Forward Racing 1’33.587
- 9. Valentino Rossi (ITA) Movistar Yamaha MotoGP 1’33.598
- 10. Bradley Smith (GBR) Monster Yamaha Tech3 1’33.621
- 11. Pol EspargarÃ² (SPA) Monster Yamaha Tech3 1’33.690
- 12. Scott Redding (GBR) Go&Fun Honda Gresini 1’33.971
- 13. Cal Crutchlow (GBR) Ducati Team 1’33.996
- 14. Alvaro Bautista (SPA) Go&Fun Honda Gresini 1’34.054
- 15. Karel Abraham (CZE) Cardion AB Motoracing 1’34.912
- 16. Colin Edwards (USA) NGM Mobile Forward Racing 1’34.994
- 17. Hiroshi Aoyama (JPN) Drive M7 Aspar 1’35.106
- 18. Hector Barbera (SPA) Avintia Racing 1’35.231
- 19. Michael Laverty (GBR) Paul Bird Motorsport 1’35.472
- 20. Danilo Petrucci (ITA) Octo Iodaracing Team 1’35.721
- 21. Mike Di Meglio (FRA) Avintia Racing 1’35.749
- 22. Brok Parkes (AUS) Paul Bird Motorsport 1’35.941
- 23. Leon Camier (GBR) Drive M7 Aspar 1’36.394