Aleix-Espargaro Sachsenring free practice report

For the second successive Grand Prix Aleix Espargaro was the quickest rider on the opening day of practice, as the NGM Forward Racing rider set a rapid lap time of 1’22.041 at Sachsenring in Free Practice Two. Using the combination of the soft compound front and rear slicks, Espargaro set the day’s quickest time on his very last lap to finish 0.117 seconds ahead of Repsol Honda’s Marc Marquez who was second quickest today. Third quickest on the first day of action in Germany was Movistar Yamaha MotoGP’s Jorge Lorenzo with a best time of 1’22.368. Sachsenring is the shortest circuit in MotoGPâ„¢ and this often results in a very competitive field and today was no exception, with the top seventeen riders setting personal best lap times within one second of each other.

The first two practice sessions of the race weekend took place in generally fine conditions, although a short rain shower in FP2 resulted in most of the field momentarily returning to their garages. Track temperatures in the afternoon practice session reached a peak of 44°C, so the light rain didn’t affect grip levels and the riders were able to increase their pace after the short interruption. As temperatures rose in the afternoon, the most popular front option was the hard compound slick as it provides maximum stability in the numerous, long-radius corners at Sachsenring. For the rear tyre, the softer slick options were the most widely used for both the Factory and Open-class riders, but evaluation of the harder rear slick options yielded some positive results. Further evaluation of all rear slick options will take place in tomorrow’s FP4 session, as the Sachsenring is one of the most brutal for rear tyres and an optimal bike setup and tyre choice is a key factor in achieving a good race result.

Aleix Espargaro

“We continue our positive momentum. With Barcelona and Assen, this is the third race that we are constantly improving and today I’m satisfied because in the FP2 we tested the Forward chassis and it worked really well. We set the third fastest time with a tyre that had 22 laps on and the feeling was very positive. Sachsenring is a very special track for its layout and we will need to test it also on other circuits, but the feeling was really good. Tomorrow we will continue to work in this direction and if everything works well I want to use it also for the qualifying. I have also enjoyed riding here at Sachsenring. I’m confident because we have a good race pace and tomorrow we can make another step forward.”

Marc Marquez

“The day went very well, because even though I crashed I was fortunate not to get injured, but the impact was hard. The crash was a little strange, but when we looked at the telemetry later on we understood why it happened. It’s a long left turn in second gear on the throttle the whole time, and I accidentally touched the gear shift lever with the toe of my boot. This engaged another gear and as I was leant so far over – and had the gas open – the rear wheel slid out and I was thrown off. The afternoon session was really good and I felt comfortable on the bike again. l was able to put in a good lap, but most importantly I kept up a strong pace”.

Dani Pedrosa

“We were fortunate to have two dry sessions to test out the track today, it went pretty well and I had a good feeling, but I also suffered a crash. During the two practices I had problems with the brakes, and it was precisely at a braking point that I pushed too hard and crashed. However, I was able to go out again with another bike and continue riding through to the end of the afternoon session”.

Jorge Lorenzo

“It went quite well today. We were always within the top three. Today the bike is working well. It’s more stable than it was in Montmeló and in Assen, so in pace I’m quite good and also the braking is good. We just need to improve some small details to fight for first row tomorrow. Also, physically I am better than ever, so I feel strong.”

Valentino Rossi

“It’s a shame that I couldn’t improve on my time from this morning, because this morning was a good practice for me. I was in the third position and I felt very good with the bike, but this afternoon with the higher temperature we had to use the harder tyre on the front and we don’t have the right setting to use it. The bike was more difficult to turn and had understeer. I suffered a lot and I wasn’t fast enough. I’m a little bit worried, especially because for tomorrow morning we have to improve and understand the problem. Tomorrow will be an important day, especially in the afternoon. We have to try to stay in the top position. We have to work with the team and improve the setting for the harder tyres. Also, this weekend I have the new exhaust with two pipes. I like it, it’s not a big difference but from the bottom it’s more smooth so we can work on the pipe and try to improve.”

Pol Espargaro

“All in all, I am pretty happy with today’s result. The Sachsenring track is a very special one as it’s really narrow so it takes quite a bit of time to learn. My feeling wasn’t too bad from the word go this morning and we were even able to continue improving during the day. In the morning session we lost time in the first two sectors however, it seems we fixed this problem in the afternoon session but then lost time in the opposite ones. Also during my best lap I made a few small mistakes and could have been faster still, yet my pace on used tyres was nearly identical to my quickest lap time. Now we will analyse the data this afternoon and find a setup solution which combines the positives of all of the modifications that we tried today. My feeling on the bike during the second day usually improves a lot so I am already feeling confident even if the qualifying will be a really tight one and I intend to battle for a top position that counts.”

Bradley Smith

“Obviously, I am lucky to be walking away more or less unscathed from one very big crash, as well as another fall this morning. The only trouble I had was that I re-injured my finger a bit which I originally hurt at Mugello last year, however nothing major overall. Today was a bit tricky for us, we are certainly riding faster than we did last year however I don’t feel completely comfortable on the bike due to the balance not being perfect for the moment. In addition, my confidence at maximum lean angle can still improved. Considering the difficulties which we had to face today, the gap to the front is not enormous and this is really promising because this track is a challenging one due to all of the left hand corners, so it always takes a while to get comfortable. I am convinced that we can progress significantly and take home a strong qualifying position tomorrow.”

Alvaro Bautista

“We have been lucky with the weather, because it looked like it could rain all the day, but in the end we enjoyed a sunny day. This morning the track condition was not perfect, with a very low grip level, and the situation didn’t improve a lot in the afternoon. Anyway, we worked really well with the bike set-up and I felt comfortable already this morning, improving the feeling also during the second free practice session. However, I feel that we are still missing something with regard to the rear grip, therefore we are working on this area. We look forward to the rest of the weekend, because I’m convinced that we can improve both my feeling and my rhythm. Regardin the tyres, I think that the softer tyre could be a good option for Sunday’s race”..

Andrea Dovizioso

“We did a good session, working both with the hard and the soft tyre. For us it’s quite difficult to use the hard tyre because we struggle to get the bike to turn, and we have to spend a lot of time in lean angle where we don’t have much grip. The soft tyre on the other hand gives us the possibility to manage the bike better and in fact we were able to constantly set some good times towards the end of the session. In my opinion we are in line with the times that we expected and quite close to the front, and so the session was positive for this reason. For sure we still have to improve because for us lapping in these times is quite tiring.”

Cal Crutchlow

“As was to be expected today, the Ducati bikes seem to be struggling with understeer, but we are trying hard to resolve the problem. Today me and the guys tried a few different settings but they didn’t give the results we hoped for. We’ll check the data tonight and see what we can do for tomorrow. My main concern at the moment is that I probably have a trapped nerve in the bottom of my back. I woke up this morning with a pain, I’m unable to walk very well, but on the bike actually it’s not so bad and is of little hindrance.”

Scott Redding

“Actually riding here is not as bad as I expected. This is not one of my favourite circuits, but with this bike I’m enjoying it a lot! So far I’m quite happy. In the second practice session we had a small problem with the shock absorber, so it was difficult to set good lap times, but we are not worried about it. We focused on learning the track and the electronics, regarding in particular the anti-wheelie control, because here wecan’t use so much power. Now we need to find a little bit more rear traction, and just learn the track to get the right rhythm, and hopefully we can come a little bit closer to the other bikes through the weekend”.

Colin Edwards

“I cannot be happy with my final position, but the feeling with the bike is ok. The issue is that I have no front feeling. I need to figure out what the young generation does in terms of riding style to use all the potential of the bike.”

Andrea Iannone

“I’m glad for the sixth best lap time. It’s hard to make the bike turn faster because the track is very narrow and when I turn the throttle the bike begins to slide. With the guys we’re working hard to try to stay in the top five riders even if they are very fast, we’ll do our best!”

Yonny Hernandez

“I am very happy to be close to the top ten lap and not too far from the official Ducati bikes. I’m pretty close to the top 10, which is my primary goal, tomorrow I will try to directly access QP2. We worked well on the bike and this gives me a lot of confidence. I’m also working on tire life because the thirty laps of the race are a lot.”

Hiroshi Aoyama

“This morning the track conditions were quite strange. We suffered from a lack of grip. Yet this first day was still positive. The track temperature rose strongly for the second session and I felt more confident on the bike, so I could push harder. Last year my personal best time at the track was 1.23; today, on the first day, I managed to go quicker than that. In the second session we greatly improved the cornering of the bike, and thanks to that our times lowered a lot compared to the opening session. Despite the improvements, the fast corners are still causing problems and we will work on this tomorrow. Overall, my feeling with the bike has been very positive -hopefully tomorrow the weather lends us a hand and we can keep improving.”

Nicky Hayden

“This first day hasn’t been spectacular; we expected to be more competitive than at the last round, but that wasn’t the case. This morning we started quite well but at a certain point neither the team nor I were able to continue to progress. We found a couple of improvements, which we worked for us in some places but hindered us in others. We must find a balance with the bike for every sector of this track. The first part of this circuit is very twisty, and at the end it gets very fast and requires heavy braking. You have to find a compromise and a balance for the bike on all sectors to improve your times. We have several ideas in mind for tomorrow, and I am sure that they will help us improve. Basically we aim to improve the maneuverability of the bike on the long, fast corners.”

MotoGP Sachsenring free practice timings

1. Aleix Espargaro (SPA) NGM Mobile Forward Racing 1’22.041
2. Marc Marquez (SPA) Repsol Honda Team 1’22.158
3. Jorge Lorenzo (SPA) Movistar Yamaha MotoGP 1’22.368
4. Stefan Bradl (GER) LCR Honda MotoGP 1’22.430
5. Alvaro Bautista (SPA) Go&Fun Honda Gresini 1’22.440
6. Valentino Rossi (ITA) Movistar Yamaha MotoGP 1’22.466
7. Andrea Iannone (ITA) Pramac Racing 1’22.565
8. Pol Espargarò (SPA) Monster Yamaha Tech3 1’22.569
9. Andrea Dovizioso (ITA) Ducati Team 1’22.576
10. Dani Pedrosa (SPA) Repsol Honda Team 1’22.589
11. Bradley Smith (GBR) Monster Yamaha Tech3 1’22.719
12. Yonny Hernandez (COL) Energy T.I. Pramac Racing 1’22.724
13. Cal Crutchlow (GBR) Ducati Team 1’22.757
14. Michael Laverty (GBR) Paul Bird Motorsport 1’22.928
15. Scott Redding (GBR) Go&Fun Honda Gresini 1’22.933
16. Hiroshi Aoyama (JPN) Drive M7 Aspar 1’22.961
17. Karel Abraham (CZE) Cardion AB Motoracing 1’23.049
18. Nicky Hayden (USA) Drive M7 Aspar 1’23.204
19. Colin Edwards (USA) NGM Mobile Forward Racing 1’23.327
20. Hector Barbera (SPA) Avintia Racing 1’23.393
21. Mike Di Meglio (FRA) Avintia Racing 1’23.858
22. Danilo Petrucci (ITA) Octo Iodaracing Team 1’23.912
23. Brok Parkes (AUS) Paul Bird Motorsport 1’24.158