These just in from the Netherlands, or Holland, or the place that they put mayo on fries:
Assen (The Netherlands), 23rd June 2017
Movistar Yamaha MotoGP Team‘s Maverick Viñales and Valentino Rossi have started their quest at the ’Cathedral‘ with a full-on schedule for the Friday. Their first day at the TT Assen Circuit was filled with preparing their bikes’ set-up and tyre allocation as well as trying the updated frame, and their hard work paid off. They booked solid progress, setting the first and sixth fastest time of the day respectively.
Viñales had to show some patience in the FP1, as it was red flagged just three minutes into the session due to track conditions. Once the lights in pit lane turned green again at 10:29 local circuit time, the Spaniard headed out to get his Assen challenge well and truly underway. He started his morning outing by comparing the updated frame to the original version before getting serious with his bike‘s setting. He soon found a good rhythm as he completed three five-lap stints on the Dutch circuit and set a best time of 1‘35.263s, which was fast enough to secure 12th place, 0.583s from first.
The youngster continued with a strong impression in the afternoon, setting the provisional fastest lap on his third attempt, and began to fine-tune his YZR-M1 to accommodate the Dutch circuit. He diligently worked on comparing the tyres, before he turned up the heat a notch on his final run. He ended the session posting multiple 1’33s laps to top the FP2 and combined timesheets with a 1’33.130s and a 0.367s gap to his closest rival.
Rossi didn‘t let a second go to waste once the morning session was restarted. Similar to his teammate, he started the day at the Assen track with getting a feel for his bike with the updated frame. He ended the session with an eight-minute ’shoot-out‘ to secure a place in the top-10, in case it would rain in the afternoon and tomorrow. The Doctor pushed hard to secure fifth in the FP1 rankings as he dropped a 1‘34.841s fastest lap, 0.161s from the front.
The nine-time World Champion gradually chipped away at his time in FP2 as he completed another 19 laps on top of this morning’s 22 laps, to make the nimble character of the Yamaha suit the twisty sections of the ’Cathedral‘. Working continuously on squeezing out extra tenths of a second, the Italian wrapped up the session setting a 1‘33.830s lap for sixth place in the FP2 and combined results, with a 0.700s margin to his teammate.
After the race in Barcelona, it was very important for us to start this weekend off on the right foot. We arrived at the circuit this morning knowing we had a lot of things we wanted to do in the two free practice sessions, and the results show the fruits of our labour. Following the riders‘ positive feedback at the Catalunya test, this morning we focused on making a comparison between the updated and standard frame with both riders. Besides that we could also work on the settings and got a first impression of the tyre allocation. Though it is still early days, and tomorrow‘s conditions might be very different from what we experienced today, we have laid some solid groundwork. The riders are both feeling comfortable on their bikes. Their first and sixth place could prove to be crucial if it rains during FP3 tomorrow, as their position in the combined results will see them both promote straight into Q2.
Today‘s sessions were good. We wanted to compare the tyres and do many laps, especially on the soft to see if they are good to last the whole race. Whether they have good potential I don‘t know yet, we have to see tomorrow. We will see in FP4, when we‘re going to be more hot, which spec will be a good tyre for the race. I feel good, this is a track I like. The bike is working good and already from this morning we had a good set-up for this afternoon. We gained a lot of good information for tomorrow, especially for qualifying. We are trying and discussing the chassis, but as I always say: when we have grip, the bike is really nice to ride. Today it was easy to ride and control, and it was nice to feel good again.
This day was tough, as always in Assen, but in the end it was quite positive for me because I was in the top-5 this morning and in sixth position this afternoon. It was very important to stay in the top-10 for Q2 tomorrow, because it looks like the weather will be worse then. We were quite lucky, because we had two dry sessions, which in Assen isn‘t always the case. We were able to work on the chassis and my feeling with the bike is not so bad. For sure we still have some work to do. The balance of the bike is not at 100% yet, but for a Friday it was good.
Andrea Dovizioso fourth, Jorge Lorenzo fourteenth at the end of first day of free practice for Dutch TT at Assen
Andrea Dovizioso wrapped up the first day of free practice action for this weekend’s Dutch TT round of the 2016 MotoGP World Championship, in fourth place. The Ducati Team’s Italian rider, who had also been fourth in the morning’s FP1 session, clocked a time of 1’33.790 on his third and final run in FP2 in the afternoon.
Jorge Lorenzo, who finished the morning run in ninth place, improved by six-tenths of a second in the afternoon to set a lap time of 1’34.523, but the Spanish rider was only classified fourteenth at the end of the first day.
Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team #04) – 1’33.790 (4th)
“I’m pleased because we started well and I’m satisfied with the time I set, but we will have to work more to improve our set-up because we must be a bit more competitive in some sectors, especially T3 and T4. Today Viñales and Marquez were particularly quick and, if the track conditions are dry tomorrow, we will try and get closer to them.”
Jorge Lorenzo (Ducati Team #99) – 1’34.523 (14th)
“Today was a very complicated day for me. For the moment I don’t feel fully comfortable with the bike and the modifications we made in the afternoon to improve stability didn’t work the way we had hoped. In addition there are a couple of corners in the final sector that I’m not able to do the way I want and there we lose a lot of time. Now we have to find some solutions to improve our competitive level and hopefully it won’t rain tomorrow, otherwise we’ll only have the Sunday morning warm-up to try and improve in dry conditions.”
CRUTCHLOW AMONGST THE PACESETTERS AT ASSEN
LCR Honda rider Cal Crutchlow made a solid start as the Dutch Grand Prix weekend got underway, although the MotoGP class endured a stop-start day at Assen. With the morning session having been red-flagged early on after Andrea Dovizioso suffered an oil spill, FP2 was then hit by spots of rain halfway through as the riders struggled to make the progress they wanted.
However, after going third fastest in the morning, Crutchlow again ensured he was amongst the frontrunners in the afternoon and finished in fifth position on the timesheets. The 31-year-old revealed the team had tried out a different fairing on his RC213V during the course of the day, but had been frustrated in their attempts to try out tyre choices.
Championship leader Maverick Viñales set the pace, ahead of Tech 3 Yamaha rookie Jonas Folger and HRC factory rider Marc Marquez.
Cal Crutchlow – 5th
(1’33.828 – lap 15 of 18)
“We tried it (the fairing) in Barcelona and we found some positives with it, so we wanted to evaluate it here. There are positives and negatives to using it here, I don’t know whether we’ll continue to use it, but we’re happy with what we did today.
“Obviously the second session was a bit strange because it rained halfway through, we could have done with a few more laps testing the medium rear tyre. I also wanted to try the hard rear tyre, but we didn’t get that opportunity. Tomorrow is going to be a bit of a dodgy day I think, but we’ll see what we can do on Sunday.”
GOOD SIGNS FOR APRILIA IN THE FIRST PRACTICE SESSIONS AT ASSEN
Two extremely heated sessions characterized the first day of MotoGP practice at Assen. FP1 was suspended after a few minutes because of oil on the last sector of the track, resuming about 20 minutes later after clean-up operations. Aleix Espargaró used the session to gain familiarity with the track, using the same tyres on his Aprilia RS-GP for the entire session without attempting a flying lap. Determined to launch an assault on the top-10 in FP2, the Aprilia Racing Team Gresini rider held on firmly until a few minutes from the end. In preparation for his final attempts, a misunderstanding in the garage concerning the front tyre cost Aleix precious minutes, keeping him from being able to improve on his position. The time of 1’34.491 earned him thirteenth place in the combined standings.
Sam Lowes was satisfied with his performance today, very much at ease on the Dutch track and improving consistently throughout the two sessions. The English rookie found a good setting for dry conditions, putting some interesting times on the sheets, even with a hard tyre. On his flying lap in FP2, Sam fell victim to a crash just as he was significantly improving his time. There was not much damage to his RS-GP or to Lowes’ confidence in view of the race. His best time of 1’35.039 earned him twentieth place at the end of the day, less than a second behind the top-10.
“This morning we worked on preparing the bike without focusing on the flying lap because that would have been our priority in FP2. All in all I felt good. We still have work to do to improve in a few sectors, but the sensations are positive. In the afternoon I was able to be fast, finding a good base in the dry. Unfortunately, we lost too much time at the end of the session. I was only able to do one flying lap before the chequered flag came out and if it rains tomorrow it would be a shame to have to go through Q1.”
“This was definitely a positive day. This morning I turned a lot of laps with the hard tyre. In view of tomorrow’s forecast it was clear that FP2 would be fundamental for qualifying, so a lot of riders chose to save their soft tyres. I felt good. It’s a pity about the crash but I was pushing and the first two interim times were very good. I am very happy about our performance on a dry track. We know that our bike treats the tyres well, so we can feel good about the race. Tomorrow it might rain. Assen is a track where anything can happen; I just hope it is not too cold.”
Marquez third on day 1 at Assen, with Pedrosa tenth
Marc Marquez and Dani Pedrosa set the third- and 10th-fastest lap times during the cloudy yet almost totally dry opening day of the Dutch TT.
With weather forecasts showing a high chance of rain for tomorrow, Marc and Dani tried several Michelin tyres and worked on their bike setup before going into “time attack” mode in FP2, securing top-10 spots that could put them straight into Q2 if rain actually does disrupt the proceedings.
“With the wind, conditions were quite tricky today, but ultimately I’m happy enough with how it went. This morning we worked a bit more for the race pace, while in the afternoon, when a few drops started to fall, we almost immediately went for a time attack. In the end we did quite a good session, but our rivals are still a bit ahead of us. Anyway, I think we’re working in the right direction with the bike setup, and we just have to continue in this way, looking to improve the bike stability and rear grip above all. We have some margin and we’ll do our best to be faster.”
“Today we tried different tyres and not much else. We actually had a setup for this track that we planned to test, but with the weather so changeable and the forecast not good for tomorrow, the main goal became to try and be fast and secure a placing in the top 10. We were able to achieve that, improving a bit lap by lap, though not as much as we would have liked. Anyway, if it actually does rain tomorrow, we just have to focus on getting a good feeling in the wet and get ready for qualifying, no matter what conditions we’ll have in the afternoon.”
Team Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS rider Jack Miller came within a whisker of claiming a hard-earned top 10 placing on the opening day of practice for the historic Dutch TT in Assen.
The Australian, who took a famous maiden premier class victory at the 4.5km track one year ago, started strongly in cool and breezy conditions this morning, with a 1’35.193 securing him 11th in a dramatically close session that saw the top 16 riders split by less than 0.9s.
With rain predicted to play a part in proceedings tomorrow, Miller was eager to set a top 10 time in FP2 to guarantee him an automatic place in Q2 should the weather prevent an improvement in lap times in the crucial third 45-minute practice session.
It was almost mission accomplished for Miller, who improved his own pace by nearly a second this afternoon in a session that saw light rainfall briefly disrupt the action.
Miller’s best lap of 1’34.337 was less than 0.2s away from the all-important top 10, but he was still able to outpace the likes of Jorge Lorenzo, Aleix Espargaro and Andrea Iannone, who are all on board full factory machinery.
Tito Rabat made solid progress with the set-up of his Honda RC213V machine this afternoon and he lapped 1.3s faster in FP2, despite lacking front-end feeling.
The significant improvement was unfortunately not reflected in his final position on the timesheets, but Rabat is confident he can take another big step forward tomorrow around one of the fastest and most technical tracks on the MotoGP World Championship schedule.
Jack Miller: 12th – 1’34.337
“At the end of the session today I was really trying to break into the top 10 to try and make the Q2 cut off. I might have made it but I got held up a bit on my last flying lap. The weather forecast predicts rain tomorrow and if that’s the case we’ve just missed out on the top 10, so we must see what the conditions are when we wake up. I need it to be dry but today was positive and the bike is working well. I’m happy with the consistency of my rhythm and I’ve got decent speed on a couple of the tyre options, so I’m confident of making the top 10 if we get a break with the weather for FP3 and it stays dry.”
Tito Rabat: 21st – 1’35.185
“It was a very difficult day today. It was quite cool this morning and there were a few spots of rain this afternoon and I really didn’t have a good feeling on the bike. I couldn’t push with confidence on the front like I have been able to do in the last races and that has been my main issue. We will work hard to try and find a solution for tomorrow because it is clear we have a big margin to improve.”
Diego Gubellini: Tito Rabat Chief Engineer
“Tito has been struggling all day to find a good feeling from the front, and that is crucial here in Assen when you have so many fast changes of direction. He’s missing some confidence with the bike and we will need to modify the front-end settings for tomorrow to make him more comfortable and faster going into the corner. We still also need to decide the best option for the front tyre. The soft is very good mid-corner but not stable on braking, and it is the opposite with the medium, so we have to find a good compromise.”