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Ducati vs Honda: it’s a head-to-head on Day 1 in Jerez
Petrucci, Marquez, Dovizioso, Lorenzo and Crutchlow lock out the top five on Friday
Marquez and Lorenzo immediately fast in Jerez
Marc Marquez and Jorge Lorenzo well inside the top ten after a strong opening day on home soil.
Strong sun throughout Friday practice at the Spanish GP highlighted the new Jerez tarmac as the Repsol Honda Team made the most of every moment on the familiar track.
Only challenged for the top spot in Free Practice 1 by his teammate, reigning MotoGP World Champion Marc Marquez continued his form into FP2. Remaining fast, Marquez ultimately ended Free Practice 2 in fourth with a 1’38.147 – less than a third of a second splitting the top four. Marquez’s morning time has him second on the combined times, 0.012s behind Petrucci and one of only two riders to set a 1’37.
Jorge Lorenzo experienced his strongest Friday as a Repsol Honda Team rider, finishing FP1 in second. Working on the setting of his Honda RC213V, a red flag late session left Lorenzo with less than three minutes to set a fast lap. A 1’38.445 on his final run moved Lorenzo to ninth in FP2. Thanks to his FP1 time of 1’38.045, Lorenzo concludes the opening day of practice fourth overall.
The two Repsol Honda Team riders led the Honda charge on the combined time sheets, Honda riders filling five of the top nine spots.
Free Practice 3 at 09:55 tomorrow, Saturday May 04, will host the second and final battle for direct passage to Q2.
“Basically today was a normal Friday, trying to be consistent and working mostly for the race and on our overall pace. I feel good from the beginning and we kept improving. I’m happy but of course we have to keep working, we’ve started well. The new tarmac has great grip. When we came here with the old tarmac there was one setup and now it’s another setup. We started with a good pace so are trying some things and we don’t have the same problems we had in Austin which is helping me to ride constant and exactly like I want. There are many riders who are quick so we have to be careful!”
“This morning we were very strong and I was able to ride how I want and show the potential we have. I was very comfortable and able to make consistent lap times quite easily. In the afternoon we tried a setting on the other bike which wasn’t in the correct direction so we weren’t able to be as fast and it was hotter, which did not help. But we have been able to make good progress already at a track which I like and we are ready for tomorrow.”
Danilo Petrucci (Mission Winnow Ducati) went fastest on Friday in the Gran Premio Red Bull de España, but the Italian was by no means lonely at the top as his advantage over reigning Champion Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) was just 0.012 by the end of play. Championship leader Andrea Dovizioso (Mission Winnow Ducati) was third and within a tenth though, with Jerez specialist Jorge Lorenzo (Repsol Honda Team) next up and just 0.039 behind ‘DesmoDovi’. Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda Castrol), meanwhile, was only a further 0.059 back in fifth to make it less than two tenths covering the top five in a Ducati vs Honda duel for supremacy at the top: a factory rider settling in, last year’s winner, the points leader seeking his first MotoGP™ podium at the venue, a three-time premier class Jerez winner and the 2019 polesitter. Quite an opening day for the European leg of the season.
If the initial Honda vs Ducati duel continues into qualifying, there was groundwork laid in FP1. Repsol Honda took a 1-2 and Marquez sat behind Dovizioso for a couple of laps, and in FP2 the numbers 93 and 99 spent some time circulating in tandem as bad luck-struck Lorenzo got straight back into the mix near the front at one of his most successful venues and Marquez followed him around. But if gaps are the name of the game, the headlines need to expand. Fastest Yamaha Maverick Viñales (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) was third in FP1 and ended the day right in the mix at 0.203 off Petrucci and just 0.008 off Crutchlow, with the Jerez Test’s fastest man, Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda Idemitsu), for close company and just 0.022 behind on the combined timesheets. The second quickest Yamaha – and fastest rookie by a stretch – was Fabio Quartararo (Petronas Yamaha SRT) in P8, and the Frenchman completes a top six split by exactly three tenths as Jerez shapes up to be a showstopper.
Back in action for his first wildcard of the season, meanwhile, Honda test rider and premier class podium finisher Stefan Bradl (HRC Team) took P9 and made it every Honda inside the top ten to further underline their threat in Jerez, with Jack Miller (Pramac Racing) doing similar for Ducati as he completed the top ten, 0.555 off Petrucci. As it stands, they’re the last two with a provisional place in Q2…
In terms of key drama on Day 1, there was a run on for Dovizioso, two crashes for Johann Zarco (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) and a crash for Hafizh Syahrin (Red Bull KTM Tech 3) after which the Malaysian headed to the medical centre – rider ok. Karel Abraham (Reale Avintia Racing) crashed and wildcard Bradley Smith (Aprilia Factory Racing) crashed in FP2, with the Red Flag briefly shown due to track conditions. With only a couple of minutes left on the clock though, it wasn’t enough for more than one more lap.
So if the field can’t improve their laptimes in FP3, who stands to lose out? The biggest name not currently on course to move through to Q2 directly is Valentino Rossi (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP), with the 2016 winner down in P16 after a tough opening day. It was also a tough Friday for the man who beat him to the top step at COTA, Alex Rins (Team Suzuki Ecstar), with the Spaniard down in P12 – although he’s already recovered from worse this season and is on a serious roll on Sunday form. Rins hasn’t finished outside the top six since Austria last season – and yes, he’s finished every race.
Aiming to improve alongside them in FP3 are the likes of Franco Morbidelli (Petronas Yamaha SRT) in P11, Francesco Bagnaia (Pramac Racing) in P13, fellow rookie Joan Mir (Team Suzuki Ecstar) in P18 and KTM’s Pol Espargaro (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing), who finished Day 1 in P14 and just 0.041 ahead of Andrea Iannone (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini). The gaps from Miller completing the top ten and Mir in P18 are all less than seven hundredths, however…highlighting the incredible level of competition once again.
Can Rossi and Rins fight back on Saturday? Will Honda and Ducati rule the roost on Day 2? Or could we see Viñales finding that missing margin at the front? Make sure to tune in for FP3 at 9:55 (GMT +2) to see who’s heading straight through to Q2, before qualifying from 14:10.
1 – Danilo Petrucci (ITA – Ducati) 1’37.909
2 – Marc Marquez (SPA – Honda) +0.012
3 – Andrea Dovizioso (ITA – Ducati) +0.097
4 – Jorge Lorenzo (SPA – Honda) +0.136
5 – Cal Crutchlow (GBR – Honda) +0.195
Positive start for the Mission Winnow Ducati team at Jerez: Petrucci 1st and Dovizioso 3rd in Friday’s free practice
The Mission Winnow Ducati team resumed action today at Jerez (Spain), home of the fourth round of the 2019 MotoGP World Championship. In Friday’s free-practice sessions, characterized by clear skies and high temperatures (with about 25 degrees in the air and 45 degrees on the tarmac), Danilo Petrucci and Andrea Dovizioso enjoyed a positive start to their weekend as they began to work on the setup of the Desmosedici GP 19 ahead of Sunday’s race, posting the first and third time respectively in the combined rankings.
Eighth in the morning but already showing a promising pace, Petrucci took about six tenths of a second off his best time during FP2, where he was the only rider capable of lapping below the 1:38 mark, posting the fastest time of the day with a 1:37.909. After finishing FP1 only two tenths of a second behind the provisional best time, Dovizioso then further improved his lap times in the afternoon session to finish only 97 thousandths of a second behind his teammate with a personal best of 1:38.006, which granted him third position in the combined rankings.
Danilo Petrucci (#9 Mission Winnow Ducati) – 1st (1:37.909)
“I’m happy with how this first day of practice went. I didn’t do a perfect lap, but it was enough to finish on top, and I was quite competitive especially in terms of pace. We made very few changes on the bike, finding a good rhythm also with the hard rear tyre, but FP4 tomorrow will be crucial to finalize the choice of the compounds for the race. Qualifying has been my weak point so far this year, so we’ll keep our guard up. I think tomorrow morning the lap times will drop further, but in the meantime we started off on the right foot. Our goal is to qualify on the first couple of rows on the grid, then to challenge for the podium on Sunday.”
Andrea Dovizioso (#04 Mission Winnow Ducati) – 3rd (1:38.006)
“It’s been a positive opening day, especially in terms of the pace we managed to keep with used tyres and high temperatures, not simply in terms of our overall position. We managed to improve the feeling with the bike as the day went on, and we’re among the frontrunners in terms of rhythm, but I still think Márquez has a small advantage. The standings may not show the whole picture, and anyway track conditions are supposed to further improve in FP3, so we’ll need to keep pushing to gain direct access to Q2 because I expect very narrow gaps. We have some room for improvement in the long, fast corners, where the wind also comes into play, and we’re still trying to find the limit with the new tarmac, as grip levels may change come race time. We need to stay focused.”
The Mission Winnow Ducati team will resume action tomorrow for the third free-practice session with qualifying scheduled, after FP4, at 14:10 local time (CET).
LOTS OF WORK AND STEPS FORWARD FOR ESPARGARÓ AND IANNONE
BOTH FACTORY APRILIA BIKES IMPROVE IN THE HUNT FOR A TOP-TEN SPOT
SMITH INVOLVED IN A CRASH WITHOUT SERIOUS CONSEQUENCES
Andrea Iannone and Aleix Espargaró took advantage of the outstanding conditions on the Jerez de la Frontera track to advance development on the Aprilia RS-GP. Both were able to improve their performance between FP1 and FP2, respectively just 767 and 812 thousandths of a second behind the top time.
Iannone used the first day of practice to compare two bikes with a slightly different configuration, finding a good feeling in the latter part of the day and, more importantly, identifying a promising base for his setup. There was a lot of work on Aleix’s side of the garage as well, with the rider busy doing a series of tests on the frame and electronics. Both riders (Andrea in the two sessions, Aleix in FP1) also tried out a new aerodynamic solution on the lower part of the bike.
In his second wild card of the season, Bradley Smith’s weekend is off to a solid start. An unfortunate crash toward the end of FP2 left the English rider a bit sore, but from initial checks, it shouldn’t compromise the rest of his race weekend.
“I managed to maintain a good pace, doing competitive lap times, but we know that we need to work hard to be consistent over the long distance. On this first day, we tested different solutions on various fronts: frame, electronics and aerodynamics, even putting the deflector on the rear swingarm in the morning session. In the afternoon I lapped without it to give our technicians a chance to compare the data. The temperatures changed a lot during the day, so it will be important to work well in anticipation of the race tomorrow. Even in FP2, with high temperatures, grip on the track was good, thanks to the new asphalt.”
“We’re working well. Today I compared the two bikes, which are set up differently, clarifying our ideas on a few aspects. We need to find the right compromise, but I found a better feeling than I expected to. Right now, it seems like we can do more, especially in braking. We need to slow the bike down better. It would be presumptuous to think we can close the gap in one day, so I prefer working on consistent improvements and I think that on this track, we can take a step forward.”
“Unfortunately, I hit some debris that was left on the track after Abraham’s crash and that made me lose control of the bike. I was thrown by a high side and I fell right in the middle of the track. Fortunately, the other riders avoided me and nothing is broken, although both my ankles are sore. It’s a pity. I was doing a good lap. In any case, I’m pleased with the work done today. We are moving in the right direction and I think we’ll be able to keep going the same way tomorrow.”
Tech 3 KTM
Tough opening for Red Bull KTM Tech3 duo in Jerez
Red Bull KTM Tech3’s MotoGP rookie Miguel Oliveira kicked off the fourth round of the 2019 World Championship, the Gran Premio Red Bull de España with some improvements throughout the day. Following an uphill morning session, the Portuguese rider lowered his lap time by 0.539 seconds this afternoon and started to get a better feeling at the Andalusian track.
On the other side of the Red Bull KTM Tech3 garage, Hafizh Syahrin started the weekend fighting with sickness but was able to lower his lap time by 0.199 seconds from FP1 to FP2, although his second session was unfortunately cut short due to a crash after just the third timed lap. Luckily the Malaysian escaped with a head contusion and will be able to ride again from Free Practice 3 tomorrow at 9.55 local time.
“To be honest, today has not been the best Friday for us, but during the seconds Free Practice we found a much better feeling with the bike and I could go faster. This was positive. Unfortunately, at the end of my fastest lap it was red flagged, so it was cancelled, but at least we know, we are a bit faster. We have some ideas to try tomorrow and I’m really looking forward to increase my pace a bit.”
“It was an unlucky day for me. I had a good feeling with the bike setup in FP2. In the morning, I didn’t feel really well regarding the condition of my body, but I tried to give my best in order to be ready 100 percent for the race day. This afternoon, I had a truly good feeling, but suddenly after just a few laps I went down and I couldn’t continue, because I had to stay in the medical center with a bit of headache. But tomorrow I try to come back stronger and try to be there fully for the rest of the weekend.”