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Three manufacturers complete an incredibly tight top four in Buriram – but Lorenzo suffers a huge Turn 3 crash
How close do you like it? After Day 1 at the PTT Thailand Grand Prix it’s less than a tenth that splits the top four and Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team) who finishes Friday as the fastest man at Buriram. The Italian was only 0.031 faster than FP1’s quickest rider Maverick Viñales (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP), however, and top Independent Team rider Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda Castrol) was close – with reigning Champion Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) in P4 and only 0.098 in arrears. It was far from lonely at the top.
Despite the tight timesheets, one of the biggest headlines of the day was a huge crash for Jorge Lorenzo (Ducati Team) as the Spaniard fell at Turn 3 in the afternoon. Launched over the highside, he later confirmed it was a technical issue that caused the crash. Lorenzo was taken to the Medical Centre for a check up and then hospital in Buriram but declared fit. It did, however, put a dent in his attempts to move into that all-important top ten – and the Spaniard is already riding through the pain barrier following his Turn 1 crash at Aragon.
Back to the front and the gaps remained minimal. Fifth on the combined timesheets was Danilo Petrucci (Alma Pramac Racing), who finished 0.050 behind Marquez to improve from P9 in FP1, with Andrea Iannone (Team Suzuki Ecstar) a further 0.018 in arrears despite a fast crash at Turn 4 in FP2. Alvaro Bautista (Angel Nieto Team) managed to string a strong second Free Practice session together to end the day seventh fastest, a big improvement from the Spaniard’s P16 result in FP1. He suffered a small crash at Turn 3 but rider ok.
Buriram’s fastest in testing, Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda Team), ended the opening day in eighth after the three-time World Champion improved from P13 in the morning and finished just 0.295 from Dovi’s P1 time. Just behind the Spaniard was FP1’s second quickest man Valentino Rossi (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP), who sits in a provisional Q2 place in ninth and sported Yamaha’s new fairing. Fellow YZR-M1 rider Johann Zarco (Monster Yamaha Tech 3), meanwhile, left it late to grab tenth, ending the day 0.023 off Rossi and 0.331 behind Dovizioso in a tight top ten – much to the chagrin of Jack Miller (Alma Pramac Racing), who was the man to just lose out.
Franco Morbidelli (EG 0,0 Marc VDS) was top rookie in P12 ahead of the man who was the fastest debutant at the test, Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda Idemitsu), with Bradley Smith (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) and Alex Rins (Team Suzuki Ecstar) locking out the fastest fifteen on Friday. After his crash, Lorenzo was P16.
With less than a tenth splitting the top four and a second separating the top 17, there’s everything to play for on Saturday. Tune in for FP3 as the premier class fight it out for that all-important automatic entry to Q2 at 09:55 local time (GMT +7), before qualifying begins at 14:10 local time in Buriram.
Andrea Dovizioso tops the timesheets at the end of the first day of action in the Thailand Grand Prix at Buriram. Jorge Lorenzo high sides and crashes out in FP2
Andrea Dovizioso headed the field at the end of the first day of free practice for the Thailand Grand Prix at the Buriram circuit in the noth-east of the country. The Ducati Team’s Italian rider, third this morning, set the quickest time of the day in the last few minutes of FP2, lapping in 1’31.090.
Jorge Lorenzo, whose right foot was still in pain this morning when he took to the track for the first time following his Aragón crash, finished FP1 in seventeenth place but unfortunately crashed out again with a high side at Turn 3 during his second run. Jorge was immediately taken to the circuit medical centre where he was diagnosed with having abrasions to his right forearm and bruises to his left wrist and the right foot he already injured in Spain.
The Mallorcan rider then went to the local hospital to have further checks on his left wrist, but was in any case declared fit for tomorrow by the organizers’ medical staff.
Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team #04) – 1st (1’31.090)
“Today it went quite well. This morning the track conditions weren’t easy and we were struggling a bit, but in the afternoon we were able to make a step forward and my feeling improved. It’s still not enough because Marquez, and not only him, has an excellent pace and there are quite a few riders with good speed. We are all very close on lap times and so there’s still a lot of work to do. Let’s see what track conditions we will find tomorrow but, as I said, even though the feeling is a good one we still have to improve.”
Jorge Lorenzo (Ducati Team #99) – 16th (1’32.027)
“It was another tough day for me. I was surprised by the fact that the rear wheel went away suddenly and I crashed so violently after a high side. Luckily, and this is the most important thing, the checks confirmed that I’ve got nothing broken, but just a bruised left wrist and right ankle. I’ve been told that the cause was a technical problem that the team are still looking into, and tomorrow morning as soon as I get up I’ll see if I can race or not. I want to see how the night goes before taking the best decision.”
Positive start to first Thai GP for Marquez and Pedrosa in amazingly tight free-practice day
It was a positive beginning to the inaugural Grand Prix of Thailand for the Repsol Honda team when points-leader Marc Marquez finished fourth overall, a mere 0.098” off the top, on a sunny and hot day one at the Buriram International Circuit.
In both FP1 and FP2, Marc completed several fast laps immediately upon taking to the track, and then proceeded to work on his race pace, keeping a consistent, fast rhythm in both sessions.
There was also good progression through the day for Dani Pedrosa, who ended eighth overall, less than 3 hundredths of a second down on provisional pole-setter Andrea Dovizioso, after improving by over a second on his morning-session effort.
“I felt good on the bike today. Conditions are hot, but not unbearably hot! We worked in the same way as at the recent GPs, using the Friday sessions to try and understand the tyres, the bike and electronics setup, and the track conditions. Of course we pushed, but with a working plan in mind. The track surface was a bit slippery in the morning but it improved over the day. At the moment, the lap times are slower than in the test; I believe that’s because we have a different rear tyre that is working in a different way, so basically, we need to adapt the setup to it. Anyway, so far we’re working well and I feel comfortable with our race pace. Tomorrow we’ll see more clearly where we all are.”
“Today we worked a lot with the tyres and on understanding the track conditions, which improved quite a bit after the first session. We managed to try a few of the tyre specs that Michelin brought here because it will be important to find the best compromise between grip, traction and durability. Tomorrow we must continue working on this aspect, but so far I think we’ve done a good job. We’re improving our feeling step by step, and we have to keep up this progression.”
Buriram (Thailand), 5th October 2018
Movistar Yamaha MotoGP‘s Maverick Viñales and Valentino Rossi kicked off the first Asian flyaway race weekend today, at the Chang International Circuit. They made the most of the morning 45-minute practice session with a perfect 1-2 and followed it up with a positive FP2 in the afternoon, ending the first day in second and ninth position respectively in the combined free practice times.
After the warm welcome Viñales received upon his arrival in Thailand, he was filled with motivation to start the weekend off right. He soon climbed up to provisional sixth place, clocking multiple 1‘32s laps, and kept hold of it for most of the session. Having gotten a first feel for the Chang track, he took some time to tweak his bike’s set-up before heading out for one last try in the final minutes, and it paid off. He clocked a 1‘31.220s, putting his YZR-M1 in first place, 0.270s ahead of the field.
The Spaniard duplicated his strong performance in FP2. He gradually got on the pace again, improving his feeling with the bike. However, just when the usual ’mini time attacks‘ were about to start, a crash halted the session. After the red flag interval, the youngster used the last 12 minutes of track time to push out some hot laps. He was in eighth position but put his head down once more and briefly took over at the top again. The 1‘31.121s lap ultimately earned him second place, 0.031s from the top in the overall times.
Rossi needed a little time to warm to the Buriram track but was eager to get to work. He hopped to it, trying to find a good basis set-up for his bike and found one in the second half of FP1. With slightly more than a third of the session to go he dropped under the 1‘33s-mark, and the personal best laps kept on coming, especially at the very end of the session. The Doctor stormed up the ranking order, ultimately securing second place, 0.270s behind his teammate, having set a 1‘31.490s best lap.
The nine-time World Champion also had a positive session in the afternoon, as he tried a new fairing for the first time. After the red flag, when the Italian was fully acquainted with the new item, he didn‘t wait another minute to put on some a soft rear tyre in order to get a hot lap in. He briefly moved up to second place with a 1‘31.528s, but the session became more and more heated. He further improved his time to a 1‘31.398s but was unable to hold his position. He completed the first day in ninth place, 0.308s from first.
Today we‘ve made progress. We had to make a good start, because we knew that we had some ground to make up, which is what we managed to do. We took some counter-measures after Aragon that apparently work. We found a basis setting in FP1 that makes both our riders more comfortable, and we ended the session with a 1-2 result, which gave the team good confidence. In the afternoon we were able to try a new fairing and some tyre options, which is important as the specs are different from what we had during the pre-season test here. All in all, we had quite a positive first outing, but it‘s still early days. We will work hard to try to continue the momentum we gained today in tomorrow‘s sessions.
Being first and second in today‘s sessions, shouldn‘t mean these are my expectations for the race, it‘s only Friday. However, it‘s true that the feeling is much more positive than it was in Aragon, I feel better with the bike. We modified the settings in the way I needed it, and it seems to work – at least for me – especially on the hard tyre. It‘s completely different from what we had during the pre-season Thai Test and previous races. We went in another direction and did a quite solid FP1 and FP2. Let‘s see what more we can do tomorrow.
For me it’s a bit better than what I expected on paper, because me and Maverick were quite strong during the day. In the morning we had a fantastic first and second, but that was also because a lot of riders didn’t use a new tyre at the end of the session. But in the afternoon Maverick again did a very good lap time and I’m still in the top-10 even though I didn’t do a fantastic lap, I made some mistakes. We have to work on some points, especially to understand which rear tyre we should use for the race, but it looks like we can be a bit more competitive.
CRUTCHLOW THE FASTEST HONDA IN THAILAND
PRESS RELEASE: 05 October 2018 | Thailand GP Day One
LCR Honda CASTROL rider Cal Crutchlow made a positive start as free practice got underway at the inaugural Thailand Grand Prix at the Buriram International Circuit. The Briton – whose RC213V will proudly carry the famous Castrol green and red livery throughout the weekend – ended the day as the fastest Honda rider, claiming third place by the time Friday’s action came to a close.
Crutchlow built on his positive pre-season test at the venue – when he was fourth fastest overall – as he came back strongly in the afternoon FP2 session to finish narrowly behind Andrea Dovizioso and Maverick Vinales. Having posted the 11th quickest time in FP1, Cal admitted afterwards that the condition of the track had not helped the riders.
Cal Crutchlow – 3rd
(1’31.164 – lap 21 of 22)
“The track seems in bad condition compared to when we tested here, it’s probably because there’s not been much happening here for a while. Otherwise I feel good and the bike is looking well. We tried two different settings today, one was our usual bike and one was the bike we used in the test here, and it seems my feeling with the usual bike is better”.
“We have to continue to work hard tomorrow, unfortunately our time is probably not fast enough to keep us in the top ten so we’ll have to do the shoot out again in the morning. But I feel good, the team worked well, hopefully Jorge (Lorenzo) is ok after his accident because it was a big crash and you never like to see that. But we have to concentrate on our job this weekend which is to do the best job we can and try to finish in the top five.”
FIRST DAY OF TESTING FOR THE MOTOGP IN THAILAND
With 54°C on the asphalt during the afternoon session, the Thai circuit of Buriram is keeping faith with its geographical position, putting a strain on the resistance of the riders and the search for the optimal setup by the technicians.
The lack of grip is the main concern for Aleix Espargaró, seventeenth in the combined standings with about a second gap. The Michelin soft option at the rear, tested by the Catalan rider in the final of the FP2, seems to be a good choice from this point of view, although it remains to be checked the grip on the race distance.
Scott Redding scored a promising tenth time in the FP1, keeping the gap below the second and, most importantly, finding good feelings on the bike. Also due to a crash without consequences, Scott was among the few not to improve in the FP2 and will resume work on his RS-GP in tomorrow’s sessions.
“Today I did a lot of laps with the medium tyre at the rear, but the grip is really very low. At the end of the second session I tried the soft tyre and the bike changed completely, similar to what happened at Aragon. Tomorrow the first objective will be to run more laps with this option, to check the possibility of using it in the race given the advantages in terms of grip. It promises to be a weekend to be managed carefully, both for the high temperatures and for the grip conditions”.
“This morning things went pretty well, I’m happy to have started with a tenth time. I felt good on the bike and we managed to improve the setting used at Aragon a bit. I also had good feeling in the afternoon but we struggled a bit more with the lap times. Unfortunately after the crash I had to stop, I have two bikes in different configurations and I don’t want to create confusion. The conditions are quite demanding for the body, it will be important to manage the energy especially in view of the race”.
Solid opening for Zarco and Syahrin in Buriram
With a strong start this morning Monster Yamaha Tech3’s Johann Zarco laid down a first marker at the Chang International Circuit, concluding FP1 in sixth position, just 0.566 seconds behind the top. However, in FP2 the fast Frenchman was able to lower his lap time at the hot new venue in the MotoGP calendar to eventually secure a top 10 spot in the last seconds of the session, missing out on the fastest guy by just 0.331 seconds.
Hafizh Syahrin, who tested the Yamaha YZR-M1 for the very first time at the Thai track this February, was finding back his rhythm in FP1 and improved by 0.593 seconds in the course of the second session this afternoon in order to complete the first Thai Grand Prix day only 0.756 seconds behind his teammate in 18th position. The Malaysian rookie is set to further chase the fastest in FP3 tomorrow morning at 9.55 local time, which means 4.55 CET.
Position: 10th – Time: 1:31.421 – Laps: 46
“I’m so happy to be in Buriram. This Friday has been ok. The first session was great and in the second one I tried to work with the used tyres and that feeling was pretty difficult like in the last two races, when I was struggling a lot. But I tried to create these conditions in order to try to understand and to find some solution together with my team. In the end, we put in a new tyre and I improved my lap time from this morning. I’m on the limit in the top 10, but I’m there. It’s just a few tenths from the first position, everybody is so close, therefore it would be good to make further steps, as it’s really important here in the heat to have a good feeling on the bike.”
Position: 18th – Time: 1:32.177 – Laps: 42
“I felt good during this first day, my lap time was quite good, only my position is a bit far from the top. But I have better sensations with the bike, I just need to try to find some changes to help me turning and at the exit of the corners. I believe tomorrow we can discover something. We are working really hard inside the team, trying to improve our weak points. I had a good feeling today, but we know that we have to continue working hard, step by step and I hope that tomorrow we can already improve the time. It’s just one second, but I want to be closer.”