Movistar Yamaha MotoGP riders Jorge Lorenzo and Valentino Rossi had a positive start to the first free practice sessions at the Circuit Of The Americas (COTA) today.Having wrapped up the weekend in Argentina less than a week ago, Movistar Yamaha MotoGP’s Jorge Lorenzo was fast from the start of this morning session dropping competitive laps throughout the morning session, but struggled to produce the same form in the afternoon when encountered issues with his first bike and ended the day in fifth place.The opposite was true for teammate Valentino Rossi, who was looking for a better feeling on his bike in the morning, but persisted to work hard on his YZR-M1’s setting for Sunday’s Grand Prix of the Americas and ended the day in sixth position.
Lorenzo started the first session with a strong determination to hit the ground running and did just that. He found a good pace from the beginning of the session and needed minimal tweaking to the setting of his YZR-M1 to match the hard-acceleration character of COTA. Clearly feeling at ease on his bike, he ended the morning session in second place with a best time of 2’05.208s, 0.255s from the front.
The Spaniard continued his form in the afternoon practice, which saw him look competitive again when he dropped under the 2’05 mark and climbed up in the rankings. He gradually upping his pace, but was held back when he had some issues with his first bike. Yet he still ended the day within a second off the fastest times and concluded the afternoon session in sixth place with a best lap of 2’04.901s.
Teammate Rossi also had a solid start to the Americas GP, setting the provisional third fastest lap. He then moved his attention towards bettering the rear tyre performance. His best time of 2’06.252s saw him finish seventh in the morning rankings, but the day was far from over.
The Doctor continued to work on his YZR-M1’s setting in the afternoon and saw results straight away when he set the provisional fastest lap, less than ten minutes into the session. He kept up his competitive pace for the remaining 35 minutes, but was pushed down to sixth place towards in the final stages of FP2, despite setting multiple fastest times in first and second sector, when the pace picked up.
Today’s results put Lorenzo fifth in the combined free practice time sheets and Rossi in sixth.
Massimo Meregalli – Movistar Yamaha MotoGP Team Director
“COTA is traditionally quite a difficult track for us, but both riders had a better feeling than over other years and over all today it’s been quite a positive first day. Jorge had a good Free Practice session in the morning but in the afternoon he had an issue with his first bike, the one he was more comfortable with, so he couldn’t achieve the results that he expected. Vale’s side had some work to do after FP1, but they were able to improve the settings of the bike and accordingly his feeling. At the end of the session two he compromise his best lap with a little mistake on the turn 12 otherwise he could be half second faster. We still have a lot of work to do over night to prepare further improvement for both riders to let them better their lap times and rhythm before qualifying. Tomorrow will be also very important to decide on which tyres we’ll race on Sunday and we’ll also have the possibility to test the new medium on the rear.”
5th / 2’04.901 / 31 laps
“In general the feeling is much better than over other years here. We need to improve. For some reason we had some problems with the first bike and couldn’t take full advantage of the first session and show the maximum potential that we have right now, which I think is half a second faster than our lap time today. Let’s see if tomorrow we can be on the first row.”
6th / 2’04.974 / 32 laps
“The second session was not so bad. I was quite fast from the beginning and we tried something on the bike in the last run, but unfortunately I made two mistakes and I was not able to do a good lap. If I hadn’t made the mistakes, I would have been able to stay closer to the front. I had quite a good potential because I’m quite fast everywhere, but unfortunately we suffer a little bit too much in braking so we need to work to try to improve this part, because it’s very easy to make mistakes. We need to understand the tyres. We have to wait for the hard rear that arrives tomorrow. Our decision on the front tyre is also still very open, we have three tyres to choose from. It will be difficult and I think the tyres will make the difference and will be key for the race.”
Espargaro gets straight to work in Texas
Monster Yamaha Tech3 team rider Pol Espargaro embarked on his round three campaign with a run to 13th on the opening day of action in Texas. The Spanish star leapt into gear when FP1 commenced and began setting up his Yamaha YZR-M1 for Sunday’s race. He closed the session in 12th and when the afternoon practice started, he carried on his solid efforts before posting a personal best on his final lap. This time left him just over six tenths from the Factory Yamaha riders and leaves him optimistic of sealing a top grid position tomorrow.
On the opposite side of the pit box, Bradley Smith pushed throughout the day at the Circuit of The Americas as he adjusted the setup of his MotoGP bike to suit the meandering track. After making steps forward in the morning, he got straight back to work in FP2 and progressed by setting a lap time that was 1.019 quicker than his best from the opening session. Now, the Briton is fully focused on bouncing back tomorrow with his sights firmly set on seizing a strong qualifying result.
13th / 205.616 / 31 laps
“Altogether, the day has been pretty positive even if the gap to the top guys is quite considerable. Yet, fortunately, there is still plenty of time for us to fine tune our setting and I really feel that we started the weekend in the right way. This morning we received our new tyres, which I think will be the ones that we are going to use in the race. In that case, I’m pleased as today we proved once again that we are strong on worn tyres so I’m confident that we will be competitive in the final stages of the GP. Nevertheless, we still need to increase the grip level with the new tyres plus, I believe that we can improve the braking stability of my Yamaha M1 and I feel that we have a margin of progress to make in this area. Yet, I’m happy with what we have done so far on day 1 and I’m already looking forward to getting back on track tomorrow morning where I definitely want to score a top 10 finish in order to qualify directly for QP2.”
19th / 206.479 / 30 laps
“Even though today didn’t go as well as we expected, I am confident about what we should be able to do tomorrow. We knew that we had to undertake a serious change with the way that we set up our motorcycle. Right now, we are trying our best to understand exactly what we need and how to work the Michelin tyres in the correct way. Therefore, when you make these type of adjustments, it always costs time to undertake them and get the feeling that we require. So although the result isn’t fantastic, I am satisfied with the improvements that we made. Friday is the day to practice and test new ideas, which is what I believe I did today. Of course, tomorrow we want to try to advance as much as possible, but right now, even if I look on the other side of the Tech3 garage, we seem to be struggling a bit more than usual here. Now we will analyse the data and this evening we will make a good plan for tomorrow.”