Aleix, Viñales… PEDROSA! It’s all change in Jerez with Aprilia & KTM top as Bezzecchi, Bagnaia AND Quartararo head for Q1
A late Aprilia attack sees the Noale factory take a 1-2 on Friday, but it’s a familiar number 26 in third ahead of Martin and Miller as key names fail to make the cut
Friday, 28 April 2023
Aprilia Racing made it a Friday to remember at the Gran Premio MotoGP™ Guru by Gryfyn de España, with Aleix Espargaro heading teammate Maverick Viñales on the combined timesheets by just 0.002. Stealing some serious headline space, however, is the rider in third: wildcard and MotoGP™ Legend Dani Pedrosa (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing). It was a stunning return to action for the number 26 as he topped P1 and remained the third quickest overall by the close of play.
The morning saw Pedrosa quickest in the final few minutes before other fast laps started to fly in, but the Little Samurai struck back with a 1:36.770. Only two faster laps would come in by the end play, and from only one machine: the Aprilia. Somewhat dampening the fairy-tale for Pedrosa, Aleix Espargaro and Viñales instead add another chapter to that of Aprilia after a tougher run of late despite some seriously threatening speed from one of the big story-makers of the last couple of seasons.
LAST DASH FOR Q2
With track temperatures soaring in the afternoon, the track became much slicker than the morning and the pressure was on for the fastest motorcycle racers in the world to book their place in Qualifying 2. As ever, the opening stages of P2 were used for fine-tuning race pace, and it wasn’t until the end of the session that we saw the soft rubber go in for the riders to put the hammer down for their final time attacks.
One bit of drama saw Iker Lecuona (Repsol Honda Team) crash out with 36 minutes remaining, seeing the red flags come out as the air fence needed repairing – rider ok. As the green flag dropped though, it was crunch time to secure an automatic place in Q2.
Miguel Oliveira (CryptoDATA RNF MotoGP™ Team) was the first to improve in the latter stages with a minute and a half remaining, as the Portuguese rider slotted himself into P4, with Alex Marquez (Gresini Racing MotoGP™) following closely and putting himself into P5.
A flying lap from Jack Miller (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) came in just after, putting the Aussie into P3 and bumping Oliveria and Marquez back down the order. But then, the two factory Aprilias were locked together and came flying over the line to reshuffle the order once again, taking over on top in the session and overall on Friday.
Still, Pedrosa’s P1 best and Jorge Martin’s (Prima Pramac Racing) morning effort see them slot into third and fourth, just ahead of Miller. Next up it’s Johann Zarco (Prima Pramac Racing) ahead of Oliveira and Alex Marquez, with a really good day at the office for Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda Idemitsu) seeing the Japanese rider take ninth. First time podium finisher last time out, Luca Marini (Mooney VR46 Racing Team), completes the top ten and automatic entrants to Q2… leaving some huge names looking for a way through Q1!
ALL EYES ON Q1
With only two Q2 spots up for grabs, a bunch of big hitters in Q1 sets the stage perfectly for a dramatic morning on Saturday.
Reigning Champion Francesco Bagnaia (Ducati Lenovo Team) crossed the line with just over a minute left of P2, but despite setting a personal best the Ducati top dog didn’t have enough in the tank for Qualifying 2, and finished the day in 13th place. The Italian did get one more bite at the cherry but a yellow flag in sector 2 halted the progress for the number 1.
Marco Bezzecchi suffered different drama as his Mooney VR46 Racing Team Ducati went up in smoke with 25 minutes to go, forcing the Championship leader pull to the side of Dani Pedrosa corner and make his way back to the pitlane. Having jumped onto his 2nd bike, the Italian pushed on but it wasn’t enough and he only managed 12th.
Americas GP victor Alex Rins (LCR Honda Castrol) also suffered misfortune at Pedrosa corner, as the Spaniard went down and out of the session with 4 minutes to go. Placed down in 15th, the Honda rider will have to fight Bagnaia and Bezzecchi in Q1, as well as 2021 Champion Fabio Quartararo (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP™) after a tough day at the office for the Frenchman.
Another slightly awkward Q1 appearance from a multiple Grand Prix winner is that of Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) as the South African ended the Day in P11… and Pedrosa stole some of the thunder. Having won the Tissot Sprint in Argentina from P15 on the grid, however, and taken his first ever Grand Prix in Moto3™ at this very track… and from the very back, the number 33 will likely have plenty in the locker once the lights go out regardless.
Friday’s action served as the perfect appetiser to competitive action in Jerez. The stage is set for Qualifying and the Tissot Sprint, and here’s when it all gets underway in GMT+2:
MotoGP™ FP: 10:10
MotoGP™ Q1: 10:40
MotoGP™ Q2: 11:15
Tissot Sprint: 15:00
See you there!
Lowes fastest on Friday, Chantra and Lopez on the chase
Sam Lowes (Elf Marc VDS Racing Team) is the fastest rider on Friday in Jerez, pulling out two tenths ahead of Somkiat Chantra (Idemitsu Honda Team Asia) and Alonso Lopez (CAG SpeedUp) on a hot Day 1. Nearly the entire field set their best laps in the morning as the temperatures rose in the afternoon.
Americas GP winner Pedro Acosta (Red Bull KTM Ajo) is fourth, just 0.008 behind Lopez and after having topped P2, whereas Texan sparring partner and Championship leader Tony Arbolino (Elf Marc VDS Racing Team) ended the day in tenth.
Between Acosta and Arbolino there are some familiar fast faces: Jake Dixon (Autosolar GASGAS Aspar) in fifth, Albert Arenas (Red Bull KTM Ajo) in sixth, Celestino Vietti (Fantic Racing) in seventh and Aron Canet (Pons Wegow Los40) – with Barry Baltus ( Fieten Olie Racing GP) impressing in ninth.
Check out the full timesheets below! Moto2™ will be back in action on Saturday for more practice, before qualifying at 13:45 local (GMT +2).
Öncü takes charge on Day 1 in Moto3™
A veteran duo topped the timesheets on Day 1 in Jerez, but it was Turkish rider Deniz Öncü with the best hand of all. The Red Bull KTM Ajo rider ended Friday action in Andalucia a whopping four tenths clear of the rest, with Jaume Masia (Leopard Racing) first on the chase in second. Sophomore sensation and Championship leader Dani Holgado (Red Bull KTM Tech3) took third.
Those three laps were all set in P1 as temperatures soared in the afternoon, but veteran Ayumu Sasaki (Liqui Moly Husqvarna Intact GP) ends the day in fourth thanks to his P2 best. Rookie Jose Antonio Rueda (Red Bull KTM Ajo) was back at the sharp end on more familiar turf in fifth, ahead of COTA winner Ivan Ortola (Angeluss MTA Team).
Fellow Americas GP podium finisher Xavier Artigas (CFMOTO Racing PruestelGP) is next up, ahead of replacement rider Andrea Migno (CIP Green Power), rookie Filippo Farioli (Red Bull KTM Tech3) and, in 10th looking for more, title challenger Diogo Moreira (MT Helmets – MSI), who is equal with Holgado on points.
Moto3™ action continues on Saturday, with more practice in the morning before qualifying at 12:50 local time (GMT +2)! Check out the full timesheets below!
More, from a press release issued by Gresini Racing:
MARQUEZ SECURES ANOTHER DIRECT SEED TO Q2 AT JEREZ
The opening day of action at Jerez de la Frontera started off the best way possible for Alex Marquez, who secured his second direct seed to Q2 of the season after the one claimed in Austin as he logged an encouraging 1’37.041secs lap time which was exactly three tenths of a second shy of today’s top performance by Espargaró.
In what was a day marked by scorching hot weather conditions, with extremely high track temperatures, Fabio Di Giannantonio could not finish higher than 19th, eight tenths away from his teammate.
8th – ALEX MARQUEZ #73 (1’37.041s)
“It was a good first day: I felt immediately good in the morning, even though we had changed something in the set-up compared to Austin. I adjusted well immediately, while in the afternoon we focused on our race pace with high temperatures. We also managed to get into Q2, so we earned our paycheck today. Now let’s work on some fine-tuning in order to be even closer to the front tomorrow.”
19th – FABIO DI GIANNANTONIO #49 (1’37.860s)
“The bad thing is that we’re still having the same old problems, the good one is that we found something to work on to improve tomorrow, and we’ll do our best to achieve that. We’ll have to go through Q1, but we’ll have time during FP3 to continue working in the same direction as the second Free Practice session, and once again focused on the front-end.”
More, from a press release issued by Mooney VR46 Racing Team:
THE RIDERS OF THE MOONEY VR46 RACING TEAM ONLY 4-TENTHS FROM THE FIRST GUYS AT JEREZ
Luca Marini closes in P10 and hits the Q2 while Marco Bezzecchi is at the limits of the Top10 in P12
Jerez de la Frontera (Spain), April 28th 2023 – Luca Marini and Marco Bezzecchi are back at work in Andalucia for the fourth round of the 2023 season. An overall good start with the riders of the Mooney VR46 Racing Team riders in the slip stream of the fastest group respectively in tenth and twelfth position.
Immediately at ease on the Ducati Desmosedici GP in the morning session, Luca suffered from the rise in temperatures in the afternoon and closed, thanks to the lap time of the first free practice (1’37.053), at the limits of the Top10 thus gaining the direct access into tomorrow’s Q2 (11.15 am local time).
More complicated day for Marco, who tries to close the gap in Practice 2, but is forced into the garage due to a technical problem. On track for the last minutes of the session, he hits the time of 1’37.174 and will go through the Q1 (10.50 am local time).
LUCA MARINI – 10
Not a perfect day with a standings with very minimal gaps. I was strong in the first free practice and I didn’t want to risk another tire in the afternoon for a second time attack. I was lucky. I didn’t feel very well with the medium on the rear, which here is the tire for the race, because the bike had no grip, it slipped and didn’t turn as I wanted. This is the aspect on which we need to work most for tomorrow. All the Teams, especially the Factory ones, have a lot of data from the test riders who were here a few weeks ago, so the level is incredibly high. In any case, I’m happy because, even without being perfect, we’re in Q2. Tomorrow qualifying will be crucial.
MARCO BEZZECCHI – 72
I wasn’t perfect this morning, I struggled a bit. I didn’t feel comfortable in braking and I wasn’t fast. Instead, in the afternoon session we made a big step forward. I had great pace with the used tires, both medium and soft, but a technical problem made everything more complicated. For the time attack, I was unable to be to the track with bike 1, my favorite. I used bike 2 which was set up very similar to the first session and I wasn’t able to hit the Q2. I’m not far from the top guys, but tomorrow I’ll be forced to go through the Q1.
More, from a press release issued by Repsol Honda:
Progress on Honda debut for Lecuona as Mir targets recovery
A complicated first day of track action at the Spanish GP saw both Repsol Honda Team riders tumble, Joan Mir eventually finishing the day in 18th as Iker Lecuona closed the gap to the top riders.
The 2023 Spanish GP is building to be a memorable Grand Prix weekend with blazing temperatures and fans already flocking to the hills surrounding the Circuito de Jerez – Angel Nieto. Excited to run in front of their home crowd, the Repsol Honda Team began to build their weekend from the first moments of Free Practice 1. Temperatures would steadily rise throughout the day, making for treacherous track conditions, but Mir and Lecuona persisted in their quest for improvements.
It proved to be a complicated day for double-World Champion Joan Mir, suffering two falls in the afternoon. Unharmed in both falls, Mir and his side of the Repsol Honda Team garage have already begun work on preparing for Saturday’s crucial Qualifying sessions and the Sprint Race afterwards. The hot temperatures beating down on the 4.4 kilometers of the Jerez circuit made for difficult conditions, but look set to remain for the weekend. With less than a second dividing the top 17 riders, even an improvement of just a tenth could be enough to see Mir in the mix for Q2.
Iker Lecuona made his MotoGP return, and his Honda MotoGP debut, in front of the enthusiastic Spanish GP crowd. Friday was all about adjustments and getting comfortable on the Honda RC213V, times and results were of no major focus for the 23-year-old from Valencia. From a 1’40.509 in FP1, Lecuona was able to end the day with a best time of 1’39.274 – an improvement of over one second. On the combined times, the #27 was 1.4 second behind HRC Test Rider Stefan Bradl, the German intimately familiar with the Jerez circuit after a number of tests here. A solid debut day.
“It was not the best day today honestly, it was very complicated. We had two crashes today, one at Turn Five and one at Turn Six – the second one was a bit bigger but we are OK. When temperatures are high like this it makes everything more complicated, every point in the lap is more critical. Our feeling in the morning was not too bad but it looks like the race will be quite hot so we need to work to prepare the bike and ourselves for these conditions.”
“What a day! It is incredible to come back to MotoGP and with a team like the Repsol Honda Team, it has been a real pleasure to work with all of them. The crash today at Turn 13 was frustrating, finally I am a racer and I always want to be faster! We understood why we crashed and already for tomorrow the team have suggested a few things to improve the bike and try some things. I am quite close to Bradl considering our circumstances and this is something we have to focus on and be positive about.”
More, from a press release issued by Monster Energy Yamaha:
Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP Search for Perfect Set-Up on Scorching Spanish GP Friday
Jerez de la Frontera (Spain), 28th April 2023
GRAND PRIX OF SPAIN
Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP‘s Fabio Quartararo and Franco Morbidelli experienced a difficult first day at the Circuito de Jerez – Ángel Nieto. They finished in 16th and 17th place respectively in the combined P1 + P2 results.
LOCAL TIME: 15:00 GMT+2
AIR TEMPERATURE: 33°C
TRACK TEMPERATURE: 49°C
WEATHER: SUNNY / HUMIDITY 24%
MORE CIRCUIT INFO
16th FABIO QUARTARARO 1’37.505 (P2) / 21+28 LAPS
17th FRANCO MORBIDELLI 1’37.700 (P2) / 16+25 LAPS
Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP‘s Fabio Quartararo and Franco Morbidelli ended a hot first day of the Gran Premio MotoGP de España in 16th and 17th place respectively in the combined practice timesheets. The teammates will have to take part in tomorrow‘s Q1 session.
Quartararo needed less than ten minutes in P1 to put his M1 at the top of the provisional rankings. But the level of the other riders in the morning session was very competitive. The Frenchman opted to stay out on his medium-soft tyre combination to assess tyre degradation in the hot Andalusian temperatures. His 1‘38.073s best time, set on lap 6/20, put him in 18th place, 1.303s off the fastest time.
El Diablo was quick to provisionally top P2 again, before settling in second place. The number-20 rider was keen to set hot laps in the one-hour long afternoon session. Despite the increased heat and wind, the Yamaha man pushed to the limit and set a 1‘37.505s on lap 25/28. However, it wasn‘t enough to improve his placement in the combined results. He finished in P15 in the P2 results and in 16th position in the P1+P2 rankings, 0.797s from the top.
Morbidelli was keen to start P1, riding with a new exhaust to collect data. He put in six laps, with a best time of 1‘38.735s, before heading back into the box to give his initial feedback. The time kept him in 13th place in the early stages of the session. Though the Italian improved his time on his second run, he didn‘t climb up in the provisional order. In the final ten minutes, he started his third and final run and temporarily secured ninth place with a 1‘38.106s, set on lap 14/16, but was pushed down to 20th, 1.336s from first.
Morbido knew there was work to do and pushed hard in the hot afternoon session. He used most the available hour of practice to get up to speed. Once on his second time attack of the day, the number-21 rider booked improvement. He set a 1‘37.700s on lap 21/25 to climb up to 11th. But as the pace quickened in the later stages, he fell back to 16th in the P2 classification. He found himself in 17th place in the combined results, with a 0.992s gap to the fastest rider.
Our strategy didn‘t work out today. We decided to not do a time attack this morning, because we wanted to compare new soft and new medium tyres in the same track conditions in order to decide which one of these two options could work better for the Sprint. This afternoon, after the tyre comparison when it was time to push for a hot lap, the conditions were not as good as they were this morning. Having said that, others were able to improve their time despite the heat. So, we have to understand the reason and prepare something for tomorrow‘s FP session with the aim to improve the time attack, because our pace so far has been good.
I had many problems. We have to figure out why we were not on par today. Hopefully we will find a solution for tomorrow and make a great qualifying. This morning – apart from the feeling with the soft front tyre, which was bad for us – my overall feeling was not so bad, but I was being more careful. This afternoon, we tried all the tyre options and stayed with the medium front – which for me will be the best tyre for the race – but we didn’t find many positive improvements. We will try to turn it around, and we’ll do our best tomorrow.
Today, we were able to make nice improvements from the morning to the afternoon. This means that the team worked very well to give me a better feeling. The problem is that we are suffering quite a bit with the new tyre, and with the hot temperatures we suffer even more. That’s tough, but I want to stay positive. I want to focus on the good energy from the improvements the team made today and the decent pace we had in the afternoon.
More, from a press release issued by LCR Honda Idemitsu:
POSITIVE FRIDAY FOR TAKAAKI NAKAGAMI IN JEREZ
LCR Honda IDEMITSU rider Takaaki Nakagami has finished 9th on the combined standings of today’s practice sessions.
Nakagami carried out a solid Friday: he set the third-fastest lap time in the morning session, kept the momentum in the afternoon, and secured a Q2 spot. He admits liking this track and being focused on the weekend’s work, as he’s determined to get an excellent result and feels good riding on the Spanish soil.
Takaaki Nakagami 9th
“We’ve struggled with the rear grip in the afternoon; we didn’t have the same feeling as in the morning. Overall, I’m pleased with the job done as we already are in Q2, and we’ve been fast. Our strategy is to make the most of the weekend because I want to do a good result”.
More, from a press release issued by LCR Honda Castrol:
BUSY FRIDAY FOR ALEX RINS IN JEREZ
LCR Honda CASTROL rider Alex Rins has finished 15th on the combined standings after the two practice sessions of Friday’s track action at the Circuit of Jerez.
The Spaniard has struggled a bit due to a lack of grip in the morning and the sweltering conditions on home soil. Having finished 12th at the end of practice 1, Alex and the team had a clear plan to push and make their way to Q2. However, a crash in the afternoon (without consequences) jeopardized it while he was about to set a faster lap time. The team and the rider are committed to finding a solution to make a step forward on Saturday.
Alex Rins 15th
“The crash was a shame because I was fast during that lap, and we could have done a nice job. I still am getting used to this bike; we need to learn and keep improving. My strategy is always the same: work, learn and do my best”.
More, from a press release issued by GASGAS Factory Racing Tech3:
GASGAS FACTORY RACING TECH3 DUO COMPLETES DAY 1 OF SPANISH GRAND PRIX WITH POSITIVE FEELINGS
GASGAS Factory Racing Tech3 returned to European soil on Friday in Jerez for the fourth round of the MotoGP™ World Championship at the good old Circuito de Jerez – Àngel Nieto. After scoring his first top 10 in the category, rookie Augusto Fernandez from Spain was excited to race on home turf in front of family, friends and fans. After his terrific return to MotoGP™ in Texas with a P12, German Jonas Folger was lining up again alongside Fernandez, with Pol Espargaro still recovering from his injuries at home.
The Spanish layout is one that Augusto Fernandez knows very well and has found memories from. The GASGAS Factory Racing Tech3 rider took his maiden GP podium here in 2019, finishing P3 in Moto2™. This year, a new challenge was awaiting the Spaniard on a more powerful machine. If the challenge was not enough already, mother earth added some spice as hot air from north Africa traveling across the Iberian peninsula and the Balearic islands has brought April record breaking temperatures in Andalusia, with 27 degrees already in the air at 10:45 local time. In Practice 1, the Spaniard rode his fastest lap in 1’38.278 (+1.508) for his first time on the track in MotoGP™. If he did not manage to improve his lap times in the afternoon, he gained more confidence on both the track and the bike at the end of the Practice 2, and will head to Saturday eager to do a good qualifying at home, before the Tissot Sprint in the afternoon.
German Jonas Folger was once again part of the adventure with GASGAS Factory Racing Tech3 after his great comeback in Austin two weeks ago. Jerez is a circuit which he has always cherished in his previous career, and he was happy to be back racing in Andalusia on the RC16. As he continued to adapt to the machine, he completed nineteen laps in Practice 1 and registered his fastest lap in 1’39.545. In the afternoon, track temperatures showed 49 degrees, but it did not prevent Jonas from improving his lap times, despite the tough track conditions. He rode his fastest lap in 1’38.698, an encouraging progress for Espargaro’s substitute. Happy about the progress made today, he will look forward to his second qualifying day on Saturday, which will be followed by the Tissot Sprint at 15:00 (GMT+2), for twelve laps.
“It was not an easy start to my Spanish Grand Prix. This morning, I struggled to find the feelings on both the bike and the track. In Practice 2, we made a huge step and I gained a lot in confidence. I was able to be more consistent and I think that we can do a good job tomorrow.”
“I am happy with the progress we made today. The feelings on the bike were even better than in Austin, and this is something that I am happy about. During testing, I always struggled with soft tyres and today was really the first time that I felt I could really take the maximum out of the tyres. In Practice 2, I was following other guys and I was able to stick with them, learn from them, and I also figured out things on the track by myself, so I am happy. Thank you to my team for the job today, I look forward to tomorrow.”
More, from a press release issued by Honda Racing Corporation (HRC):
Bradl takes 20th on Friday in Jerez
Fresh from challenging for the top-ten in Austin, Stefan Bradl was back competing against the MotoGP field as a wildcard with the HRC Test Team. Combining a race weekend with a few key test items, the German worked through the items he had to.
A best time of 1’37.873 saw Bradl end the day in 20th place, 0.8s from top Honda rider Takaaki Nakagami in ninth place.
Saturday will see Bradl contest his second MotoGP Sprint Race, the red-hot conditions of Jerez adding in another challenge.
Stefan Bradl 6
Rider – MotoGP
“We had a decent opening day here in Jerez, a track I am familiar with after many tests here. Today we tried a few items, as is our job as the Test Team, and we were able to work well while improving our speed. The temperature this weekend is going to make things a bit more complicated because it changes the track condition quite a lot, but we keep on working and adapting. The target for tomorrow is to make another step and get closer once more to the front.”
More, from a press release issued by Aprilia:
APRILIA ONE-TWO IN THE FIRST PRACTICE SESSIONS AT JEREZ DE LA FRONTERA
ALEIX AND MAVERICK DOMINATE IN SPAIN: FIRST AND SECOND SEPARATED BY TWO THOUSANDTHS!
Because of the new MotoGP weekend format, the Friday practice sessions are particularly important since they are the ones that decide who goes straight through to the second qualifiers. This situation amplifies the extraordinary result achieved today by Aprilia in Jerez de la Frontera. In fact, Aleix and Maverick finished respectively in first and second place, separated by just 2 thousandths of a second, despite the fact that the scorching temperatures made it difficult to improve on their already good times from P1.
This performance come on their return to Europe, confirming what had already emerged, although not clearly, during the first three weekends of the 2023 MotoGP season. Aprilia is in the mix, stronger than ever before and ready for battle. This trend was reiterated by Miguel Oliveira’s seventh place with his Team RNF RS-GP.
“The flying lap this afternoon almost surprised me, I’ll be honest. With this heat and with a less than perfect level of grip, similar to what we had in Argentina, it seems that the Aprilias are able to fully exploit the situation. This does not mean that it’s easy. To the contrary! In any case, I am rather satisfied, also because I think that we are among the best if not the best in terms of pace. We are off on the right foot for this weekend here in Jerez”.
“This afternoon the situation was not at all easy, so dropping below 1’37 is extremely positive. In sector 4, I have always been rather fast. This year I improved my times a lot in the first and third sector because the bike allows it. We knew that we could be fast and what we had been lacking until now was setting up the perfect weekend. Now we need to focus on qualifying because starting from the front is fundamental. The feelings are good and we’ll definitely be able to have our say”.
More, from a press release issued by Lenovo Ducati:
Thirteenth Bagnaia at the end of Day 1 of the Spanish GP at Jerez de la Frontera. A still-recovering Bastianini finishes twenty-first
Jorge Martin closes fourth with the Desmosedici GP of Pramac Racing
Francesco Bagnaia closed in thirteenth place on Day 1 of the first day of practices for the Spanish GP, the fourth round of the 2023 MotoGP season held this weekend at the Jerez Circuit in Andalusia.
After closing Practice 1 ninth this morning, when the asphalt temperatures were lower compared to the 49 degrees reached in the afternoon, the Ducati Lenovo Team rider was then able to improve his lap time with the soft tyre in Practice 2. However, still, he was unable to go under the 1:37 (1:37.233) wall, finishing thirteenth.
Pecco will therefore have to take part in Q1 tomorrow, along with teammate Enea Bastianini, who is back on track on the Desmosedici GP after the right shoulder injury that forced him to miss the first three GPs of the season. Still sore, Enea completed 30 laps, ending the day in 21st place overall.
Francesco Bagnaia (#1, Ducati Lenovo Team) – 13th (1:37.233)
“We are still looking for a good bike setup that will allow me to feel better with the front. Today I repeated my performance from last year, but in the meantime, lap times and our rivals have improved. I have confidence in my team and know we can take a step forward tomorrow. Q1 will definitely not be easy as many fast riders will be competing for the top two spots, but I am confident that I can do well.”
Enea Bastianini (#23, Ducati Lenovo Team) – 21st (1:37.985)
“It was a challenging day, but I expected it given my condition. Tomorrow morning the goal is to get on track for Free Practice and see if I can continue with qualifying and then the Sprint in the afternoon. In any case, I had fun and enjoyed being back on my bike. Even though I’m still not 100%, it was a great feeling.”
The Ducati Lenovo Team riders will be back on track tomorrow at 10:10am local time for Free Practice, while qualifying will be held at 10:50am local time. The Sprint race, on the other hand, will begin at 3:00pm over a 12-lap distance.
More, from a press release issued by RNF MotoGP Team:
Oliveira grabs direct Q2 ticket, Fernandez with decent debut on home soil
The Spanish Grand Prix this weekend marks the return of the MotoGP World Championship to Europe after the first round in Portugal and the second and third GP in Argentina and Texas. Midsummer conditions have been awaiting riders, teams and fans this week at the Circuito de Jerez – Angel Nieto in the South of Spain.
Despite scorching conditions this afternoon, CryptoDATA RNF MotoGP Team’s Miguel Oliveira remained unfazed. Following a steady pace in Practice 1 this morning, he faced an issue on his fast lap and ended in P13. Although temperatures have been increasing in Practice 2, the Portuguese star managed to get the best of the final laps, improving his best time from this morning by 0.677 seconds to claim P7 in the combined standings securing a direct entry to Q2 for tomorrow.
On the other side of the CryptoDATA RNF MotoGP Team garage, Raul Fernandez who made his debut on his MotoGP bike at his home track today, after missing the Spanish GP last year, got acclimatized nicely throughout today. He ended Practice 1 in P17 and managed to move up to P14 in the combined standings at the end of Practice 2 with a consistent pace. With a 0.652 second improvement in Practice 2 compared to Practice 1, he lost out on the top 10 by only 0.350 seconds.
Yet, after Practice three tomorrow morning at 10:10 local time, Fernandez needs to tackle Qualifying one at 10:50 local time in order to try to get the best possible grid position and hopefully a ticket for Q2 as well. Q2 starts at 11:15 local time, while 15:00 the red lights will go off for the 12 laps Sprint Race on Saturday.
“Practice one was a little bit disappointing at the end, because we had a little issue with the front brake and could not make the time attack towards the end. We knew it was a good chance in terms of temperature and the wind conditions to attack, but it was not ideal. However, we made the most out of Practice two, we did a good job and all the Aprilia were very competitive. It’s good that we can look to the other garage and try. Even if the bikes are completely different, we can at least choose a direction to try for tomorrow. We always follow our way but it’s nice when we have a performance which is very close to the factory guys inside the Q2, and it gives us a little more room to breathe tomorrow and do a good job.”
“It was really fun today in Jerez. Practice one was super difficult for me, because it was my first time here at my home Grand Prix in the MotoGP class. For Practice two, we collected some good information, we did a good job and I enjoyed it a lot on the bike. I just need to understand more on how to use the soft tyre the best, it was a bit complicated for me in these last two or three turns and I need to understand more on the bike. But I am really happy, the pace is good and the team helped me in both sessions and we improved a lot. I am very motivated for tomorrow and I believe we can do a good job.”