Round 19 – Valencia – Day One
FP1 pacesetter Fabio Quartararo (Petronas Yamaha SRT) made it double trouble for his rivals on Friday at the Gran Premio Motul de la Comunitat Valenciana, topping the timesheets again in the afternoon for dominion on Day 1. He has a tenth and a half in hand over fellow Yamaha rider Maverick Viñales (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP), with World Champion Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) placing P3 so far.
After a chillier start, conditions were slightly warmer in the afternoon and allowed some riders to head out and post their best times of the day early in FP2, one of whom was Marquez as he sat on top of the standings in the opening exchanges.
Marquez and Viñales had got the better of Quartararo’s FP1 time fairly early on and leap-frogged the Rookie of the Year on the combined times, with Joan Mir (Team Suzuki Ecstar) putting in some impressive laps to claw his way up to P2 overall with around 10-minutes left to play as well. But the clock was ticking down and that meant a shuffle on the way.
Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda Castrol) moved himself into the top 10, Jack Miller (Pramac Racing) and Franco Morbidelli (Petronas Yamaha SRT) took P2 and P3 on the combined times respectively and at this stage, FP1 leader Quartararo hadn’t improved. So it was instead Viñales who first displaced Marquez from P1, but the Frenchman was on a charge and made his first gains to get up into second and then go top with an even better effort.
That sees Quartararo top so far from Sepang winner Viñales and Champion Marquez, with Miller in fourth at the end of the day despite a crash – and the Australian was second in FP1.
Fabio Quartararo – P1
“It feels good to make such an improvement from one year ago at the test when I was in P17! It shows our progress and it’s a reward for our effort, and we’ll continue to work in the same way going forward. We know that time attacks are one of our strengths, but we’re not quite there yet on race pace. We need to work on the bike and find a good strategy to improve tomorrow. We’re not far away, but we’ll try our best tonight to find the issues and fix them.”
Maverick Viñales – P2
“I‘m quite happy, because I think we made a good start. It was a good Friday, and I‘m feeling great on the bike as always. For sure, we still have to improve some points, but I think the rhythm is there, and that‘s the most important. I think we are on a good level, and for sure we can further improve, so we’re going to try and give it everything tomorrow. We have to work more on the tyres, because it didn‘t feel great, especially during the time attack, so we will work a little bit more on that area.”
Marc Marquez – P3
“I’m happy with today as we were able to accomplish a lot. Today the times were really close, which can happen at a small and tight circuit like Valencia. Our work today was about the race, finding our pace and understanding the tyres more – a typical start to our weekend. Tomorrow we will have a chance to do the time attack and focus more on Qualifying. We also worked on a couple of other things outside of this to be a little be more ready for the future. A busy day!”
Jack Miller – P4
“We did a good job today. The feeling with the bike is very good. It’s a shame about the crash. I went on track to test the hard tyre but at turn 2 I lost the front. I tried to make an extreme “save” but… I’m not Marc Marquez. The feeling is still very positive.”
Morbidelli takes P5, ahead of Alex Rins (Team Suzuki Ecstar). The two-time premier class race winner got the better of rookie team-mate Mir in the end, but not by much as the number 36 ends Friday in seventh.
Franco Morbidelli – P5
“We worked well today, and I’m happy with the pace we’ve found so far. Of course, there’s always room to improve, but from the morning to the afternoon we definitely went in the right direction and found something positive. The goal now will be to make a similar step to tomorrow morning to be even closer to the front. We’re there or thereabouts so far, with Fabio first and me fifth, and hopefully we can keep the level high tomorrow and fight for the podium come Sunday.”
Alex Rins – P6
“I felt quite good today, both FP1 and FP2 went well. We changed the setup a little bit after the morning session and I’m pleased with how it worked out. We still need to improve a bit for tomorrow, but we feel ready. It will be important to be in Q2, everybody is very close together on times so it will be a competitive day.”
Joan Mir – P7
“I feel especially good here. During the last race in Sepang I suffered physically, with my lungs, because of the humidity but here I am back at 100% and I feel better. The team are working really well, and the bike is feeling nice. We will continue working tomorrow, but things are going in a good way.”
Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini) impressed in P8, with late times from Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team) and Johann Zarco (LCR Honda Idemitsu) seeing them grab a top 10 place in ninth and tenth respectively.
Aleix Espargaro – P8
“Here in Valencia I felt at ease straight away. The characteristics of the RS-GP adapt well to this track, as we had already confirmed in recent years. Despite the good performance, it was not a simple day. It is very cold and that is especially problematic for the front tyre. The goal now is to aim for the best possible result in qualifying tomorrow. On a track like this, overtaking is not easy, so starting at the front is fundamental.”
Andrea Dovizioso – P9
“This afternoon we had a few setbacks that prevented us from completely getting through our work load, but in any case we were able to get inside the top 10 and this is positive. At the moment, Viñales and Marquez have a better pace than all the other riders but our immediate target is to get in behind them and see what sort of margin we have for improvement. It will also be important to make the best tyre choice because for the moment the situation for the race isn’t very clear”.
Johann Zarco – P10
“I’m happy with the day, happy to finish in the top 10, that’s great. I was pretty happy at the end of the session with the soft tyre to make a huge step with the lap time, it really helps a lot to be in the top 10. It means that we did good work right from the morning. We tried to save the good tyres, but at the same time work on the bike to give me the possibility to control it better and ride with better feeling. It showed that work was good, because when we put on the soft rear tyre I immediately improved the lap time. It was positive, but I think we can go even faster.”
Zarco’s temporary team-mate Crutchlow was the man to lose out as he ended the day in 11th.
Cal Crutchlow – P11
“The first session this morning was freezing and by the end it was really windy. In the afternoon it was really windy and it got colder as the sun went in which is not great for these bikes. It would be a fantastic race if it was ten degrees hotter. It would make it a lot easier and a lot more manageable. It’s a difficult circuit on the best of days, let alone when it’s as cold as this weekend. With the braking here, there’s not much feeling in the tyres, so it’s tough.”
He’ll be a big name hoping to improve in FP3, and perhaps the biggest name has the same task ahead of him on Saturday: after crashing in FP1 at Turn 4, Valentino Rossi (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) was unfortunately in the gravel again in FP2. This time it was the fast right-hand Turn 10 that caught ‘The Doctor’ out and thankfully the nine-time World Champion was ok, but the same couldn’t be said for his YZR-M1.
Valentino Rossi – P14
“Fortunately, I‘m OK. The first crash was quite ’light‘ but the second one was a bit heavier. Here in Valencia it‘s always dangerous on the right side of the tyre, especially in these conditions, because it‘s very cold, it‘s wintertime. This morning I made a mistake, I pushed too much already on the first lap and I crashed. The crash in the afternoon we understand less, because it was already after seven laps or so, but this is the way it is. But I‘m OK. It‘s a shame, because before the crashes I was quite strong. My pace wasn‘t too bad. We need to work on the bike to decide on the right tyres, but the most important thing is to try to make a good lap tomorrow in FP3 to be in the top 10, and then we‘ll see.”
Rossi was 14th and will be aiming to leap-frog Michele Pirro (Ducati Team), Danilo Petrucci (Ducati Team) and Crutchlow as a minimum before qualifying…
Jorge Lorenzo (Repsol Honda Team) ended his final Friday in the sport in 16th, but just 0.012s off Francesco Bagnaia (Pramac Racing) ahead of him.
Jorge Lorenzo – P16
“After yesterday I had to try and just focus on today, to get into a normal mindset for the race weekend. I was able to do this and we had quite an OK day today, we were closer to the top than in previous races even if our position is not a lot better. We were only 1.1 second from Quartararo at the end. Tomorrow our goal is the top 15 but maybe we can push for Q2 if we make some more improvements. There’s still some work to do on our overall pace, but I think we can keep gaining.”
Iker Lecuona, who replaces injured Miguel Oliveira for the season finale, did his first laps aboard the KTM RC16 today and improved in each outing and concluded his premier day in the MotoGP category just 0.227 seconds behind Syahrin.
Iker Lecuona – P23
“It was quite a different day in the office today. Overall, I’m really happy. I was a bit scared before the first run in FP1, because I didn’t know how the bike will feel on this track. But I’m very satisfied, I managed to improve with every lap and finished just 2.379 seconds behind the fastest rider and lost just a few tenths of a second on Hafizh, so I can’t wait to get back on the bike tomorrow.”
MotoGP Combined Times
Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Ajo) wasn’t hanging around in FP2 as he set a new lap record to sit over half a second clear on Day 1 at the Gran Premio Motul de la Comunitat Valenciana. The South African’s 1:34.622 was unmatchable on Friday afternoon, with Augusto Fernandez (FlexBox HP 40) and Fabio Di Giannantonio (MB Conveyors Speed Up) getting the closest but still over half a second back.
For Binder, it was suns out, guns blazing as the KTM rider laid waste to Johann Zarco’s previous lap record set in 2016, making a serious statement of intent in his final Friday in the intermediate class – despite a wobble just beforehand. Will anyone be able to catch the South African on Saturday? It certainly seems a tall order…
Behind Fernandez and rookie Di Giannantonio, fourth went the way of Sam Lowes (Federal Oil Gresini Moto2), with the Brit putting in a late lunge to displace Stefano Manzi (MV Agusta Temporary Forward). Manzi had an incredible day on track, topping FP1 and completing the top five overall – with an improved lap.
Tetsuta Nagashima (ONEXOX TKKR SAG Team) was sixth after initially proving Binder’s closest challenger earlier in FP2, with Jorge Navarro (MB Conveyors Speed Up) in P7 on home turf. Mattia Pasini (Tasca Racing Scuderia Moto2) put in a solid day for eighth overall, with Tom Lüthi (Dynavolt Intact GP) facing an uphill struggle in ninth: he’ll need to beat Binder on Sunday if he’s to finish the season second overall…
Nicolo Bulega (Sky Racing Team VR46) was tenth and the second fastest rookie, although he’s out of the fight for Rookie of the Year – ensuring ‘Diggia’ an advantage in that battle so far as the next man in the running is Jorge Martin (Red Bull KTM Ajo) in P15. Marcel Schrötter (Dynavolt Intact GP) took P11 ahead of Luca Marini (Sky Racing Team VR46).
So where’s the reigning Champion? Alex Marquez (EG 0,0 Marc VDS) ended Friday in 13th, but the gaps behind Binder were infinitesimal. He’s within four tenths of Fernandez but 11 places further back, although he is in line for a provisional place in Q2, as is Lorenzo Baldassarri (Flexbox HP 40) in P14.
Moto2 Combined Times
|3||F.Di Giannanto Ita||SPEED UP||+0.671|
|28||D.Ekky Pratam Ina||KALEX||+2.540|
Jaume Masia (Mugen Race) was fastest on Day 1 at the Gran Premio Motul de la Comunitat Valenciana, the KTM man heading rookie and fellow Valencian Sergio Garcia (Estrella Galicia 0,0) by just 0.069 on Friday. Marcos Ramirez (Leopard Racing) rounded out the top three, only another 0.086 in arrears.
A chilly day was at least a sunny day at the Circuit Ricardo Tormo, with the gaps in Moto3™ predictably and tantalisingly close. That continued outside the top three with the man in fourth only 0.089 in arrears, and that man was impressive wildcard Xavier Artigas (Leopard Impala Junior Team). From European Talent Cup winner in 2018 to third overall – as a rookie – in the FIM CEV Repsol Moto3™ Junior World Championship this season, the Spaniard is on a serious roll.
The same can be said of three-in-a-row winner Lorenzo Dalla Porta (Leopard Racing) too. Aiming to become the first to take four Moto3™ victories in a row on Sunday, he began his final race weekend in the lightweight class in fifth and only 0.019 off Artigas. Romano Fenati (VNE Snipers) was only another 0.020 off in sixth. Andrea Migno (Mugen Race) and Niccolo Antonelli (SIC58 Squadra Corse), the latter improving from P24 in FP1, were seventh and eighth respectively.
Thanks to a late lap and despite a crash at Turn 6 – his second of the day – John McPhee (Petronas Sprinta Racing) ends Friday in ninth, with Tony Arbolino (VNE Snipers) rounding out the top 10 as he aims to take second overall from home hero Aron Canet (Sterilgarda Max Racing Team). Canet was 12th, pipped to P11 by rookie Raul Fernandez (Valresa Angel Nieto Team).
Albert Arenas (Valresa Angel Nieto Team), who crashed on Friday, lost out on P12 to the tune of just two thousandths, with Celestino Vietti (Sky Racing Team VR46) currently the last of the provisional Q2 graduates in 14th despite two crashes for the Italian rookie.
Ayumu Sasaki (Petronas Sprinta Racing) was another who crashed in FP2, as well as Makar Yurchenko (BOE Skull Rider Mugen Race).
Moto3 Combined Times
|5||L.Dalla Porta Ita||HONDA||+0.263|
Eric Granado (Avintia Esponsorama Racing) set the fastest FIM Enel MotoE World Cup lap of the weekend to claim E-Pole at the Gran Premio Motul de la Comunitat Valenciana, with the Brazilian back on the front row for the first time since Germany. Cup standings leader Matteo Ferrari (Trentino Gresini MotoE) and Free Practice pacesetter Bradley Smith (One Energy Racing) will join him on the front row for Races 1 and 2, with the Cup finely poised at the season finale.
After the first eight riders had given their all over one flying lap of the Circuit Ricardo Tormo, it was Jesko Raffin (Dynavolt Intact GP) who led the way with a 1:41.218, the Swiss rider making a huge leap forward from his place on the practice timesheets. He was 0.8 clear of Sete Gibernau (Join Contract Pons 40), but the next man up was Xavier Simeon (Avintia Esponsorama Racing) and the Belgian closed the gap to 0.192 despite his ongoing recovery from injury. Hector Garzo (Tech 3 E-Racing), currently second overall, then found time in the last split to move himself into provisional P2 too…
Next up, however, came Granado – and it was a stunner. After three splits the Avintia rider was 0.4 up on Raffin’s time and by the line, 0.666 was the margin. The best lap of the weekend so far piled the pressure on the remaining two riders: Cup leader Ferrari and title contender Smith. Could they compete?
Ferrari was up first having finished P2 in Free Practice, and the Italian put in a solid performance but said he wasn’t out to run risks – and he took second overall. That left only Smith, the fastest in practice, but the Brit was already two tenths off Granado’s best after the first sector. Could the British rider pull it back? Not quite, but in the end, the number 38 was at least able to go 0.085 quicker than Raffin to slot himself onto the front row – something that could prove pivotal come Saturday and Sunday.
Josh Hook rounded out the top ten ahead of Sete Gibernau.
MotoE Combined Times