Jorge Lorenzo is now on top of the championship points standings with 90 after winning Le Mans. The Yamaha Factory rider posted the top time during free practice at Catalunya Friday.
Yamaha Factory Racing’s Jorge Lorenzo posted the top time in Friday’s MotoGP free practice sessions at Catalunya, clocking in at 1’42.099. The Mallorcan rider was followed by another crowd favorite, Spaniard Alvaro Bautista of San Carlo Honda Gresini who finished second-fastest, followed by Monster Yamaha Tech 3’s Cal Crutchlow in third. Lorenzo is heading into the weekend with great optimism coming off his commanding win at Le Mans where he overtook Casey Stoner of Repsol Honda on top of the championship points list. The Yamaha rider is on a similar pace as he was in 2010 when he won the world championship, now at 90 points after just four rounds.
“The feeling is good today,” said Lorenzo. “We tried the hard rear tire which is very important for this track because it’s a real possibility for the race on Sunday. We must improve some little details, especially the braking as we are arriving in the corners at a very high speed but generally we are good.”
Coming in fourth place was Tech 3 Yamaha’s Andrea Dovizioso. Dovi started out in Free Practice 1 with a ninth place time, but shaved off almost an entire second during Free Practice 2. The Tech 3 riders are looking to earn their first podium of the season at Catalunya. A Tech 3 rider has been in fourth position at the checkers in every race so far this season with the exception of the last round at Le Mans, where both went down late in the race due to wet conditions. The 84-degree heat in Spain on Friday was a far cry from the conditions of the previous round, with track temperatures soaring over 120. Dovizioso commented that “In this heat it will be the rider who can keep the best grip for the longest that will have a good chance in the race, so we worked on this area a lot today and gained some important information.”
Casey Stoner at Catalunya. The Aussie won at the Spanish circuit last year during his world championship run.
Another rider who shaved almost an entire second off his early lap time was Pramac Racing’s Hector Barbera. The Spaniard posted the fifth-fastest time and outpaced defending World Champion Casey Stoner of Repsol Honda. Stoner posted his best time in FP1, a 1’42.775, which put him at the top of the timesheet for the first session. The Aussie has a successful record at the Spanish circuit though, winning the round in 2011 and earning the Best Pole and Fastest Lap during his performance in qualifying in 2008.
“It’s been nice to have some good weather and consistent conditions,” said Stoner. “It’s very hot on track and I think everyone is struggling a little on the soft compound tire. This afternoon we used the harder tire and they seemed to be a little more consistent. We’re still not very happy with how the bike is feeling and we can certainly improve on that but we’re fairly happy as far as pace is concerned.”
American rider Ben Spies of Yamaha Factory Racing followed Stoner with the seventh-fastest time of the day. Spies has encountered a host of difficulties so far this season, from front end issues in Qatar and Jerez to water making it into his helmet at Le Mans, causing him to pit. Last year at Catalunya was Spies’ first podium as part of the Yamaha team and those around the Texan are optimistic that he can use this round as a chance to turn his luck.
“I think we got some stuff figured out for tomorrow,” said Spies. “I know what I want out of it; we just need a bit of a different set up. The bike is working really good and the team’s working well.”
Repsol Honda’s Dani Pedrosa turned in the eighth fastest time in FP2, barely improving the pace he’d set in FP1. He was followed by LCR Honda’s Stefan Bradl in ninth and Ducati’s Nicky Hayden in tenth. The top ten riders were all within one second of Lorenzo’s top time and only Stoner failed to improve his time from FP1 to FP2.
Last week’s surprise second place finisher, Valentino Rossi of Ducati, was 12th fastest at Catalunya and just barely edged out the top CRT finisher Aleix Espargaro of Power Electronics Aspar who came in 13th. American CRT rider Colin Edwards of NGM Mobile Forward Racing claimed the 16th fastest time and commented after the sessions that his “Collarbone feels good, it’s still a bit tender to the touch, but when I put on my leathers today I honestly didn’t feel it.” The Texan fractured his collarbone in five places during qualifying at Estoril and required the installation of a titanium plate with ten screws.
Cal Crutchlow may have a chance to take his first podium of the 2012 season at Catalunya, seen here during practice.
2012 MotoGP Catalunya Combined Free Practice Times:
1. Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha) 1’42.099
2. Alvaro Bautista (Honda) 1’42.306
3. Cal Crutchlow (Yamaha) 1’42.447
4. Andrea Dovizioso (Yamaha) 1’42.592
5. Hector Barbera (Ducati) 1’42.639
6. Casey Stoner (Honda) 1’42.775
7. Ben Spies (Yamaha) 1’42.802
8. Dani Pedrosa (Honda) 1’42.870
9. Stefan Bradl (Honda) 1’42.943
10. Nicky Hayden (Ducati) 1’43.057
11. Karel Abraham (Ducati) 1’43.315
12. Valentino Rossi (Ducati) 1’43.537
13. Aleix Espargaro (ART) 1’44.738
14. Randy De Puniet (ART) 1’44.771
15. Michele Pirro (FTR) 1’45.631
16. Colin Edwards (Suter) 1’45.868
17. Mattia Pasini (ART) 1’46.234
18. Yonny Hernandez (BQR) 1’46.450
19. Ivan Silva (BQR) 1’46.500
20. James Ellison (ART) 1’46.836
21. Danilo Petrucci (Ioda) 1’47.149