Practice kicked off on a blistering Motorland Aragon today as the MotoGP paddock logged the first practice rounds at the Spanish circuit in preparation for the 14th round of the 2013 season. Rookie phenom Marc Marquez used a strong showing in Free Practice 2 to post the fastest time around the today, his 1’48.987 lap coming early in the session. Marquez heads into this weekend’s race with a 34-point advantage over his closest competitors and shows no signs of letting up on his assault of the 2013 MotoGP championship.
“Today, I didn't feel as good as I did in the test that we did here after the Barcelona GP, as there was less grip in these two practice sessions. Anyway, it's the same for everyone. In general the feeling that we have is pretty good and I worked on various things with the bike today. However, we can still improve our setup,” Marquez said after the session.
LCR Honda rider Stefan Bradl put up the second-fastest time, 0.132 seconds off Marquez’s pace. Bradl was pleased with the way his RC213V performed and used a combination of settings from an earlier test at Aragon along with ones from Misano to power his way to the second position.
Repsol Honda’s second rider, Dani Pedrosa, put up the third-fastest time of the sessions, giving Honda a clean sweep of the top three spots. Pedrosa finished 0.267 seconds off the time of teammate Marquez but said he felt comfortable on track and was pleased with the results. Pedrosa won at Aragon last year, starting his streak of strong finishes where he won four out of the last five races. He needs to replicate that feat this year and hope Marquez falters down the stretch to have any chance of overtaking the championship points leader.
Yamaha Factory Racing’s Jorge Lorenzo was fastest in Free Practice 1 but settled for the fourth-fastest lap of the day. He and Pedrosa are tied for second place with 219 points and the Mallorcan rider has been working hard to whittle the gap between first place by winning the last two races, but gaining ground has been difficult as Marquez finished right behind him in both races.
“We hoped to improve the bike from the morning but we couldn't do it. I have a worse feeling than when we were here for the test. We have to keep working to improve the bike and the pace. The other riders are improving their pace a lot but we are optimistic. We can improve the bike and make another step. We need to be competitive whether it is hot or not,” Lorenzo said.
Go & Fun Honda Gresini rider Alvaro Bautista had a lowside crash on Turn 8 during FP2 but still put up the fifth-best effort of the day. Monster Yamaha Tech 3 rider Cal Crutchlow finished 0.077 seconds behind Bautista while posting the sixth-fastest effort of the day.
Valentino Rossi finished seventh in the session but reportedly struggled with a number of different issues in the afternoon, including a brake problem and a lack of grip.
“Today we suffered quite a lot, especially this afternoon I had quite a lot of issues, especially one with the brakes and I lost nearly half the practice. At the end I used the second bike and made some laps to find the rhythm. We have to improve and go faster but at this moment after some laps the rear tire starts to slide a lot and the bike becomes difficult to control,” stated Rossi in team PR.
Rounding out the top ten are Ducati Factory riders Andrea Dovizioso, eighth-fastest, and Nicky Hayden in tenth. Power Electronics Aspar ART competitor Aleix Espargaro squeezed in between them to finish as the top CRT rider in ninth, coming across the line 0.021 seconds off of Dovizioso’s pace.
Tomorrow’s forecast calls for a little cooler weather where the MotoGP riders will get in one more Free Practice session before getting down to the business of qualifying for Sunday’s race.
2013 MotoGP Aragon Friday Practice Results:
1. Marc Marquez (Honda) 1’48.987
2. Stefan Bradl (Honda) 1’49.119
3. Dani Pedrosa (Honda) 1’49. 254
4. Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha) 1’49.405
5. Alvaro Bautista (Honda) 1’49.763
6. Cal Crutchlow (Yamaha) 1’49.840
7. Valentino Rossi (Yamaha) 1’49.909
8. Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati) 1’50.034
9. Aleix Espargaro (ART) 1’50.055
10. Nicky Hayden (Ducati) 1’50.446
11. Andrea Iannone (Ducati) 1’50.727
12. Hector Barbera (FTR) 1’50.913
13. Bradley Smith (Yamaha) 1’50.944
14. Yonny Hernandez (Ducati) 1’51.345
15. Claudio Corti (FTR) 1’51.461