Repsol Honda’s Marc Marquez started his bid for a fifth-consecutive victory with a perfect day through Friday’s Free Practice at Le Mans, topping the timesheet in both sessions. Pramac Racing’s Andrea Iannone finished in the runner-up spot, a mere 0.007 behind the Repsol rider. Go & Fun Honda Gresini’s Alvaro Bautista finished with the third-fastest time of the day.
With clear, sunny skies throughout the day riders were able to build on input gathered during the morning session and improve by the afternoon. Marquez was on point from the start, beginning with the set-up he used at Jerez and making only minor changes before FP2, where he shaved nearly one second off best FP1 time. Iannone, too, made a big jump between his FP1 and FP2 times, pacing close to one and a half seconds faster in the afternoon.
"What can I say ... I'm very happy with how we ended the day," said Iannone. "We did a good job, I did the fastest lap time with the soft tire but here I’m fast even with that hard compound, I noticed that my race pace isn’t very different from the top riders and that is good for me. We will continue to work on the bike to improve some details and continue to aim for the top positions. "
Monster Yamaha Tech 3’s Bradley Smith finished in fourth position, recovering well after an early morning crash. Marquez’s teammate, Dani Pedrosa, trailed in fifth. This was Pedrosa’s first time on the motorcycle since undergoing surgery for arm pump 10 days prior, and according to the Spaniard “the feeling is okay.” LCR Honda MotoGP’s Stefan Bradl, also recovering from a recent arm pump surgery, was sixth-fastest, followed by Movistar Yamaha’s Jorge Lorenzo in seventh.
"I’m satisfied with the pace which is constant and with my riding," explained Lorenzo. "We are not in a position that reflects our performance in the time sheets; we were the only one with the same tire the whole session instead of putting a new tire on at the end or running an open tire. I think with a new tire we could have improved half a second at the end.”
Ducati’s Andrea Dovizioso finished six-tenths off the leader’s pace in eighth-place with NGM Mobile Forward Racing’s Aleix Espargaro taking ninth and Lorenzo’s teammate, Valentino Rossi, finishing 10th.
If Marquez is able to take the checkers at Le Mans he would become the youngest rider in the history of the sport to win five straight races, and would be the first since Giacomo Agostini in 1972 to win the first five contests of the season.
MotoGP Le Mans Friday Results 2014
1. Marc Marquez (Honda) 1’33.452
2. Andrea Iannone (Ducati) 1’33.459
3. Alvaro Bautista (Honda) 1’33.668
4. Bradley Smith (Yamaha) 1’33.920
5. Dani Pedrosa (Honda) 1’33.942
6. Stefan Bradl (Honda) 1’34.040
7. Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha) 1’34.054
8. Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati) 1’34.117
9. Aleix Espargaro (Forward-Yamaha) 1’34.134
10. Valentino Rossi (Yamaha) 1’34.498
11. Pol Espargaro (Yamaha) 1’34.506
12. Yonny Hernandez (Ducati) 1’34.877
13. Cal Crutchlow (Ducati) 1’34.907
14. Nicky Hayden (Honda) 1’34.961
15. Colin Edwards (Forward-Yamaha) 1’35.089
16. Hiroshi Aoyama (Honda) 1’35.229
17. Scott Redding (Honda) 1’35.424
18. Karel Abraham (Honda) 1’35.818
19. Hector Barbera (Avintia) 1’36.418
20. Mike di Meglio (Avintia) 1’36.612
21. Michael Laverty (PBM) 1’36.742
22. Broc Parkes (PBM) 1’37.136