Repsol Honda’s Marc Marquez finished fastest in Free Practice at Mugello, Round 6 of the 2014 MotoGP season. The defending world champion was followed by Movistar Yamaha’s Valentino Rossi in second, who celebrates his 300th Grand Prix this weekend at the Italian circuit. Pramac Ducati’s Andrea Iannone ended in third position.
The day started under ominous conditions, with heavy cloud cover threatening rain during the morning session. Riders were able to complete a full 45 minutes on track in the dry in FP1, however by the afternoon the skies opened up enough to dissuade most from turning laps in FP2. Only four competitors ventured out during the second session: Ducati test rider Michele Pirro, Drive M7 Aspar’s Nicky Hayden, Go & Fun Honda Gresini’s Alvaro Bautista and Hayden’s teammate, Hiroshi Aoyama. None remained in action for long though, with just nine full laps completed collectively in FP2.
Marquez was quickly comfortable on the Italian track this time around, the site of his only DNF due to a crash during a stellar rookie season in 2013.
"Today was a really good day, I began with a few questions on my mind after last year –when this track was one of those that I found most difficult– and I saw that things have changed completely after a year of experience,” explained Marquez. “The morning went well and the feeling was good, but in the afternoon we didn't go out as it was raining on-and-off and the surface was neither fit for dry riding nor wet tires. I felt very comfortable on the bike, there was a big difference compared to last year and I'm feeling much better about things and we hope to continue improving.”
Valentino Rossi celebrates his 300th Grand Prix at Mugello in 2014.
Rossi ended three-tenths adrift of Marquez’s best time, and is looking to notch a 10th career win at his home circuit on Sunday. The Doctor also sported a special message on his leathers during practice, which read “#thisisforSIC58,” in memory of the late Marco Simoncelli, who was honored as a MotoGP Legend after FP1.
Iannone slipped into the number three spot on his final fast lap of the morning, followed by Ducati’s Andrea Dovizioso in fourth. Rossi’s teammate, Jorge Lorenzo, paced fifth-fastest. The Mallorcan has won the past three years at Mugello and will be focused on improving the feel of his machine on Saturday in order to contend for a fourth consecutive win.
NGM Mobile Forward Racing’s Aleix Espargaro finished in sixth followed by LCR Honda MotoGP’s Stefan Bradl in seventh. Dovi’s teammate, Cal Crutchlow, paced eighth-fastest trailed by Bautista and Tech 3 Yamaha’s Bradley Smith in ninth and 10th, respectively.
Smith’s teammate, Pol Espargaro, had a difficult opening day at Mugello, crashing mid-way through FP1. He opted out of any laps in FP2, having never ridden a MotoGP machine in the wet before, deciding instead to “undertake a brief technical check to discover the behavior of the steel brakes,” according to a Tech 3 team press release. Bautista suffered an off as well just before the end of the opening session, coming off his bike at Bucine. According to Bautista, the incident was caused because of Cardion AB Motoracing’s Karel Abraham, who was rolling through the corner too slowly, forcing Bautista to “lean the bike a lot to avoid touching him, and as a result I lost grip and crashed.”
Finally, IodaRacing Project’s Danilo Petrucci, who had planned his return to action at Mugello, was declared unfit for competition and will miss another round owing to a fractured left wrist he sustained at Jerez.
MotoGP Mugello Friday Results 2014
1. Marc Marquez (Honda) 1’48.004
2. Valentino Rossi (Yamaha) 1’48.386
3. Andrea Iannone (Ducati) 1’48.434
4. Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati) 1’48.518
5. Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha) 1’48.665
6. Aleix Espargaro (Forward-Yamaha) 1’48.743
7. Stefan Bradl (Honda) 1’48.925
8. Cal Crutchlow (Ducati) 1’48.980
9. Alvaro Bautista (Honda) 1’49.030
10. Bradley Smith (Yamaha) 1’49.030
11. Dani Pedrosa (Honda) 1’49.203
12. Pol Espargaro (Yamaha) 1’49.308
13. Colin Edwards (Forward-Yamaha) 1’49.818
14. Michele Pirro (Ducati) 1’50.030
15. Hiroshi Aoyama (Honda) 1’50.143
16. Yonny Hernandez (Ducati) 1’50.189
17. Karel Abraham (Honda) 1’50.327
18. Scott Redding (Honda) 1’50.440
19. Hector Barbera (Avintia) 1’51.369
20. Mike di Meglio (Avintia) 1’52.164
21. Michael Laverty (PBM) 1’52.748
22. Broc Parkes (PBM) 1’53.775
23. Nicky Hayden (Honda) 1’55.369