Motorcycle Racing News MotoGP Aleix Espargaro Tops Sachsenring MotoGP Friday Practice

Aleix Espargaro Tops Sachsenring MotoGP Friday Practice

2014 Sachsenring MotoGP Friday Practice

Just as he did at Assen, Open-class pilot Aleix Espargaro was the quickest rider following the open day of practice. The NGM Forward Racing Yamaha pilot led both free practice sessions Friday at Sachsenring in Germany, with his best lap arriving in FP2.

The Spaniard’s quickest lap at the 2.281-mile circuit was a 1:22.041 while using a softer-rear Bridgestone. It drizzled for a bit in the 45-minute FP2 session, but the track was completely dry near the end when Espargaro set his quickest lap.

To put this time into perspective, the Circuit Record (under race conditions) is a 1:21.846 set by Repsol Honda’s Dani Pedrosa in 2011.

Espargaro finished the day 0.117 of a second ahead of the reigning MotoGP Champion, Marc Marquez, who suffered a huge crash at turn three in FP1. Taking the third quickest time was Movistar Yamaha MotoGP’s Jorge Lorenzo, who trailed Espargaro by 0.327 of a second.

Espargaro arrived in Germany following his best-MotoGP finish at Assen two weeks ago – fourth. He is now exploring options to garner additional speed.

“I feel great, and it was fantastic to ride here, like last year. We explored a lot of different settings on both the Yamaha and Forward bikes. I was really happy with our first day. I did my fast laps with the Yamaha frame, I think I can be faster on the Forward frame because it is a little bit better in the tight corners,” Espargaro says.

“Tomorrow I think I’ll use Forward in qualifying, we’re still experimenting a lot. I did 22 laps on the rear soft, it was strong till the end. I think we can race with the soft like in Assen but the temperature can change a lot here in Germany.”

As for Marquez, who has won every race so far this season, and the last four years at Sachsenring across all classes, he suffered a hard impact when crashing in the first free practice session. But he was able to remount, and continue building his pace.

“The day went very well, because even though I crashed I was fortunate not to get injured, but the impact was hard. The crash was a little strange, but when we looked at the telemetry later on we understood why it happened,” Marquez says.

“It’s a long left turn in second gear on the throttle the whole time, and I accidentally touched the gear shift lever with the toe of my boot. This engaged another gear and as I was leant so far over – and had the gas open – the rear wheel slid out and I was thrown off. The afternoon session was really good and I felt comfortable on the bike again. l was able to put in a good lap, but most importantly I kept up a strong pace.”

Lorenzo’s pace was impressive considering he dislikes Sachsenring. Why? He crashed here last season during free practice, breaking his shoulder. The two-time MotoGP Champion, who has struggled all season, is optimistic about the rest of the weekend.

“It went quite well today. We were always within the top three. Today the bike is working well. It’s more stable than it was in Montmeló and in Assen, so in pace I’m quite good and also the braking is good. We just need to improve some small details to fight for first row tomorrow. Also, physically I am better than ever, so I feel strong,” Lorenzo says.

The home favorite Stefan Bradl was fourth quickest, the LCR Honda RC213V pilot 0.399 off the top time. The German was followed by GO&FUN Honda Gresini’s Alvaro Bautista.

Sixth fastest went to Movistar Yamaha MotoGP’s Valentino Rossi, whose quickest time arrived in FP1.

Rounding out the top 10 were Andrea Iannone (Pramac Racing Ducati), Pol Espargaro (Monster Yamaha Tech3), Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team) and Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda Team).

Just like his teammate, Pedrosa also crashed, but his arrived at turn 12 in FP2. He was able to walk away uninjured. Another rider to crash at turn 12 was Paul Bird Motorsport’s Michael Laverty.

Other crashes were from Laverty’s teammate Broc Parkes, and Monster Yamaha Tech3’s Bradley Smith, who crashed twice in FP1.

The riders will return to the short Sachsenring circuit Saturday for two additional free practices ahead of qualifying.

As for the Americans, Drive M7 Aspar’s Nicky Hayden finished 18th, 1.163 seconds off the pace, and NGM Forward Racing’s Colin Edwards 19th, 1.352 seconds back.

For a preview of the German GP, visit 2014 German MotoGP Preview.

German MotoGP: Top 10 combined Free Practice 1 & 2 times

Pos
Rider
Team
Combined FP1&2 Time
Gap
1
Aleix ESPARGARO
NGM Forward Racing
1’22.041 (FP2)
2
Marc MARQUEZ
Repsol Honda Team
1’22.158 (FP2)
0.117
3
Jorge LORENZO
Movistar Yamaha MotoGP
1’22.368 (FP2)
0.327
4
Stefan BRADL
LCR Honda MotoGP
1’22.430 (FP2)
0.389
5
Alvaro BAUTISTA
GO&FUN Honda Gresini
1’22.440 (FP2)
0.399
6
Valentino ROSSI
Movistar Yamaha MotoGP
1’22.466 (FP1)
0.425
7
Andrea IANNONE
Pramac Racing
1’22.565 (FP2)
0.524
8
Pol ESPARGARO
Monster Yamaha Tech 3
1’22.569 (FP2)
0.528
9
Andrea DOVIZIOSO
Ducati Team
1’22.576 (FP2)
0.535
10
Dani PEDROSA
Repsol Honda Team
1’22.589 (FP2)
0.548

Ron Lieback
Ron Lieback
One of the few moto journalists based on the East Coast, Ron Lieback joined the motorcycle industry as a freelancer in 2007, and is currently Online Editor at Ultimate Motorcycling. He is also the author of "365 to Vision: Modern Writer's Guide (How to Produce More Quality Writing in Less Time).

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