Following the Grand Prix of Americas two weeks ago, the 2018 MotoGP Championship headed to Europe for the first time this season for round four at Jerez in Spain.When the first day of free practice began Friday, championship leader Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team) was quickest, the Italian finishing a mere 0.007 of a second ahead of the Spaniard he leads by a point, Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda).
Things changed drastically in the second free practice, and the title leaders got shuffled back in the pack. Leading the way was LCR Castrol Honda’s Cal Crutchlow, the winner of the Argentina Grand Prix at Termas de Rio Hondo.It wasn’t a runaway time – Crutchlow finished 0.028 of a second ahead of last year’s Jerez MotoGP winner, Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda RC213V). Pedrosa is riding strong as he recovers from recent surgery due to breaking his wrist during the Argentina GP.Pedrosa finished 0.091 ahead of Johann Zarco (Monster Yamaha Tech3 YZR-M1), and 0.095 ahead of Andrea Iannone (Team Suzuki Ecstar GSX-RR).The times were extremely tight Friday in Jerez; the top 15 were all within a second of each other.The top four remained over a tenth of a second ahead of the rest. Marquez, who suffered a small crash during FP2, finished fifth, 0.249 of a second behind Crutchlow.Marquez, who claimed his sixth-straight win at Circuit of the Americas, was followed by Dovizioso and the other factory Ducati GP18 pilot, Jorge Lorenzo, who has three wins at Jerez (all on Yamaha machinery) and claimed his first podium last year with Ducati.Rounding out the top 10 were Jack Miller (Alma Pramac Racing), the top Independent Team Ducati rider; Valentino Rossi (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP); and Maverick Vinales (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP).Finishing 11th was the top Red Bull KTM Factory Racing pilot, Pol Espargaro. The Spaniard is the future teammate of Zarco, who signed with the KTM team for 2019/2020 seasons.The Aprilia Racing Team Gresini duo struggled Friday: Aleix Espargaro finished 21st, and Scott Redding 24th, both over 1.3 seconds off the pace.The 25-rider grid returns to Jerez Saturday for additional free practices ahead of qualifying for Sunday’s 25-lap MotoGP.
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This week, in the first segment Editor Don Williams talks to us about the new Kawasaki Versys 650 LT. It’s the middleweight ADV style machine that uses the same 650 parallel twin motor as the Ninja 650, so it’s an excellent performer in a user-friendly, good looking package.
In the second segment, I chat with one of my dearest industry friends—now retired Honda PR executive, Jon Seidel. Jon’s fascinating career spans some 30 years with Big Red, and gave him some great experiences with some incredible machines. I was fortunate enough to be invited on many of the press launches that he organized. His new project is documenting and saving many of the old archives from years gone by—and incidentally, if you have anything that may be of value to the project, please contact us by email at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll pass it all on to Jon.
So on that note, from all of us here at Ultimate Motorcycling, we hope you enjoy this episode!