When I posted my Misano MotoGP preview earlier this week, I said it’s going to be a Rossi/Marquez/Ducati showdown for the San Marino Grand Prix, round 13 of 19 in the 2018 MotoGP Championship.During Friday’s initial two shakedowns of the San Marino GP, Movistar Yamaha MotoGP’s Valentino Rossi and Repsol Honda’s Marc Marquez had nothing on the Ducati Team duo of Andrea Dovizioso and Jorge Lorenzo.
When the day was complete, Dovizioso led both practice sessions, claiming a best time 1:32.198 around the 2.63-mile circuit containing 16 corners. To put this time into perspective, the Best Lap at Misano (across all sessions) is a 1:31.868, which was set by Jorge Lorenzo in 2016 (then factory Yamaha).“I’m pleased I manage to set the quickest time in both of today’s sessions, but I didn’t have a perfect feeling with the bike during free practice,” Andrea Dovizioso says.“The track conditions were very different to what we encountered during the test here three weeks ago: there isn’t the same amount of grip, the tires wear out in a different way and our set-up is not the same. However, we’re fast and we hope that the weather conditions tomorrow will allow us to work some more on the bike because we have to improve for the race.”Dovizioso, who has never won at Misano, was followed closely by teammate Lorenzo. The Spaniard, who claimed three-consecutive wins at Misano from 2011-2013 (Yamaha), trailed Dovi by 0.160 of a second.Third fastest was LCR Honda’s Cal Crutchlow (-0.187), who was followed by Movistar Yamaha MotoGP’s Maverick Vinales (-0.213).As for Marquez, he would finish fifth – 0.339 of a second behind Dovizioso. Marquez did remain super consistent throughout his sessions, something that can pay off big time during Sunday’s 27-lap GP.“I’m very happy today because we worked really well here starting with a good setup since the beginning and made a little step in the afternoon also,” points leader and four-time MotoGP Champion Marc Marquez said.“The other guys did a test two weeks ago so we just tried an be very precise in every step of our work and we’re already happy with our pace. I feel good with the bike; I can ride well. We didn’t put on a new tire in the end because our target is mainly working for the race, like always. We’ll see tomorrow how things go; it seems like many riders are quite strong but we’re very equal already.”Rossi, who is second in points, 59 points behind Marquez, was more than a half-second off he pace, the YZR-M1 pilot finishing eight, just behind Team Suzuki Ecstar’s Alex Rins in seventh, and Alama Pramac Racing Ducati’s Danilo Petrucci in sixth.Rounding out the top 10 in the second MotoGP free practice were Marc VDS Honda’s Franco Morbidelli and Monster Yamaha Tech3’s Johann Zarco.Overall the other Team Suzuki Ecstar GSX-RR pilot Andrea Iannone was a top-10 finisher due to his FP1 time; he suffered a crash during the second 45-minute free practice session, but walked away unharmed.The top 14 were within a second of each other.Stay clicked to Ultimate Motorcycling Saturday morning for qualifying results.For TV times, visit 2018 MotoGP USA TV Schedule.
This week, Senior Editor Nic de Sena rides the all new Ducati Monster. Big changes have been made by Ducati–has the company ruined the considerable heritage of the iconic Monster–or are the changes worth it? In the second part of the show, we chat with Nick Ienatsch, Founder and Head Instructor at the Yamaha Champions Riding School. He says: “We aim to change your riding life by introducing you to Champions Habits: The techniques, approaches, skills, and the mindsets of the best riders in the world. These Champions Habits are the foundation of safety and consistency to whatever speed you ride, in any venue on any bike. Street riders, this is just as much for you as track riders. The best way to make safe riders is to make good riders.“ We hope you enjoy this episode!