Monster Yamaha Tech3 team riders Pol Espargaro positively kicked off his campaign at the Motorland Aragon circuit by storming to 5th place overall aboard the YZR-M1. The young Spaniard began by completing the shakedown in 9th with his personal best being only 0.165 back from reigning World Champion Jorge Lorenzo. The encouraging start left him confident of continuing his progress in the afternoon and there, he carried on adjusting the setup of his Yamaha MotoGP bike for Sunday. He pushed on but unfortunately fell at the notorious second corner half way through the session. However, he raced back to the pits and bravely remounted before posting his fastest lap on his 12th that saw him end up only 0.320 from the top of the field. The notable opening sees the 25-year-old primed for a successful day tomorrow where he will intend to extend his highly positive MotoGP qualifying record at the Aragon circuit.
Meanwhile, Alex Lowes got straight to work as he took the first steps in preparing for Sunday’s race whilst he also readjusted back to the Yamaha YZR-M1, after having competed in the World Superbike race in Germany last weekend. The young Briton launched into action in FP1 and after building his speed, he set his personal best on his final lap, which left him in 17th. Next, Lowes continued his efforts in the afternoon as he aimed to carry on learning but whilst he was improving his time, his progress was halted. This was due to him unfortunately falling at the second turn in the final moments of the session, similarly to several far more experienced riders including his teammate. Despite the unlucky fall, he is fully confident of advancing tomorrow as he remains keen to impress in the all-important qualifying day.
Position: 5th - Time: 1'49.738 - Laps: 33
"Today has been a strong start to the weekend and I believe that finishing inside the top 5 is a truly positive result for us. The Hondas are running really well here and you can see that by looking at the time sheets, so to be as close as we are is certainly a promising way to kick off proceedings. Yet, in the middle of the FP2 session, I made a slight mistake and crashed in the second corner while I was changing direction, which was a pity. I didn’t expect this to happen and I think we have to work a bit more on the setting of the bike in order to increase the front grip so that we avoid this kind of issue for the rest of the weekend. However, I was able to cut my lap time towards the end of the practice even though I was not pushing at the maximum level. Having said that, we need to improve tomorrow and make a step up as our main target is to fight with Cal for the best independent rider position in Sunday’s race."
Position: 20th - Time: 1'50.988 - Laps: 35
"Initially I would like to begin by saying that it feels good to be back on the YZR-M1 even if it took me a few laps to feel confident this morning. However, I think we did an ok job in FP1 as I completed almost the entire race distance on the front tyre and I was still able to lower my times at the end of the session. However, this afternoon we couldn’t make as much progress as I would have liked to, but we clearly know which areas I need to advance in, so we will have an in-depth look at our data in order to make a solid plan for tomorrow. I definitely feel that we have a margin of improvement to make regarding the corner speed, and especially in long turns, plus I am also struggling a bit with a lack of rear grip. Yet, I’m sure we’ll be stronger in FP3 and I’m already looking forward to getting back on the Yamaha."