Monster Yamaha Tech3 team rider Pol Espargaro ignited his charge to complete the last round showdown in a top tier position by finishing the first day of action as the leading independent rider aboard the Yamaha YZR-M1. The young Spaniard kicked off his campaign by concluding the opening shakedown with an impressive run to 5th as he began the initial setup work in preparation for the round 18 battle. His performance left him confident for the afternoon and here, the 25-year-old consistently improved his pace around the Circuit Ricardo Tormo before he powered to a personal best on his 19th lap. This time saw him finish only 0.537 back from the top of the timesheets, which marks a solid start on home soil and tomorrow, he determinedly aims to continue the positive form.
Bradley Smith thoroughly got to work with his Valencia GP programme as he commenced his preparation for the last round of the 2016 MotoGP World Championship. The 25-year-old, who will end his six-year partnership with Tech3 this weekend, jumped into gear when FP1 started as he evaluated various tyre options to suit his MotoGP bike to the meandering Valencia circuit. The British star powered on in the afternoon, as he undertook 20 laps whilst he focused on gathering information for the race setup and his best time from the session left him nine-tenths of a second from the top ten. After making valuable progress today, Smith intends to carry on the positive work tomorrow and then clinch a strong qualifying position for his last appearance aboard the Yamaha YZR-M1 on Sunday.
Position: 4th - Time: 1'31.000 - Laps: 43
"Today was a very promising start to the weekend and I'm happy as well as satisfied. It's been a long time since I have enjoyed riding my Yamaha this much, so it's a shame that we had to wait until the last race to do so. With regards to the tyres, Michelin went back to the old carcass that they used at the beginning of the season and these tyres have a lot of rear grip. At this track, we can use it with a different compound and the truth is that we have improved our grip level a lot and the whole bike is working really well. Moreover, this circuit suits my riding style and Yamaha has always been strong here. Therefore it has been a very good first day with many positives and now we will try to continue our progression tomorrow in order to produce a great showing in qualifying for what will be my last race with Tech3."
Position: 19th - Time: 1'32.280 - Laps: 39
"In general, today has been busy, but positive and we know which direction we are heading towards. Both the circuit and the setup is a lot different from what we experienced 12 months ago here so we changed several things on the bike over the course of the day in order to get the right balance. I was actually quite content with my pace on the hard rear tyre because I was running in 12th and close to the other Yamaha riders. I believe that if we had used the soft compound at the end of the session, then I may have been able to get into the top ten. Moreover, this afternoon, I decided that it was important to work on the race setup of the bike and check all of the options. Corner entry is the main focus for the minute, as well as rear grip, yet I believe that this will come with the softer tyre option. We tested a lot of tyres today, including the new profile front, which seems to be positive. At the moment, we have two bikes which have slightly different settings, but I feel quite comfortable on both and we’ll keep working to improve further, and after a non-stop day today, I am confident and looking forward to tomorrow."