Aleix Espargaro injected a slice of variety into the 2014 MotoGP season by topping Friday practice at the close of day one of the Catalunyan Grand Prix in Barcelona.
The Spaniard, who grew up within walking distance of the circuit, was fastest in a peculiar FP1 session where high track temperatures saw riders coming close to qualifying laptimes. Bizzarely, conditions were less ideal in the afternoon with over a second between the AM and PM fastest times. Espargaro ended the afternoon in 14th position, but his 1:41:672 was more than enough to maintain the overall pace advantage over Britain’s Bradley Smith, who was top man in FP2.
Marc Marquez and Dani Pedrosa worked through a setup program in FP1 that kept them from challenging the top spots on their Repsol Honda bikes, ending up in the unfamiliar territory around 6th and 7th place; at least, unfamiliar for Marquez. Pedrosa has work to do to re-establish his reputation after the battering he has taken from his younger compatriot.
A similar need for redemption currently resides with Jorge Lorenzo, though the double World Champion of 2010 and 2012 is coming off the back of a superb 2nd place in Mugello. Encouragingly, Lorenzo and team-mate Valentino Rossi were 2nd and 4th in FP1 ahead of the Honda duo and despite Marquez finishing ahead of Lorenzo in FP2 the gap was just 0.008.
Elsewhere Ducati struggled for speed in the morning, particularly Cal Crutchlow who continues to wrestle with the difficult machinery at his disposal.
Danilo Petrucci is absent once again, declared unfit for this weekend after injuries sustained in Jerez. Michel Fabrizio will take his place.
CLASSIFICATION – FP1 – Catalunya MotoGP 13th June 2014
CLASSIFICATION – FP2 – Catalunya MotoGP 13th June 2014
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