JEREZ DE LA FRONTERA, Spain: Aleix Espargaro and Jorge Lorenzo, who is about to ride his 200th race, breathed life into Yamaha’s flagging season yesterday when they dominated practice for tomorrow’s Spanish Grand Prix.
World champion Marc Marquez, who has won all three Grands Prix this season, was fastest on his Honda in the afternoon’s second session, but he couldn’t beat Espargaro’s morning performance and ended the day third overall.
Marquez, who is participating in his 100th Grand Prix, clocked 1min 39.757sec, though neither he nor his rivals were able to match Espargaro’s 1min 39.357sec set just before track temperatures nudged the 50-degree mark.
Lorenzo, the 2010 and 2012 world champion, was second fastest overall at 0.357sec behind his Spanish compatriot. Marquez was 0.400sec behind while fellow Honda factory rider Dani Pedrosa made it an all-Spanish top four at 0.503sec off the lead.
Ducati’s Andrea Dovizioso was fifth and nine-time world champion Valentino Rossi, who has six elite class wins in Jerez, was sixth on his Yamaha, 0.768sec off the lead.
“The track changed so much from the morning to the afternoon, it was much more slippery and we had to try the different rear tyre,” said Lorenzo, who has won the MotoGP race in Spain on two occasions. “Like in Qatar, it gave us the same problems with less grip and the bike then feels nervous. We are much closer than before though and I think we can close the gap.”
Lorenzo made his debut in the 125cc world championship at the Spanish Grand Prix in 2002, when he became the youngest ever rider to compete in a Grand Prix race just one day after his 15th birthday.
But he was not allowed to take part in the first day of practice because he had still not attained the minimum age of 15.
Lorenzo will celebrate his 27th birthday tomorrow, and is scheduled to become the youngest rider to reach the milestone of 200 Grand Prix starts. His career record reads 52 wins in all classes with 113 podium finishes.
Spanish Grand Prix practice times
JEREZ DE LA FRONTERA: Leading times in yesterday’s practice for tomorrow’s Spanish motorcycling Grand Prix at Jerez de la Frontera:
MotoGP: 1. Aleix Espargaro (ESP/Yamaha) 1min 39.357sec, 2. Jorge Lorenzo (ESP/Yamaha) at 0.357, 3. Marc Marquez (ESP/Honda) 0.400, 4. Dani Pedrosa (ESP/Honda) 0.503, 5. Andrea Dovizioso (ITA/Ducati) 0.671 6. Valentino Rossi (ITA/Yamaha) 0.768 REUTERS