Team SUZUKI ECSTAR’s Aleix Espargaró and Maverick Viñales improved their lap-times in today’s opening practice sessions at the HJC Helmets Grand Prix Ceské republiky; both riding with completely different strategies.
In the cooler morning session, Viñales secured the seventh-best lap-time with a 1’57.176 around the 5.4 km Brno circuit in the Czech Republic with Espargaró a fraction behind on 1’57.538, that placed him 10th. But in the warmer FP2 this afternoon, Espargaró made a bigger improvement aboard his GSX-RR Suzuki with a time of 1’56.441 to finish seventh, with Vinales – who consistently filled the top-four positions for most of the session – ninth with a lap-time of 1’56.615.
Both adopted different strategies: Espargaró had to find back feeling with his injured hand – incurred last week in Austria – and check the pain level and also his strength, but he worked consistently on fast-laps as the feeling improved; while Viñales instead chose to give priority to the race-pace, without any time-attack attempt, but working on tyre durability throughout.
Davide Brivio – Team Manager:
“We’re happy that Aleix managed to ride, he’s suffering a little but he had a positive day of practice. He’s been fast and he’s getting a more-and-more positive feeling as he runs. He already found some improvements and so we’ll try to deliver him an even better machine for tomorrow. If we look at the classification, Maverick seems to be a little under expectations, but the truth is that he did a different job today, focusing on the pace-consistency rather than the single lap, also making some little experiments in terms of set-up and tyre management, so I would call this an ‘Investment Day’ for him. For these reasons my overview for today is positive; let’s work for even more performance tomorrow.”
“Luckily my hand is feeling much better. In the morning I had to struggle with the pain, but in the afternoon it got much better. Only three days of rest are not much but I did a great job with the support of the Clinica Mobile guys who are helping me. I also have a specially-modified glove that allows me to feel more comfortable. All of this led to a positive day for me; we could improve the set-up and I feel comfortable with the machine. Here the track is very bumpy, but maybe I feel it even worse because we are arriving from the Red Bull Ring which was as smooth as a pool table. We suffer a lot of spin, which is unusual for me, but I feel very confident with the front. We have already made some steps forward from morning-to-afternoon, so if we manage to proceed positively tomorrow as well, it’s ‘gonna be a good day.”
“At the last race in Austria we had issues with the grip of the tyres in the second-half of the race, so for this weekend we decided to better-understand the tyre management and today’s work has been dedicated to find more efficiency in the pace without compromising the performance on the long distance. I don’t like to see myself in ninth position, but we didn’t even try a proper time-attack today, and because of this I will have a double-chance tomorrow as we spared tyres. However, although we didn’t make a fast-lap attempt, my lap-time was consistently close to the top of the sheets; until others put in new tyres, this means we have room for improvement for the qualifying.”
HJC HELMETS GRAND PRIX CESKÉ REPUBLIKY FP2 RESULT:
1 Marc MARQUEZ – Repsol Honda Team – 1’55.840
2 Andrea IANNONE – Ducati Team – 1’55.944 + 0.104
3 Jorge LORENZO – Movistar Yamaha MotoGP – 1’55.977 + 0.137
4 Hector BARBERA – Avintia Racing – 1’56.124 + 0.284
5 Valentino ROSSI – Movistar Yamaha MotoGP – 1’56.174 + 0.334
6 Andrea DOVIZIOSO – Ducati Team – 1’56.235 + 0.395
7 Aleix ESPARGARO – Team SUZUKI ECSTAR – 1’56.441 + 0.601
8 Bradley SMITH – Monster Yamaha Tech 3 – 1’56.494 + 0.654
9 Maverick VIÑALES – Team SUZUKI ECSTAR – 1’56.615 + 0.775
10 Dani PEDROSA – Repsol Honda Team – 1’56.662 + 0.822
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