2014 Aragon MotoGP Friday Round Up - Honda vs Yamaha Explained, The Slimmer GP14.2, And Hayden's First Day Back On The Bike
Is the Motorland Aragon circuit a Honda track or a Yamaha track? On the evidence of Friday, it is first and foremost a Marc Marquez track. The reigning world champion may not have topped the timesheets – the two de facto factory Ducati riders, Andreas Dovizioso and Iannone did that – but he set a scorching race pace that only his Repsol Honda teammate could get close to, though Dani Pedrosa was still a couple of tenths off the pace of Marquez.
"This is one of my favorite tracks," Marquez said afterwards, adding that he was happy with his rhythm and he had really enjoyed his day. The Spaniard may have lost any chance of wrapping up the title at Aragon with a win, but that didn't make him any less determined to take victory here. The crash at Misano made no difference to his attitude. Was he afraid of crashing? "No. You can't race and be afraid of crashing." Marquez was pushing to the limit once again, laying down a marker for others to follow.
If the mood in Marquez' garage was elated, things were different in the Yamaha camp. Though the gap to Marquez in terms of pace was not huge, it was still significant. Jorge Lorenzo was concerned. "We are slower than last year," he told the media, "we are slower than at the test [in June]." They had started the weekend using the set up which had worked well enough over the last four races for Lorenzo to finish second, but it simply was not working at Aragon. The plan was to revert to the set up used before Indianapolis, he said.
Press releases from the MotoGP teams after the first day of practice at the Motorland Aragon circuit:
Press releases from the Moto2 and Moto3 teams after the first day of practice for the Motorland Aragon GP:
Ten minutes into the day's closing session, Esteve Rabat took the top spot back from Thomas Luthi and spent the rest of the session consolidating his lead, setting the quickest lap seven more times. As the only rider of the weekend with a 1'53 lap, he shared the provisional front row with Johann Zarco and Mika Kallio. In spite of Rabat's comfortable quarter-second lead, the entire top thirteen were within a second of his pace.
Andrea Dovizioso took the quickest time off Marc Marquez by five hundredths of a second at the end of the session. Dani Pedrosa was four tenths further behind while Andrea Iannone powererd the Ducati to 339km/h on the back straight and recorded the fourth quickest time of the day. Espagaros Aleix and Pol were the quicker of the Yamahas, quicker than Jorge Lorenzo. Hector Barbera managed two timed laps at the end of the session on his fire-damaged and rebuilt Ducati.
The Hondas of Alex Rins and Alex Marquez are separated by under two hundredths of a second at the top, with Niklas Ajo's Husqvarna taking the last slot of the provisional front row.
The first of the official announcements to be made over this weekend has arrived. Today, the FIM released the provisional version of the 2015 calendar for MotoGP.
The schedule is a virtual carbon copy of the 2014 calendar this year, with the order of the races the same as this year. A few minor tweaks have been applied to the calendar: the series kicks off in Qatar on 29th March, a week later than originally planned to avoid a TV clash with the soccer game between Barcelona and Real Madrid in Spain. Two weeks later, the circus heads to Austin, and the following week to Argentina.
Having the two races in the Americas back-to-back will create a much easier schedule than this year, where the teams faced a very long journey back from Argentina to arrive on time for Jerez. With a year of experience under their belt, Dorna's logistics and TV crew are now certain they can get the Termas de Rio Hondo track ready within the few days they have after Austin.
Framco Morbidelli was strong throughout the session and ended up quickest, fighting off a challenge from Johann Zarco.
Marc Marquez led troughout most of the session, being kept honest by Jorge Lorenzo, but Andrea Iannone made use of the Ducati's power to set the fastest time by being a quarter of a second quicker than anyone else in the last sector, the long straight. Aleix Espagaro was second quickest.
Jack Miller opened the weekend by celebrating his new MotoGP job with a lap two thirds of a second quicker than anyone else, and under the current race record. Alex Marquez was second quickest in the cold session, and the distance between Miller and Marquez covered from second quickest to Roman Fenati in eleventh.
2014 Aragon MotoGP Thursday Round Up - Marquez' Decline, Hayden's Return, The Ducati GP14.2, And Miller's MotoGP Move
Things look a little different as the MotoGP paddock arrives at the spectacular Motorland Aragon circuit. After two defeats in the last three races, Marc Marquez is looking almost vulnerable. At Brno, Marquez and his team never found the right set up, and the 21-year-old Spanish prodigy finished off the podium for the first time in his MotoGP career. Two races later, at Misano, Marquez tried to compensate for a similar lack of set up by pushing hard for the win, but crashed chasing Valentino Rossi, and remounted to score just a solitary point.
Marquez had hoped to wrap up the title at Aragon, he told the press conference on Thursday, but the crash at Misano put an end to any such aims. He would have needed a win at both Misano and Aragon, and took a risk trying to beat an unleashed Rossi at his home track. Victory at Misano proved impossible, especially against a Rossi determined to win at any cost.
So can Marquez get back to winning ways at Aragon? On paper, this should be his opportunity to reassert his authority. Of the four previous visits to the circuit, Marquez has won two, come second once, and been dumped into the gravel at the first corner once, an incident he is still less than happy about. The circuit suits the Honda, the bike having won three of the four premier class outings at the track. It was only the first year where the Honda came up short, Dani Pedrosa only managing to come second to Casey Stoner on the Ducati.
Press releases from the MotoGP teams ahead of this weekend's Aragon round:
Press release previews from the Moto2 and Moto3 teams ahead of the Aragon Grand Prix:
Alex Lowes has extended his contract with the Voltcom Crescent Suzuki team for another season. The 24-year-old Englishman is to stay in World Superbikes for 2015, where he will race the GSX-R1000.
Lowes' decision brings an end to rumors that the Englishman was set to join his brother in the Grand Prix paddock. Lowes had explored a number of options in Moto2, but none stacked up against remaining with the Voltcom Suzuki team in WSBK.
Who Lowes' teammate will be is uncertain. With Eugene Laverty set to move to MotoGP with the Aspar team, there is an empty seat in the team. The departure of Aprilia from WSBK puts a number or riders on the market, with Leon Camier and Loris Baz the top riders still without a ride
The press release from Suzuki announcing the re-signing of Lowes appears below:
LOWES RE-SIGNS FOR VOLTCOM CRESCENT SUZUKI
Team Suzuki Press Office – September 25.
Alex Lowes will continue his partnership with Voltcom Crescent Suzuki for the 2015 eni FIM Superbike World Championship season.
Lowes is confident his progression with the Suzuki GSX-R will allow him to become a consistent front-runner during his second season in the Championship and the British racer is eager to return to the tracks he has been learning as part of his apprenticeship year.
After sitting out the last four races since Indianapolis, Nicky Hayden will ride a MotoGP bike again at the Motorland Aragon circuit. To help clarify his situation, and talk about the operation he underwent and the difficult period of rehabilitation which followed, the Drive M7 Aspar team issued a press release containing an interview with the American. In it, he answers many of the questions he will inevitably face over the weekend. This is Nicky Hayden's side of the story.
“Racing is my life, my passion, not just my job.”
After undergoing two operations on his right wrist in the space of just two months and missing four rounds of the MotoGP World Championship, DRIVE M7 Aspar rider Nicky Hayden finally returns to competitive action at Aragón this weekend. For those who doubted his return, Hayden is one of the most experienced and motivated riders in the paddock and for him, racing is life. The 'Kentucky Kid' is an icon of modern-day MotoGP, irrepressible in times of adversity and a man who does not know the meaning of the word 'NO.' He has needed every ounce of that courage and determination over the last few months as he has battled to overcome the worst injury of his career. Now, finally, the long wait is over.
What exactly did the operation that you underwent entail?
In our wrists we have two rows of tiny bones. They have removed the upper row, which was damaged. It sounds crazy but when you see the results on the X-ray it makes sense.
What was the main problem? Pain, lack of feeling, loss of strength?