September 26th, 2015
Pole position for Moto2 was decided fairly quickly, with the fight for the other places providing the excitement for the remainder of the session.
Qualifying for the MotoGP at Aragon would, as usual be two sessions, with the top two of the slower group being promoted to the quicker group and having another go. Andrea Dovizioso and Danilo Petrucci were the two favourites to qualify for promotion.
This weekend sees a spate of rider announcements in the Moto2 and Moto3 classes, and the news that Fabio Quartararo has signed for the Leopard Racing team for 2016 is one of the most important. The announcement had been widely expected, after the first news that Quartararo had decided to leave the Estrella Galicia Marc VDS team emerged at Indianapolis. Quartararo had expressed a desire to work with Christian Lundberg again, the engineer he worked with in the CEV championship.
Quartararo will line up alongside Joan Mir, who moves up from the CEV for 2016, with a third rider also expected to be announced soon. That, according to GPOne.com, will be Andrea Locatelli, though that is yet to be confirmed. Leopard Racing will also be moving up to Moto2, with an announcement expected this weekend of who will join Miguel Oliveira as their second rider. It seems almost certain that Danny Kent will remain with the squad which has seen him lead the championship, though Kent has remained firmly silent on the matter.
The press release appears below:
LEOPARD RACING SIGNS FABIO QUARTARARO FOR THEIR 2016 MOTO3 CAMPAIGN
Leopard Racing is proud to announce a two-year contract with rising-star Fabio Quartararo to ride the team’s Moto3 machine in 2016.
Jorge Lorenzo calmly dominated the session until Dani Pedrosa sneaked a lap in sixteen thousandths under his best time. Marc Marquez on the other Honda wasn't too far behind, fending off the Ducati pairing of Andreas Iannone and Dovizioso. Valentino Rossi in sixth was testing out the wings on his Yamaha's fairing.
Moto3 FP3 started in gentlemanly fashion, but by the halfway mark riders were already looking around for a tow as the long back straight without a tow will cost you at least three tenths of a second.
Tito Rabat has ended the final session of free practice for the Moto2 class on top of the pile, the reigning world champion just holding off the challenge from a flying Jonas Folger. Alex Rins is a couple of tenths off the pace of Folger in 3rd, and ahead of an impressive Hafizh Syahrin, the Malaysian using Sam Lowes as a tow, and demoting the British rider to 5th.
Jorge Lorenzo's rivals found good turn of speed during FP3 for the MotoGP class, Marc Marquez, Dani Pedrosa and Valentino Rossi all finishing ahead of yesterday's fastest man. Lorenzo did not improve his time on Saturday morning, ending the session in 4th, though his time was very close to that of Pedrosa and Rossi. Lorenzo was clearly working on race pace, also trialling the winglets which the Movistar Yamaha team had used at Misano. Rossi decided against running the winglets, racing with the normal plain fairing.
Andrea Iannoe pushed for a quick lap a the end of the session, taking 5th spot and securing safe passage straight into Q2, as did LCR Honda's Cal Crutchlow. Pol Espargaro was the fastest of the Monster Tech 3 Yamaha riders, ending the session ahead of the two Suzukis, Maverick Viñales faster than his teammate Aleix Espargaro. Scott Redding ended FP3 in 10th spot, but his time was not fast enough to secure a slot in Q2, Bradley Smith having already wrapped up his place in Q2 on Friday.
Efren Vazquez leads the Saturday morning session of free practice for the Moto3 rider at Aragon. The Leopard Racing rider put in a late charge to depose Niccolo Antonelli from the top spot, pulling out an advantage of over a quarter of a second over the Italian. Miguel Oliveira ended the session in 3rd, just behind Antonelli, while championship leader Danny Kent took 4th spot, apparently having found a solution for the lack of front-end feel he was complaining about on Friday. Brad Binder grabbed 5th, two tenths slower than Kent, and another two tenths faster than Roman Fenati. Enea Bastianini, winner last time out at Misano and on a charge to close the gap to Kent, ended the session in 7th, but suffered a technical problem that left him sidelined at the end of FP3.
What's the value of testing? Judging by Jorge Lorenzo's time on Friday – a second under the race lap record, and three tenths off the outright lap record – you would have to say that it's good at least for a day's worth of practice. The Movistar Yamahas came to the Motorland Aragon circuit having tested here twice, once after Barcelona, once before Misano. The test in September allowed them to find a strong set up for this weekend, one which works well, as Lorenzo's blistering lap time in the afternoon showed so clearly.
Though Lorenzo set his time, as Valentino Rossi put it, in "a real time attack, 100%," it was one lap in a series of four, three of which were quicker than anyone else. It was perhaps not so much an early attempt at a qualifying lap as it was simulating the start of the race. The partial sectors on Lorenzo's out lap bear that out. His time through sector 2 was relatively slow, seven tenths of a second of Rossi's fastest time through the same sector, but in sector 3, he was just a tenth off Rossi's best pace, and in the final sector, Lorenzo was faster than Rossi's quickest time through that part of the track.
Was Lorenzo going all out while Rossi sandbagged? Racing is never quite as simple as that. Lorenzo seems to have been practicing the first few laps, his strategy being to gap the field from the start and make his escape. Given that this is exactly how Lorenzo won all five of the races he took victory in this year, that should hardly be a secret. Valentino Rossi, meanwhile, was probably working on his race pace, doing slightly longer stints than his teammate, five-lap runs rather than four lappers.
Press releases from the MotoGP teams and Bridgestone:
Press releases from the Moto2 and Moto3 teams:
Tito Rabat set a new qualifying record ahead of Taka Nakagami and Alex Rins with the top six all within half a second of the new record time.
Jorge Lorenzo was quickest in every sector, knocking Valentino Rossi from the top spot with Bradley Smith third quickest. The Hondas of Dani Pedrosa and Marc Marquez focussed on longer runs and ended up in fourth and fifth.
Enea Bastianini has ended the second session of free practice for the Moto3 class on top of the timesheets once again. Bastianini was fast throughout the session, and seized back the lead at the end after having been knocked off the top in the final minutes as times dropped. The Italian ended the session covered gravel rather than glory, after coming together with Hiroki Ono and crashing.
Miguel Oliveira took 2nd, just a couple of hundredths behind Bastianini, while Jorge Navarro was one thousandth of a second slower than Oliveira, finishing ahead of Jorge Martin. Danny Kent had to put in a late charge to finish in 6th, just under four tenths off the pace of Bastianini.
Sam Lowes, with an early benchmark time, ended the session quickest with Tito Rabat and Thomas Luthi edging closer throughout the session, but unable to catch up to the Englishman.