Jorge Lorenzo has topped the second session of free practice for the MotoGP class, the Movistar Yamaha rider finding a turn of speed towards the end of the scorching session. Lorenzo bumped Marc Marquez from the top slot, the Repsol Honda rider having been fastest for most of FP2, the Honda clearly handling the heat better. The two Ducatis ended the day in 3rd and 4th, Iannone slipping on a soft tire to post a quick lap at the end, Dovizioso having been quick throughout. Aleix Espargaro took 5th spot on the Suzuki, with Danilo Petrucci putting the Pramac Ducati into 6th, ahead of the LCR Honda of Cal Crutchlow.
Valentino Rossi ended the session in 13th, but the Movistar Yamaha rider spent the day working on race set up, a wise choice given that the temperature in FP2 is closer to what it will be during the race. The time he set this morning was already good enough to put him through to Q2.
Jorge Lorenzo is to remain with Yamaha for the 2016 season. The Spaniard had an option to leave the Movistar Yamaha team at the end of 2015, but has decided not to exercise it, and will stay with Yamaha for next year. The Movistar Yamaha team also had an option to end the two-year deal a year early, but Yamaha Racing director Lin Jarvis told the MotoGP.com website that both the team and Lorenzo and decided to see the contract through to the end.
The decision to continue the partnership will put an end to speculation which had arisen in the paddock in the past few weeks. Rumors had started that Lorenzo was considering a switch to Ducati for next season. The newly competitive GP15 has made the Ducati a much more attractive option for riders looking to switch, and Ducati Corse boss Gigi Dall'Igna is known to be an admirer of Lorenzo. Dall'Igna worked with Lorenzo extensively when the Spaniard was riding for Aprilia in 250s.
Accommodating Lorenzo would have been difficult. Both Andrea Dovizioso and Andrea Iannone have a contract with Ducati for next season, with no option to terminate the deals early. Given the competitiveness of both riders, there is little reason for Ducati to go searching elsewhere for riders.
Jorge Lorenzo set out his intentions in the first session of free practice for the MotoGP class this morning, by dominating the session from the outset. Lorenzo lapped consistently in the low 1'39s, the other riders only getting down that low once they started chasing times at the end of the session. Aleix Espargaro ended the session in second, using the soft tire to set a hot lap at the end. The Suzuki rider nearly took top slot, but lost out when he had a big moment through the last two left handers before the stadium section.
Cal Crutchlow ended the session in 3rd, and fastest Honda, sneaking ahead of Andrea Dovizioso on the Ducati. The question of whether the Desmosedici GP15 would be quick round Jerez, traditionally Ducati's bogey track, has been answered, Dovizioso running in second for most fo the session. Pol Espargaro ended the session in 5th, just ahead of Valentino Rossi, both Yamaha men impressing with a solid pace.
Marc Marquez rode, using a specially adapted handlebar grip, and ended the session in eighth. Marquez did not seem to be suffering any particular problems, and is due to have his injured finger checked at the end of each session today.
Jerez is always a very special weekend. When Valentino Rossi described the first race back in Europe using those words, he spoke for everyone in the MotoGP paddock. Everyone loves being back in Europe, because the atmosphere changes, the hospitality units fill the paddock, the catering staff, hospitality managers, runners, cleaners, general dogsbodies – in other words, the people who actually do any real work – return to fill the paddock, and old friends are reunited after a long winter away, often doing something else to subsidize the meager pay they take for the privilege of working in Grand Prix during the summer. The paddock becomes a village once again, awaking from the long winter slumber.
The setting helps. The charming old city of Jerez is showing the first shoots of economic recovery, not yet enough to match the full bloom of spring happening on the surrounding hillsides, the slopes covered with wild flowers, but there is a much more positive vibe than there has been for some years. There is a sense of optimism. That sense of optimism flows into the paddock, already buzzing after a sizzling and surprising start to the 2015 MotoGP season. With over 100,000 people expected to pack the stands on Sunday, Jerez feels like the right way to kick off the long European leg of the championship.
The weather helps too. It is hot and sunny, with a long, dry weekend ahead of us. That will please everyone, giving them all a chance to actually work on set up. The track is short enough for them all to go out, test a set up, come back in and try something else, and with the weather holding, they can repeat that process until Sunday's race. For Andrea Dovizioso, this was key: with so much still to figure out with the brand new GP15, the factory Ducati men want as much dry weather and stable conditions as they can get. The bike has worked at every track they have been at so far, and Jerez was always a particular bugbear of the Ducati. Both Andreas, Dovizioso and Iannone are keen to see how the new bike will actually go around the track here. "I have a good feeling for this weekend, because the agility has improved a lot," said Iannone. Agility is key at this track, because of the many changes of direction. "I think this bike is ready to fight with the best," the Italian said.
Press releases from the MotoGP teams and Bridgestone ahead of this weekend's race at Jerez:
Press release previews from the Moto2 and Moto3 teams, as well as Dunlop:
Dani Pedrosa will not be racing at the Jerez round of MotoGP. Despite the optimism displayed by Repsol Honda team principal Livio Suppo earlier this week, a test ride on a supermoto bike showed that Pedrosa's arm is not recovered sufficiently for him to be able to ride.
The Spaniard announced the news on his blog on the Repsol website. He wrote there that he had ridden a supermoto bike to test his arm, and that though the riding had gone well, it gave problems after riding, Pedrosa describing it as "not 100%". Having already missed two races, Pedrosa believes it is better to miss this race as well, and try to come back fully fit at Le Mans, two weeks after Jerez. The priority is to make a full recovery and come back competitive for the rest of the season, rather than trying to race at any cost, and risk creating a bigger problem.
The Jerez race was always going to be a big ask. The recovery period for the surgery Pedrosa had - a fasciectomy of the right arm, to cure arm pump - was estimated at five weeks, and Jerez comes just a week too early.
It appears that both Marc Marquez and Dani Pedrosa will attempt to ride at Jerez this weekend. Dani Pedrosa will get his first chance to ride a MotoGP bike after having radical surgery to cure a persistent arm pump problem, while Marc Marquez has just had surgery to plate a broken proximal phalanx in the little finger of his left hand. Speaking to the Italian website GPOne.com, HRC Team Principal Livio Suppo said that he expected both riders to be present at Jerez, and to test their fitness during practice on Friday.
Marc Marquez has broken a finger in his left hand in a dirt track training crash. The reigning world champion fell heavily, suffering a displaced fracture of the proximal phalange in the little finger of his left hand. This means that the bone between the hand and the first knuckle was broken, and the two parts of the bone moved.
Marquez was taken immediately to the Dexeus Institute in Barcelona, where Dr Xavier Mir, who performs surgery on many of the top MotoGP and WSBK riders, operated on the Spaniard. The bone was put together again and then fixed with a titanium plate. Marquez is due to start functional recovery within 24 hours.
The press release issued by Honda is strangely hesitant about Marquez' prospects of racing at Jerez. The press release says, in rather unconventional wording, that Marquez participation at Jerez "has not been ruled out." The aim for Marquez will be to ride, but the injury sustained is a particularly difficult one. Wheeless' Textbook of Orthopaedics describes fractures of the proximal phalange as "potentially the most disabling fractures in the hand". Full recovery for normal patients is 4 to 6 weeks. In motorcycle racer terms, that's 2 to 3 weeks.
Poor weather continued at Jerez on the final day of testing for the Moto2 and Moto3 classes, with high winds and rain lashing the circuit. The weather limited action on the track, many teams preferring to sit out the day rather than risk injury or severe material damage with less than a week to go to the start of the 2015 season.
A couple of heavy crashes by riders who did choose to ride rather proved their point. Tito Rabat crashed heavily, destroying his Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS Moto2 machine and leaving his mechanics with a lot of work to do to get the bike ready to ship to Qatar. But Rabat was lucky, he walked away with just bumps and bruises from the crash. Ana Carrasco was less lucky in Moto3, the RBA Racing Team rider falling and breaking her collarbone. Carrasco may still be fit in time for Qatar, as she will not need surgery on the collarbone, but it is far from ideal preparation.
The poor weather saw Marcel Schrotter end the day as fastest Moto2 rider, lapping nearly a second quicker than Julian Simon on the QMMF Speed up, and Mika Kallio on the Italtrans Kalex. In the Moto3 class, Jakub Kornfeil ended the day with the fastest time, the SIC KTM rider ending ahead of Spanish rookie Jorge Martin on the Aspar Mahindra, and Niccolo Antonelli on the Ongetta Honda.
The weather has not been kind to the Moto2 and Moto3 classes at their last preseason test of 2015. Intermittent rain, some of it very heavy, has severely limited action on the first two days of the test. Even when there have been dry spells, the track has only been completely dry for relatively short periods of time. Miss those dry windows of opportunity, and you miss out on dry practice.
Speed Up rider Sam Lowes has had the best of conditions, the track drying out towards the end of the first Moto2 session on Wednesday morning, though Lowes is still a couple of seconds off lap record pace. Jonas Folger set the 2nd fastest time, but was over a second slower, edging Tom Luthi into 3rd.
In the Moto3 class, it was Jorge Navarro who made best use of the dry line which the second session started with on Wednesday, ending nearly three quarters of a second faster than Danny Kent, who was in turn over a tenth faster than Navarro's teammate Fabio Quartararo. Jorge Martin was the first non-Honda in 4th on the Mahindra, while Isaac Viñales put the Husqvarna (a rebadged KTM) into 6th, behind Enea Bastianini.
Dunlop issued the following press release, previewing the final test of the 2015 preseason for the Moto2 and Moto3 classes:
Dunlop’s Moto2 Countdown to 2015 – 4-3-2-1………
With just one test remaining before the 2015 Moto2 and Moto3 seasons get underway, Dunlop riders are getting close to ready for more FIM Moto World Championship wheel to wheel track action. The latest tests for both Moto2 and Moto3 show that times could well be slashed compared to 2014.
Riders have had the chance to give the 2015 tyre specifications a thorough workout. February saw Moto2 and Moto3 testing at Valencia and Jerez with the fastest times breaking all four circuit lap records. The closest times were for Moto3 in Valencia where the top 14 riders, over the three days, were separated by less than one second. The top performers on both tracks were Moto3’s Fabio Quartararo and Johann Zarco in Moto2.