Team SUZUKI ECSTAR’s Aleix Espargaro put himself and the new 2015 Suzuki GSX-RR into a provisional front-row position today for the opening round of the MotoGP™ race at Losail in Qatar on Sunday.
The 25-year-old Spaniard mainly focused on testing different set-ups of the electronics and traction control in the opening Free Practice session, running the hard tyre to start preparing for the race, and then outing-in some laps with a soft tyre for the single fast-lap which saw him climb to third position with a time of 1’55.685; just 0.404-second from leader Marc Marquez.
Espargaro and team-mate Maverick Viñales used the session to improve their confidence on their GSX-RR machines, working to find the best set-up for a consistent race-pace.
Viñales struggled to find better conditions to test the set-up options the team planned to try and some small issues with the electronics on his #1 machine forced him to choose the second machine, which was equipped with a different set-up. This proved to be less effective for the 20-year-old Spaniard and he finished FP1 in 17th position with a time of 1’56.922.
Davide Brivio – Team Manager:
“Being in this position is a good start for our debut. Aleix focused on finalising some electronics and set-up options and found a good pace with the hard tyre, while he also made a positive time on the white-striped soft tyre; which gives him a good place in classification. Maverick had some issues with electronics that prevented him showing his real potential, which we know is much higher. This was only the first day, we still have time to work and find better performance.”
“It’s been a positive day. I found a lot of confidence with the hard tyre but I’m very satisfied with my single lap with a soft one, since I’m up with the top riders. We wanted to recover some of the time we lost in the last test here in Qatar so we focused on finalising traction control and electronics. We had very important feedback that gives us many indications for the work we need to do next. Tomorrow I need to try a long run to evaluate the situation in terms of race-pace, but for the moment the work-plan is going smoothly.”
“The day could have been better but unfortunately we had some issues with the electronics on my number-one bike, so I had to switch to bike two. They had different set-ups that we planned to test, but the last one was not so effective so at the end of the day this session has been somewhat wasted. I’m not worried, these are things that happen in racing, we will recover time in tomorrow’s sessions and continue to develop the set-up in order to find a good feeling for the race.”
GP OF QATAR – FREE PRACTICE 1 RESULTS:
1. Marc MARQUEZ (Repsol Honda Team) 1'55.281
2. Dani PEDROSA (Repsol Honda Team) 1'55.357 +0.076
3. Aleix ESPARGARO (Team SUZUKI ECSTAR) 1'55.685 +0.404
4. Jorge LORENZO (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP) 1'55.698 +0.417
5. Cal CRUTCHLOW (CWM LCR Honda) 1'55.818 +0.537
6. Danilo PETRUCCI (Pramac Racing) 1'55.939 +0.658
7. Andrea DOVIZIOSO (Ducati Team) 1'55.980 +0.699
8. Yonny HERNANDEZ (Pramac Racing) 1'56.139 +0.858
9. Valentino ROSSI (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP) 1'56.162 +0.881
10. Andrea IANNONE (Ducati Team) 1'56.315 +1.034
17. Maverick VIÑALES (Team SUZUKI ECSTAR) 1'56.922 +1.641