MotoGP: Jorge Lorenzo On Top As Practice Begins At Jerez

“This season is long,” Jorge Lorenzo said, “so we are very focused on trying to get better results from now on. Jerez is one of the most challenging races of the year, and because of the atmosphere, it’s also one of the most exciting.”

Opening practices for the third round of the 2015 MotoGP World Championship took place today at the Circuit of Jerez in blazing heat, with ambient afternoon temperatures reaching nearly 90 degrees Fahrenheit.

Reigning world champ Marc Márquez is not completely healthy after a recent operation to fix a busted left pinky, but the Repsol Honda rider was nonetheless able to lap third quickest as Spaniards dominated at the Andalusia circuit known as the “World Capital of Motorcycling.” In fact, five of the top 10 fastest were Spanish, with factory Yamaha rider Jorge Lorenzo leading both 45-minute sessions as the top 15 riders lapped within a second.

“My mentality from this morning was to go for it and don’t think too much, just try to ride according to my instinct and it worked very well, especially in the morning,” Lorenzo said. “In the afternoon, we tried the hard rear tire that was very bad, with lots of spinning for everyone, and I decided to go back to the softer one, since that one is much better in cold but also in warmer conditions.” Lorenzo’s teammate, Argentina winner Valentino Rossi, was ninth quickest today.

Yamaha confirmed Lorenzo will stay with the team through 2016. “Yamaha and I did great things together in the past,” the four-time world champion said. “In the last two years, I felt less good, but now it seems we’re coming back stronger. We will have to demonstrate it tomorrow and especially on Sunday. I am very grateful that Yamaha has faith in me even in very hard moment.”

Like most of the field, American Nicky Hayden was unable to improve his lap time from the cooler morning session, losing rear traction as track temperature soared as high as 110 degrees Fahrenheit. Hayden finished the day 19th, 1.3 seconds shy of the top spot and four places behind Aspar Honda teammate Eugene Laverty.

“We took a step backward,” Nicky Hayden said,” which helped us understand the situation a little better, but we have to work hard tomorrow and bear in mind the conditions we are going to face in the race.”

“I had a good feeling with the bike here last year,” Hayden said, “so we were optimistic for today, but I struggled to get comfortable. It was tough to work because there was such a drastic change in the track temperature from the morning to the afternoon, and after finding a good way forward this morning we struggled to build on it. The lack of rear grip made it difficult to get the bike turned, and we are losing a lot of time in the two fast rights at the end of the lap.”

Work to improve the Honda’s Magneti Marelli electronics continues, Hayden said. “We are gradually understanding it, so hopefully we can make more progress here this weekend.” Hayden was credited with the day’s slowest average top speed, 173 mph, which was eight mph down on the leading Ducati of Andrea Dovizioso.

Qualifying for Sunday’s 27-lap race begins on Saturday at 2:10 p.m. local time. Last year, Marquez won pole position and the race.

“This season is long,” Jorge Lorenzo said, “so we are very focused on trying to get better results from now on. Jerez is one of the most challenging races of the year, and because of the atmosphere, it’s also one of the most exciting.”

Opening practices for the third round of the 2015 MotoGP World Championship took place today at the Circuit of Jerez in blazing heat, with ambient afternoon temperatures reaching nearly 90 degrees Fahrenheit.

Reigning world champ Marc Márquez is not completely healthy after a recent operation to fix a busted left pinky, but the Repsol Honda rider was nonetheless able to lap third quickest as Spaniards dominated at the Andalusia circuit known as the “World Capital of Motorcycling.” In fact, five of the top 10 fastest were Spanish, with factory Yamaha rider Jorge Lorenzo leading both 45-minute sessions as the top 15 riders lapped within a second.

“My mentality from this morning was to go for it and don’t think too much, just try to ride according to my instinct and it worked very well, especially in the morning,” Lorenzo said. “In the afternoon, we tried the hard rear tire that was very bad, with lots of spinning for everyone, and I decided to go back to the softer one, since that one is much better in cold but also in warmer conditions.” Lorenzo’s teammate, Argentina winner Valentino Rossi, was ninth quickest today.

Yamaha confirmed Lorenzo will stay with the team through 2016. “Yamaha and I did great things together in the past,” the four-time world champion said. “In the last two years, I felt less good, but now it seems we’re coming back stronger. We will have to demonstrate it tomorrow and especially on Sunday. I am very grateful that Yamaha has faith in me even in very hard moment.”

Like most of the field, American Nicky Hayden was unable to improve his lap time from the cooler morning session, losing rear traction as track temperature soared as high as 110 degrees Fahrenheit. Hayden finished the day 19th, 1.3 seconds shy of the top spot and four places behind Aspar Honda teammate Eugene Laverty.

“We took a step backward,” Nicky Hayden said,” which helped us understand the situation a little better, but we have to work hard tomorrow and bear in mind the conditions we are going to face in the race.”

“I had a good feeling with the bike here last year,” Hayden said, “so we were optimistic for today, but I struggled to get comfortable. It was tough to work because there was such a drastic change in the track temperature from the morning to the afternoon, and after finding a good way forward this morning we struggled to build on it. The lack of rear grip made it difficult to get the bike turned, and we are losing a lot of time in the two fast rights at the end of the lap.”

Work to improve the Honda’s Magneti Marelli electronics continues, Hayden said. “We are gradually understanding it, so hopefully we can make more progress here this weekend.” Hayden was credited with the day’s slowest average top speed, 173 mph, which was eight mph down on the leading Ducati of Andrea Dovizioso.

Qualifying for Sunday’s 27-lap race begins on Saturday at 2:10 p.m. local time. Last year, Marquez won pole position and the race.

“We can be happy that my hand has responded quite well today, as well as could be expected,” Marc Marquez said. “It hurts a lot, but at least I can put in the laps. We’ll see if tomorrow it is better, if it doesn’t swell up.”

“The day has been positive,” Suzuki’s Aleix Espargaro said. “We had some improvements with the chattering on the rear, and I feel competitive in the hot temperatures. Tomorrow will be a good qualifying test. We will aim to be very close to the pole.”

“We still have work to do,” Andrea Dovizioso said, “because here at Jerez the drop in the tire toward mid-race is quite significant, and it’s always very difficult for everyone to find the ideal setup, with the aim of being constant for the entire 27-lap race.”

“It was a difficult practice, especially this afternoon,” Valentino Rossi said. “I think I could have gotten a better position, but I decided to use the harder option and work with just that tire because we thought that was best for the race. Unfortunately, performance is very low, and the lap time isn’t good enough. I think the soft can be an option but it will be difficult.”

“We took a step backward,” Nicky Hayden said,” which helped us understand the situation a little better, but we have to work hard tomorrow and bear in mind the conditions we are going to face in the race.”

“This season is long,” Jorge Lorenzo said, “so we are very focused on trying to get better results from now on. Jerez is one of the most challenging races of the year, and because of the atmosphere, it’s also one of the most exciting.”

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