It was a very quiet start to the weekend for the MotoGP after all the switching in the paddock career wise ahead of the sixth round of the championship at Mugello, Italy. A storm the previous night meant that the track was wet and although the Moto3 class were first to take to the track, on wet tyres, it did not dry out enough for many riders to want to venture out on track. The ones that did used intermediates tyres to complete the session.
Hernandez took the lead
Twelve riders did however and it was Aspar Team MotoGP rider Yonny Hernandez who was fastest after FP1 with a time of 1:54.199.; this time is almost eight seconds slower than the fastest ever time around here set by Andrea Iannone last year when he gained pole position on his Ducati with his time of 1:46.489.
Other independent riders were keen to go out on track and the three Brits Scott Redding (Octo Pramac Yakhnich), Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda) and Bradley Smith (Monster Tech 3 Yamaha) filled the top four behind Hernandez. (Let’s face it, they are British, the conditions in Mugello were probably dry compared to what they will have faced in Britain).
Pirro making a wildcard appearance at home GP
Michele Pirro is returning to Mugello as a wildcard for Ducati Team and finished fifth ahead of the first factory rider Maverick Vinales (Team Suzuki Ecstar) in sixth. His fastest time of 1:56.966 was still 2.767 seconds slower than that by Hernandez by the end of FP1.
Seventh was Irishman Eugene Laverty who was 4.559 seconds slower than his teammate Hernandez. The only other factory riders to complete a lap were Alvaro Bautista (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini) who finished in eighth ahead of Iannone (Ducati) in ninth and Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda Team) was fourteenth quickest. Iannone recently announced his move to Team Suzuki Ecstar to replace Jorge Lorenzo at Movistar Yamaha as Lorenzo is switching to Ducati next season, and Pedrosa also announced that he has extended his contract by two years.
Rossi chose to practice starts
Tito Rabat (Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS), and Avintia Ducati teammates Loris Baz and Hector Barbera made up the top twelve, Danilo Petrucci (Octo Pramac Yakhnich) also ventured out however is being cautious with his hand injury sustained in Qatar. Movistar Yamaha rider Valentino Rossi was seen out on track during the session but his time was spent practicing starts and returning to the pits without completing a time.
Hotter weather meant better times for FP2
The track temperature increased significantly allowing the lap times to decrease. The whole field took to the track at some stage during the second Free Practice session with Iannone taking the crown as the fastest man on day one at his home track with a time of 1:47.696. This time set by Iannone was just over a second slower than his own record, however it almost matched the Circuit Record Lap (1:47.639) set by Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda) in 2013 where he went on to win.
Lorenzo almost half a second slower than Italian Iannone
Lorenzo, who favours this track, finished second overall at the end of day one. His time however was still 0.461 seconds slower than that of Iannone. Wildcard Pirro decided to tag onto the 2015 MotoGP Champion and this benefited him as he finished third fastest with his fastest time ending up just being 0.088 seconds slower than his teacher’s. (Surely Lorenzo would not mind being followed by a Ducati now after signing for them!)
Aleix Espargaro (Team Suzuki Ecstar) who was not happy with the lack of respect shown by his team in signing Iannone as replacement for Vinales seemed determined in the second session. The Spaniard is possibly riding for his seat next year as speculation linked 2015 Moto2 Champion Johann Zarco to the factory team. Aleix finished fourth as the highest place Suzuki with Vinales only managing seventh.
Marquez finished fifth fastest ahead of Rossi who did manage to complete some laps and make his way up the leaderboard this time. Redding was flying and at one point took the lead during the session. He finished as the third fastest Ducati in eighth ahead of fellow Brit Crutchlow who was the second fastest Honda.
250th GP start for Pedrosa
Pol Espargaro (Monster Tech 3 Yamaha) was tenth fastest. Last year he and his teammate did well on race day; Pol finished sixth behind his teammate Smith in fifth, however Smith could only manage fifteenth fastest at the end of day one. Ahead of his 250th MotoGP start due to take place at Mugello, Pedrosa could only manage eleventh fastest. Injured Petrucci followed on the independent Ducati ahead of factory Ducati rider Andrea Dovizioso who will remain at Ducati with Lorenzo next year.
Despite his success leading the leaderboards in FP1, Hernandez slipped down to fourteenth. Barbera was sixteenth ahead of the Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS Hondas led by rookie Tito Rabat in seventeenth and Jack Miller just 0.050 seconds behind his teammate. Hernandez’s teammate Laverty finished in nineteenth ahead of the Aprilia Racing Team Gresini riders, Bautista slipped to twentieth ahead of Stefan Bradl in twenty-first. Baz complete the field over three seconds off the pace.