Starting off just as strong as he did at Assen two weeks ago, Aleix Espargaro finished the Friday Free Practice 2 with a best 1’22.041s lap on the NGM Forward Racing ‘Open’ Forward-Yamaha on a softer option rear tire. Having also gone quickest in FP1 puts Espargaro at the top of the combined times.
FP1 saw the Open Yamaha rider top the session with a 1’22.170s, ahead of Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda) who suffered a heavy crash. The first session was spent on the Yamaha chassis. Espargaro’s fast time came in the closing minutes as he took advantage of the soft tire available to Open class riders. The second practice session saw him spend the majority of time on the Forward chassis as he continued to evaluate the differences between the two. The Forward chassis had several pros, but was less responsive in the change of direction according to the rider, and his fast lap at the end of FP2 came on the Yamaha chassis.
The Marquez crash came in FP1 on his fifth lap at turn two, where the reigning World Champion and current championship leader made a small mistake and engaged third gear causing a vicious high side where he landed heavily on the side of his head and left him with a painful neck. He was able to go back out on track and record a fastest time of 1’22.767 (lap 11 of 17) finishing sixth for the session. After receiving treatment to his neck, Marquez was able to improve his time by six tenths with a fastest time of 1’22.158 (lap 6 of 20) in FP2 putting him second fastest for the day.
After Friday’s sessions Marquez said, “The day went very well, because even though I crashed I was fortunate not to get injured, but the impact was hard. The crash was a little strange, but when we looked at the telemetry later on we understood why it happened. It’s a long left turn in second gear on the throttle the whole time, and I accidentally touched the gear shift lever with the toe of my boot. This engaged another gear and as I was leant so far over – and had the gas open – the rear wheel slid out and I was thrown off.”
Dani Pedrosa had a slower start in FP1 and his fastest lap of 1’22.848 (lap 21 of 22) placed him eighth. Pedrosa improved from the morning session with a fastest lap of 1’22.589 (lap 3 of 18) placing him ninth. After a heavy crash on lap five at turn 12, he was unable to better his earlier time and finished 10th fastest in the combined times.
Pedrosa commented, “We were fortunate to have two dry sessions to test out the track today, it went pretty well and I had a good feeling, but I also suffered a crash. During the two practices I had problems with the brakes, and it was precisely at a braking point that I pushed too hard and crashed. However, I was able to go out again with another bike and continue riding through to the end of the afternoon session.”
Movistar Yamaha MotoGP rider Jorge Lorenzo kept out of trouble at a track where he had a big crash last year in practice and missed the 2013 race. Lorenzo was third fastest, trailing Espargaro by 0.327s.
Home rider Stefan Bradl (LCR Honda MotoGP) and his fellow Honda-equipped rival Alvaro Bautista (GO&FUN Honda Gresini) were fourth and fifth.
Valentino Rossi (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP) was sixth fastest overall, lapping just over 0.4s slower than pace setter Espargaro – the Italian’s best time came in FP1.
The top ten was completed by Andrea Iannone (Pramac Racing), Pol Espargaro (Monster Yamaha Tech3), Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team) and Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda Team) – who walked away from a high speed FP2 crash at turn 12.
The top 16 riders were separated by less than a second at the short, tight and twisting German track.
Turn 12 also saw another FP2 crash, for Michael Laverty (Paul Bird Motorsport), who was unhurt and ended the day 14th. His teammate Broc Parkes was down in 23rd and crashed in FP1.
Bradley Smith (Monster Yamaha Tech3) crashed twice in FP1 and ended the day 11th best overall.