Photography by Gold & Goose
The MotoGP riders got a taste of dry and a taste of wet on the opening day of practice for Sunday’s Czech Republic Grand Prix at the Brno Circuit. In the dry first session it was Repsol Honda’s runaway championship leader Marc Marquez at the top; in the wet second session it was Pramac Racing Ducati’s Andrea Iannone leading the way.
Iannone and Avintia Racing’s Hector Barbera struck early in the second session when the track was drier, with Iannone ending up 4.6 seconds faster than Marquez, the Spaniard not taking to the track when the conditions were iffy. His lap was done on rain tires, as were those who ended up behind him.
Fourth fastest in the rain was Repsol Honda’s Dani Pedrosa, the veteran just .002 of a second behind his teammate Marquez. Then came Movistar Yamaha’s Valentino Rossi, Marlboro Ducati’s Cal Crutchlow and three Yamahas in a row – Jorge Lorenzo, Pol Espargaro and Bradley Smith. LCR Honda’s Stefan Bradl rounded out the top 10 in the second session.
The first session, held on a dry track, was led by Marquez with a best of 1:56.803 - .7 of a second off his best from a year ago. He ended up just .037 of a second faster than Lorenzo and just .052 of a second better than Pedrosa. In all the top nine were separated by less than a second.
"I am happy with how the practices went today as the track has changed substantially compared with how it was when we tested here," Marquez said. "I expected this, and we adapted our setup accordingly in the sessions –although I am still not entirely satisfied. In the afternoon when the track was wet –especially at the start of FP2– I was able to lap consistently and I felt good which is important. We will see what the weather is like tomorrow and if we can have a good qualifying session."
NGM Forward Racing’s Aleix Espargaro ended the session fourth, a tick faster than Rossi. Then came Bradl, Ducati’s Andrea Dovizioso, Pramac’s Yonny Hernandez and Pol Espagaro, the rookie just .831 of a second behind Marquez in ninth place.
Espargaro’s teammate Smith was the 10th quickest rider and he was just a tick over a second slower than Marquez.
Free Practice 1
1. Marc Marquez (Honda) 1:56.803
2. Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha) 1:56.840
3. Dani Pedrosa (Honda) 1:56.855
4. Aleix Espargaro (Yamaha) 1:57.002
5. Valentino Rossi (Yamaha) 1:57.065
6. Stefan Bradl (Honda) 1:57.084
7. Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati) 1:57.169
8. Yonny Hernandez (Ducati) 1:57.190
9. Pol Espargaro (Yamaha) 1:57.634
10. Bradley Smith (Yamaha) 1:57.816
Free Practice 2
1. Andrea Iannone (Ducati) 2:03.179
2. Hector Barbera (Avintia) 2:04.462
3. Marc Marquez (Honda) 2:07.846
4. Dani Pedrosa (Honda) 2:07.848
5. Valentino Rossi (Yamaha) 2:08.827
6. Cal Cruthclow (Ducati) 2:08.981
7. Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha) 2:09.114
8. Pol Espargaro (Yamaha) 2:09.412
9. Bradley Smith (Yamaha) 2:09.722
10. Stefan Bradl (Honda) 2:09.747