The first day of action at Laguna Seca got underway with a typically cool and misty start this morning for the first free practice ahead of Sunday’s US Grand Prix. By the afternoon the Californian sunshine had broken through and the riders were able to increase the pace in hot conditions.
Yamaha Factory Racing’s Valentino Rossi made a strong start in the first session, getting quickly up to speed, finishing in second position just 0.091 seconds from the front. The nine-time world champion then spent the afternoon working through a number of set up changes to focus on improving tyre life and grip.
He was able to increase his speed from the morning by just over half a second to take fourth, 0.306 seconds from first.
Teammate Jorge Lorenzo was back on track today following his second set of surgery last weekend to repair his collarbone injury sustained in Assen and then further damaged in Sachsenring. The reigning world champion took it easy on day one, completing the morning session in 11th before carefully upping the pace in the second session to finish in sixth, 0.427 seconds from the front.
4th / 1'22.346 / 28 laps
“I’m quite happy with the first day, it was not so bad and we stayed with the top guys in the two practices. It's a very difficult racetrack to find the right settings. It is very physical for sure and Sunday will be a very long race. I feel quite confident with the bike, it’s not so bad but we have to try to do better and improve the balance, braking and acceleration. We are working to improve our performance as we are not so far from the top but we are not yet there. We hope to improve tomorrow to find a better balance for going faster and to get a good rhythm.”
6th / 1'22.467 / 30 laps
“It was much better this afternoon. I tried to improve step by step like I did in my first time in MotoGP here to try to minimize the risk and understand the limit of the track. Every lap it got better and better, but obviously the pain is there. I felt a little better than this morning but not so much, after seven laps it started to be difficult to brake. I struggled a lot in braking but still we were able to practice without painkillers, this is very positive because with the painkiller we will get some benefits. The bike is working really well, we are just losing some tenths in some braking points where we cannot push too hard. The balance of the day is pretty good considering my physical condition.”
“We are very pleased with the result, it's a very hard track when you have injuries. So to be in his position, in sixth place and staying calm is good. We need a good practice tomorrow to find a good setting and a good pace. I think the race will be very tough.”
"Jorge is suffering more than in Assen but we expected that as he is coming from a second surgery. He rode both sessions today without any painkilling injections and I think this time he decided to take it easy which was very important for us.
With Vale we tried some different settings to try and improve the issues we had in Sachsenring with grip and tyre life and the pace is not so bad. We have to try and improve our speed a little to find a little more performance for qualifying.”
Combined Free Practice Times
1. Marc Marquez (SPA) Repsol Honda Team 1'22.040
2. Stefan Bradl (GER) LCR Honda MotoGP 1'22.269
3. Andrea Dovizioso (ITA) Ducati Team 1'22.284
4. Valentino Rossi (ITA) Yamaha Factory Racing 1'22.346
5. Cal Crutchlow (GBR) Monster Yamaha Tech3 1'22.457
6. Jorge Lorenzo (SPA) Yamaha Factory Racing 1'22.467
7. Aleix Espargaro (SPA) Power Electronics Aspar 1'22.531