JEREZ DE LA FRONTERA, Spain – Maverick Vinales kicked off the second round of the MotoGP season by pacing the first day of practice at Circuito de Jerez-Ángel Nieto on Friday.
Vinales led the way thanks to his top time of 1:37.063, which came during the first of two practice sessions at the Spanish facility. He was fifth fastest in the second session, but his time from the first practice proved to be the fastest overall of the day.
“Today I felt really good on the bike. We tried a new set-up, which is an improvement, and this is the most important thing,” said Vinales. “Lap by lap and practice by practice I’m feeling better. So, we need to keep working in this way, because I think that‘s the way to bring the bike to the top. This afternoon I was working on the hard and the medium tire. We need to understand how all the tire specs work for us, because it will be really hot on Sunday, so we need to know what we can do. But the feeling is great with any tire.
“We also worked a lot on the front tire, and the feeling is good – better than it was last week. For sure, on Sunday we will have another tire discussion, but in any case, I feel comfortable with the bike. I think we made an improvement compared to last week. I think this is a good test for us, we never raced at the same track twice in a row. The most important thing is to understand how we do better on race day.”
Vinales’ teammate, Valentino Rossi, was second fastest overall on the day. Red Bull KTM’s Brad Binder was third fastest, followed by Petronas Yamaha’s Franco Morbidelli and Red Bull KTM’s Pol Espargaro.
Reigning MotoGP champion Marc Marquez, who was declared fit to ride on Thursday after undergoing surgery for a fractured right humerus that he suffered in a crash in the MotoGP opener last week, sat out Friday’s practice sessions.
Repsol Honda plans to have Marquez on track for Saturday’s third practice prior to qualifying.