IN EXTREMELY TIGHT STANDINGS ESPARGARÓ AND VIÑALES FINISH JUST OUTSIDE THE TOP TEN
On the first day of practice in Valencia ahead of the final race in the MotoGP World Championship this Sunday, Espargaró and Viñales finished outside the provisional top ten.
Despite both riders improving clearly compared to the morning session, in the faster FP2 session, they finished twelfth (Maverick) and thirteenth (Aleix).
In the second session, Aleix, who is currently third in the overall championship standings, fell victim to a crash that forced him to change bikes, hindering his efforts to take a spot among the top ten.
Now everything has been postponed until the FP3 session on Saturday morning which will decide the top ten who go straight through to the Q2 qualifying session. The standings, as is tradition on the Valencia track, are extremely close with the top fifteen riders all within eight tenths of one another and that leave the door of opportunity open for the Aprilia riders to come back.
"To be honest, I think our level is better than the standings demonstrate. In any case, we aren’t super fast but we’ll be able to improve tomorrow, enough to be in the top ten. The crash with my first bike certainly slowed me down and it was the last thing I needed, partly because we are moving forward with assessments on two rather different RS-GP units. There are positive and negative sides in both configurations, so the goal is to put together the good things we found today and to try and set up the best possible package."
“Overall it was a positive day. We’ve improved compared to last year and the feeling of the ride is significantly better. I lapped faster and I’m able to hold good lines. However, we are struggling with a lack of grip which particularly involves how we are able to manage the rear tyre, especially on left-handers – turn two, turn three, turn six… But that’s part of the work we need to do to grow. We’re working to resolve it and I think that we have margins for improvement.”