MOTOGP: Suzuki Storm; Espargaro Leads Catalan Grand Prix Practice in Spain

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BARCELONA, Spain – official series release — MotoGP photo —

Team Suzuki Ecstar’s Aleix Espargaro surprised onlookers and delighted his home fans by taking the top spot on the combined MotoGP practice charts on Friday at Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya.

Conditions improved throughout the day with track temperatures reaching 50 degrees Celsius by the second practice, which led to most riders improving their times in the afternoon practice session.

The weather forecast for Saturday is mixed, therefore an extra emphasis was placed on Friday’s practice sessions, as if it rains tomorrow, Friday’s practice times could decide who makes it through automatically to Q2.

It was frantic last few minutes of the second practice as riders put on new slicks and hit the track to put in one last flying lap. Espargaro waited until late in the session to put in a 1:42.183, just three tenths of a second off Andrea Dovizioso’s 2014 lap record.

The Repsol Honda of Marc Marquez (+.285 of a second) was the only man to get within half a second of the leading Suzuki as he debuted a new exhaust on his RC213V. His teammate Dani Pedrosa (+.0631 of a second) was in third ahead of Ducati Team’s Andrea Dovizioso (+.665 of a second) who, along with his teammate Iannone, was sporting modified winglets on his GP15 to cope with the higher curbs at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya.

Team Suzuki Ecstar enjoyed a day to remember as Maverick Viñales (+0.764 of a second) also showed good pace on the second GSX-RR to finish in fifth.

In the first practice, Repsol Honda’s Marquez and Pedrosa topped the charts ahead of Espargaro. Yamaha’s Jorge Lorenzo was fourth and Viñales was fifth.

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