Ducati Team’s Andrea Dovizioso dominated the opening day at Mugello, topping both Free Practice sessions. High temperatures and a beautiful Tuscan blue sky reigned over a nearly crash-free morning.
Ducati were always going to be a force to be reckoned with at their home track, especially as the Factory team completed a private test at the Tuscany circuit recently, and they sent the partisan crowd home happy after topping the combined timesheets after day one of the Gran Premio d’Italia TIM.
Dovizioso improved his time from the morning session by over four-tenths of a second to set a 1’47.479. The Italian hitting the ground running straight away in FP1, clearly taking advantage of the data gathered during that test to find a good set-up straight away.
Repsol Honda’s Marc Marquez improved throughout the day as he tried a number of different set-up combinations in an effort to deal with the front-end issues and engine problems the RC213V has been suffering from this season. The reigning MotoGP™ World Champion seemed to find something that worked, as he ended the day just 0.164s behind Dovizioso in second place overall.
Movistar Yamaha’s Jorge Lorenzo came to Mugello full of confidence following his comprehensive victories at Jerez and Le Mans, and straight away, he looked fast and smooth around the 5.2km circuit. The Spaniard, who has not finished outside the top two in the last 6 races at Mugello, set the third fastest time of the day, just 0.373s off the top.
It was a good day for British riders as Monster Yamaha Tech 3’s Bradley Smith ended the day in fifth as the leading satellite rider, managing to finish just ahead of his compatriot Cal Crutchlow on the CWM LCR Honda, with less than a tenth of a second separating the two.
Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS’s Scott Redding showed signs of improvement as he finished in eighth overall, just behind the injured Aleix Espargaro on the Team Suzuki Ecstar GSX-RR in seventh. Espargaro underwent surgery on his right thumb to repair a damaged ligament after Le Mans and he was finding it hard to get enough brake pressure through his injured hand, with his team saying they will assess his injury session by session.
It was another hard first day of Free Practice for the current MotoGP™ World Championship leader Valentino Rossi, who found himself down in ninth place on the combined timesheets. Once again, the Italian struggled during the Friday of a Grand Prix weekend, emphasising his woes by running off track late on in FP2 as he pushed too hard.
Pol Espargaro completed the top ten on the second Monster Yamaha Tech 3 M1, with Avintia Racing’s Hector Barbera finishing as the top Open class rider in 16th. The only MotoGP rider who sustained a crash was Eugene Laverty, in an extraordinarily calm morning for the track marshals, as they only had to assist with 5 falls during the evening FP2 sessions