Michael van der Mark led the way for Yamaha on the opening day Jerez, with the Pata Yamaha WorldSBK rider topping the timesheet in FP1 before finally finishing in second place, just two-tenths off the time of provisional pole sitter, Alvaro Bautista. Alex Lowes closed out the day with a long run on race tyres in FP2, but his time in the first free practice session was enough to secure the Briton fourth place on the timesheet. A resurgent Marco Melandri was sixth fastest, with his GRT Yamaha Supported WorldSBK teammate, Sandro Cortese, just one place further back in seventh position. Making his debut for the Ten Kate Yamaha Supported WorldSBK squad in Jerez, Loris Baz ended the day in 13th place, despite a high-speed crash at Turn 4 this afternoon.
Van der Mark and Lowes made their mark early in Jerez, with the Pata Yamaha pairing making it a Yamaha one-two at the top of the timesheet in FP1. While van der Mark continued working to improve braking stability in FP2, Lowes opted to run a race simulation to evaluate tyre endurance, critical for the two feature length races in Jerez, where track temperatures will be far higher than those experienced during winter testing at the circuit back in February.
Both Pata Yamaha riders also used today’s two free practice session to confirm their findings from last week’s Misano test, with positive results.
Melandri and Cortese also benefitted significantly from the progress made at the recent Misano test. Melandri in particular was extremely positive about the improvements to his Yamaha YZF-R1, after rediscovering the confidence that has been absent since Thailand saw him finish today sixth on the timesheet.
After a difficult weekend on his first visit to Imola two weeks ago, Cortese was back on the pace today in Jerez, a track at which he has a lot of experience and which he rates as one of his favourites. The reigning Supersport World Champion finished seventh today, less than a tenth behind his GRT Yamaha teammate, but is confident of further improvement ahead of tomorrow’s 20-lap Race 1.
Ten Kate Yamaha’s Baz got his first race weekend aboard the Yamaha YZF-R1 off to a solid start with 12th position in FP1 this morning. The Frenchman was looking to improve further this afternoon but lost valuable track time as a result of a high-speed crash at Turn 4 that, fortunately, he walked away from uninjured.
Michael van der Mark
Pata Yamaha WorldSBK – P2 – 1’39.654
“It’s been a really positive opening day and I felt good with the bike from the start. The changes we tested in Misano really seem to have worked and that inspired a lot of confidence in the R1. We knew this afternoon would be interesting once the track temperature went up, so we wanted to see how the bike reacted to that. Again, I was quick from the start, but we still need to do a bit more work to improve on the brakes, as I’m still struggling a little to get the bike stopped. But, overall, I’m really happy with the first day here in Jerez.”
Pata Yamaha WorldSBK – P4 – 1’39.839
“We made a good start in FP1 this morning, finishing the session second behind Michael. This afternoon I did just over race distance on a set of tyres, which dropped us down the times a little but the pace was still good. We’ve got some new parts that we weren’t able to test over a long run at the Misano test because of the weather but, after today, we have a much better understanding of the bike and where we’ve improved. I’ve always been fast here in Jerez, so I know I can do the times, but we just wanted to work on the bike on worn tyres and in the hotter temperatures this afternoon, to get a better feel for how it’s going to be in the race tomorrow. A good start to the weekend and one on which we can build for the race tomorrow. I’m happy.”