By Sam Sims
NGM Forward Racing’s Aleix Espargaro
2014 Assen MotoGP Thursday Practice Results
The top open-class rider so far this season, NGM Forward Racing’s Aleix Espargaro, was quickest Thursday during practice for Assen MotoGP.
The Spaniard led the morning free practice and continued this momentum into the second 45-minute session. While on a softer rear tire later in Fp2, Espargaro posted a 1:33.635 around the famed Assen TT “Cathedral” circuit, which has catered to Yamaha machinery over the years. Espargaro beat the previous 2012 record of 1:33.713 held by Casey Stoner (Repsol Honda).
The reigning MotoGP Champion Marc Marquez was second quickest, though 0.211 of a second off the top time. Marquez has been on a tear so far this season, winning the opening seven rounds.
Next up was Marquez’s Repsol Honda teammate Dani Pedrosa, who finished 0.416 of a second off the pace.
Movistar Yamaha MotoGP’s was fourth quickest, the two-time MotoGP champion 0.495 of a second off this fellow countryman’s pace. This created four Spaniards in the top-four positions.
The fastest Ducati was the Pramac Racing GP14 piloted by Andrea Iannone, who finished ahead of Monster Yamaha Tech 3’s Bradley Smith and the other factory Yamaha YZR-M1 pilot, nine-time World Champion Valentino Rossi. Iannone did have a small crash, but walked away unharmed.
As for Smith and Rossi, they finished with identical lap times that were 0.633 off the top pace.
Monster Yamaha Tech 3’s Pol Espargaro finished eighth, with LCR Honda MotoGP’s Stefan Bradl and Ducati Team’s Andrea Dovizioso rounding out the top 10.
As for injured riders, Drive My Aspar’s Nicky Hayden finished 17th while battling wrist problems, and Danilo Petrucci (IodaRacng Project) returned to racing since Jerez following his wrist injury.
The riders will return Friday to Assen for another two practice sessions and qualifying ahead of Saturday’s Assen TT.
2014 Assen MotoGP Free Practice 2 Results:
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