POSITIVE START FOR DRIVE M7 ASPAR PAIR AT JEREZ
Nicky Hayden makes late improvement to claim twelfth place as Hiroshi Aoyama's early effort secures sixteenth
The first day of the Spanish Grand Prix took place under sunny skies and in warm spring temperatures at Jerez today, where the afternoon heat made for drastically different track conditions from the first free practice session to the second. The lap times were much closer than they have been in the three rounds so far this season, with Marc Márquez's dominance finally coming under threat. With two Yamahas, two Hondas and a Ducati making up the top five positions and just 1.3 seconds covering the top ten, Sunday's race could be the closest of the season so far.
The DRIVE M7 Aspar Team made a positive start to the weekend with Nicky Hayden lapping eleventh fastest in this morning's session and tenth in the afternoon. The American was pleased to close the gap to the top riders in respect to previous races and after clocking a 1'40.788 this afternoon he ended the day in twelfth place on the combined timesheets, 1.4 seconds off top spot. His team-mate Hiroshi Aoyama clocked his best lap of the day in the morning session and even though he improved his feeling in the afternoon a crash towards the end of the session impeded his chances of going faster. The Japanese rider finished sixteenth fastest, 1.8 seconds off the top.
12th Nicky Hayden 1.40.788 (38 laps): “We have worked hard today and it has gone pretty good. The track conditions changed totally from the morning to the afternoon because of the heat and we had to go through all of the front tyre options to work out which was best. The lap times here are tighter than they have been and we are closer to the top than we have been at other tracks so far this season. That makes things more fun and we can look forward to the rest of the weekend with a slightly different approach. In this heat it is going to be a tough weekend and with so many long and demanding corners it will be physically quite difficult over race distance. Anyway, compared to past races Jerez has started well for us so we'll see what happens over the weekend. We have noticed the lack of power here is less compared to the factory bikes but we need to try and get a bit more acceleration out of the slow corners if we can.”
16th Hiroshi Aoyama 1.41.183 (36 laps): “The feeling this morning was different to Argentina, quite strange. It seems like the tyres have much more grip here and that has changed the behaviour of the bike. Then the track changed a lot from the morning to the afternoon. We tried the hard tyres on both the front and the rear and I wasn't sure at the start but we kept pushing and trying to adapt the bike to them. At the end of the session we put a new, softer tyre in and tried to go faster but I tucked the front and crashed. Maybe we tried a bit too hard today but the feeling is good so we just need to look into the reasons for the crash. The important thing is I am not hurt.”