Temperatures crept up after a cool start to the traditional Spanish fixture at the short, narrow and demanding Jerez circuit in Andalucía. Pol Espargaro initially turned heads with a bright 3rd place in the first Free Practice session on Friday but as the heat increased so lap-times dropped, and both the Spaniard, Bradley Smith and Mike Kallio (the Finn, in his first wildcard appearance of the year, was riding a updated version of the KTM RC16 that both #44 and #38 will test at the same track on Monday and Tuesday) could not significantly upgrade their pace. The trio tried their best to make the Q1 ‘cut’ but completed a busy afternoon of work and experimentation and settled with 16th, 19th (for Kallio) and 21st (Smith).
“We tried to do everything we could. It is a matter of seeing what we learn in the race tomorrow but also the test on Monday and where that next step can come from. We’ve even tried riding differently with someone carrying more corner speed and the other braking deeper…but the lap-time seems to be the lap-time. At this level, especially with one lap, that’s where we are struggling. Hopefully the race tomorrow is more consistent and we have the chance to get some more positions. I have seen on-track where the bike handles better so we need to be more patient and try and stay in the hunt.”
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