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Lorenzo is back!

 Lorenzo is back!

Jorge Lorenzo rode like a man that had something to prove, while Marc Marquez battled through the pain barrier on the first day in Jerez.

It has not been the easiest start to 2015 for Lorenzo, who has failed to finish on the podium in the first three races of the season for the first time in his MotoGP™ career.

The Movistar Yamaha rider currently occupies fourth in the Championship standings, 29 points behind his teammate Rossi, and knew that a strong showing in the first European race of the season would be essential if he was to have any chance of fighting for the title.

The double MotoGP™ World Champion certainly sent out a message today that he was “back” by topping both Free Practice sessions, and early signs appear to show that he could be once again be challenging for the race win come Sunday. In FP1 Lorenzo was competitive from the outset, setting his fastest time on just his fifth lap and finishing 0.049s ahead of Aleix Espargaro on the Team Suzuki Ecstar GSX-RR. In FP2 he tried out the hard tyre compound to start with but switched back to the medium compound to set his fastest time, beating Marquez into second, a result he would love to emulate when the lights go out on Sunday.

The Spaniard explained how he had turned his fortunes around today: “My mentality from this morning was to go for it and don‘t think too much, just try to ride according to my instinct and it worked very well, especially in the morning. It seems we are coming back stronger. We will have to demonstrate it tomorrow and especially on Sunday. I want to show my form again on the track tomorrow with my speed.”

To add to his performance on track was the news that he had agreed to stay with his Movistar Yamaha team until the end of his current contract, which runs out at the end of the 2016 season.

There had been rumours in the paddock that Lorenzo was looking at another ride for next season, but Yamaha Factory Racing Managing Director Lin Jarvis confirmed that this wasn’t the case: “I can assure you and I can assure the MotoGP™ paddock that Jorge will be with Yamaha for 2016. We have spoken together already and its already clear, he wants to stay with us, we want to stay with him, it’s done, so Jorge will be with us this year and next. It’s a fact!”

However, what about Marc Marquez? The reigning MotoGP™ World Champion came to Jerez trailing Valentino Rossi by 30 points in the standings, so the news that he had fractured his finger in training on Saturday, needing an operation, was not exactly ideal. Marquez was deemed fit to race by the medical team at the circuit on Thursday, but all eyes were on the Spaniard as he took to the track for the first time today to see how his injury would affect him.

The answer? Not a lot! He may have ended FP1 down in eighth, 0.740s off the pace, but by the afternoon it was business as usual for Marquez, as he set the second fastest time in FP2 to finish just 0.128s behind Lorenzo. This left him third fastest overall at the end of the day, and showed that even a broken finger could not stop the Spanish wunderkind: “We can be happy that my hand has responded quite well today - as well as could be expected. It hurts a lot but at least I can put in the laps. We’ll see if tomorrow it is better if it doesn’t swell up.”

On top of all of this, the current Championship leader Valentino Rossi was languishing down in ninth overall when FP2 concluded. This should not worry “The Doctor” though; as his last three victories have come from eighth on the grid, and ninth place is exactly where he found himself after the first day of practice in Argentina…and we all know what happened there. Rossi explained his lack of pace: "It was a difficult practice, especially this afternoon. I think I could have gotten a better position but I decided to use just the harder option and work with just that tyre, because we thought that was the best tyre for the race. Unfortunately the performance is very low and the lap time isn‘t good enough, so I think that also the soft can be an option too, but it will be difficult."

It is always hard to take much from the first day of practice, but with the top ten riders separated by less than a second, and only two seconds separating the top twenty, it looks like Qualifying should be rather exciting on Saturday.

Check out the combined MotoGP™ practice times from Jerez and the riders are back on track on Saturday at 9:55am local time for FP3.

Tags:
MotoGP, 2015, GRAN PREMIO bwin DE ESPAÑA, FP2, Jorge Lorenzo, Marc Marquez

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