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A repetitive beat

A repetitive beat

For the third Grand Prix in a row, Jorge Lorenzo has dominated teammate Valentino Rossi in opening practice.

With the end of the 2015 World Championship rapidly approaching, the performances of the Movistar Yamaha teammates are under more scrutiny than ever. Silverstone and Misano followed near identical patterns for Jorge Lorenzo and Valentino Rossi; Lorenzo had a clear edge in dry practice but weather came to the aid of Rossi and the rest of the MotoGP™ World Championship who, based on practice times, looked unable to stay with the Spaniard.

In Silverstone FP1 Rossi trailed Lorenzo by 0.468s, the gap opening to 0.989s in Free Practice 2. The gap between the two teammates would remain within this range for the weekend, until the race was affected by rain. A gap of half second, especially over a single lap, is considered quite a solid advantage.

The San Marino GP also saw Rossi roughly half a second behind Lorenzo across both opening practice sessions, and again the weather turned all previous preparation and planning on its head come race day. Misano had a much more bitter end for both riders, Lorenzo lifting himself from the gravel while Rossi was left wanting more in fifth.

As Friday draws to a close, Aragon appears to be upholding this pattern. FP1 saw Lorenzo first with Rossi third but 0.575s down, the gap widening to 0.683s despite Rossi jumping to second in FP2. In both previous rounds Lorenzo went on to out qualify Rossi. With the Mallorcan being such a strong starter and, theoretically, able to go half a second a lap faster, Rossi’s 23-point lead in the World Championship may see itself reduced if the weather is on Lorenzo’s side.

Rain is not predicated for Sunday’s race, but nor was it predicted for Misano.  Hopefully for Lorenzo there will be a change of tune on Sunday and his weekend will have a different ending.

As both Lorenzo and Rossi continue to stress in press conferences and interviews, the race isn’t just between them. Both Repsol Honda riders were inside the top five on combined times, each 0.8s off Lorenzo’s blistering 1’47.517. Crucially, both Marc Marquez and Dani Pedrosa set their times on used hard tyres while the Yamaha riders opted for a new medium slick to end the day. This suggests that Honda will be able to go even quicker tomorrow. Perhaps it’ll be a Honda drum setting the beat.

Tyre choice will be crucial not just for setting a fast flying lap in the battle for pole, but also over race distance. At this early stage, and with current temperatures, it doesn’t appear the medium tyre, which is clearly faster, will last race distance but the situation could change come race day. There’s also the factor of how each rider treats their tyres as they battle around Aragon.

As the sun sets on Friday, the beat looks to be matching Lorenzo’s tune, but anything could happen as the weekend’s crescendo build to its climax on Sunday.

MotoGP, 2015, GRAN PREMIO MOVISTAR DE ARAGÓN, Valentino Rossi, Bradley Smith, Jorge Lorenzo, Monster Yamaha Tech 3, Movistar Yamaha MotoGP

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