The Movistar Yamaha MotoGP team kicked off the action at TT Circuit Assen today during the first free practice sessions ahead of Saturday's race. Valentino Rossi made most of the unexpected sunny conditions and landed third place in the combined session times, slightly ahead of teammate Jorge Lorenzo who posted the sixth fastest time.
Both riders love the prestigious Dutch circuit and were quick to find their pace while testing a new chassis in the first morning session.
Eager to the hit the ground running, Valentino Rossi began his Assen challenge with finding a solid basis set-up before closing the session with a time attack. His first attempt to a hot lap immediately moved him to the top spot in the ranking order. Knowing he had more in him, he continued to further improve his leading time over the next two laps and signed off FP1 with a 1'34.357.
The afternoon saw more of the same from Rossi. He spent most of 45 minutes focusing on improving his setting before putting it to the test in the final stages of the session. Clearly feeling at home at one of his favorite tracks, he wrapped up the first day with a third fastest time of 1'33.652, 0.202s from the front.
Jorge Lorenzo had a more challenging first outing, but still enjoyed his first laps at Assen. He slowly built up his pace in the FP1 and it wasn't long before he climbed up to the front of the leaderboard. He spent the rest of the session comparing settings and finished in fourth place, 0,415s behind his teammate.
The Spaniard was quick to pick up where he left off during FP2. He soon moved into the top three as he continued to perfect the set-up of his YZR-M1. With the temperature rising and the times dropping, he saved his best for his last stint and dropped a 1'33.741 to end the day in sixth place, 0.291s from first.
Valentino Rossi3rd / 1'33.652 / 41 laps
"It has been a good Thursday. I'm happy because we worked well during the sessions and we found some interesting solutions. The first priority today was to find out which chassis we prefer, the new one or the standard one. I feel good with the new one. My pace and my lap times were especially good this morning when I was in front, but also in the afternoon. Securing third position is a very good performance, because the first five to seven riders are really close in times. It's a good way to start the weekend, but we still have a lot to do. It's very important to use this bit of dry track time in Assen well, because we hope the weather will stay like this, but you never know. Now we will wait for tomorrow. Both the harder and soft tyres are not so bad for the race, it will depend on the conditions. If it's hot, like it was today, you can decide to try the harder rear tyre."
Jorge Lorenzo6th / 1'33.741 / 35 laps
"It has been a difficult day. I still don't feel great on the bike, so we have to make some modifications to get more confortable. We don't have the softer edge tyre that Bridgestone usually brings. This certainly didn't help me to feel at my best in the corners, but this is the same for everyone. We have to work on it. I think we still have a margin to feel better with this tyre and go faster, but we have to find a solution to get to that stage."