A stellar Friday left Franky Morbidelli second in the CatalanGP standings after the Petronas rider led the way for the majority of both free practice sessions.
Setting the pace early in FP1, the Italian’s 1’40.402 lap controlled the pace from his fifth attempt as he worked on used tyres, with only Aleix Espargaro besting him, by a mere 0.024s, in the closing minutes as the local rider opted for a hot-lap on fresh rubber.
Working on a medium front/hard rear tyre combination, Morbidelli repeated his morning prowess, by dominating the second practice from 11-minutes in, until the time-attacks in the dying minutes shuffled the standings. Switching to softs, the Petronas rider matched the impressive efforts with ease, his own 1’39.256 lap sitting an equally negligible 0.021s off the fastest time of the day - this time from Johann Zarco - to finish Friday second both in FP2, and overall.
“I’m really happy with today” Morbidelli said from the Catalunya paddock.
“It has started well and it is important that we did that. We had a good feeling on the bike and I was able to be fast straight away, now we have to keep working and try to improve further.
“I’m feeling quite good about our race pace, of course there is still work to do, but I’m happy with where we are.
“I jumped on track and immediately the bike was much better, much more stable and I could ride much better than Mugello and Qatar. The stability is a thing that we need to work on for sure, and we are working on already. We are trying to focus on the weekend, but also on this.
“We tried all the tyres today in preparation for Sunday’s race and I felt good with both compounds, I was able to be fast with both. I found some benefits with the hard tyre so we need to think. I felt a bit better with the medium for sure but there are some things that I like about the hard. We need to choose - we are in doubt and the fact that we are in doubt, is positive. We just need to look at the endurance of them before we make any decisions.”
Reflecting on the Catalan circuit’s new layout, the 26-year-old declared “I like turn 10. It's very nice now, it looks more like a Barcelona corner. Before it was completely different to the whole vibe of the track, so this is positive. I like it and I feel quite good there, so I like it even more!
“It's definitely the best Friday that I have had this year, but it doesn't mean anything” he joked as he concluded.