Suzuki’s Aleix Espargaro stunned world title favourites Valentino Rossi and Jorge Lorenzo in Friday’s practice for Sunday’s Grand Prix of Catalunya.
Espargaro clocked 1min 41.158sec with two-time defending world champion Marc Marquez in second spot and fellow Honda rider Dani Pedrosa in third.
World championship leader Rossi was only 11th-fastest while Lorenzo, who has won the last three races, was in seventh.
But Rossi, who triumphed at the Montmelo circuit in 2001, 2002, 2004, 2005, 2006 and 2009, was not too concerned, opting to concentrate on set-up ahead of Saturday’s qualifying.
“It wasn’t a bad start. At the end of the practice we found a better setting and balance of the bike and I didn’t feel so bad,” said the Italian veteran who has a six-point lead in the title race.
“The reality is that everybody rode incredible lap times and pushed very hard. I feel good with the bike and the pace is not so bad.”
1. Aleix Espargaro (ESP/Suzuki) 1:41.158, 2. Marc Marquez (ESP/Honda) 0.285, 3. Dani Pedrosa (ESP/Honda) 0.631, 4. Andrea Dovizioso (ITA/Ducati) 0.665, 5. Maverick Vinales (ESP/Suzuki) 0.764, 6. Andrea Iannone (ITA/Ducati) 0.780, 7. Jorge Lorenzo (ESP/Yamaha) 0.876, 8. Cal Crutchlow (GBR/Honda LCR) 0.886, 9. Pol Espargaro (ESP/Yamaha Tech3) 1.155, 10. Scott Redding (GBR/Honda Marc VDS) 1.196, 11. Valentino Rossi (ITA/Yamaha) 1.209, 12. Yonny Hernandez (COL/Ducati Pramac) 1.259, 13. Nicky Hayden (USA/Honda Aspar) 1.465