Misano pacesetter Pol Espargaro was quick to praise Michelin's new front tyres after topping the times on Friday at Misano.
The Monster Tech 3 Yamaha rider was second fastest behind Valentino Rossi in FP1 but Espargaro upped the ante further in the afternoon session, lapping in 1m 32.769s to edge out Repsol Honda's Dani Pedrosa by only 0.065 seconds.
Michelin introduced a new front tyre range for Misano, which was developed following tests at the Marco Simoncelli Circuit. The tyres feature a new casing designed to give the riders more stability under braking and in cornering.
For Espargaro, who was fortunate to escape injury after being caught up in Loris Baz's first lap spill at Silverstone last weekend, the new design suits his riding style perfectly and he took full advantage to put the satellite YZR-M1 on top of the time sheets.
“I don't know, the bike is new – maybe I should destroy it more often!” joked Espargaro, referring to his surprise status as the pacesetter on Friday.
“Actually this is a track where I was fast in the past in the first year and last year in the dry conditions. Everything is really good and the new tyres here are really grippy on the rear and quite good performance from the front. I feel that I can ride in my way – aggressive and opening the throttle really early and I feel really comfortable riding the bike.
“I don't know if it's an advantage [not racing at Silverstone]. For sure here it's not as fast as Silverstone, it's tight, there is a lot of slower changes of direction but especially for me [advantage] the conditions were really hot. These tyres are working really good and also the lap times are really fast. This year the track is in perfection to the highest level of the tyres.”
After running the medium compound rear in the morning, Espargaro tried the hard option in FP2, but quickly realised the tyre did not represent a viable option.
“In the morning we used the softer compound, the softer rear, in the afternoon we used the harder compound front and rear; the hard rear was impossible to ride and after two laps in pitted in because it felt like we had some problems. I continued with the harder compound front but I came back to this morning's soft tyre on the rear and the tyre looked really nice, so it looks like we can race with this tyre.
“With the harder front, stability was really nice, turning was really good so it was also good,” added Espargaro. “I think Michelin risk a lot on this track with these tyres that we never try, but it was good to test and luckily for me and my riding style they are a better compound on this track.”
Espargaro passed a medical on Thursday following his accident at Silverstone and says he is able to ride the bike pain-free. The 25-year-old revealed he plans to discuss the possibility of some changes to the first two corners at Silverstone where he was involved in the incident with Loris Baz, who has been ruled out of Misano through injury.
“I have a little bit of pain on my leg but it is nothing; the muscle is still a little bit inflated but on the bike I can ride perfect, but when I get out of the bike I feel a little bit of pressure.”
Referring to the potential for a fallen rider's bike to return to the circuit and collide with another competitor at Silverstone's opening corners, he added: “This is something we have to talk [about]. I think now I will speak about it to the Safety Commission.”