A bruising first day in Germany for the Repsol Honda Team, but both Pol Espargaro and Stefan Bradl put in their maximum – unrewarded by just a few tenths but confident of more on Saturday.
Europe’s heatwave was in full affect at the Sachsenring as temperatures in the mid 20s graced the track all day and temperatures are only set to rise further over the weekend. The summer conditions meant times were immediately fast, the outright lap record already being improved upon in Free Practice 2. There was little to choose between the riders as the hotly contested premier class arrived at the shortest track on the calendar.
Pol Espargaro’s day got off to an incredibly difficult start with two crashes at Turn 1 during Free Practice 1. The first fall was a relatively gentle lowside but the second crash, just a few minutes later, was a vicious highside which brought the #44’s session to an early end. After a visit to the medical centre, Espargaro was deemed fit and fortunate to escape any major injuries. A whole team effort meant that both of Espargaro’s Honda RC213V machines were ready for Free Practice 2. Pushing through some pain in his ribs and wrist from the morning, Espargaro managed a 1’20.816 for 14th overall – just two tenths from the top ten. The time was just a tenth slower than his qualifying time from 2021.
Home hero Stefan Bradl was a man in demand with the fans as the German GP weekend got underway. The HRC Test rider started steadily and improved his pace in the morning before making a big step in FP2. Finding 0.7s from FP1 to FP2, Bradl challenged the top ten until the very final moments of the session. Ultimately taking 20th place on Friday, he is confident a lap in the 1’20s was possible today as his switch from tester to racer continues.