Mugello – Italy’s Andrea Iannone, who confirmed this week he will leave Suzuki at the end of the season, set the pace in Friday’s opening practice session for the Italian MotoGP in Tuscany.
The 28-year-old Iannone confirmed on Thursday he will leave the Japanese manufacturer after an unsuccessful spell since joining at the start of 2017.
But the Italian showed few signs of the turmoil he said he was going through as he shot to the top of the leaderboard on his final lap on the Mugello circuit.
Italians clocked the fastest three times with Iannone achieving 1min 47.253 followed Ducati pair Michele Pirro and Andrea Dovizioso at 0.550sec and 0.708sec respectively.
“I won’t remain at Suzuki,” Iannone told Autosport.com. “I switch to another bike, another manufacturer, but at the moment I won’t talk about my future because it’s a little bit (like) hell.”
Iannone joined Suzuki at the start of the 2017 season after losing his Ducati seat to Spaniard Jorge Lorenzo.
He failed to achieve a podium last year, finishing 13th in the championship. But at the start of 2018 he achieved back-to-back third places in Austin and Jerez.
Suzuki has already signed Iannone’s team-mate Alex Rins for a further two seasons, and are close to securing Moto2 star Joan Mir for its second bike in 2019.
“At this race I announced my partnership with Suzuki (in 2016) but this year it’s a little bit different,” he continued.
“Suzuki talked to me about my future only after the Barcelona test, (they) reflected for a long time, but in any case now it’s sure I won’t remain at Suzuki.”
In Friday’s first practice, Yamaha’s Maverick Vinales’s session got off to a bad start after an early crash on the first bend but the Spaniard was able to get back out and record the fourth fastest time of the session.
Spain’s world championship leader Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) was sixth fastest with Italian star Valentino Rossi eighth fastest on his Yamaha.
First free practice times:
1. Andrea Iannone (ITA/Suzuki) 1min 47.253sec, 2. Michele Pirro (ITA/Ducati) at 0.550sec, 3. Andrea Dovizioso (ITA/Ducati) at 0.708, 4. Maverick Vinales (ESP/Yamaha) at 0.742, 5. Jack Miller (AUS/Ducati) 0.782, 6. Marc Marquez (ESP/Honda) 0.782, 7. Franco Morbidelli (ITA/Honda Vds) 0.958, 8. Valentino Rossi (ITA/Yamaha) 0.965, 9. Jorge LORENZO (ESP/Ducati) 0.966, 10. Cal Crutchlow (GBR/LCR Honda) 0.976