Husqvarna riders undertake first two free practice sessions at adjusted Indianapolis circuit. Kent takes ninth fastest time, whilst Ajo, twenty-third, returns to action following an ankle injury.
Danny Kent and Niklas Ajo were able to ride at the modified Indianapolis Motor Speedway for the first time on Friday. The track has been shortened by 48 metres and 5 corners have undergone changes since last year. The Red Bull Husqvarna Ajo rider quickly adapted to the track, finally taking the ninth fastest time of 1:43.543. Meanwhile, Niklas Ajo returned to action after missing the Grand Prix of Germany through injury. The Avant Tecno Husqvarna Ajo man placed twenty-third in the combined timesheet with a 1:44.743 lap.
Having ridden most recently at the Assen round of the series almost a month and a half ago, Niklas Ajo got back onboard his Husqvarna bike on Friday. He did so with rain tyres after encountering a wet track. The damp surface soon had a dry line established, and both he and Danny Kent were able to switch to slicks and lower their times considerably. Kent was thirteenth quickest with a 1:47.636 lap, whilst Ajo’s 1:49.205 lap put him nineteenth.
The Husqvarna riders went back out on track in the afternoon and immediately improved their previous times. However, light rain obliged them to return to the garage for 10 minutes in the session. With fifteen minutes to go, Kent and Ajo were able to make another runout and again improved their times. The Red Bull Husqvarna Ajo man led the session with eight minutes to go, but his 1:43.543 lap eventually placed him ninth. Ajo was twenty-third with his 1:44.743 time.
After a third and final free practice session tomorrow, qualifying takes place at 12:35pm local time. On Niklas Ajo’s last participation in qualifying, at Assen, he achieved the best position of his Grand Prix career with third. Third is also the best grid spot achieved by Danny Kent thus far this year, in Argentina.
Results (Combined practice time FP1-FP2)
1. Isaac Viñales (KTM) 1:42.507
2. Alex Marquez (Honda) 1:42.604 +0.097
3. Jack Miller (Red Bull KTM Ajo) 1:42.717 +0.210
4. Efren Vazquez (Honda) 1:42.962 +0.455
5. John McPhee (Honda) 1:43.102 +0.595
9. Danny Kent (Red Bull Husqvarna Ajo) 1:43.543 +1.036
23. Niklas Ajo (Avant Tecno Husqvarna Ajo) 1:44.743 +2.236
Niklas Ajo >> Audio (solely for radio use)
”It was nice to get back on the Husqvarna after weeks of recovery work for my ankle. It did not hurt much when I was riding, but at some points I did notice some discomfort, especially when pushing hard. But I can’t complain, I can ride very well.
Today the conditions have been pretty bad, because it rained a little this morning and we all had wet tyres on. With slicks we could not get a good feeling, because I did not take too many risks after my injury. I want to take it easy in order to avoid getting hurt again. The important thing was to return. I hope it’s dry tomorrow, that we can start riding well and get a good feeling with the bike again.”
Danny Kent >> Audio (solely for radio use)
”The truth is that this first day in Indianapolis went very well. We were able to conserve tyres due to the track conditions. Despite this, when we were able to ride on the track we had a great feeling with the bike, because we have not changed much with it from Assen and Sachsenring. The final impression is very positive. We have only used soft tyres, so tomorrow we can use two sets for the qualifying session. I’m satisfied with this first day.”