|— Yamaha Report
Motorland Aragon played host to its first ever MotoGP practices today, with two 45-minutes sessions instead of the usual single one-hour session in order to give the riders a better chance to understand the new circuit. The two practices were run in very different conditions, with dry weather this morning giving way to steady rain this afternoon. Jorge Lorenzo and Valentino Rossi finished third and sixth in the overall combined standings.
In the dry this morning Lorenzo quickly found a good rhythm on the 5.077 km track, which boasts elevation changes and some spectacular corners and, despite lacking grip in some areas, he was third at the end and confident of improving in the afternoon. Unfortunately the rain meant a change of plan but his standard wet setting worked well and he led for most of the second half, only edged off the top spot by Casey Stoner in the last seconds.
Rossi confirmed yesterday that his leg is now in good shape but his damaged shoulder continues to plague him as he still lacks strength in it. He made a solid start this morning however, enjoying riding his M1 on this circuit and trying various different set-ups to find the best package for its different demands, finishing the morning in sixth. The rain this afternoon eased up the pressure on his shoulder somewhat and he finished the afternoon in fourth position, although he confirms he still prefers the track in the dry and is hoping to make more progress in better conditions tomorrow. The Italian is without his Team Manager Davide Brivio at this race as he is at home recovering from a back injury.
Jorge Lorenzo – Position: 3rd Time: 1’50.928 Laps: 34
“I really like this track, it’s so fun to ride and it is quite different, a new challenge. It is interesting to ride the M1 here after coming here on an R1. We are lacking a bit of grip but I hope we can improve our setting more tomorrow so we can make another step. Unfortunately it rained this afternoon but it was good to get the chance to try our wet setting and it seems our bike was okay in these bad conditions. It was good to have two practice sessions today; even though the overall amount of time is the same over four days, four separate sessions makes it easier to get to know the circuit and what we need in order to be fast here.”
Valentino Rossi – Position: 6th Time: 1’51.769 Laps: 35
“I’m very happy about having four sessions again here and especially today because we got to try the bike in the wet and in the dry. We gathered a lot of information; this morning in the dry I was sixth but this afternoon in the wet I was fourth and I was very pleased because it’s a long time since I tried the bike in the rain. We need to improve our setting because we’re not at the maximum but I am happy about this start. My leg is very good now but my shoulder is giving me some problems and we know we have to manage like this now until the end of the season. It’s easier for the shoulder in the wet but I would still prefer it to be dry because this is a fun track to ride on.”
Wilco Zeelenberg – Team Manager
“This is the first time in a while we’ve had two practices on a Friday and it seemed a bit strange to be riding on a Friday morning! Third in the dry this morning was okay, although we weren’t completely happy with the grip and we need to improve this tomorrow. We used our standard rain set-up this afternoon and it was working well so we have no complaints about this. We hope it’s dry tomorrow so we have the chance to keep working on our race package, because it looks like Sunday will be better weather.”
Jeremy Burgess – Crew Chief
“Valentino likes this track and we didn’t make a bad start this morning. We worked on several different settings so we will put everything together tomorrow, weather permitting, to come up with something that works here. We had very different conditions today which was interesting and Valentino was actually very strong in the rain, so we were pleased with that.”
Spies and Edwards tackle new Motorland Aragon track
The Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Team successfully negotiated new territory today with Ben Spies and Colin Edwards tackling the state-of-art Motorland Aragon track in Spain for the first time in impressive fashion.
The American pairing were instantly impressed with the challenging layout, the 5.078km circuit a blend of blind entry corners, hard braking sections and exciting undulation changes. With Friday morning practice restored to the schedule for the first time since 2008, Spies and Edwards immediately set about tweaking the set-up of their Monster Yamaha Tech 3 machines to suit the new track in an opening 45-minute session run in cool but dry conditions.
Edwards and Spies were ninth and 10th respectively this morning but were presented with a completely different task this afternoon as heavy rain fell just as second practice was due to get underway. The downpour presented the Texan duo with the perfect opportunity to work on wet weather settings with forecasts predicting further rain for tomorrow. Spies in particular was in eye-catching form in the rain, the 26-year-old making a mockery of his lack of MotoGP experience in wet conditions to produce a confident and assured display. He clocked a best time of 2.03.874 to finish in eighth position this afternoon, Spies’ confidence in the wet conditions soaring as he finished less than a second off the top four. Today’s performance boosted Spies’ confidence as he looks to extend his fantastic run of form that has seen him finish top rookie and top non-fa ctory in the last four races. Edwards had a positive opening day too at the start of another landmark weekend for the 36-year-old. The 23-lap race will be his 100th premier class start for Yamaha. Only Valentino Rossi, Carlos Checa and Norick Abe have made more MotoGP appearances for Yamaha than Edwards. Edwards finished 0.114s clear of Spies in this morning’s dry session and he was delighted with his progress in the rain later, a best lap of 2.04.868 putting him 11th on the timesheets.
Colin Edwards – Position: 9thTime: 1’52.027 Laps: 31
“I love the circuit. I’m not sure what I expected but I hoped somebody would have designed something good and that’s obviously what happened. It is a lot of fun to ride and there are a few points that remind me of other tracks. I guess it feels quite similar to Sepang but there’s the reverse Corkscrew, which is pretty cool. Some of the fast corners are a bit like Mugello and overall it is a cool track. It’s not really demanding and it really flows and there are no real slow parts. The important thing is the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 YZR-M1 likes the track too. The bike felt good this morning in the dry and it was turning awesome. There’s not a lot of tight and twisty stuff but when I need that turning, the bike is delivering. And I felt good in the rain this afternoon too. It felt like a long time since we’ve hammered it in the wet but the grip for a new track is really good. I can’t complain about that because sometimes on a new track you get a bit of dirt and dust coming out on top of the surface, but it felt great. I’m happy also to go back to Friday morning practice. I like that format better even if we aren’t getting any extra track time. You can make bigger changes between sessions and it saves on hanging around with nothing to do until the afternoon!”
Ben Spies – Position: 10th Time: 1’52.141 Laps: 36
“I really like the track. It has got some good elevation changes that make it pretty cool and the first couple of corners remind me of Istanbul Park on the video game. You know it is a fun track when you want to stay out and ride and that’s how I felt today. I was pleased with progress in the dry this morning and I’m really happy with how it went in the rain. I just stayed out to get a feeling for the bike in the wet conditions. In Germany earlier in the season I did about three laps in the wet and that’s all my MotoGP experience in the wet since Indianapolis in 2008. It was a bit of an eye opener and it took me a while to get up to speed. But once I got comfortable I felt good. And if we do have to ride in the rain now I’m confident that we’re not miles off. The limits are super high in the rain and my lap times were coming down all session, so now I’ve got my head wrapped around what this bike and tyres can do in the wet, hopefully we can step up again next time.”
— Ducati Report
Casey Stoner and Nicky Hayden completed their first laps of the Motorland circuit in Aragon on their Desmosedici GP10 machines today and were both on the pace in both dry and wet conditions.
With the schedule reverting to four practice sessions this weekend, the Ducati Marlboro pair took to the track under grey skies this morning, with Hayden second fastest and Stoner fourth. The clouds darkened and eventually burst just before the afternoon’s second session, with the Australian the fastest rider on the wet track by over half a second and Hayden again impressive with the third quickest lap.
NICKY HAYDEN – (Ducati Marlboro Team) 2nd (1’50.917)
“I think they’ve built a track they can be proud of. It’s a nice facility, the layout is good and safe. There are some fun sections with blind entries, some fast corners and some slow ones… it’s a nice mix. This morning we were second in the dry and then in the afternoon we were third in the wet so it’s been a good day. Casey looks strong too so it’s good for the team and everybody back at the factory, who are working hard to give us the opportunity to be competitive over the last six races. Hopefully we can pick up the kind of results that they deserve.”
CASEY STONER (Ducati Marlboro Team) 4th (1’51.195)
“In the dry session this morning we were more or less happy with the setting. We had a little problem with the balance of the rear wheel that caused some chattering towards the end of the session otherwise I think we could have been a bit faster. Anyway, we were satisfied with how the morning went. We haven’t had many wet sessions this year so I think everybody had a lot of work to do this afternoon but we made some progress and at this stage I am happy with the setting in both conditions. As for the circuit, it is quite technical and the last corner is quite different but other than that I don’t think it’s anything out of the ordinary.”
— Repsol Honda
Repsol Honda rider Dani Pedrosa was fastest overall in today’s two opening MotoGP practice sessions as the Grand Prix of Aragon – which is a brand new event on the world championship calendar – got under way. In the morning Pedrosa wasted no time in laying down his marker for the weekend by heading straight to the top of the timesheets and staying there for almost the entire 45-minute period, finishing a healthy 0.411s ahead of second placed rider Nicky Hayden. Andrea Dovizioso also slipped smoothly into his stride, joining Pedrosa at the head of the times in the first half of the morning session before dropping back to eighth on his second outing from the pits.
Pedrosa is looking to record his third MotoGP victory in succession this weekend, and on today’s evidence his rivals need to keep a close eye on the 24-year-old Spaniard, who announced a new two-year contract with Honda yesterday. In the afternoon period which began with rain falling steadily, Pedrosa was again consistently quickest in the first half the session and, although he was not on track due to a minor electrical issue when lap times came down significantly on a drying surface in the final ten minutes, Pedrosa had already displayed his pace in both wet and dry conditions today. With the wet afternoon session, today’s fastest times were set in the morning.
Dovizioso and his crew spent the two sessions evaluating set-up options at the track which all the riders are experiencing for the first time on MotoGP machinery. The 24-year-old Italian, who rode here last Wednesday on a Honda CBR1000RR, once again enjoyed the varied and challenging circuit layout, although this afternoon he struggled a little to get fully on the pace in the tricky conditions. With a further practice session tomorrow morning and qualifying in the afternoon, Dovizioso is confident about moving forward in the rankings.
DANI PEDROSA – 1st – 1m 50.506s
“In general this has been a good first day of practice for us at a brand new circuit for MotoGP. This morning we started well and got into a rhythm quickly, which was important because it makes a big difference going from the one hour practice sessions we’re familiar with to 45 minutes. It’s necessary to stay out on track for longer runs and not spend too long in the garage, and this morning we did a good job to maximise our time. This afternoon in the wet we also started pretty well when it was raining properly, but then we had a small electrical problem with one bike and the other machine wasn’t ready to go out, so we lost some time in the garage and I wasn’t on track when the surface was improving at the end. The track is quite technical; it has some difficult turns and you really have to find a good line and also to set up the gearbox properly to be able to make a good lap time. The grip from the track surface feels good and the Bridgestone tyres are also working well so far. I hope we can continue in this positive way tomorrow.”
ANDREA DOVIZIOSO – 8th – 1m 51.845s +1.339s
“Overall the work we did today was positive, although I’m not totally happy with the final lap times we achieved. We started well enough this morning but then we weren’t able to get the maximum from our package, which means we can improve tomorrow. In the morning we began with a good base and actually I’m confident because of this. However, after the good start, we couldn’t improve the lap time this morning because on the second exit we didn’t use new tyres as most riders did. So I think there’s more to come from us in the dry because tyre wear is quite critical here. In the afternoon we struggled a bit in the wet compared to other tracks where we’ve gone well in conditions like this. We needed to change the set-up during the session – and with only 45 minutes available this eats into the available time. The new Aragon track is really nice and it’s good fun to ride. The key characteristic is the downhill braking areas and it has some similarities to the Istanbul circuit with interesting corners and undulations. So I’m looking forward to getting back out there tomorrow.”
TOSHIYUKI YAMAJI – REPSOL HONDA TEAM MANAGER
“It was everybody’s first MotoGP experience of the new Aragon track today and so these two sessions were all about analysing the circuit’s characteristics and closing in on our likely race settings. With Dani finishing fastest overall it has been a good start for us and we’re satisfied with this first day. He had an electrical issue with one machine this afternoon and so we’ll look into the reasons for this, but Dani was fast in both wet and dry conditions and he’s continuing to look very strong. Andrea also has plenty of potential to move forward from today, so we’re quietly confident at this stage.”
— Suzuki Report
Rizla Suzuki’s sole representative at the Motorland Aragon Grand Prix in Spain was happy with his first day’s work after changing weather conditions meant two totally different free practice sessions.
Álvaro Bautista is the only Rizla Suzuki rider present at the new Aragon circuit, due to the absence of Loris Capirossi because of injury. The 25-year-old Spaniard was the busiest rider of the day as he completed a total of 39 laps of the 5,078m track during the two sessions.
Today saw the re-introduction of a Friday morning practice session and Bautista put it to good use as he stayed out on track for as much of the 45-minutes as possible and used only a single pair of tyres as he learnt the layout of the circuit. Heavy rain just before the second session meant the surface was completely wet when Bautista took to the track; he stayed out for the whole session – not returning to the pits once – as he learnt how the Suzuki GSV-R behaved in the wet conditions.
The fastest time of the day was set by one of Bautista’s countrymen; Dani Pedrosa recorded the quickest time in this morning’s dry session on his factory Honda.
Bautista will have another 45-minute practice tomorrow morning, followed by a further 45-minutes in the afternoon to decide grid positions in the qualifying session. Sunday’s 23-lap race will be the inaugural Grand Prix at Aragon and the event will get underway at 14.00hrs local time (12.00hrs GMT).
Álvaro Bautista: “We had the opportunity to ride in both wet and dry conditions today and that was good because we were able to learn a lot about the track. This morning I used the softer option of tyres and at the beginning of the session they worked very well. It is a new track with new reference points so I had to try to push on without really knowing where I was going and I was able to learn the track – I felt good on the bike and the lap-times were pretty good as well. I made a stop in the middle of the session and carried on with the same tyres, but the rear was too soft and I was losing a lot of time from the exit of the corners – so I was unable to improve my lap-time. This was a good session for us though because it meant we learnt that we could not do a race distance with that type of tyre. This afternoon in the wet I just wanted to ride the track and find where the limit was. I rode very quietly and tried not to take too many risks and improve step-by-step. The lap-time was not very fast compared to other riders, but my feeling was good out there. I know I can improve the setting and performance in both wet and dry for tomorrow and I have a lot of confidence that we will make big steps over the weekend whatever the weather.”
Paul Denning – Team Manager: “We are all really impressed with the Aragon Motorland facility. The layout of the racetrack is very challenging and the organisation is second-to-none. There seems to be a real pride around the place and it certainly deserves a Grand Prix event.
“Everybody knows the story regarding Loris and it’s a big disappointment for him not to be here – especially when it is through no fault of his own. That said Álvaro will be determined to wave the flag for Rizla Suzuki – and for his home fans – this weekend. It’s been a solid, if not a spectacular start for him today. He’s always more of a racer that a practice rider, so we have high hopes for him for the rest of the weekend.”
— Bridgestone Report
Bridgestone tyre compounds available: Slick: Front: Medium, Extra Hard. Rear: Soft, Medium Wet: Front: Soft. Rear: Soft
Proceedings were different today at the Grand Prix of Aragon as the Friday morning practice session, scrapped at the end of the 2008 season, was reinstated temporarily as a trial ahead of a potential permanent return next season. Riders not only sampled the Motorland Aragon circuit for the first time on their 800cc MotoGP machines, but they also got to run in both the dry in the morning and the wet in the afternoon session.
Spaniard Dani Pedrosa was fastest in the dry using the softer option front and harder rear slicks, favoured for their greater durability in the dirty track conditions, ahead of Nicky Hayden and Jorge Lorenzo. Hayden was the only rider in the top five to set his best lap on the softer option rear slick at the end of the session.
The afternoon’s free practice session was wet for the duration, giving riders and teams a good opportunity to develop their wet setups after a distinct lack of wet running this season. Casey Stoner finished the 45-minute session fastest, over 0.5 seconds clear of Jorge Lorenzo with Nicky Hayden third. In the morning the track was dirty because it hasn’t been used a great deal recently and the surrounding area is very dusty, and whilst it cleaned throughout the morning sessions, the rain in the afternoon prevented the track conditions from improving further as the rain made the surface greasier still.
Tohru Ubukata – Manager, Bridgestone Motorcycle Tyre Development Department
“In the morning we could evaluate our softer option slicks, but the track was very dirty and that led to slight graining especially of the rear tyres. When a track is dirty this is to be expected though, and as it cleaned throughout the session wear appearance was getting better. It didn’t completely clean in the 45 minutes, and with the rain not helping in the afternoon the track will still have to be cleaned more tomorrow. The harder option rear slicks worked well even in the morning’s cooler conditions which I am pleased about.
“This afternoon’s session was wet throughout and our wet tyres performed consistently, even in the dirty conditions, so I am happy with their performance. Overall, after the first two sessions I can say that all our tyre specs seem to be well suited to this circuit.”