Gauloises Yamaha Team riders Valentino Rossi and Colin Edwards got their first taste of the Istanbul Park circuit today as bright sunshine and moderate temperatures welcomed the MotoGP World Championship to Turkey for the first time. The riders had an extra half hour of free practice this morning as they aimed to get to grips with the new track, which proved to be somewhat trickier than expected, with several riders running off the circuit throughout the day.
Rossi and Edwards were amongst those to make minor miscalculations this morning, the Italian missing his braking marker and running into the gravel traps on two occasions and the American losing the front end of his YZR-M1 and sliding off completely. Edwards' eventful day continued in the afternoon when an engine problem resulted in a small fire that warmed his ankles but brought no serious damage to either the rider or machine.
Despite the setback Edwards set the seventh fastest lap of the day over the two sessions, two places behind Rossi on the combined time sheets, which were headed by Marco Melandri (Honda).
Valentino Rossi (5th - 1'55.078);
"The track is not so bad - very similar to China but with more up and down and our problems today are similar to the ones we had there. There are some long, fast corners and also some slow hairpins; it is difficult to find the right setting. The bike is not working as well as we would like and we couldn't be at the top. There is quite a lot of damage to the surface in the hard-braking areas from the Formula 1 and there are a lot of bumps.
Our problem is mainly with the front end; we need to understand this to be able to ride the bike at the maximum. Anyway, it is only the first day at a new track so it is not so bad - tomorrow we will try and understand things a bit better."
Colin Edwards (7th - 1'55.171);
"The crash this morning was a strange one; I felt like I was actually going slower than I had done on the previous lap but then the front end just went away. I guess you have to put it down to this being a new track. The bike was still running on its side for quite a while before I could get over and shut it off, which seems to have been what caused the problem with the engine in the afternoon - these things are designed to run standing up!
As far as the track is concerned, it's pretty cool; I like it. The first seven turns are awesome, although I'm not too sure about that last section, it's a bit too slow for my liking and I reckon it would be better if they took the right hand kink out of it. I would like to be a second quicker but we lost a little bit of time compared to the other guys with the problems we had today so hopefully we can have an incident-free day tomorrow and make the most of both sessions."
Davide Brivio - Gauloises Yamaha Team Director;
"Today we made an uphill start! Colin had a small crash in the morning and in general both riders were struggling for the lap times, but they will come. This is a new track and Friday is basically the opportunity to check things and see which is the best way to work. We have collected a lot of information from both riders and the job for the team now is to look everything over tonight and see how we can improve the bikes for tomorrow. It is a pleasure for the team to be competing in a new country like Turkey so hopefully we can enjoy the success here that we have had at other circuits this season."
- 1. M. Melandri, Honda - 1' 53.506
- 2. S. Gibernau, Honda - 1' 53.945
- 3. N. Hayden, Honda - 1' 54.774
- 4. S. Nakano, Kawasaki - 1' 55.015
- 5. V. Rossi, Yamaha - 1' 55.078
- 6. C. Checa, Ducati - 1' 55.171
- 7. C. Edwards, Yamaha - 1' 55.172
- 8. T. Elias, Yamaha - 1' 55.208
- 9. J. Hopkins, Suzuki - 1' 55.292
- 10. M. Biaggi, Honda - 1' 55.478
- 11. M. Tamada, Honda - 1' 55.657
- 12. A. Barros, Honda - 1' 55.670
- 13. O. Jacque, Kawasaki - 1' 55.925
- 14. C. Vermeulen, Honda - 1' 56,665.000
- 15. R. Rolfo, Ducati - 1' 56.865
- 16. S. Ito, Ducati - 1' 5,691.000
- 17. R. Xaus, Yamaha - 1' 57.058