- Round: 3 - Shanghai MotoGP
- Circuit: Shanghai
- Temp: 31ºC
- Weather: Changeable
- Circuit Length: 5451
Gauloises Yamaha Team riders Valentino Rossi and Colin Edwards got their first true taste of the Shanghai International Circuit on a tentative first day of action at the inaugural Grand Prix of China today. With the riders using the first free practice session to learn the track layout in the morning, they were denied the opportunity to improve their set-up and lap times in the afternoon due to damp and muggy conditions.
Both Rossi and Edwards took things carefully in the second session, with a spell of light rain, ambient temperatures reaching 31ºC and humidity levels of 76% all making grip levels very unpredictable. The pair set the sixth and eighth fastest times respectively this afternoon, with the constantly changing conditions making life difficult for their Gauloises Yamaha engineers. However the team still took the opportunity to collect a wide range of data, which may prove especially useful with variable weather forecast for the rest of the weekend.
A dry line did begin to form at the end of the session but never enough to allow the riders to challenge Nicky Hayden (Honda) for the best time of the day. Hayden clocked a lap of 2'02.327 in the morning session, which was delayed by two and a half hours due to a technical problem with the circuit's medical helicopter.
It proved to be a complicated day for Fortuna Yamaha duo Toni Elias and Rubén Xaus; the former felt that the poor weather seriously hindered his ability to make the most of the new track, with it being such a technical circuit and this being the Rookie's learning year. Meanwhile Xaus felt good in both the wet and the dry and was looking forward to day two.
Valentino Rossi (Gauloises Yamaha Team) 5th, 2'02.677
"My first impressions of the circuit yesterday were very good but after riding on it today I must admit it wasn't as much fun as I expected. It is actually quite tight and technical and is very much a Formula 1 track, so all the riders have a lot of hard work to do finding the right setting for the bikes here. It is not ideal for a MotoGP bike. Also the conditions in the afternoon were strange because the track was warm but it wouldn't dry, so it was like half and half. It was a shame because the asphalt is good and there is plenty of grip in the dry. As far as the setting is concerned we are having some problems in the fast corners. We hope it is dry tomorrow because we have a bit of work to do and also some of my rivals are very fast in the wet. Personally I would really prefer it if it doesn't rain on Sunday."
Colin Edwards (Gauloises Yamaha Team) 13th, 2'03.799
"I spent the morning just trying to find my braking markers and pick the best racing line, but when I got fired up and went for a fast lap I ran off the track, so my time wasn't as good as it could have been. The conditions completely changed in the afternoon but it looks like we haven't seen the last of the rain this weekend, so I guess it was a good chance for us to make some preparations for a wet race. This is an awesome place but the track is not what I expected. It doesn't really link together and it's kind of split up into four separate sections. This is probably as good a result as we could have expected at this stage of the weekend - there's plenty more to come."
Davide Brivio, Gauloises Yamaha Team director
"We know the conditions are the same for everybody but at the same time the weather today made our job a lot more difficult because it's a new circuit and we're just trying to find a basic set-up. Anyway, there is a good possibility it will rain on Sunday so this was a good chance for us to try some different conditions. Apart from the long back straight the circuit is tighter and slower than we expected. We made some changes to the setting of the bike and the gearbox, from the morning to the afternoon but it was impossible to compare the data because of the change in conditions. Hopefully they'll be more consistent tomorrow."
Toni Elias (Fortuna Yamaha Team) 14th, 2'04.381
"In the morning we didn't do too much work because first of all we needed to learn the track. It's new for everybody, but a track as technical as this one is difficult to learn in just one session. You need more time, and the track to be dry of course. It rained in the afternoon, but the track was never completely dry or wet, making it hard to learn the lines. If it continues to rain tomorrow I hope it pours down so we can work with the full wet settings. I don't dislike the track, there's only one line around it and it's complicated, but it's very modern."
Ruben Xaus (Fortuna Yamaha Team) 16th, 2'05.490
"In the second free practice we had a few technical problems on one of the machines, and it coincided with the rain. Later we weren't sure whether to put on slicks or cut slicks, and when I went out with the latter the feeling was pretty good. I even had a few riders following behind me. We are pushing hard and to be fair, with the track as wet as it was in certain places, it was best to be cautious. The track has lots of grip, but if you go too far you can easily fly off it, so it's important to go sensibly. Generally I feel good. During the morning free we didn't get the gearing quite right, but we still kept bringing our times down. It's a shame that we couldn't test what we wanted in the afternoon, but we'll see what happens tomorrow."