Camel Yamaha Team racers Valentino Rossi and Colin Edwards began preparations for the Grand Prix of Portugal with an intense day of work on the set-up of their YZR-M1 machines at Estoril today. Dust and dirt lifted by recent modifications at the track made for slippery conditions in the morning, whilst warmer temperatures than those normally experienced here in the afternoon tempted the teams into experimenting with their race setting and made it a challenging day at the office for the riders.
Rossi was the fastest rider out of the blocks in the opening session, the Italian's best time of 1'39.398 leaving him two tenths clear of nearest challenger Loris Capirossi (Ducati), with Edwards less than a second adrift of his team-mate. The American, working off data gathered by Rossi at the recent Motegi test, slashed his times in the afternoon, although the Italian found progress more difficult to come by as he tried a variety of different set-up options ahead of tomorrow's final free practice and qualifying sessions.
The fastest lap of the day was set by Australian rookie Casey Stoner (Honda) with a time of 1'38.218, just 0.050 seconds ahead of series leader Nicky Hayden (Honda).
Colin Edwards (6th - 1'38.779; 47 laps);
"After we made such good progress at Motegi we just brought the same set-up here and pulled the bike off the truck this morning. However this track is quite different to Japan; there every corner is pretty much flat but here there are some banked turns, so we needed some time to understand how the setting from the Motegi test could translate and work for us here. Anyway we've definitely made progress throughout the day and we were much faster this afternoon than this morning, so we're moving in the right direction. We need to sit down and talk about the next steps tonight, then with any luck we can come out fighting tomorrow morning with everything in place."
Valentino Rossi (8th - 1'38.826; 43 laps);
"Today we've tried several different things with our bike, trying to find the best compromise for the track. In the morning we immediately went well and we were fast from the start. Then this afternoon we weren't able to find the perfect tyre, so we need to do quite a lot more work in this area. Then we lost a bit of time because we had a problem with our first bike and so needed to set the second bike up quickly and so we only had time for three more laps before the session finished. I saw that Nicky was very quick so it's definitely going to be hard this weekend! Anyway despite these problems it's been a good start to the day overall and I am quite pleased. We have a lot of work to do tomorrow but I think it's going to be a good fight!"
Davide Brivio - Camel Yamaha Team Director;
"That was an interesting day to start off the weekend. Valentino started very well this morning and then in the afternoon we tried a different way with the setting of the bike. It was very interesting and helpful to compare the two sets of information and results - hopefully it will enable us to find the best setting tomorrow. Colin was also quite good today; we're trying to use the good results from the Motegi test to help him find a comfortable setting here. It's been a good day all round. Hopefully we can continue to make improvements with both Valentino and Colin tomorrow and make sure they are competitive for both the qualifying practice and the race."
Nicky Hayden, 57 laps, 238.37 Km: "I'd say that's by far the best Friday I've had in quite a few races, and definitely the best start I've had at Estoril, so it's been a positive day. I came out this morning and had a pretty good feeling on the bike straight away. The team did a good job with the bike and we worked well together today. The bike felt better out the gate than it's felt for a while which allowed me to ride it hard and get a good feeling - so we'll see if we can make the steps tomorrow that we need. It's exciting to be a part of this championship and I'm just going to try and have fun and enjoy the ride. It's important and I definitely know what this means - I need two really good races. So I'll just try to be smart, not make any mistakes and see what happens."
Dani Pedrosa, 53 laps, 221.64 Km: "Today we had a great practice. We were trying to more or less find the right tyres and the best bike settings. Of course we still have to improve some things though, and I hope to make some further improvements tomorrow. I feel much better now on the bike, both physically and mentally, than I have in the last couple of races. It's quite different to riding the 250 here because the MotoGP bike moves around a lot more on the track. This is a very tricky track and it's not so easy to get a good lap time. There are still some secrets to the track which I must discover on this bike."
Sete Gibernau, Ducati Marlboro Team, 7th fastest, 1m 38.815s;
"Today wasn't too bad but we are struggling a bit. My shoulder is hurting again which isn't good, it didn't hurt at the last three races but maybe it got sore during those races. Anyway the bike is improving but we are lacking edge grip here. We went through some tyres today, we're chipping away at the problem and hopefully Bridgestone will help us out tomorrow with some different tyres. I am focusing on their new-profile rear slick here. As soon as I pick up the bike out of the turns I've got good traction but we are lacking grip through the corners, and that affects the whole bike, turning and everything. It costs us time everywhere, through the long, final turn and through all the tight turns, where you need edge grip to keep your corner speed."
Loris Capirossi, Ducati Marlboro Team, 12th fastest, 1m 39.637s;
"After this morning's first session I thought we would be much faster this afternoon but the changes we made to the set-up evidently didn't work the way we expected them to work. In fact I couldn't even match my times from this morning. During the afternoon session we focused on improving the set-up, running with the same tyres without really looking for lap times. I would have been faster with new tyres but I just wanted to fix the bike. Anyway, our package wasn't competitive today but Sete was pretty fast so I'm sure we'll be able to fix everything for tomorrow. The modifications they made to the track are okay, with much improved run-off following the chicane and the new tarmac is better too."
"It's definitely been a pretty decent start to the weekend for us. We've got through a lot of stuff and really started to get into some tyre testing today. Unfortunately it was a bit dirty on the track this morning, but it was a lot better this afternoon and we got a lot of laps in. We found something right at the end of this afternoon's session that helped us to go almost a second a lap quicker and we are really happy about that. We need to improve on that tomorrow and climb higher up in the field!"
Toni Elias (11th, 1'39"217): "I'm not happy with this first day. I was
hoping to be much higher up the order but the crash in the afternoon
cost me a lot of time. It was my mistake - I went to deep and lost the
front. I'm disappointed to be down in eleventh place because I like this
track and we were unlucky today. Anyway, I'm confident that we can
improve tomorrow and if everything goes to plan we can make a major step
Marco Melandri (crash): "It's a shame about the crash because we were
doing a good job. I probably went a bit too deep and ran onto the green
painted strip on the outside of the corner, It was a fast crash but it
was a hard one and I bashed the inside of my left knee. I'm ok but I
feel weak right now. The knee is really painful but thankfully the
X-rays haven't shown up any breaks."
"It's my first time at Estoril and the track was quite slippery this morning. It's a newly modified track for this year, but that didn't bother me as I'd never been before anyway! The crew worked really well today - they gave me a great bike to start with. I just basically went out and did a lot of laps to try to get into a rhythm and learn the track. I was just trying to go quicker and quicker all the time and my last lap today was my fastest. We have some ideas for tomorrow and with a good night's sleep I'll come back and go quicker tomorrow."
Carlos Checa (4th, 1'38.503, 50 laps);
That was a very good day for us and I feel a lot better than I did at this time during the last Grand Prix at Motegi. We are getting back to where we were at Phillip Island so that is making the entire team feel a lot more positive. We did put a soft tyre in at the end which gave us a better lap time and with race tyres they are working quite a bit better as well. I think we can also improve our times and position tomorrow. Side grip has been a problem for us all year but it has improved as well because coming onto the straight we are on the side of the tyre for a very long time and the performance of the Dunlop tyres to give us strong drive in this situation is very encouraging. The new surface and asphalt still needs to be worked a bit more to get better grip as this morning the track was very slippery but I feel that we are now in a strong position after the first day so that we can build on this performance."
James Ellison (17th 1'40.661, 50 laps);
"It's going better this afternoon but this morning was a bit of a disaster with a messy surface as there are many new pieces of bitumen and we were testing different tyres, I was testing compounds and Carlos tested different constructions and hopefully we will meet somewhere in the middle so we were deciding which way to go. We found something this afternoon and this was a lot better because I managed to drop a lot in our lap times and my fastest lap was my final one. I tried a qualifier and we now also know which direction to go with them as well We're at a new circuit again testing tyres for Dunlop so it was another slow start but I'm fairly happy with the progress we are making so hopefully we can improve on everything tomorrow"
Alex Hofmann #66 (18th - 1'41.146): "Today we worked a lot but tomorrow won't be easier, we need to verify many things on the set-up. I need more feeling with the rear to be able to ride the motorcycle as I want to. Resolving this difficulty will be our priority tomorrow. We must analyze all the data we collected today and then work on the set-up, to adapt it the most possible to the tyres, which are suffering a lot here. I'm really motivated, tomorrow we will need to make a big step ahead to reach the other riders and to be in the conditions to make a good race. I'm really looking forward to it".
Jose Luis Cardoso #30 (20th - 1'42.319): "From this morning, there were improvements but this is not enough. Tomorrow, we will go on working on the set-up, we need more grip on the rear. There are still many variations to test and I'm sure we will keep on improving. With my Team, we will make our best not to disappoint all the public that will be present to follow me on Sunday; living about 400km from here, this is nearly a "home" race for me".
Shinya Nakano: 10th - 1'39.161;
"Track conditions were far from ideal today. The resurfacing work means there are fewer bumps than before, but the track is still very dusty, and this made it difficult to find the grip we need to assess our tyre options for Sunday's race. The lack of grip also makes it a little difficult to evaluate fully the revised suspension components we are running on my Ninja ZX-RR this weekend. Already I can feel an improvement in the stability of the bike under heavy braking - of which there is a lot here - we still need to refine the set-up further for the fast corners, as it was a struggle to get the bike turned at speed today. We know we have a good base setting, so I'm not so worried about my lap times today; when the track surface cleans off a little more tomorrow then I'm confident that the lap times will come."
Makoto Tamada - Konica Minolta Honda Rider (15° - 1'40.214");
"Today I have been slowed down by persistent rear instability of my Honda RC211V. We tried to work on the rear tyre and suspension without finding a solution. In the end, I think it is due to the way the tires I used on this track work. Tomorrow, I hope to make a decisive step ahead using new adjustments and different tires."
Randy de Puniet: 14th - 1'40.096;
"Today was not so good for us. This morning we were struggling for rear grip, and the changes we made to our set-up for this afternoon's session didn't give us the improvement we were expecting. For sure, the track surface is still very dusty, but out of the turns the power seems to be coming in a little too hard, and the lack of grip means the rear is spinning up almost immediately. I know it's possible for me to go at least one second faster if I can get the rear to hook up out of the corners, so we need to come up with a solution for this problem ahead of tomorrow's practice and qualifying sessions. The track surface will also improve the more laps we do tomorrow, and this should, hopefully, make things a little easier for us."
- 1. Casey Stoner, Honda (AUS) 1'38.218
- 2. Nicky Hayden, Honda (USA) 1'38.268
- 3. Kenny Roberts, Team Robert KR (USA) 1'38.337
- 4. Carlos Checa, Yamaha (ESP) 1'38.503
- 5. Daniel Pedrosa, Honda (ESP) 1'38.586
- 6. Colin Edwards, Yamaha (USA) 1'38.779
- 7. Sete Gibernau, Ducati (ESP) 1'38.815
- 8. Valentino Rossi, Yamaha (ITA) 1'38.826
- 9. John Hopkins, Suzuki (USA) 1'39.007
- 10. Shinya Nakano, Kawasaki (JPN) 1'39.161
- 11. Toni Elias, Honda (ESP) 1'39.217
- 12. Loris Capirossi, Ducati (ITA) 1'39.637
- 13. Chris Vermeulen, Suzuki (AUS) 1'39.907
- 14. Randy De Puniet, Kawasaki (FRA) 1'40.096
- 15. Makato Tamada, Honda (JPN) 1'40.214
- 17. James Ellison, Yamaha (GBR) 1'40.661