- Round: 7 - 2006 MotoGP Catalunya
- Circuit: Catalunya
- Temp: 25°C
- Weather: Dry
Camel Yamaha Team rider Valentino Rossi followed on from the joy of home victory at Mugello two weeks ago with an encouraging start to proceedings at round seven of the MotoGP World Championship in Barcelona. The Italian set the quickest time on the first day of free practice, overcoming delicately damp conditions in the afternoon to dislodge Kenny Roberts (Team KR) from the top of the time sheets after the American had set the pace in a stifling hot and humid morning session, run on a completely dry track.
The threat of rain finally materialised in the shape of a brief lunchtime thunderstorm, which affected conditions for the afternoon and meant that Rossi was one of only a handful of riders to improve their overall times. Rossi's team-mate Colin Edwards was unable to do so but he made swift progress as he worked with the updated version of the 2006 YZR-M1 chassis in both his machines for the first time. Encouraging test results with the new frame in tests at Mugello were confirmed in the first session, when he clocked the second fastest lap behind Roberts, and his effort was enough to leave him fourth fastest on the combined practice time sheets.
Valentino Rossi (1st - 1'42.837; 33 laps);
"I'm very pleased because we have done a lot of hard work today and the lap times are good. Earlier in the season we were losing time in practice trying to solve the vibration problems but now we are able to work in a normal way thanks to the new chassis. It means we can use every minute of the session to work on the tyres and the set-up for the race. Really this bike is only four hours old so for it to already be working so well is a big encouragement and a good sign for the future. I love this circuit and it is great fun to ride the M1 here but we still have some work to do tomorrow, especially on finding some more front grip. There are two or three riders looking very strong at this track and it looks like it will be another great battle on Sunday."
Colin Edwards (4th - 1'43.197; 43 laps);
"That wasn't so bad. After a lot of hard work over the past few races we've finally been able to find a direction to work in and stick with so we're making progress and not wasting any time. During the pre-season tests here we were quick in the wet but not so much in the dry, so it's encouraging to see that we are making progress so quickly with the new frame. I've basically got the same bike and settings as Valentino, which worked for us in Mugello and seem to be working here. We made some real progress at the Mugello test and I've been really looking forward to coming here and making it count. No doubt the other riders will get faster tomorrow if the rain stays away but we have a good margin for improvement at such an early stage of development so if we can keep working hard and moving forward then we have a chance."
Davide Brivio - Camel Yamaha Team Director "We have come here this weekend with a very different bike to what we had in the official tests back in March but things have been quite good from the start. We still have some work to do and some solutions to find, especially with Colin, because the bike is at an early stage and we still have to fully understand the best way with the setting. So far the situation is good and, as Valentino says, it is good for us to be able to work in a normal way from the first session, without wasting time trying to eliminate the vibrations. We're expecting it to rain tomorrow but we're happy with the work we got through today and now we'll just wait and see what happens."
Carlos Checa (11th, 1'43.617, 40 laps);
"The starting point for the weekend is pretty good. This afternoon we did some endurance laps with a race tyre we thought can work and we did 50% of the race distance on the same tyre. At this stage it's acceptable and it's better than the last two races, especially the last one. We have something else to test tomorrow because today the track conditions for me weren't perfect with the rain. I also tested a qualifying tyre during the second session which didn't really work for us but at least we know that for tomorrow. The main target for us is the tyres and I am quite comfortable with the bike but you know there is always something to work on. I want to make sure the tyre we will use will be consistent enough to do at least 80% of the race in good condition. We are closer to the front than before but always it is relative - it depends where you're coming from and we're coming from the back. Of course to be in 11th and to be a second from the top guys - especially at this circuit which is not easy on tyres - gives us good energy and motivation. Today is one of those days when you can see positive things.
I really hope we can do well this weekend because I have family and friends here plus I have a lot of memories here so hopefully we will be able to get a good result to keep everyone happy and keep moving in a forward direction.
James Ellison (17th 1'45.616, 39aps);
"At the minute things are pretty positive with the tyres but I have no real feeling in the front. My braking is fine but turning in, it is chattering hard. It's like the suspension has been turned off! We have a few plans to change a few things to the chassis. I am not too unhappy about it but the only time I'm really happy is when I'm at the front. The tyres are working well, we have plenty of grip in the rear now, it's just a matter of getting a few things sorted so I have some more confidence pushing into the corners. We are progressing in the tyres; they are doing a very good job. It's my job now to work on the bike.
Herve Poncharal - Tech3 Yamaha Team Director;
"This morning was a very good result for us as Carlos was eighth fastest. This afternoon we did quite a lot of laps with a new tyre we tested for the first time the day after the race in Mugello. We have done half a race so far and found a good pace on the tyre and that is what we need to find. We have an ok lap time but we need to find some consistency and this is what we have missed the last few races. We are improving. Carlos has high motivation and expectations here because he knows the track and it is his home Grand Prix. I think if the weather stays dry and stable.
Dani Pedrosa: "Today went ok, and we were lucky because it was raining at lunchtime but we had almost a full dry practice this afternoon. We'll see if the weather stays sunshine. Normally on Friday we are not so fast so I'm happy with where we are - the fact that I've ridden the bike here before probably helps. Still, we have a long way to go and a lot of work to do tomorrow because for sure everyone will improve. I think the set-up is not so bad and the lap-times are good but we'll have to see how the laptimes improve tomorrow and see what the weather does. The conditions are much better than the test here in March, because then it was very cold. There are already many fans here, and tomorrow I think we will see the grandstands will be almost full - I think they will enjoy it!"
Nicky Hayden: "Obviously we're not thrilled with our position today and the bottom line is we're not fast enough here right now. I think we kind of went down a bit of a wrong path this morning so we'll go back to something different tomorrow morning. Actually I've been in this position a lot on Friday and I definitely believe in the guys around me so we'll come up with some ideas to help us a lot tomorrow. It's mainly in the long corners that I don't have enough corner speed - the front feels like it wants to run wide and the rear wants to spin a lot. There are a lot of long corners here and if you're slow in those corners you lose a lot of time. So we'll sit down and try to make a big step up in the morning.
Loris Capirossi, 8th fastest, 1m 43.433s;
"We had some rain today, as we've had at pretty much every race so far this year, but in general it was quite a positive day for us. So far I'm not 100 per cent satisfied with my bike set-up, which we need to adapt to the tyres. However, I'm feeling focused, confident and ready to use tomorrow's two hours of track time to find a good solution for Sunday. I ended this afternoon's session with a 12-lap run and I'm pretty satisfied with my race pace. I did a lot of 43s, which is not at all bad. We always knew that this track would be more difficult for us than the others but we are doing okay, and, most important of all, we are much better here than we were last year."
Sete Ginernau, 12th fastest, 1m 43.617s;
"We started here with basically the same set-up we ran at Mugello but we need to find a little more. I think the bike/tyre package is better here than it was before, though we are still getting quite a lot of wheelspin out of the turns, so the bike isn't driving out of the corners, which is important at any racetrack but especially here because there are a lot of long corners. The team and I are therefore working together to try and find a better set-up that will help the tyres. I've got one more rear to test tomorrow which is probably the best of the ones I didn't try today, so we'll see how that goes. Spidi have made a great job of fixing my boots, so my thanks to them."
Marco Melandri (1'43"500, 9th):
"We've worked well during both free
practice sessions today and I am happy with the data we gathered. We
started out with thye same base setting as Mugello, making just a few
small changes. We did some tyre tests and gathered some good information
so I am feeling calm and motivated. We have made good progress so I am
not worried about being in ninth place. We have worked well for the race
and now I am feeling confident and looking forward to being competitive
in qualifying tomorrow."
Toni Elias (1'43"937, 14th):
"We've tried a few different solutions with
the setting over the course of the two sessions. We've made another step
forward since Mugello and my feeling with the bike has improved. I'm
looking forward to the race and I'm sure the team can help me find the
right compromise to adapt the bike better to my home circuit. This is a
very important GP for me - your home race is always special and I would
like to put on a good show for the Spanish fans."
Makoto Tamada - Konica Minolta Honda Rider;
"Here I counted to find again the same positive sensations I had in Mugello during the test held after the Italian GP. Up to now, I did not have the conditions to be able to ride incisively in the acceleration phases when exiting the long corners characterizing in particular the second and fourth sector of this track. Now we have to deeply analyse our data to understand how to improve."
"Obviously a better start to a Grand Prix weekend than we've had recently. It's very hot and humid here, but we did lose a bit of track-time today to the rain - which is not unusual this year! Suzuki has brought some modifications here to Catalunya and that has helped a little bit for the long straight, but we are still a bit down on power compared to the other bikes. Bridgestone have got some great tyres here and the bike is working very well, it's very consistent and I can do a lot of laps at a similar time. Hopefully we can get it even better tomorrow and I can get a good qualifying position."
"It's good to be back at Barcelona. We had a really good winter test here and everything fells pretty good today. Unfortunately we had another half and half session this afternoon and we lost a bit of time there - it seems like we haven't had a day at the races this year without a bit of rain! We had a lot of things to get through this afternoon but that was cut short. Overall though everything's just getting better and better for us and let's hope tomorrow is going to be dry because I think we have a good chance of running up front here this weekend."
Randy de Puniet: 12th - 1'43.784;
"Conditions were hot out there today, and I expended some energy chasing a fast lap time towards the end of the session. I had a good feeling on the bike, and my last run was good, so I was a little disappointed to finish today outside the top ten. At the moment I have some problems through the second split; I need to look at my lines through this section of the track to see where I can save some time. We're less than a second from pole position at the moment and I'm confident that, with the help of my crew, I'll be able to close the gap further on the leaders tomorrow."
Shinya Nakano: 13th - 1'43.937;
"The rain just before practice meant that we were 20 minutes into the session before it was possible to start testing the different rear tyres we have for this round. In the end we tested three rear slicks and the last one felt pretty good overall. Our main problem today was with stability under braking; the bike just didn't inspire confidence going into the turns, with the result that I had to brake earlier to make sure the bike was settled before turning in. This lost me a lot of time. Tonight we will look at changing the balance of the bike to improve stability, and with more confidence in the bike under braking, I'm sure that we can improve our position during practice tomorrow."
Alex Hofmann #66 (18th - 1'45.912):
"Today we made a lot of tests, especially on the race tyres, but also on the general set-up. Our biggest aim is to have a good rhythm for the race and that's why we're concentrating ourselves almost exclusively on this. For tomorrow, we still have one new tyre to test, then we will work on the set-up and on the suspensions of our DUCATI, to find a more adequate balance and more general stability. We're still very far from the other riders during the races, and that's why we prefer to work on the race configuration more than on the lap time, not only for this Sunday's race but for the whole season's races".
Jose Luis Cardoso #30 (19th - 1'46.207):
"From this morning, we made some changes on the motorcycle but without getting the results I would have hoped. We need to compare all the data, study all the details and program the work to make tomorrow. This is a very important race as we're in my country, in Spain, and I would like to obtain a good result in front of my public".
- 1. V. Rossi, Yamaha (ITA) 1' 42.837
- 2. K. Roberts, Team Roberts KR (USA) 1' 42.930
- 3. D. Pedrosa, Honda (ESP) 1' 43.036
- 4. C. Vermeulen, Suzuki (AUS) 1' 43.308
- 5. C. Stoner, Honda (AUS) 1' 43.380
- 6. C. Edwards, Yamaha (USA) 1' 43.382
- 7. J. Hopkins, Suzuki (USA) 1' 43.421
- 8. L. Capirossi, Ducati (ITA) 1' 43.433
- 9. M. Melandri, Honda (ITA) 1' 43.500
- 10. S. Gibernau, Ducati (ESP) 1' 43.617
- 11. N. Hayden, Honda (USA) 1' 43.654
- 12. R. De Puniet, Kawasaki (FRA) 1' 43.784
- 13. S. Nakano, Kawasaki (JPN) 1' 43.937
- 14. M. Tamada, Honda (JPN) 1' 43.944
- 15. T. Elias, Honda (ESP) 1' 43.999
- 16. C. Checa, Yamaha (ESP) 1' 44.059
- 17. J. Ellison, Yamaha (GBR) 1' 45.616