After a wet race in France, Fiat Yamaha Team riders Valentino Rossi and Colin Edwards had slightly better hopes for the weather in Italy this weekend but torrential rain throughout this afternoon put paid to that and the riders once again found themselves splashing around a soaking track doing their best to stay upright. Unfortunately this was a task Rossi could not quite manage today and the Italian slid off in the last seconds of the session when on his way to setting what looked like being the fastest lap of the afternoon, luckily emerging from the gravel trap unhurt.
As a result of this afternoon's downpour the fastest times of the day were set in this morning's dry Free Practice, when Rossi was second fastest behind Dani Pedrosa. The home-favourite was pleased with the initial performance of his Yamaha and is confident of making further improvements tomorrow as he works towards a record sixth consecutive home-race victory on Sunday. Edwards meanwhile ran into a few unexpected issues this morning and could only manage 16th in the dry, although a solid performance in the wet saw him finish the second session seventh fastest. Despite the problems this morning he and his team are clear about the next step and the Texan is planning a dramatic improvement in the dry tomorrow before he bids to put his M1 on the front row for the fifth time this season.
Valentino Rossi - Position: 2ndTime: 1'50.901Laps: 34;
"This weather isn't really what we expect in Mugello! I'm quite happy today however because this morning in the dry I was already fast, setting some good lap times and finishing second. We still need to improve the setting a little bit but I think we're going in the right way. We tried some new tyres that we found during the Le Mans test and they weren't so bad, so hopefully we can improve things more tomorrow. I'm happy about this afternoon's session in the wet too because I was also very fast! I think if I hadn't crashed it would have been possible to have finished on top, so I'm sorry about that. It was my mistake! I arrived a little bit too fast at the braking and went down but I was lucky; I didn't hurt myself and the bike is not so bad. Anyway it was a good session because now we understand that we can fight with our tyre rivals also in the wet, if we choose the right tyre. Now let's hope for some sunshine tomorrow!"
Colin Edwards - Position: 16thTime: 1'52.630Laps: 35;
"We found something new with Michelin during the Le Mans test which we thought would work here and we basically dedicated the entire morning to it, but unfortunately it didn't work quite how we were hoping! In a way it was lucky for us that it rained this afternoon because it meant that we didn't have to start digging into our dry tyre allocation and we won't be in too much trouble tomorrow. We know what we've got to do so I think we'll be okay. This afternoon was quite simply unbelievable, especially when I first went out. I was hydroplaning at 180mph coming over the top of the hill down the main straight which was quite scary! Anyway it was useful, especially after the problems we had in Le Mans and it gave us the chance to check the rain setting of the bike and try to work on a few issues. I think we made some improvements and now we just need to keep on working in that way each time we get a chance in the wet."
Davide Brivio - Team Director;
"Unfortunately the rain this afternoon called a halt to the work we had started this morning, but we can't do anything about that! Valentino was quite fast this morning and he made a good start, although we still have some more work to do on the setting and tyres. With Colin we really needed more time this afternoon to check the bike and tyres after things didn't go exactly to plan this morning, but we should be able to improve things tomorrow. Today was meant to be the worst day for the weather so hopefully it will get better from now on and tomorrow will be more like the Mugello we know!"
Casey Stoner, 4th fastest, 1m 51.356s (rain: 2m 07.107s);
"The wet is no real drama for me, at Le Mans we didn't really have the perfect setting, we definitely gained experience from that, so we changed the wet setting a bit and definitely made improvements, so I feel a lot more comfortable now. I came in after three or four laps this afternoon because it kept raining and getting wetter, so I said that's enough for now, it was getting too much. You can go around but it's not safe and you're not learning anything, so I thought it better to come in and wait for the right time to go out again. This morning we weren't too bad in the dry - race pace was pretty good straight away. For sure we can improve the bike. We need to improve traction a little bit, which we did this morning, and we need to improve the turning a bit because I don't have the same sensitivity I've had at other tracks. We pretty much know what settings we need to change to make it turn a bit harder and we should be all right, so it's looking good wet or dry."
"We got another wet one today! It was good to have a completely wet session where we could work in detail on the bikes, and we managed to get a really good rain set-up towards the end. The standing water started to subside a bit, I got behind Chris and was able to get into a good rhythm - it worked out pretty well. I tried both bikes in the rain with different settings and we got a really good feeling from them. I was also pleased with the direction that we went this morning. We were comfortable and the Bridgestone tyre that I used showed good consistency and grip. So whatever the weather is over the rest of the weekend - wet or dry - we're going to be ready and I've got a really good feeling about Mugello!"
"We got a bit of both today with the wet and dry. I thought I would struggle a bit here, but I went quite quickly in this morning's dry session. It took me a few laps to get familiar with the track, but we learnt a lot about the bike and we have some ideas to try if it is dry tomorrow. This afternoon it was very wet, which was good because although the bike worked well in Le Mans it wasn't perfect and we had a few things we needed to try. We tested a couple of rain parts and we certainly made some progress. I am pretty confident about the rest of the weekend, but we'll have to wait and see what the weather does."
Loris Capirossi, 9th fastest, 1m 51.803s (rain: 2m 10.220s);
"We learned a lot today. This morning we compared the new engine spec against the standard spec. I think the new stuff has potential, the power delivery is already smoother at low revs and we can improve it a lot more. This afternoon we worked on the new spec, making some improvements, but clearly the track conditions weren't the best for this kind of work, even though the track wasn't so bad considering how hard it was raining. There was so much water on the main straight that the rear tyre was spinning a lot even when I shifted into sixth. We still have a few things to fix but that's normal when you have a lot of new ideas to test. I'm generally pretty happy with today but I really hope we get two dry sessions tomorrow so we can continue setting up the new spec. If not, we probably won't race with it on Sunday."
Nicky Hayden - 1'51.720s (dry), 2'12.466s (wet), 35 laps, 184 Km;
"In the morning the track conditions were OK and we got a decent direction on our set-up options. This afternoon the track was really treacherous at the beginning with a lot of standing water.
After Le Mans I didn't have such a good feeling in the wet so I didn't feel as though I could push really hard and spent quite a long time finding the limit. I definitely need to build my confidence a little bit in the rain again. Still, we feel like we've got some ideas to take things forward tomorrow. I also tried a slightly wider fairing which seems to reduce the turbulence on the long straight here. The main thing is what the weather's going to do from now on. They say it could go either way this weekend which is going to make things challenging for everybody."
Dani Pedrosa - 1'50.743 s (dry), 2'10.312s (wet), 31 laps, 163 Km;
"In the morning we had a normal practice session and took the usual set-up and tyres selection process as far as possible. My lap-time was pretty good and we found a decent base setting for the machine as this was the first time for the RC212V at this circuit.
It was unfortunate that the afternoon turned out to be wet because we still had quite a few ideas to try and improvements to make. To be honest I spent most of the afternoon session in the pit box as the conditions were so wet and it would have been foolish to push too hard out there. So for tomorrow we'll hope the weather is clear and we can practice and qualify in the dry although, looking at the forecast, I don't know if that is too likely!"
Alex Barros (2'17.161):
" Practice this afternoon was definitely affected by the weather. In the morning, we went quite well, t o begin with we had some difficulties in finding the right set-up, but at the end of the morning it was fine because we were able to work well. In the afternoon session, we wanted to continue with the work started but the heavy rain did not allow us this chance. Apart from starting a few minutes late, we had some initial problems getting the right feeling from the Bridgestone wet tyres, so I came back to the box and we made some changes. When I went out again, I immediately noticed an improvement, but unfortunately the time lost meant that I was not able to test as I would have liked. In general though, I am quite satisfied, we found the right way. Tomorrow, time permitting, we will focus on the set-up at the rear because there is still room for improvement here."
Alex Hofmann (2'19.873):
"This afternoon wasn't very good for the practice because it rained a lot and we lost precious time. As regards morning practice I'm quite satisfied, I went on track with good set-up that enabled me to ride with confidence. Unfortunately in the afternoon everything was made fruitless because of the weather. At the start there was a heavy cloudburst and it wasn't possible to exit onto the track. After, when the situation was better, I was ready to give my all, but unfortunately I made only a few laps because of some technical problems, so I had to come back and change my bike. In general I'm satisfied after this first day at Mugello circuit, we have good setting, but I hope that tomorrow the typical Italian weather will come, so that everything could be perfect to prepare as well as possible for the race."
Randy de Puniet - Kawasaki MotoGP Pilot #14;
"Due to my shoulder injury, this morning's session was hard, especially when changing direction and entering right hand corners. Because of that my lap times weren't as good as I'd have liked and I couldn't properly evaluate the improvements we've made to the Ninja ZX-RR. However, as I did more laps and my body warmed up, I felt better, making me feel more confident for the rest of the weekend. It rained like hell before the afternoon session but that gave us the opportunity to try the new engine in wet conditions and the first impression has been positive. It needs some adjustments, though, as it's still quite aggressive. Because of that, I couldn't get a good lap time in but I'm optimistic for tomorrow as we know the way we need to go."
Oliver Jacque - Kawasaki MotoGP Pilot #19;
"It was great to be back on the bike, although this morning was hard. After a few laps, I lost strength in my arm and tried to compensate for it with the shoulder. I lost precision in changing direction, and probably overloaded it, so I had to stop in the box a couple of times to get some rest. I'm not worried about that, though, as I know the strength will soon come back. Physically, the afternoon session was easier for me, as riding in the rain is less demanding, although the amount of water on the track was unbelievable and it was really difficult to control the bike. Things got better as the rain decreased, and I improved my lap times, but I wasn't totally confident as I didn't have much rear traction. We'll need to improve that tomorrow if we're to be ready for a wet race."
Carlos Checa: Fifth Fastest Overall - 1'51.414;
"I was quite comfortable in the rain, especially in the full wet conditions and I stopped early because we had completed all of our set-up work. As the track dried late in the session some riders went faster, which is normal, but it was important to establish that we have a strong pace both on a full wet or dry track, as it was in the morning. I have a good base set-up, either wet or dry, and depending on the weather tomorrow I will continue testing our tyre allocation to be ready for the race."
Shinya Nakano - Rider, KONICA MINOLTA Honda (35 laps - 1' 52.361");
"This morning we made some changes to the suspension balance and the feeling was pretty good. We had made some adjustments for this afternoon then it rained and we had a minor problem, so I had to wait in the pits while the team worked hard to correct it, then at the end we decided to adjust the set up of the second bike to run it on rain tyres. We need to check the best settings for dry and wet weather if we can, so we all have a busy day ahead tomorrow whatever the weather!"
- 1. Casey Stoner, Ducati (AUS) 2'7.107
- 2. John Hopkins, Suzuki (USA) 2'7.125
- 3. Chris Vermeulen, Suzuki (AUS) 2'7.209
- 4. Valentino Rossi, Yamaha (ITA) 2'8.453
- 5. Kenny Roberts, KR212V (USA) 2'8.802
- 6. Marco Melandri, Honda (ITA) 2'9.195
- 7. Colin Edwards, Yamaha (USA) 2'10.039
- 8. Loris Capirossi, Ducati (ITA) 2'10.220
- 9. Olivier Jacque, Kawasaki (FRA) 2'10.228
- 10. Daniel Pedrosa, Honda (ESP) 2'10.312
- 11. Toni Elias, Honda (ESP) 2'10.413
- 12. Carlos Checa, Honda (ESP) 2'10.943
- 13. Randy De Puniet, Kawasaki (FRA) 2'12.279
- 14. Nicky Hayden, Honda (USA) 2'12.466
- 15. Shinya Nakano, Honda (JPN) 2'14.479
- 16. Makoto Tamada, Yamaha (JPN) 2'16.857