Fiat Yamaha Team rider Valentino Rossi rounded off the first day of the Grand Prix of Catalunya in positive fashion today, setting the second fastest time of the day on his penultimate lap as temperatures climbed into the thirties at Montmelo. Fresh from a spectacular victory at his home-race in Italy last Sunday, Rossi and his team arrived here on a high and wasted no time in getting down to business this morning as they seek their first back-to-back set of victories since their Mugello-Barcelona double last year.
Team-mate Colin Edwards finished the day slightly further down the order in eighth, one of many riders who did not better their time from the morning session. After a difficult weekend in Mugello however, when he failed to find a comfortable bike set-up all weekend, the Texan is feeling much more positive about this race. The team still have some work to do tomorrow but Edwards is confident of further improvements and a return to the strong qualifying form he has shown at most races so far this season. Rossi's lap of 1'43.313 was good enough to top the time sheets in this afternoon's second free practice session but the overall number one spot today went to Dani Pedrosa, who set a lap of 1'43.099 in this morning's cooler session. With twelve riders inside a second today tomorrow's hour-long qualifying session looks like being a close one when the action kicks off at 1345 local time.
Valentino Rossi - Position: 2ndTime: 1'43.313Laps: 53;
"We've made a good start to the weekend and my bike is already going very well. This morning was okay but then this afternoon especially we made a lot of steps forward with the tyres and with the setting. We've got a few different options for our tyre choice and we seem to have good grip in the long corners, which is very important at this track. Now tomorrow we will continue with our work and make a final decision about tyres. I found a strong rhythm straight away today and this afternoon I put in a consistent run of laps - almost a half-race distance - and things are already feeling good for Sunday. We still have some improvements to make with the setting and hopefully with a few modifications we'll be going even better tomorrow. However it's a long race and if it's as hot as this then it's going to be a battle of physical strength for everyone!"
Colin Edwards - Position: 8thTime: 1'43.768Laps: 50;
"My position doesn't really show it but actually we're not in bad shape today, considering where we were this time a week ago in Italy! We're missing a bit of traction but we've got some ideas to work on overnight and tomorrow which will hopefully help us in this department. Our forte is entry and corner speed so we'll work on honing those for this track and hopefully that will give us an advantage. As for tyres, nothing's really jumping out at us today but we've got three or four that feel okay so with some more laps we should be in a better position to make a decision for Sunday. Anyway I'm feeling a lot happier here than I was in Mugello and with any luck we can be back in fine form for qualifying tomorrow."
Davide Brivio - Team Director;
"We've made a very good start with Valentino and it seems he's in good shape already. Luckily the weather is better here and so we were able to do a good day's testing and get some helpful information regarding tyres. Tomorrow we will look to fine-tune the setting and make our final tyre choice, but we're already at a good level. Colin is a bit further back but the times are very close and we have some good ideas about what's needed tomorrow to bring him even closer to the top."
Casey Stoner, 4th fastest, 1m 43.543s;
"It's a similar situation to what we were in at Mugello - we are fast enough but we've not got that little bit extra at the moment. This morning we weren't too bad but this afternoon we seemed to have gone in the wrong direction. We tested a lot of things - different front tyres, different rear tyres, different chassis set-ups, links and so on - and basically I think we made it a little too confusing, so we need to go back to what we had and then go off in a different direction. Same as every weekend we're looking for more traction and more turning in the long corners. We still need to improve the bike but the tyres aren't so bad and we've not been through the whole range yet, we've still got a couple more rears to try tomorrow."
"It felt really good here today straight from the start. This is a track I really enjoy and have a lot of fun riding around here. As with every race so far this year the Suzuki and the Bridgestone tyres are working very well and Stuart has done a great job to set the bike up from the start, so I am fortunate enough to go out and be able to work on getting the right tyres for the race. We have made a couple of minor setting changes, but not much so we have been able to spend as much time on the track as possible. We've got a couple of things to try tomorrow and I'm sure we can improve on our times a bit and make sure we are in the best condition possible to get a good result on Sunday."
Nicky Hayden - 1'44.267s, 52 laps 246 Km;
"I actually feel a little bit closer than it looks on paper and towards the end of the afternoon, though my finishing position wasn't great, we found a direction and were able to get some consistency going.
This morning we had quite a tough session and we lost a lot of time because there were some problems with one bike and it took a while to figure out why it wasn't running right. That got us a little bit behind but we made some changes this afternoon, including to the transmission, which helped a lot. There are a few parts of the track where I'm losing a lot of time and other parts where my pace is pretty good. Though I was less than a second back this afternoon that's quite a lot and it'd be nice to take a big step tomorrow. The tyres seem to be working well which is good because they're going to be a huge part of the outcome this weekend"
Dani Pedrosa - 1'43.099s, 48 laps, 227 Km;
"This morning went quite well and I was able to ride with a fast and consistent pace for quite a few laps, which was a positive start to the weekend. The set-up looks OK and, even though we still have to work on the tyre choice, we're in quite good shape.
This afternoon I was feeling confident but unfortunately I ran wide in Turn Three, got onto the dirty part of the track with too much lean and fell off. It was my mistake and was actually quite a normal crash. I was lucky that I was not hurt, but unfortunately there was a lot of damage to the bike so the mechanics have a bit of work to do. After that I wasn't able to go quite as quickly because the set-up of the second bike was good but not perfect, so once that's sorted things are looking quite good for tomorrow."
"It is great to come back here, as this is a track I enjoy and I had a good result here last year. All day we have made progress with the bike, the tyres and the settings. The bike feels really comfortable and I did quite a long run this afternoon and set my best time with a front tyre that had done more than race distance - and the grip still felt good! We have a couple of areas to improve on, but the guys are working hard on those and I'm sure come tomorrow we'll go even faster!"
Loris Capirossi, 6th fastest, 1m 43.631s;
"This afternoon didn't go as well as this morning because the tyres that were available for the second session weren't as good as those we used in the first session. With the new tyre rules we don't always have enough of the better tyres to use in all sessions, so we had to use another tyre, that's why we weren't so fast this afternoon. Anyway, at least we know that we already have a good tyre for this track, and we still have one more to try tomorrow. I am using the standard spec engine here. Mostly we have been working mostly on the chassis, with promising results. I'm not so happy with my lap times or my position but I think we can look forward to improving tomorrow."
Alex Barros (1'43.857 - 23 laps):
"My first day of free practice gave us a positive result and for this reason I am very satisfied. Today we focused on tyre evaluation and we also tried different set-ups. In the afternoon we improved the lap time further and we found a good tyre for the race. Regarding the bike set-up, we need understand which is the best direction to follow; we made a lot of adjustments but we need to find a compromise, because there is still room for improvement. Now we will study all the data we have, but I'm confident to have a large margin for additional improvement tomorrow."
Alex Hofmann (1'44.880- 21 laps):
"We exploited this free practice day as well as we could, but I'm not satisfied with the final result. We have a good set-up and I'm confident in braking but with the rear I still do not have the right feeling. In acceleration, I am losing a lot of time, mainly when exiting the corner. During the course of today, we tried only one type of tyre, but I'm not completely satisfied and I'm not sure that I will use the same specification for the race. Anyway I'm confident that we can improve, but tomorrow we have a lot of work to do to find the right solution for the race."
Carlos Checa: Eleventh overall - 1'43.866;
"I am far away from where I should be, even though the times are quite close I would prefer to be much closer to the front. It has not been an easy day, we need to find some solutions and a better direction in which to be faster. Hopefully the good weather will continue and I can work with the team, Honda and Michelin to improve our performance tomorrow."
Randy de Puniet; 13th - 48 Laps - Best Lap 1'44.141;
"After the crash at Mugello, I thought my knee would be fine by now but, unfortunately, it got worse and I suffered an internal haemorrhage. The joint doubled in size and, even though it's a little better now, Spidi has had to make me a new leather suit with a knee joint 10cm wider than usual! It wasn't painful until I got on the bike but I'm sure as soon as the swelling goes down, so will the pain. I just need to rest a little now. This morning the track conditions weren't perfect, and we suffered a lack of rear grip, but we improved it after experimenting with both front and rear race tyres in the afternoon. There isn't a big time gap with respect to the guys at the front and I'm sure we can still improve tomorrow."
Olivier jacque; 15th ? 46 Laps ? Best Lap 1?44.466;
"Today I felt, physically, much better than in Mugello. I have almost all the arm's strength back which allows me to be more precise when I'm riding. Now I can set the bike up to race rather than trying to compensate for any handicap. This morning, we struggled with rear grip and I couldn't keep up speed in the long and fast curves. We adjusted the balance of the bike and, with better track conditions as well, it improved a lot in the afternoon. We also tried a couple of front and rear race tyres and are already pretty sure about the choice we'll make for Sunday. Maybe my position doesn't reflect it but we're on a good course."
Shinya Nakano - Rider, KONICA MINOLTA Honda (53 laps - 1' 44.003" );
"Today we started with our Mugello settings but both during this morning and the early part of the afternoon session we actually had more chattering than before, so it was not so easy to do a good lap time. Later on we tried some different settings including some changes to the front of the bike and we found we had less chattering from the front-end, which was a big improvement. We still have some work to do, as I still want the bike to turn quicker and to get a good lap time I have to push quite hard. We will try some different geometry settings for tomorrow as Giulio, the Team engineer, has some ideas we can try. It looks like we should have plenty of dry time as it's very hot weather here compared to Mugello, perhaps a bit too hot for me!"
- 1. Daniel Pedrosa, Honda (ESP) 1'43.099
- 2. Valentino Rossi, Yamaha (ITA) 1'43.313
- 3. John Hopkins, Suzuki (USA) 1'43.389
- 4. Casey Stoner, Ducati (AUS) 1'43.543
- 5. Toni Elias, Honda (ESP) 1'43.551
- 6. Loris Capirossi, Ducati (ITA) 1'43.631
- 7. Chris Vermeulen, Suzuki (AUS) 1'43.713
- 8. Colin Edwards, Yamaha (USA) 1'43.768
- 9. Marco Melandri, Honda (ITA) 1'43.811
- 10. Alex Barros, Ducati (BRA) 1'43.857
- 11. Carlos Checa, Honda (ESP) 1'43.866
- 12. Shinya Nakano, Honda (JPN) 1'44.003
- 13. Randy De Puniet, Kawasaki (FRA) 1'44.141
- 14. Nicky Hayden, Honda (USA) 1'44.267
- 15. Olivier Jacque, Kawasaki (FRA) 1'44.466
- 17.Sylvain Guintoli, Yamaha (FRA) 1'44.665
- 18. Makoto Tamada, Yamaha (JPN) 1'44.743