Troy Bayliss (Ducati Xerox) passed the first test since his Donington crash with flying colours, the Australian bouncing back from injuries received a fortnight ago to set the quickest time in both free practice and qualifying at Valencia. After being given the OK to ride by circuit medics late yesterday afternoon, Bayliss eased himself back into the swing of things in the morning with fastest time and then set a new circuit best lap in the afternoon with a time of 1m34.599s, half-a-second quicker than Neil Hodgson's 2003 record.
Despite some discomfort in both his injured hand and groin area, Troy was relieved to find that his performance out on the track had not been affected. "Everything's going good" he declared. "I think the track is not in such a good condition for grip so we did OK considering. I've done better laps in testing before but on the race tyre it's as good as we've ever done and I'm happy with that, considering that I'm not in the best of shape. Honestly it's a little bit awkward with my hand but it's not actually affecting me which I'm happy about. The other bits and pieces are tender and I'm taking the right precautions to try and help everything. I can't say I'm feeling fit but the last month I've been very healthy and this has all helped me to get back into shape and into a good condition. My riding style is exactly the same, nothing's changed!".
Team-mate Lorenzo Lanzi was seventh quickest today, but not that far off the pace of second and third placed men Ruben Xaus (Ducati) and James Toseland (Honda). "I didn't go too bad but not as quick as during the winter tests when I was never out of the top 3 or 4", commented Lorenzo. "We concentrated mainly on getting the right set-up for Sunday, when it will possibly be dry. We tested several tyres for the race distance and the pace wasn't great but I saw that even the other guys were struggling a bit as well. We always used one bike to try and get the best from the hard tyre at the front and when we put a softer tyre on the other bike, we didn't use it in the end because we preferred to continue to work on this one, which was giving good results. However I'm up near the front and the starting-grid will be decided tomorrow."
"It's not been too bad today. We have been trying to find a good set-up on race tyres while it is dry. I'm just starting to feel like myself again and I think we've got off to a really good start. In previous years this has not been the best track for Honda, but we've really made a lot of progress and I think we can be competitive tomorrow. I'm just hoping for good weather!"
Noriyuki Haga (4th - 1'35.440 - Yamaha Motor Italia WSB Team);
"I managed some improvement in my lap times during today but I struggled with finding the right tyre. We tried three different tyres this afternoon but I didn't find the right one for the race. Although it was still damp on the track this morning, the lower track temperatures actually suited the tyre.
I'm not feeling too bad, tomorrow I hope to find the right tyre and I am hoping it is not raining, as this track gets very slippery when it is wet."
Troy Corser (6th - 1'35.483 - Yamaha Motor Italia WSB Team);
"Today has been tough - all day I have struggled with the engine character. Following the test session here last month and after Donington, we made some engine changes which have completely altered the feel of the bike somehow. The engine character is different between my main and my spare bike, even.
I'm glad we found this out today as it gives us tomorrow to sort out the problem so we are ready for race day. We think we have already worked out the problem and are working on a solution, which we will test out in the morning."
Max Biaggi - 5th, 1: 35.453:
"We're struggling a bit today and I'm not as close to the leaders as I would have liked. But we've had some problems at Valencia when we tested here and we know it's a bit of a problem track for us. We have some ideas to try tomorrow but a lot will depend on what the weather does because if it rains, everything changes. At the moment, we are a bit of a way off what we want and until we get closer, it'll be difficult for me to push as hard as I'd like."
Yukio Kagayama - 12th, 1:36.012:
"Today I tried to use my head and ride very steady. I didn't want to have another crash so soon after my fall at Donington in the last round. At the moment, my ribs and shoulder are still sore, so it's making changing direction on the bike very hard. There are lots of changes in direction at this track so it's a bit of a problem. But each day I'm getting stronger and tomorrow I will push harder for sure. Valencia circuit seems particularly sensitive to temperature changes and that affects how the tyres perform a lot. If it rains, it may be an easier race for me physically, but the track is very slippery when it's wet and I think there could be many crashes!"
Shinichi Nakatomi (18th - 1'36.757 - Team Yamaha YZF)
"Today we have made many small changes and improvements throughout both sessions. Now we just need to combine the changes for tomorrow's qualifying session. I am hopeful of a higher qualifying position tomorrow - I just hope it is not raining."
"I am obviously disappointed about today. After Donington I was feeling good about my riding style on the bike, but here it is just not going right for me. It is a very different track so I just have to work hard to adjust my style again. We will do a lot of work this evening and I hope that I can improve for tomorrow."
- 1. Bayliss (Ducati Xerox) 1m34.599s
- 2. Xaus (Ducati) 1m35.147s
- 3. Toseland (Honda) 1m35.147s
- 4. Haga (Yamaha) 1m35.440s
- 5. Biaggi (Suzuki) 1m35.453s
- 6. Corser (Yamaha) 1m35.483s
- 7. Lanzi (Ducati Xerox) 1m35.709s
- 8. Neukirchner (Suzuki) 1m35.767s
- 9. Nieto (Kawasaki) 1m35.804s
- 10. Muggeridge (Honda) 1m35.814s