After enjoying a brief respite in Catalunya from the bad weather that has plagued several races this season, the opening day of the British Grand Prix saw yet more rain for the MotoGP paddock as business got underway at Donington Park. The eighth round of the season kicked off this morning with an action-packed first practice that saw several riders, including Rossi, on the floor as they struggled to adapt to a wet track after enjoying more summery conditions last time out Spain. Rossi slid off his M1 into the gravel trap early on and suffered some bruising to his arm, although he was able to complete the session on his second bike.
This afternoon's second practice saw even wetter conditions and some standing water on the track, but Edwards especially made significant improvements to his performance during the afternoon. After struggling to find his form in the wet at Le Mans and Mugello, the Texan made a huge step forward this afternoon and enjoyed a brief spell at the top of the time sheets towards the end of the session, eventually finishing sixth overall. Rossi struggled a little more than his team-mate as he searched for the right setting and tyre combination, eventually running out tenth in the combined standings. The time sheets were topped today by Casey Stoner after he set a lap of 1'43.749 in this morning's session.
Colin Edwards - Position: 6th Time: 1'44.445 Laps: 41;
"Today was very adventurous! We started this morning with a set-up we had used before and it wasn't terrible, but when it started to dry out towards the end we couldn't go any faster and ended up several seconds off the pace. I knew that wasn't right; despite the recent results I know I'm good in the wet, I always have been, so there had to be an answer! This afternoon Michelin came to us with a trick up their sleeve, we tried it and it worked. We were suddenly five seconds faster and things felt good again. We've tried so many different things over the last few races and nothing has worked, but this little change seems to have solved it. I was a lot more comfortable going fast today than I have been going slowly lately! So finally I want to say thank you to Michelin for coming up with the solution, and to all my guys who've been working very hard. The conditions weren't great today and there was a bit of hydroplaning going on, I wanted to push harder this afternoon but to be honest it wasn't worth risking the gravel for a couple of tenths, we'll save it for tomorrow!"
Valentino Rossi - Position: 10th Time: 1'45.718 Laps: 38 laps;
"For sure we haven't seen the best of the English weather today and we have had two days with a lot of rain! This track is very difficult like this and there isn't much grip when there's a lot of water; it's hard to ride. This morning I crashed very early on but luckily I was ok, although I have a little bit of swelling in my arm. Then we used a tyre which was a little bit too hard for the conditions, to be honest we only did a few laps with everything right today! This afternoon again we didn't have a lot of grip and it was very wet, but I can see that Colin is much faster this afternoon and this has given me a lot of hope for tomorrow. I've talked to him and we have some things to try tomorrow. Overall I'm positive, we have some things to improve and today wasn't perfect but I think we have good potential."
Davide Brivio - Team Director;
"The conditions were very difficult today with the rain but on one side it was time well spent because it meant we got a lot of work done with wet tyres. The problem will be if it's wet again tomorrow and then dry on Sunday because we'll have had no time to work on our dry set-up and dry race tyres, so it could be a little bit of a gamble. As usual however we can't do anything about the weather and we just have to make the most of the situation and carry on working as hard as we can. Colin made a good step forward this afternoon and this is encouraging for him after some difficult races lately. Valentino struggled more today but now we'll make some changes tonight and then tomorrow he can follow the same direction as Colin and hopefully it will work also for him."
"I think everyone is running pretty much the softest wets. I used the same tyres for the whole day today and they still looked pretty new. It's ridiculous really, I don't think any other British track is this bad in the wet, and to have a world championship race here with bikes doing these speeds is just a little bit wrong. Since they resurfaced the track it's got worse than what it was before in the wet, it's become dangerous. For tomorrow we're going to see if we can make the tyres work a bit harder and hopefully pick up a few tenths. We'd already made a few improvements for the wet at Mugello - we changed something in the geometry to help me get more weight transfer on the rear, that's why we were pretty fast and confident in the wet there. It doesn't really matter if it's wet or dry on Sunday, we've all got to race in the same conditions. But the way this circuit is at the moment, I think a dry race would be a better option for everyone."
Loris Capirossi, 14th fastest, 1m 46.811s;
"This morning was really bad. We had some trouble with the engine set-up and we've not been able to find the right settings. This afternoon we started with a different electronics set-up and although it was a bit better it's still not right. I can't ride well because the bike feels too aggressive, so we need to analyse the data and understand why. We don't have so many of the rain tyres we want to use here, so I used the same front and rear for both sessions. They aren't perfect but they are pretty good and their endurance is beyond doubt, given that I used the same tyres for the whole day! Joking apart, I was really worried this morning but now I'm feeling better, even if I'm not totally happy yet. The track conditions are the same as usual when it rains here - slippery, with a lot of water onto the track, but still manageable because it didn't rain too hard."
Nicky Hayden - 1'44.344s, 48 laps, 193 Km;
"It was a pretty wet, cold, slippery, nasty day out there, but that's probably as much fun as I've had on the bike since Valencia last year. So I'm not going to complain about cold fingers!
The conditions were varying a bit and there were times when the rain was heavier than others, but overall my bike felt pretty good in the wet and I had a good feeling. We'll be looking at a few details to improve it into the corners and mid-corner, but coming out of the corners I've got really good traction and the Michelins are working really well under hard acceleration. We need to get things working a little better when the rain is really heavy, but overall the bike's working pretty well and so are the tyres. I enjoyed it today. Now we've basically got to see what the weather does. I feel like we've got a really good start to the weekend. Hopefully if it does dry out we can carry it over to those conditions too."
Dani Pedrosa - 1'43.870s, 49 laps, 197 Km;
"I've been improving in the wet this year and it's something I've been working on and thinking about, so it's nice to finish on top of the timesheets in a wet session for the first time - I'm happy about that.
Today it was raining all day so we had two hours of practice to look for the right set-up and tyres for these conditions. The feeling from the bike is good and today has been useful. It's better when the conditions are fully wet like this because we can really learn something about the set-up we need and the tyres that work best. When it's half dry and half wet the track changes every lap so it's good that we had fairly consistent conditions today. It's a good start to the weekend but there's a long way to go and we have to keep our concentration because things could change tomorrow and we must be ready for this."
Carlos Checa: 16th - 1'47.027;
"In the rain this track is very, very slippery, perhaps more so than any other circuit. It was a difficult day, I lacked chassis balance and rear side-grip and need to analyse all of the data to find a solution if the conditions are like this for the race. I concentrated on just one bike today but never really found a comfortable feeling to be closer to the front. The rain was softer in the morning, almost with a dry line late in the session."
Marco Melandri (9th, 1'45.684):
"It's been a difficult day. This morning we started out with the setting from Le Mans but the track conditions were actually very differe nt. The track surface is really slippery and the bike was difficult to ride. In the afternoon we went back to the standard chassis, which we had already tested in the wet. I managed to knock three seconds off my best time from the morning but we still have work to do. I'm fast in the first half of the track, where I can let the bike run, but I'm struggling in the slower final section, where the power comes on a little more briskly. We'll try and improve that area tomorrow."
"It's great to be back here at Donington - but not in these conditions! I spent a few years in Britain doing the British Championship and I used to live here, so this is really like a second home GP for me. Today's conditions weren't the greatest as it's been raining all day and the water was at different levels all over the surface - so it was difficult to get a consistent lap out there. My team have worked really hard on the chassis and we have made some improvements there, but we now have to see what the weather is going to do for the rest of the weekend."
"Well the whole day has gone well considering the rain. We just wanted to put some laps together and try a new tyre from Bridgestone. We managed to do both of those and more. I didn't want to push that hard today as you can so easily make a mistake in the rain and Sunday's race is more important than a fast time in a wet practice session - and we know we can be in a better position whether it is wet or dry! We have a few things to try tomorrow, but I am eager to get out there on a dry track and see what the GSV-R800 can do around here!"
Toni Elias (15th, 1'47.178):
"The rain made life difficult for us in free practices today. The track was really slippery and I didn't feel comfortable on my bike. I can't say I'm happy because I'm down on the time sheets, three seconds off the top. We're struggling but we'll keep working on the chassis and suspension to see if we can find a better setting for this difficult and technical circuit."
Alex Barros (1'46.100 - 19 laps):
"For me it wasn't an easy day, even if in the afternoon I improved my feeling, I'm not completely satisfied in reason of the time I got, it would be better.
I would have more comfort to ride, but unfortunately we still haven't find out the best solution. In braking I'm quite good, but in turns we lost a lot of time; especially in T2 and T3 , I'm not completely steady. Despite this, I'm confident for tomorrow, and I think we can really improve."
Alex Hofmann (1'46.863 - 22 laps):
"It was a very demanding day for me, we had some difficulties to found the most suitabl e feeling, but I think that was a common problem because of track condition which weren't so good. My difficult was due especially by bike rear, it wasn't completely stable and we lost a lot of speed in the curves. We tried different solution, but we aren't satisfied because the lap wasn't the one we wanted. I hope to be able to exploit at the maximum tomorrow's session to find the best possible race configuration and to do good qualifying practise. On this track is really important to get favourable position on starting grid because straight is very short."
Randy de Puniet - #14 - 4th - Best Lap 1'44.302;
"The conditions were bad and vision wasn't great but I'm happy about the bike: I had a good feeling and I'm confident. We've been working on the tyres and the mapping, which are the most important things here. My knee's been painful but after this weekend there's a break, so I hope it will be completely better for the Sachsenring. Tomorrow, we will work on more of the same, especially tyre choice, depending on the weather."
Anthony West - #13 - 7th - Best Lap 1'44.498;
"We had a few problems with the rear this morning but now it's a lot better. And it's really odd but the bike's becoming more comfortable even though the back tyre's done both sessions, so with a new tyre I'm sure we could go even quicker and get more traction. At the moment, I'm really happy. I'm excited to be here and today was a good day. I was worried about the rain this morning but it's turned out well and I like working with this team: they seem to understand what I want. We've been trying things out and playing around, seeing what I like and what I don't like. A lot of testing in a short time."
Shinya Nakano - Rider, KONICA MINOLTA Honda (50 laps - 1' 46.926");
"The conditions are not so good, but I think the weather forecast is for more of the same all weekend, so at least we know that these are the conditions we will be dealing with tomorrow and on race day. We still have a little chatter from the front-end, but it's not so bad. I want to try and get more braking stability on the bike during the final sector: The Fogarty Esses, Melbourne Hairpin and Goddards and also improve our corner entry feeling, so that's what we will be working hard to do tomorrow."
Free Practice - Laps;
- 1. Casey Stoner, Ducati (AUS) 1'43.749
- 2. Nicky Hayden, Honda (USA) 1'43.781
- 3. Daniel Pedrosa, Honda (ESP) 1'43.870
- 4. Randy De Puniet, Kawasaki (FRA) 1'44.302
- 5. Chris Vermeulen, Suzuki (AUS) 1'44.371
- 6. Colin Edwards, Yamaha (USA) 1'44.445
- 7. Anthony West, Kawasaki (AUS) 1'44.371
- 8. John Hopkins, Suzuki (USA) 1'44.716
- 9. Marco Melandri, Honda (ITA) 1'45.684
- 10. Valentino Rossi, Yamaha (ITA) 1'45.718
- 11. Alex Barros, Ducati (BRA) 1'45.774
- 12. Alex Hofmann, Ducati (GER) 1'46.254
- 13. Toni Elias, Honda (ESP) 1'46.777
- 14. Loris Capirossi, Ducati (ITA( 1'46.811
- 15. Shinya Nakano, Honda (JPN) 1'46.926
- 18. Sylvain Guintoli, Yamaha (FRA) 1'49.604
- 19. Makoto Tamada, Yamaha (JPN) 1'51.864