Rizla Suzuki MotoGP endured a frustrating first day at the Official MotoGP Test in Spain, as heavy showers this morning meant that today's testing schedule was severely disrupted.
Chris Vermeulen managed to complete a number of wet laps in the morning, but as the track dried out it was too dangerous for either wet or dry tyres and he had to wait for the 4.4km Jerez track to dry out. He managed to get back on track later in the afternoon and set his quickest time during this session.
John Hopkins was present at the test and underwent further physiotherapy as he recovers from the heavy crash he had in Qatar last week. The Anglo-American racer will not participate at this test as he sets his target on being fit for the first round of the MotoGP season - also in Qatar - in two weeks time.
Kousuke Akiyoshi completed 55 laps today as he acquainted himself with the Spanish circuit. Suzuki's All-Japan Championship rider was appearing at Jerez for the first time as he prepares himself for his race debut here next month.
Rizla Suzuki MotoGP will have two further days of testing at Jerez, culminating with a 40-minute all-action timed session on Sunday afternoon where the rider with the quickest time will win a BMW car.
"Yesterday there was a lot of rain here so we started today with a wet track and although it looked like it would dry up more heavy showers made sure that it didn't. It was pretty good to start with as I was able to get out and do some wet testing and we learnt quite a bit in the wet with both chassis settings and engine mapping. Then the track got too dry for wet testing and not dry enough to get some race tyres on. We sat out and waited till later this afternoon when the track dried out - which seemed to take ages - and some of the other guys started to go a bit quicker. I didn't feel like there was that much to be learnt as the track was still wet in places. So I kept it upright and just did a few laps to get the feel of the bike. Hopefully we'll have some good weather tomorrow so we can get a lot more done."
Marco Melandri (1°, 34 laps, 1'42"563): "I'm happy because we could verify the improvements done during the winter test sessions. Today the track conditions were difficult, especially this morning because it was neither wet nor dry. In the afternoon we could start the work programme scheduled for today. I like the rolling chassis and now I really start to have fun in riding. Today we started working on the power delivery of the engine and did a few tyre testing. Tomorrow we will try some more tyres and I'd like to do a race simulation and try the qualifying tyre in order to be prepared for Sunday".
Toni Elias (9°, 51 laps, 1.43"687): "Today we did an important step forward and it's a pity that we couldn't test the whole day, because of the rain. Bridgestone brought us some new tyres that should help me and in fact the feeling was immediately better. Tomorrow we have more tyres to test and I'm confident that we can improve. If we have enough time, I'd like to do a race simulation because I haven't done one during the Irta Test. There is still a lot of work to do but I'm confident because we are going in the right direction".
Colin Edwards, Position: 11th Time: 1'43.845 Laps: 38;
"Actually that was a really useful day for us, despite the weather! Obviously the times don't really show it, but I'm not worried about those because the conditions really limited what we could do with regards to going fast. It wasn't nice out there with the patchy conditions and it was really quite dangerous; it was obvious that whoever took the most risks was going to be fastest today! Anyway, we came here with our 'smooth-track' setting which worked so well in Qatar and tried it here, which is much bumpier. The good thing about today is that we think we now understand why it doesn't work so well on bumpy tracks and so tomorrow we're going to work on changing that and getting it to work everywhere. That's the aim for tomorrow and hopefully we'll be successful in that task, which will put us in much better stead as far as adjusting the bike to different tracks goes. We were obviously nowhere near our times from December today but we know the bike is better than it was then so I am sure that once the track dries out properly and it gets a bit warmer, we'll get a lot faster."
Valentin Rossi Position: 13th Time: 1'44.494 Laps:36;
"The most important thing about this test for us is that it gives us the chance to see how our new bike has changed from the test here in December to now. We've had three tests in between and the bike has changed quite a bit, plus we've had some new parts for the engine and the bike is a bit faster. Today wasn't great because the conditions were bad, it didn't really dry out all day so it wasn't possible to go so fast. Anyway though, I am impressed at some of the times of my rivals in these conditions! I was quite fast at the start when it was quite wet, but really it wasn't enough to do a real wet-weather test. So after today we still can't see how much we've improved from the last test, but hopefully tomorrow will be better. We've found some interesting things though and I think it will be better tomorrow. Of course the objective of this weekend is to be ready for the race when we return here and I hope we will also be able to go faster than we did here in December. The biggest changes since we were here last have been made to the suspension, especially in the front, but today we couldn't really see the potential of these changes. If it becomes warmer we will also try to find some good tyres for this track, so let's hope for sunshine!"
"We've made good progress during some of the winter tests but the weather didn't help us here today. The track was still damp in some places and where it was still patchy I was just uncomfortable and it felt a bit sketchy. Also I didn't test here at the last test in November which probably didn't help either.
It's not really how we'd wanted to start this test but hopefully we'll get some better weather over the next two days and we'll be able to move forward."
"Today we were able to put in some good laps, though the weather stopped us from testing too much on the bike. For a lot of the time we were unsure what to do - whether to go out on rain tyres, on slick tyres or to wait in the garage. We just kept an eye on the conditions and tried to do some laps when things dried out.
The track improved at the end of the day, however there were still two or three damp corners and the temperature was going down so we'll look to make more progress tomorrow."
Casey Stoner, 32 laps - 2nd fastest, 1m 42.634s;
"We were competitive in the dry and the wet today but it wasn't really a useful day for anybody because the weather was so on and off. We did get some dry time at the end, though there was still some water around, so we couldn't really get any good sense from anything and we couldn't use proper tyres because the track was too cold and wet. When it started drying out we worked on a problem I've had with the rear-end pumping when I'm on the gas. We had it here last November and we seemed to solve it in Phillip Island and Qatar, so if we get decent weather over the next couple of days we should be able to get it sorted out. I only got a few laps in the rain, so I was getting used to the Bridgestone tyres because I've never ridden them in the wet. I'm very, very happy with the front, it's similar to the dry, it gives a very good feeling."
Loris Capirossi, 21 laps - 7th fastest, 1m 43.475s;
"It's been a strange day with track conditions always changing. At first we did some laps in the wet and the bike felt good with rain settings. When the track improved I felt that the bike works a lot better than it did last November, when we had a few problems. I'm pretty happy because the GP7 worked well during tests at Sepang, Phillip Island and Qatar, and if it works well here too that suggests we can be competitive at all the races. I stopped a bit early today because there was no point trying to go faster when the track isn't in really good condition. Tomorrow I plan to do a long run, if conditions are good enough."
Jeremy McWilliams, Ilmor GP Rider:
"The track condition today was awful, it was really wet this morning
and very patchy in places even when it began to dry out which made for dangerous riding. It's too risky to
really go flat out when the surface is so unpredictable. We only really picked up some speed in the final hour
or so today. Dry weather would definitely help tomorrow.
"Even though I crashed here back at the test in November it feels good to be back - in spite of the weather -
I still have a little difficulty getting on and off the bike but riding feels very natural."
Andrew Pitt, Ilmor GP Rider:
"It was an interesting day for me today. I was trying out a new engine set-up so
I would have loved to have a dry track to test it properly however even in the poor conditions I can tell that the
changes have made the engine smoother and changed the way the bike turns. It feels different, the throttle
feels better and I'm looking forward to really pushing it over the next couple of days.
Shinya Nakano - Rider, KONICA MINOLTA Honda (37 laps - 1'43.817");
"When in the afternoon we decided to enter the track its surface was not completely dry and so I decided not to push too much and avoid useless risks. During the first laps I used Michelin rain tyres for the first time but the time was too short to have a precise idea of their characteristics. Together with my staff, we started making some comparisons between the setting defined in Qatar and the one of last November in Jerez. Weather permitting, tomorrow we will work on the definition of the front suspension because I'm still suffering chattering problems and we will try to find the right combination which let me to have a good rear grip."
Alex Barros (1'43.214 - 35 laps):
"It was a complicated day, with the rain and temperature conditions affecting the track surface. The track surface wasn't dry enough to get the best from our slicks, and it wasn't wet enough to really use the rain tires, so we used today to display the new colors of the Team and we ended up with a pretty good result. Depending on tomorrow's weather, we'll concentrate on getting the best base set-up of the bike".
Alex Hofmann (1'43.673 - 31 laps):
"I wasn't feeling at my best due to an upset stomach. I didn't make many laps because the track conditions weren't good. I wanted to push harder, but I couldn't. I'm very happy with my team, and we'll work harder tomorrow. Hopefully the weather is better".
Randy de Puniet: 6th - 40 Laps - Best Lap 1'43.315;
"It was a hard session today because of the weather. In the wet my feeling with the bike was quite good. In the afternoon, we had to wait a long time before the track dried out a little and we could try in almost dry conditions. There were some wet patches in a couple of turns, so it made no sense to push too hard. I concentrated on getting used to the circuit and found a base set up to work on for tomorrow. The most important days will be tomorrow and Sunday."
Olivier Jacque: 13th - 39 laps - Best Lap 1'44.659;
"Yesterday I was a little bit worried but today I can say that I am almost 100% fit, but certainly recovered from the crash. Due to the bad weather we only had two hours in the afternoon to work and it was important not to rush. It was a long time since I rode here last and coming from two fast circuits, this one is surprisingly small! Anyway, I got used to it quickly and enjoyed riding the bike a lot. For the first day, everything worked all right."