CASEY STONER (1st – Repsol Honda): “The sessions today went quite well for us. Believe it or not, today we were trying to create chatter, so we can make the most use of this dry time on track to understand it a little better and make some improvements for the rest of the season. We are happy to use some of the sessions to focus on fixing the chatter issue, and not worry about the set up immediately. We started to find some chatter at the end of the day when we switched to the hard front tyre and hopefully it will stay dry tomorrow so we can continue to work on this. After yesterday’s announcement, I definitely felt a weight off my shoulders when I got on the bike this morning. The last two races I’ve had a lot of thoughts running through my mind and this weekend I already feel better knowing it’s off my chest and we can now focus on the rest of the season, and try to enjoy it”.
DANI PEDROSA (2nd – Repsol Honda): “The feeling was pretty good overall; normally with these cold conditions the track here is very slippery, but the tyres worked well, the grip level is good and we managed two good session practices. We still have some work to do, mainly on the corner entry, but the first impression has been positive so far. It looks like the temperature will drop and some rain is coming, so it’s been useful to have time in the dry to get the feeling at a track like this, where you have a lot of wheelie. I didn’t test the new front Bridgestone tyre today, but I would like to do it tomorrow if it’s dry”.
JORGE LORENZO (3rd – Yamaha Factory Racing): “This morning we had some difficulty entering the corners, I didn’t trust the bike so much. This afternoon we made some changes to the rear and it improved the feeling and the lap time a lot. I did a half race simulation and we had a good pace. We are now ready for a dry race but everyone says it is going to rain which will completely change the conditions”.
ALVARO BAUTISTA (4th – San Carlo Honda Gresini): “Today was a very positive start for us. We tried some things with the setting to improve the bike from Estoril and initially they didn’t work that well but with a few tweaks to the suspension we found some interesting solutions. We continued to work in the same direction in the afternoon and I felt a lot better on the bike than I did at Estoril and Jerez. Obviously there are still some little details to work on but for now I am happy because we have taken a step forward. We’ll have to keep an eye on the weather tomorrow but I am hopeful.”
BEN SPIES (5th – Yamaha Factory Racing): “Today was ok, to be top five both sessions is good after Estoril, especially here where I’ve struggled in the past. I made a small mistake this afternoon, got into turn one pretty fast and was too fast into turn two so couldn’t make the corner. I got on the second bike and was pleased we were still able to go fast as we had a lot of laps on the front tyre. The bike seems to be working pretty well here so we’ll keep going and see what we can do tomorrow”.
ANDREA DOVIZIOSO (6th – Monster Yamaha Tech 3): “I am very happy because the dry conditions meant we could concentrate on working on the set-up of the bike and my feeling has improved a lot with the Yamaha. I was third fastest this morning but I did two good practice sessions worki ng a lot on the race set-up of the bike, particularly with the endurance of the Bridgestone tyres. My best lap time came with 23 laps on the rear tyre, so this is very positive and shows that my pace for the race is not bad at all. We just need to fine-tune the set-up of the bike tomorrow but we don’t have any big problems where we have to think about making some big modifications. I would like to improve my feeling a little bit with the front tyre and I hope it will be dry tomorrow and we can continue improving the bike. But even if rains we are already in a good point to be fighting for a really good result in the race on Sunday”.
CAL CRUTCHLOW (7th – Monster Yamaha Tech 3): “We have a couple of small problems but nothing that I don’t think we can fix ahead of the race. I can’t get the bike to turn into the corner as I’ d like and I’m losing a little bit of time in that area. We will have a sit down tonight and see if we can come up with a set-up that will improve the turning. To be honest, Le Mans is not the best circuit for me and it is quite difficult. I’ve only been here once before and I crashed in the race last year, so a big part of my job today was just trying to gain some more experience with the layout. It was still a positive day and I am really close to Andrea and Ben, so with an improvement to the turning of the bike, I’m sure I can be even more competitive. The weather might not be as good tomorrow but I am ready for anything and determined to do the best job I can for Tech 3 and Monster this weekend”.
HECTOR BARBERA (8th – Pramac Racing): “Today has been a satisfying free practice session, confirming my liking of the French track. I can say that I really enjoyed myself riding on this surface. We started this weekend with the right foot and compared to the morning session, we have improved our lap time also in the afternoon. I’ve had a good feeling with my Ducati GP12 and I hope tomorrow doesn’t rain, because that would mean starting all over again”.
VALENTINO ROSSI (9th – Ducati Team): “This afternoon we tried some bike settings that were quite varied, and we’re trying to understand what the right direction is for finding more grip on corner exits. So far, particularly when the tyre starts to wear, we’re losing a lot compared to the others. Our gap to the front is pretty large, and although the gaps in our group are quite small, there’s more time between us and seventh place than there was in Portugal. We’ll have to try to do better. We’re trying some different things and we’re working hard, so we’ll see how we do tomorrow”.
NICKY HAYDEN (10th – Ducati Team): “It wasn’t an easy day. The weather was a bit cold, but luckily it was dry. I struggled a little bit everywhere. Grip on the edge wasn’t very good, and any time I would get going okay, I would have a hard time stopping the bike and run wide on entry. I haven’t had that problem much this year, and when you push wide, it also hurts the exit. We tried a couple of things but never really found a really good direction. We tried the hard tyre a little this afternoon just to check, because the soft tyre definitely feels like it’s going off a bit, but I wasn’t able to make it work that well. We’ll sit down tonight and have a good think about it and see what to do tomorrow”.
STEFAN BRADL (11th – LCR Honda): “It was a tough first day for me because it’s always difficult to arrive on a new circuit riding a new bike: actually I need one practice at least to get a base set up, the correct balance and a base ideal line. This morning was quite difficult for me considering the low grip conditions and I was struggling almost everywhere along the track. But in the afternoon we could really improve everywhere and I feel quite positive because we are closer to the P8. We can find something more in the overall package because we are not at 100% yet as I am struggling in the entry of the corners and I do not have enough front feeling”.
RANDY DE PUNIET (13th – Power Electronics Aspar Team): “It hasn’t been a bad day and we’ve been fortunate that it didn’t rain. We made some changes to the electronics and suspension and even though I am not 100% I am the fastest CRT. I did a run of six laps and my times were consistent. On my best lap I lost half a second because of a slower rider but our biggest problem right now is not with the bike it is with my condition, which will be difficult to improve. I didn’t have any injections today because I wanted to see how my body handled it and hopefully I’ll be able to hang on until the race”.
MATTIA PASINI (15th – Speed Master): “The weekend started off really well. This morning we were kind of far with the electronics, but for the afternoon session we managed to improve and make some steps forward also with the chassis. We were fast since the beginning. I tried a hard tyre, but after few laps I didn’t have much front grip and I went out of the racing line: the bike then fell into the gravel and that made us throw away half of the session. However, I am happy, because we’re progressing little by little, and that’s our objective. The weekend is still long, we have to keep working in this direction and we’ll see how things go”.
MICHELE PIRRO (16th – San Carlo Honda Gresini): “I had a crash this morning and thankfully escaped unhurt despite being thrown around. I have a little pain in my back but we were able to work hard throughout the afternoon on the new chassis. We have gathered a lot of data and closed the gap to the top CRT. Obviously we still have a lot of work to do but my first impressions are good. Tomorrow we will keep working hard and hopefully take another step forward”.
ALEIX ESPARGARO (17th – Power Electronics Aspar Team): “We have started out on the wrong foot here, with a crash this morning that left me with a sore head and that contributed to me losing my concentration this afternoon. In the end I crashed again and now I need to get some rest and some good sleep tonight to recover. We made a mistake this morning by running the harder tyre when the track was still cold and it’s a shame because other than the two crashes I was riding well and could have improved my lap times. If it is dry tomorrow I should be close because with the new front tyre I’m always quicker”.
CHRIS VERMEULEN (21th – NGM Mobile Forward Racing): “First of all I would like to thank the NGM Mobile Forward Racing Team for giving me the opportunity, its great to be back in the premier class of motorcycle racing. Definitely wasn’t easy to start again after about eight months of no riding, to get back to seed, to feel the breaks and the tires and this sort of racing bike again but I really enjoyed my time on the bike so far today. We have a lot of work to do with development on the bike and I think everybody knows that. I hope my feedback is been positive for the team and I’m sure tomorrow we can improve the bike and hopefully go a bit quicker”.
Sincerely, Eduard Ballús