DANI PEDROSA (1st – Repsol Honda): “We’ve been lucky to have the first practice in the dry to begin setting up the bike for the race because as we’ve seen in the last few days sooner or later it rains here. The track was a little dirty in the morning and the grip level quite poor, but the lap times were not so bad and the conditions will improve throughout the weekend. In the morning I had a lot of vibration in the rear, which we think was a problem with the wheel balance. I did a sighting lap in the afternoon and it was full wet until turn 4 but from there, full dry, so we decided to stay in the pits. We will have to make good use of track time tomorrow morning to prepare the bike for qualifying and the race”.
CASEY STONER (2nd – Repsol Honda): “I definitely feel more comfortable here than I did in Japan, I’m not sure if this is time on the bike or the fact that this track isn’t quite so demanding on my right leg. The circuit goes to the right a lot, but there aren’t so many slow corners that I need to pick the bike up from and I’m getting a better feeling here so the lap times came easier. We still have quite a bit of work to do and I don’t think we are anywhere near the pace that we need to be but the first session went very well and hopefully we can continue in this way for the remainder of the weekend”.
JORGE LORENZO (3rd – Yamaha Factory Racing): “This morning was great, from the beginning I was competitive and more or less at the same pace as Dani and Casey. Casey especially is much stronger than he was in Japan. This afternoon unfortunately we couldn’t practice because of the weather. We need to improve the behaviour of the bike in acceleration for tomorrow, it’s a little nervous so we need to make it a little easier”.
ANDRE DOVIZIOSO (4th – Monster Yamaha Tech 3): “The track was very slippery this morning but I was pleased to finish fourth and my lap time was fast and competitive. I could go faster at the end of the session even with a lot of laps on the rear tyre, so it is a promising start to the weekend. I wanted to try some important changes to the set-up of the bike this afternoon but the rain that fell before the start meant we couldn’t do the work we had planned. The conditions were mixed, so it wasn’t worth going out and taking any risks and we will have to wait to try the modifications tomorrow”.
CAL CRUTCHLOW (5th – Monster Yamaha Tech 3): “It was a shame the rain meant I didn’t get to go out on track for the second session because I had some work to do to improve the bike. I felt confident right from the start this mornin g and even though I wasn’t pushing that hard because the track was quite greasy, the lap time still came quite easy. Hopefully tomorrow we will have better luck with the weather and we can focus on improving the bike for the race”.
BEN SPIES (6th – Yamaha Factory Racing): “This morning was pretty normal, the track wasn’t so great and we had some electronic issues that hindered us a little but the bike was working pretty well. We were hoping to get a good session in this afternoon but the rain was against us. It wasn’t worth taking any risks with the track being half dry and half wet so we’ll wait for tomorrow and see what happens”.
STEFAN BRADL (7th – LCR Honda): “This morning first outing was very difficult because the surface was very dirty and the grip very low. We struggled with some chattering problems, which we wanted to adjust in the afternoon, but unfortunately the weather was unstable with patches of heavy rain in some parts of the track and we could not proceed our job. Let’s see what’s going on with the weather tomorrow because we have a lot of things to test”.
NICKY HAYDEN (8 th – Ducati Team): “With my injury last winter, I didn’t really do much meaningful riding here during testing, so it’s hard to compare the bike from then to now. The main thing we’re working on is finding more edge grip, and we made a couple of improvements there. I was almost two seconds faster than last year here during FP1, which is nice. I tried the new swingarm, which definitely gave me better feeling at the rear. Then this afternoon was really strange. As can happen at long circuits, the track was completely wet on one part and completely dry on another, during the same lap! I did two laps, just to feel the wet conditions in case that’s what we have on Sunday. Anyway, I definitely felt a little better today than I did in Motegi, both with my wrist and on the bike, so hopefully we can have a much better weekend”.
ÁLVARO BAUTISTA (9th – San Carlo Honda Gresini): “Unfortunately we have only had half a day to work here. We didn’t have much traction in the dry this morning and we were struggling for pace mid-corner and under acceleration. We weren’t able to try anything this afternoon so it’s all postponed until tomorrow. Anyway we are confident because I think the solution is quite obvious and we think we know how to fix the problem”.
VALENTINO ROSSI (11th – Ductai Team): “We’ve been a little unfortunate with the weather in recent races. This afternoon it rained right before the session, which made it difficult to work. It’s a shame, as we had two or three things to try with the balance of the bike after we were pretty slow this morning. We had continued working with some changes that we used at Motegi, where they’d helped us to have a little more grip under acceleration. Here, though, they weren’t as effective because they cause a lot of understeer. This afternoon it was important to be able to work because we wanted to return to a more standard setup, like at Aragón and Misano. I tried riding a little in an effort to understand as much as possible, but it’s difficult in these conditions. There’s nothing we can do about it, so we’ll have to wait until tomorrow”.
RANDY DE PUNIET (13th – Power Electronics Aspar Team): “We started out this morning with our usual base setting. We had some problems at Motegi so today we tried to get back on the course we were on beforehand. My feeling with the bike was good but the problem is that it uses up the tyres very quickly. We spent most of the day working with used tyres and trying to adapt the electronics to get the best out of them. Overall it has been a positive day even though the afternoon session was a washout”.
ALEIX ESPARGARÓ (14th – Power Electronics Aspar Team): “We had a lot of work to get through this morning. At the start of the session we were getting a lot of vibration from the front end, which could have been down to the fact that the track is often dirty here on the first day. I could see from the television that I wasn’t the only rider to struggle with it. Even so we set a decent lap time, virtually the same as Randy, and then in the afternoon we couldn’t really improve on it because of the weather. We did a short run on wet tyres just to try and get some data in case it rains again for the race on Sunday. Overall I am quite satisfied with the first day here and I hope we can continue making improvements tomorrow”.
COLIN EDWARDS (15th – NGM Mobile Forward Racing): “We tested here at the beginning of the year a couple of times, the bike is a little bit different obviously since then, completely different electronics package that what we’ve finished on. Spent this morning trying to understanding if we were in the ballpark or not, bike setting obviously felt rigid this morning; we are going to play around with it and soften it up a little bit. This afternoon it rained so it was kind of a waste, we couldn’t get much done”.
MICHELE PIRRO (16th – San Carlo Honda Gresini): “It is a real shame about this afternoon because we haven’t been able to get the work done that we had planned. It is another new circuit for our bike and it is important for us to have the track time to find a set-up. To go second fastest this afternoon in the mixed conditions is a partial satisfaction but obviously it doesn’t mean much. Hopefully we can have good weather tomorrow so that we can work throughout both sessions without interruptions”.
ROBERTO ROLFO (18th – Speed Master): “I’m quite happy with how these two sessions went today. We managed to improve our performance in the distance, when this morning the track was dry we decided to work in a different way from the GP of Japan. Now that I know the bike better, we focused on working on the race rhythm, in order to be consistent and manage not to struggle when we get halfway through the race. The situation is positive, because I’m dealing with the bike better and better, time after time. For us the session of the afternoon was very useful as well, with damp track in few points, so that we managed to understand the reactions of the ART machine in such conditions. We used a slick tyre at the right moment, so it was a good session. All that will be useful to be ready for Sunday and keep making progress”.
Sincerely, Eduard Ballús