2011 Estoril Friday MotoGP Press Releases

The press releases put out by the MotoGP after practice on Friday at Estoril:


Edwards and Crutchlow return in style at Estoril

Colin Edwards and Cal Crutchlow made an impressively fast return to MotoGP action in Portugal today, the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Team riders lapping consistently inside the top ten during the opening day of practice at the Estoril track.

Edwards ended with the sixth fastest time, the experienced American taking full advantage of unexpectedly dry and warm conditions to set a best time of 1.38.203 that put him less than 0.5s away from the top three.

Forecasts had predicted rain for the opening day of the Portuguese Grand Prix but both sessions took place on a full dry track with temperatures this afternoon nudging close to 25 degrees.

Edwards, who was fourth until the final moments of the second 45-minute session, made big progress in improving side grip with his Monster Yamaha Tech 3 machine having made swingarm set-up changes after he was seventh fastest this morning.

Rookie Crutchlow produced another fantastic performance that not only showcased his ability learn and master new tracks quickly, but the British rider also demonstrated his determination to ride at 100 per cent despite facing a gruelling physical test.

During the long break following the postponement of the Japanese Grand Prix, Crutchlow underwent surgery to solve a numbness issue in his right hand that occurred during the first two races in Qatar and Jerez. But Crutchlow was struck by a chronic arm pump issue again this morning and he needed a large build-up of fluid draining from his right arm in the Clinica Mobile ahead of the second session.

A modified handlebar position helped Crutchlow feel m uch more comfortable on his YZR-M1 machine this afternoon and he was unlucky not to finish inside the top seven after a brilliant performance.

He was as high as seventh in the final stages when he was unfortunate to be bumped down the order to 13th. He ended with a best time of 1.38.912 having knocked nearly 1.5s off from his best time from this morning and he was only 0.5s behind Edwards and marginally over a second away from the fastest pace set by Marco Simoncelli.

Colin Edwards 6th 1.38.203 – 42 laps

"That was a pretty good day and I'm really satisfied. We just rolled the bike off the truck and immediately I had a good feeling without having to make any changes. I've always gone well at this circuit and I've no idea why, but right out of the gate I felt comfortable on the bike and I was able to lap easily insi de the top six for most of both sessions. This afternoon I never used the soft tyre and I probably lost a bit of time that would have put my further up the timesheets, but that's not a big issue on Friday. We played with the balance of the bike this afternoon a little bit and tried something different with the swingarm that gave me better side grip with the hard tyre. I wanted to be open the throttle smoothly and generate some speed and we found a good direction, so I'm happy."

Cal Crutchlow 13th 1.38.760 – 38 laps

"I'm really happy because to be only a second off the pace on a track I've never seen before gives me a lot of confidence. I honestly feel I should have kept that seventh place because I made a late change to the bike and everybody went quicker. I could have gone quicker once I was back on track but I encountered a lot of tr affic and it was like a 125 session! I got held up and that cost me at least a couple of tenths, which would have easily put me in the top ten. This track is much harder to learn than Jerez. It is quite bumpy and you have to be so precise with your lines that it has been quite difficult. But I'm only 0.5s behind Colin and he has a good record at this track. After this morning I didn't think I'd be so fast because I was really struggling with my arm. There was a massive build-up of fluid at the end of the session that I had to get drained and I'm not sure why it has happened. I rode a motocross bike last week without any drama, but the brake pressure on a MotoGP bike is incredible. We moved the handlebars out for this afternoon and it was definitely better and I felt more confident on the brakes, but at the end I've got another big fluid bump on my forearm."


Bautista shows true grit on first day in Portugal

Publish Date: Friday, April 29, 2011

Rizla Suzuki's Álvaro Bautista made an astonishing comeback to MotoGP action at Estoril in Portugal today just six weeks after breaking his left femur in Qatar.

Bautista (P17, 1'40.173, 40 laps) has made an amazing recovery to be fit enough to ride at this weekend's event. The Spaniard showed a true racer's courage around the 4,182m Portuguese circuit to complete today's two sessions. After finishing the first free practice session this morning - with a time only three-hundredths-of-a-second behind his best lap-time from last year at Estoril – Bautista made a further step-up in his performance during the afternoon session. He finished the first day's practice only two-and-a-half- seconds away from the quickest rider of the day – Marco Simoncelli on a Honda - and almost half-of-a-second inside his best time from 2010.

Bautista had no ill-effects from the serious injury he suffered last month and will rest his leg this evening after receiving some physiotherapy from the Clinica Mobile. He is eager to make sure that he is a fit as possible for tomorrow's final free practice in the morning and the afternoon's qualifying session and is in a good condition for Sunday.

Sunday's 28-lap race is the third round of the MotoGP championship and the main event gets underway at 13.00hrs local time (12.00hrs GMT).

Álvaro Bautista:

"I am very happy because I think that nobody expected that after little more than one month I would be able to jump on the bike and ride! When I broke my femur my target was to ride here and I worked very hard to make it happen. I did many kilometres every day between Talavera and Madrid, for my visits to the hyperbaric chamber and for the physiotherapy that I needed - now I can say that I am here and I am riding because of that! I am still not 100%, because I need some more power in my leg, but to be able to ride and get a feeling for the bike and the reference points around the track in my mind to be a MotoGP rider, I am certainly fit enough. I went one second faster this afternoon than I did this morning and my feeling on the bike was very similar, I was just a bit more confident so I could push more. I didn't want to risk anything today, it was all about riding and getting a feeling – I didn't want to push too hard to find that fast lap-time. I am improving every time I get on the bike so that makes things look good for the rest of the weekend. My leg is a bit stiff now so I will need to recover and get a bit of work on it this evening, but it recovered quickly after this morning's session, so I don't think that will be a problem. I think my body is also remembering how to ride a MotoGP bike as well as my mind is, so that is a very positive thing.

"I want to say a big thank-you to all the team for all the confidence they have shown in me. They all know that it is difficult for me to get to my maximum level, but they have given me their full support – so thanks to all of them for that."

Paul Denning – Team Manager:

"Performance is usually only measured by lap-time and position, but today's performance by Álvaro rates amongst the best we've seen at Rizla Suzuki over the last few years. The effort and commitment that he has made to get his body into a good enough condition to ride a Grand Prix bike in such a short time is simply outstanding - he needs to be applauded for his bravery! We didn't use the softer rear tyre this afternoon, which was undoubtedly the one needed to improve the lap-time, because Álvaro simply concentrated on getting the feeling back and recovering his confidence – we have to remember that the last time he was on the bike was not a particularly pleasant experience! The decision to ride this weekend was wholly Álvaro's and so far it has proven to be the right one. Today was the first step in his recovery back to a competitive level."


Karel Abraham made fantastic progress and finished 7th in free practice

Riding his Ducati Desmosedici GP11, the Czech motorcycle rider Karel Abraham made fantastic progress during the free practice and finished 7th, just 0,810 seconds behind the fastest rider.

"I am very satisfied," said Karel Abraham after his return to the garage of the Cardion AB Motoracing team where the mechanics worked mainly on the set-up of the motorcycle.

"We worked on electronics and made good progress," continued Karel Abraham, who was very fast especially in the last sector in which he was only 0,005 seconds behind the reigning world champion Jorge Lorenzo.

"Tomorrow we will try to improve our set-up and then we will see if we can repeat our performance in qualifying," added the Czech motorcycle rider.


Simoncelli fastest as opening day in Estoril just stays dry

Round 3: Portuguese GP – Free Practice One & Two

Estoril Circuit, Friday 29 April 2011

Bridgestone slick compounds available: Front: Soft, Medium. Rear (asymmetric): Medium, Hard

Whilst the weather forecast predicted rain all day, Estoril demonstrated how unpredictable its climate is and both MotoGP free practice sessions remained dry, although the rain came the moment the flag dropped on the premier class this afternoon. Overnight rain left the tarmac dirty and slippery however.

Marco Simoncelli finished the day fastest in both sessions, though it was very close at the front. After the second session, Jorge Lorenzo and Dani Pedrosa were second and third respectively, separated from Simoncelli by just 0.06seconds.

On the dry track, Bridgestone's harder option front and softer asymmetric rear slicks were favoured today by almost all riders. The weather for the rest of the weekend is set to be just as unpredictable as today as rain can quickly blow in from the surrounding mountains, but the soft compound Bridgestone wets are ready and have been selected because Estoril is a particularly slippery circuit in the wet.

The final free practice session will run at 1010hrs local time tomorrow morning, and for now at least the forecast is for the rain that has now hit the circuit to remain.

Tohru Ubukata – General Manager, Bridgestone Motorsport Tyre Development Department

"Many of the teams said they hoped for dry running here in Estoril so they will have got a lot of valuable track time today. The times were good, but at 0.7seconds off the circuit lap record there is clearly more to come if tomorrow's sessions are also dry. We know from past experience that the weather here is unpredictable so I am confident we have chosen the best tyres to cope with all situations we could encounter this weekend. After rain last night the circuit was still dirty for all of today and the circuit grip was low as a result. Also, without much direct sun tyre temperatures were a little lower so this is why almost all riders preferred the softer rear slick. But on the front, riders need good stability under heavy braking from high speed, over 300kmh, so this is why the harder front was favoured. Today was the first use this season of our asymmetric slicks and durability was good with Jorge and Valentino in particular each producing a string of consistent laps."

Weather:

FP1: Dry. Ambient 19-21°C; Track 23-28°C (Bridgestone measurement)

FP2: Dry. Ambient 23-24°C; Track 36-39°C (Bridgestone measurement)


FIRST STEP FORWARD FOR ELIAS AT ESTORIL GP OPENING DAY

Estoril, 29 April: premier class riders and teams returned to action today at Estoril race track which hosts the third round of the season after a 3-week break due to the postponement of Japanese GP. Both MotoGP practices were held in dry conditions but only 2 minutes after the second session the famous changeable weather of the Portuguese track affected the Moto2 session with rain showers.

LCR Honda MotoGP racer Toni Elias returned to the scene of his greatest triumph when he won his first premier class race in 2006 ahead Rossi and Roberts Jr. This is the track where the Spaniard hopes to regain his positive feeling aboard the RCV and with the 14th lap time of the day it seems that the 28-year-old has found the right direction.

Elias – 14th – 1'39.912: "Obviously we had a positive first day of practices and I am very happy. Doubtless we still have to improve our position and the bike set up but we have found the right direction to follow and this gives us more confidence. This first step forward was necessary to me and the guys and once we arrived here we established different ways to work. Finally I could make a couple of long run with a good pace and I could try to improve myself as I feel more stable on the bike now. It was a quite good opening for us and want to thank the Team for their efforts".


BUSY DAY FOR BARBERÁ, WHO LAPS INSIDE A SECOND OF FASTEST TIME AT ESTORIL

MAPFRE Aspar makes set-up changes to ease grip problems suffered in recent rounds

The MotoGP riders returned to action this morning at Estoril after almost a month off. As in the 125cc class there was a dominant force in the premier class today although it was not the name of a Rossi, Pedrosa, Lorenzo or Stoner at the top, Marco Simoncelli proving to be the surprise package of an entertaining first day. The pace was hot (a fastest lap of 1'37.6 compared to the lap record of 1'36.9) and so was the weather, although there were some damp patches on the track throughout a humid day that turned to thunderstorms shortly after the track action ceased.

There were plenty of changes and improvements to be made by MAPFRE Aspar rider Héctor Barberá, who worked to improve the grip issues he suffered both in Qatar and Jerez. A significant change to his chassis set-up seemed to have the desired result and the Spaniard was able to lap tenth fastest, just nine tenths off the fastest lap of the day. Weather permitting Héctor is hopeful of making further progress tomorrow ahead of the all-important qualifying session in the afternoon.

10th Héctor Barberá 1.38.611 (38 laps): "I am really happy because we did a great job this morning and I was able to lap 1.8 seconds quicker than I managed in the only dry session here last season. My sensations were more mixed in the afternoon because we went okay but could have done a lot better. The positive thing is that we know we have room to improve and we finished the day quite strongly. We went out today with a very different bike to the one we used at Jerez, when we had a lot of sliding on the rear, but today I felt like I had a lot more grip. We have also tried the harder tyre but I didn't feel too comfortable with that. In general I am satisfied because after three weeks away we have come back with in a positive way. We need to improve the bike under braking and find a balance between stability under braking and acceleration but we are close. We will keep working to get there as soon as possible."


The Repsol Honda Team working hard in Estoril

The Repsol Honda Team has today returned to action at the Estoril circuit for the first two free practice sessions of the Grand Prix of Portugal nearly a month of inactivity after the Jerez race.

Although the sky threatened rain all morning, the MotoGP riders were thankful to have 90 minutes of dry practice time to start working on the race set up. Dani Pedrosa, Casey Stoner and Andrea Dovizioso hope to improve their set up tomorrow and fight for a good grid position for Sunday's race.

After setting the third fastest time of the day just 0.064 seconds behind Marco Simoncelli, Dani Pedrosa finished reasonably satisfied with the performance of his left arm after his surgery on the collarbone. The lack of strength has not reappeared, but obviously the muscles in that area are still very tense and painful. He will continue treatment to his shoulder during the course of the weekend.

Casey Stoner, fifth today with an identical laptime to fourth place Valentino Rossi, and Andrea Dovizioso, twelfth, need to continue work on the set up looking for solutions to deal with issues under braking in Casey's case, and with the front wheel in Andrea's.

DANI PEDROSA – 3rd 1'37.727

"I think the first day of practice has been positive, it's the first race after a major operation so it's only logical that I feel sore and I understand that with a little more time and treatment this will disappear. The pain I feel and some cramps are caused by tension I have in the shoulder area. The last round of laps this afternoon I wanted to extend a little longer to see how I felt, but I made seven laps in a row, which would be about 15 minutes, and this is not enough to make a definitive judgement. Also, if it rains tomorrow it will be important to have a positive practice to get a good position on the grid".

CASEY STONER – 5th 1'38.102

"To be honest I'm not very happy with how the day has gone, we had a few small issues with the bike that took quite a lot of time out of our sessions today. We could have had a much more productive day than we did as we didn't really find any improvements, we have to wait for tomorrow and hope for some dry weather because at this moment we're not too happy with the setting of the bike. We need to improve it a little under braking point and in the middle of the corner where we seem to be struggling to get the bike to turn so if there is some good weather tomorrow we should be able to improve the situation and not be so far".

ANDREA DOVIZIOSO – 12th 1'38.658

"Today I had two difficult practice sessions and I can't be happy. I had no feeling with the front so we made several runs to test the modifications, but the situation in general didn't improve in the afternoon and I struggled to make lap times. Today was dry and I hope tomorrow we can continue to work with the same conditions. According to the weather forecast, it should rain and this would complicate the situation".


"SUPER SIC" ON FORM AT ESTORIL

Marco Simoncelli dominated the first day of free practice at Estoril today, the Team San Carlo Honda Gresini rider setting the fastest lap in both the morning and afternoon sessions. Simoncelli made a determined start to the day, setting a quick and consistent pace from the first lap, and if he can maintain this level of performance tomorrow he is sure to be a contender for honours on Sunday. Having missed out on the podium by just 0.059 seconds last year and crashing out of the lead at Jerez three weeks ago the Italian has certainly signalled his intentions here. Hiroshi Aoyama also found the confidence with his Honda to be lapping in sight of the pacesetters today. Work continues for both riders in tomorrow's final free practice and qualifying sessions.

Marco Simoncelli (1st 1'37.663) "The day went well and I am happy. I was fast already in the morning but with few small changes we were able to stay at the top in the afternoon. I had a little crash but I'm not worried because I know exactly what I did wrong. I have always gone well at Estoril and so far this year it is looking more than promising. Last year I was in touching distance of the podium so a good result on Sunday would be to improve that 2010 performance by two or three positions. In the dry we can be in the mix. We started out with the same setting as Jerez and it went really well. We will have to see what happens in the wet but we shouldn't have the same problems as Jerez. We'll see tomorrow but for today we are happy."

Hiroshi Aoyama (11th 1' 38.645) "We started by comparing some different set-up solutions and the overall result was interesting. We'll keep working on it tomorrow to try and improve our position. We'll see how it goes in practice tomorrow morning and do our best to be ready for a competitive showing in qualifying in the afternoon."

Fausto Gresini "That wasn't bad for the first day! We are really happy with Marco's position and pace. He is motivated and has a good feeling with the bike. Obviously we have to improve but the base is already very good. He had a little crash but it didn't affect the work the team had to do today and he was able to set some good times on his second bike, with a lot of laps on them. Last year he just missed out on the podium and he is still annoyed about what happened at Jerez so these are positive factors for him right now. Hiroshi is not far off the positions that count and he is also improving race by race so I couldn't be happier today."


Promising Start For Lorenzo in Estoril

Yamaha Factory Racing riders Jorge Lorenzo and Ben Spies managed to avoid the rain today as the Portuguese GP got underway at Estoril. Lorenzo got down to business quickly in the first free practice as he looked to set up for his fourth consecutive win in Portugal. The afternoon's second session saw him make a step forward, spending the majority of the 45 minute practice as one of only two riders to break under the 1'38 barrier. The reigning World Champion and current Championship leader completed the second heat in second place just 0.061 from first.

Today marked Texan rider Spies' first opportunity to ride the Estoril circuit in the dry. With no race experience and no dry set up from last year the crew started with a base set up from Jerez in the morning. A number of set up changes followed and Spies also tried the harder Bridgestone tyre option in the afternoon session. The Yamaha Factory rider made steady improvements from morning to afternoon, finishing the day in eighth having improved on the morning session by 0.332 of a second.

Jorge Lorenzo Position : 2nd Time: 1'37.724 Laps: 40

"It's good to be back on track here, I really love riding at Estoril. We have to improve some sectors for Sunday, especially in braking. We lost some tenths in the first sector but we make up for it in the other three so we are up there in second. We are always in the top four which is important."

Ben Spies Position : 8th Time: 1'38.563 Laps: 41

"It hasn't been a perfect day; we've struggled a little bit. We tried to get a feel for the harder tyre this afternoon and don't think that's the right way for us. We tried some different settings through the sessions and we think we know what we need to do. We're not close to the front but we'll find our way up there. I'm pretty confident my guys and me can step up and be there, it's in me and the bike so we'll come back tomorrow and improve."

Wilco Zeelenberg Team Manager

"We're quite lucky because it started to rain on the last lap of the second session. We're happy we missed it because we had quite a few things to try today. This afternoon we focused on some new electronic settings for better grip. We're not ready yet but we had positive comments from Jorge so we are satisfied with the position and lap time so far."

Massimo Meregalli Team Director

"We worked to find a good, balanced set up today for Ben. It was his first day on a dry circuit here in Estoril so it was a learning experience. We've been working hard to make the bike as he wants it; we still have more to do as the set up is not as he would like it yet. Jorge did a really good long run; he definitely has the right rhythm and good pace and should make another step forward tomorrow."


VALENTINO ROSSI AND NICKY HAYDEN START WELL IN PORTUGAL

The rain that was forecast for the first day of practice at the Estoril Grand Prix arrived, but fortunately for the MotoGP riders, both sessions took place in dry conditions. After a nighttime shower, the weather granted a respite until shortly after the finish of the premier class' 45 minute second free-practice session of the top class.

It was a good day for both Ducati Marlboro Team riders, with Valentino Rossi fourth and Nicky Hayden ninth, making progressive improvement from the morning to the afternoon. The Italian rider improved his time by approximately five tenths, while the American actually dropped a second and a half from his earlier time.

Valentino Rossi (Ducati Marlboro Team) 4th, 1:38.102

"I'm pretty satisfied with how the day went. Let's start with my physical condition, which I'm very happy with: I was obviously aware of being a little better when I arrived here, but I wanted to wait until I tested my shoulder on the track, which confirmed that I'm able to ride well and have fun. It still hurts a little, and I'm missing a little strength, but the difference compared to my left shoulder is less. I can concentrate on riding the bike, and when watching myself on television, I can see that my style is starting to be a little more normal. Naturally, we're also working on the bike. Today we used a different weight distribution and some changes to the electronics that worked well. For the first time, we went faster in the afternoon session than in the morning. We dropped almost half a second, getting us closer to the top. I still have some problems with rear grip, so tomorrow we have to do better, but I'm happy for now."

Nicky Hayden (Ducati Marlboro Team) 9th, 1:38.596

"This morning was not a good session at all, but the afternoon was a lot better. We had a problem with one bike in FP1. I'm not sure what happened, but we'll send the engine back to Bologna to check it out. I went back out at the end, but we used hard tyres because I didn't want to waste another soft tyre, since it looks like it will be a soft-tyre race this weekend. Also, I had just gone out with a new setting, and since I only did about four corners, we got no information on that. We lost some valuable time, but this afternoon went better—not spectacular, but pretty steady. I was in the top ten for most of the session, and I had a decent feeling with the bike—I would say better than what the lap time shows. I'm sure everybody thinks they can do better tomorrow, but I feel like we can do a good job and try to get in a good lap in qualifying, which is going to be really important."


DIFFICULT DAY FOR THE PRAMAC RACING TEAM

Although Loris Capirossi and Randy de Puniet have improved their best time compared to this morning free practice session, in the afternoon, during the second free practice session, the white and green duo dropped back in the final ranking. Fifteenth fastest lap time (1'39 .021) for the Italian rider, just behind the French, who stopped the stopwatch with a time of 1'39.137. No one in the Pramac Racing Team may be satisfied even if the fact of Loris Capirossi can count on a new handlebars (designed by his Chief Engineer, Fabiano Sterlacchini) is already a big step forward. Tomorrow, probably in the rain, the opportunity to redeem the today's result.

Fabiano Sterlacchini - Pramac Racing Team Technical Director

"We can not be satisfied with this day, because in the end the time and the rankings that matters. Although we finally solved some small problems, others are left to deal with, we will have to do it tomorrow. Unfortunately, today we also had some bad luck saw that Loris was slowed by some riders when he tried to push".

Loris Capirossi - Pramac Racing Team – 15th fastest lap time in 1'39.021

"The lap time was bad, no doubt, but I'm happy that we have finally found the right set up of the saddle. Now we will work on other important aspects. I also thank my technical director for realizing my new handlebars. I think tomorrow we will make further steps forward".

Randy De Puniet - Pramac Racing Team - 16th fastest lap time in 1'39.137

"I'm not happy with the work done today. I still have problems with the front of the bike, sometimes it is uncontrollable. We tried different solutions, but none was acceptable for the moment. Tomorrow we will focus the work on this aspect. We have always worked well and I am sure we will continue on this path".


 

2011

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