Press releases from the MotoGP teams on Friday after the first day of practice at Barcelona:
Stoner fastest on rain-interrupted opening day in Catalunya
Round 5: Catalunya GP – Free Practice One & Two
Catalunya Circuit, Friday 3 June 2011
Bridgestone slick compounds available: Front: Medium, Hard. Rear (asymmetric): Medium, Hard
Repsol Honda's Casey Stoner continued the dominating form he showed in France last time out by topping the timesheets during both of today's free practice sessions.
The first 45minute practice was cut eight minutes short by a rain shower, whilst the afternoon's session was interrupted mid-way during which time a few riders ventured out on Bridgestone's wet tyres. The weather in Catalunya has been mixed all day so the track soon dried and Stoner improved his time to within 0.6seconds of the existing lap record using the softer option front and the harder rear slicks.
San Carlo Honda Gresini's Marco Simoncelli was second fastest, half a second adrift of Stoner and just over 0.1seconds ahead of the Honda of Andrea Dovizioso on combined times from both sessions. Due to the unsettled nature of the day's running, the top four riders were faster in the afternoon but the majority of riders were all faster in the morning.
Colin Edwards was sidelined during the second session with a crash that saw him taken to the medical centre where he was diagnosed with a fractured right collarbone, which will undoubtedly rule him out of this Grand Prix.
MotoGP action resumes tomorrow at 1010hrs local time with the third and final free practice before an hour of qualifying in the afternoon. The weather forecast continues to be unsettled with a 30 per cent chance of rain all day.
Hirohide Hamashima – Assistant to Director, Motorsport Tyre Development Division
"Conditions on track today were a little tricky because the rain showers throughout the day left the track quite slippery and dirty, and especially in the afternoon running was disrupted mid-session so the teams lost some valuable track-time. Still, Casey's pace at the end of the second session was good and I am pleased that he could be within 0.6seconds of the lap record, especially given the circumstances. Most riders used the softer rear tyre today because of the weather conditions, and it is this softer rear that we have brought to Catalunya this season as a change to our tyre compound selection since last year. Instead of the hard and extra hard rears, we have brought medium and hard this time. Tyre wear appearance is not so bad even here where it is very demanding for tyres so I am happy with our revised tyre choices for this weekend. I hope Colin can recover soon and get back on track - it is rare to see him out with injury and I wish him a speedy return."
Weather affected the performance of Karel Abraham
Grand Prix of Catalunya had a difficult start for Karel Abraham who finished in fifteenth place in the combined timesheet of the first and the second free practice.
"I cannot be satisfied with the result of the first and the second free practice," said Karel Abraham after his return to the garage of the Cardion AB Motoracing team.
Both practices have been affected by rain which caused that the Czech motorcycle rider completed only 20 laps and set a best time of 1.46,280 which placed him in fifteenth place, just 3,340 seconds behind the fastest rider Casey Stoner.
"The weather wasn't ideal. While in the first practice it was raining in the end, in the second practice it was raining at the beginning and that affected times which I reached."
Grand Prix of Catalunya continues tomorrow on the third free practice and qualification.
"We have to change the set-up of the motorcycle before the qualification. We had a big problems especially with the grip of the tyres which was bad for both dry and wet conditions," added.
Provisional front row for Stoner and Dovizioso in Catalunya
The Repsol Honda riders reached the top of the timing sheets today in the first day of free practice of the Grand Prix of Catalunya, after dealing with a range of weather conditions. Casey Stoner was the fastest rider on track and Andrea Dovizioso the third fastest in the combined free practices times.
The Repsol Honda team who will compete in the fifth round of the Championship without Dani Pedrosa due to his injured right collarbone, completed two successful sessions today before the all important qualifying, to be held tomorrow.
With clear skies in the morning and light rain that delayed the start of some riders in the afternoon, both Casey Stoner and Andrea Dovizioso rode consistently and had good pace. The Australian was the only rider capable of lapping in 1'42 when with fifteen minutes of the session remaining, all riders put on slick rear tyres to attack the clock. Dovizioso and Stoner both improved their lap times by one second from the morning to the afternoon and both find themselves placed on a provisional front row.
CASEY STONER – 1st 1'42.940
"We're quite happy with the day, unfortunately we didn't get a lot of good wet or dry track time so a lot of time was wasted in changeable conditions and not achieving much. However, in general we got a pretty good feeling with the bike and everything seems to be working well. We would like to improve rear grip and turning on the exit, also some more stability on the brakes, but in general the bike feels good and we're confident we can go faster tomorrow, hopefully in dry conditions and we'll see what we can do. Physically I feel better than I have done in the past weeks, I've got blocked sinuses which doesn't help when I'm trying to concentrate and my ears are popping but I'm trying to put this to one side and concentrate on the job at hand".
ANDREA DOVIZIOSO – 3rd 1'43.603
"This afternoon we started with wet conditions and then the track dried out, however, it was not wet enough so we destroyed the tyres after few laps. All in all it was a good session and we tested both soft and hard tyres in preparation for the race, in case there will be changeable weather conditions. I'm happy with the feeling with the bike. We are 6 tenths from Casey but I think we can improve tomorrow. We did a good job and we will continue working in this direction tomorrow".
Crutchlow learning fast, Edwards injured in Catalunya
The Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Team started the Catalunya MotoGP round in Spain with a day of contrasting fortunes for Cal Crutchlow and Colin Edwards.
Crutchlow once again demonstrated his expert skill at learning new tracks fast to finish seventh fastest on the combined timesheets, the British rider producing another impressive performance on the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Team YZR-M1 machine on a circuit he's never ridden at before in his career.
He set a best time of 1.44.797 to finish less than 0.2s away from the top five, the 25-year-old setting a competitive pace on a dry and damp track as the first day of action was disrupted by rain showers.
The f ifth round of the 2011 MotoGP World Championship ended in premature and painful fashion for team-mate Edwards though after he was diagnosed with a broken right collarbone following a heavy crash in this afternoon's second free practice session.
The day had started full of promise for Edwards and the experienced American was sixth fastest this morning with a best time of 1.44.768. The opening day of action saw frequent rain showers dampen the Montmelo circuit and a cloudburst during the early 125cc practice session meant the second MotoGP session got underway on a damp track.
The track dried rapidly and with just over 15 minutes remaining, the field switched to slick tyres as lap times significantly improved with the better conditions. Edwards had completed one run on slick rubber when he switched bikes and was an out lap when he crashed at Turn 5. He landed heavily and was immediately attended to by trackside m arshals before being transferred to the Medical Centre, where further checks revealed he'd suffered a broken right collarbone.
Edwards was later taken to the Dexeus Institute Hospital in Barcelona where he will undergo surgery performed by Dr Xavier Mir, who has previously treated Dani Pedrosa and Jorge Lorenzo.
Cal Crutchlow 7th:
"I really like the track. It seems to suit my riding style and it turned to be a positive first day for me. I used the same set of slick tyres all day and I ran the hard rear tyre, so I'm sure I could have gone quicker if I'd used the softer option. I did a few laps in the wet but it wasn't really wet conditions and it was a bit of a waste of time. Learning the braking markers is one of the biggest challenges and in the first corner, I was losing 0.4s on the brakes just at that point. I could m ake up time in other places but you can't afford to lose that much time in just one corner. I followed Valentino for a little bit and that was nice because you can learn stuff really quickly. He is smooth as silk and it is incredible to be learning off somebody who is my hero, but if I keep improving there is no reason why I can't have a good qualifying and be fighting for the top ten again in the race. I'm really sad that Colin has got injured. He's been riding brilliantly all season and everybody at Monster Yamaha Tech 3 wishes him a speedy recovery."
Herve Poncharal – Team Manager:
"Unfortunately Colin has broken his right collarbone and this is a big shame for him and for the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Team because we were confident he was going to be very strong and competitive this weekend. Colin has been superb so far this season and he has shown that even when the competition is probably stronger than ever in MotoGP, he is still one of the fastest out there. It looks like he paid a heavy price for a very small mistake. He landed heavily on his shoulder and it was clear from the TV pictures that he was in a lot of pain. He will have an operation tonight, so we should have a clearer idea of how long the recovery process will be later this weekend. The important thing now is that he rests and recovers as quickly as he possibly can. We wish him a fast recovery and hope that it is not too long before we see him back in the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Team garage."
CHANGEABLE WEATHER AFFECTS FIRST DAY IN CATALUNYA
Héctor Barberá caught out by the rain and off the pace
The absence of Dani Pedrosa and intermittent rain throughout made for a strange first day at the Grand Prix of Catalunya, where Casey Stoner set the fastest time. The highest placed Spaniard today was in fourth place, to add to the disappointment of the local crowd, who were denied two full free practice sessions of riders on track due to the inclement weather.
It was a tough start to the weekend for MAPFRE Aspar rider Héctor Barberá, who seemed to be swimming against the tide in both sessions. In the morning he tried a new electronic set-up that did not work out and after taking a step backwards he was unable to fully evaluate his set-up due to the conditions. He was also affected by a bad headache this morning, which didn't help matters, and although his pace in the wet was decent he is looking for much more tomorrow.
16th Héctor Barberá 1.46.501 (22 laps): "We made some changes to the electronics for the first eight laps of this morning, which didn't work. We had to go backwards and then when we went out on to the track it started to spit with rain so we couldn't evaluate the changes. In the afternoon I felt really comfortable with the wet setting but overall today wasn't a good day. I felt dizzy between the two sessions and out of strength so I am heading to the clinica to see if they can give me something and then I just want to rest. Hopefully I can be better tomorrow."
Bautista in top 10 on first day at Barcelona
Publish Date: Friday, June 03, 2011
Álvaro Bautista made a steady start on the first day of his home Grand Prix to record 10th place in this afternoon's free practice session and 11th overall on combined times.
Bautista (1'45.751, 32 laps) was only able to complete 12 laps during the first session this morning as intermittent rain made conditions very difficult. The weather cost all the riders almost half of the session as they waited for the track to improve and more inclement weather later in the day made the start of the afternoon practice quite wet. As it dried out Bautista became the first rider brave enough to use slick tyres – a decision that rewarded him with his first visit to the top of the leader-board this season. He continued to find a rhythm during the rest of the time available and set his fastest time of the day on his very last lap. Today's best time was set by Casey Stoner on a Honda.
Bautista has one more free practice session tomorrow morning followed by an hour of qualifying in the afternoon. He will be hoping that the forecasted rain stays away so he can get as much dry practice as possible and make sure he is prepared for whatever conditions face him in Sunday's 25 lap race.
"It has been a very strange day today because of the weather. This morning we did less than half of the practice due to the rain and it was also quite difficult this afternoon. We made some changes to improve on the grip in the wet and I started to get a much better feeling from the bike. As it dried out later in the day I was able to go quicker and felt quite good on the bike, but now we have to wait for tomorrow and see what the conditions are. I am very confident for this weekend and hope that I can get the feeling back that I had before my injury. I had a good race here last year and now I've got my fitness back, and I'm at my home race, I ‘m sure that I can go well. I know that tomorrow we can improve the bike because we have a lot of information to make it go better. I'm really looking forward to Sunday's race – I think it could be quite a good one!"
Paul Denning – Team Manager:
"Álvaro was looking for more performance than he was able to produce on one of his favourite circuits today. The weather conditions and the colder temperatures made the race-track less fun than usual and it's completely understandable – coming back from the injury – that he took things step-by-step. He started to get a better feeling towards the end of FP2, but by then the tyres had done a lot of laps, so fingers crossed the weather will warm up and he can have a lot more fun tomorrow."
ELIAS SETS BETTER PACE AT MIXED CATALUNYA GP OPENING DAY
Barcelona, 3 June: Montmeló race track hosts this weekend the Catalunya Grand Prix north of Barcelona, a race with a rich history and massive crowds that marks the first of six races in eight weeks. Mixed conditions welcomed the premier class riders at the opening day of the Spanish round with Stoner still on the top of the time sheet.
LCR Honda MotoGP racer Toni Elias has vast experience in Catalunya as he was second in the 125cc grand prix as far back as 2001. That may not help him much this season but the 28-year-old from Manresa wants to continue his progression aboard the RCV and today's first run out at his "home" track starts with a positive feeling. Elias set the 11th fastest time of the day and will test the 2011 updated chassis in tomorrow's second day of practices.
Elias: "I feel satisfied about my performance today because in these conditions (not completely wet and not completely dry) I could have been the last one again but we improved our feeling and this makes me happy. Our plan was to improve our base set up of Le Mans including the chassis and suspension regulations to compare all these data with the new chassis we are using tomorrow. I think we had a positive start of the weekend and aim to continue in this way especially at my home race ahead my fans".
SIMONCELLI GIVES CHASE TO STONER ON DAY ONE
Team San Carlo Honda Gresini rider Marco Simoncelli put the unsettling events of Le Mans behind him today and focused on the job at hand as the Grand Prix of Catalunya got underway in Barcelona. A determined performance saw him lap second fastest in free practice behind Casey Stoner during limited track time due to the mixed weather. "Super Sic" is hopeful of reducing the gap to Stoner tomorrow as he looks to build a challenge for victory in Sunday's race. Hiroshi Aoyama also produced a positive performance as he continues to build on a promising start to the season.
Marco Simoncelli (2nd 1'43.468) "I was a little tense when I arrived at the track on Wednesday but I was able to relax more and more over the course of yesterday and as soon as I got on the bike today I felt comfortable and without bad thoughts on my mind. We have made a good start. Stoner is slightly faster but we are close. We have to try and improve in sectors three and four because they are the two places I am losing time but I am confident that we have picked up where we left off. We have work to do but I think we can do it and if I can stay close to him in the race I will be able to see what I can learn from him. Obviously the mixed conditions today didn't help because it limited us to less than twenty laps so hopefully we can have better weather tomorrow."
Hiroshi Aoyama (8th 1'45.666) "The weather today didn't allow us to work how we would have liked but I am quite satisfied. Even when the track looked dry it wasn't perfect and it is difficult to find the right set-up for the bike in these conditions. Hopefully it will improve tomorrow so that we can work on finding the right set-up for the bike and make sure of a good grid position."
Fausto Gresini "I would say that overall today was more than positive. Marco was calm and concentrated and able to set some consistently fast laps. He was able to release some of the tension from the last few days out on the track and it went well. Together with his technicians we will try a few things to improve in certain areas of the track but we have a good base to build from. Eighth place for Aoyama shows that he is getting stronger – there is no pressure on him and it is important at this stage of his career that he continues to do so without making mistakes."
Unpredictable Weather Signals the Start to the Grand Prix of Catalunya
The MotoGP paddock had a less than perfect start to the GP of Catalunya today at the Montmeló circuit as changing weather conditions disrupted the first free practice sessions. A sunny morning gradually changed to deliver spots of rain towards the end of the first practice. The second session in the afternoon saw the same disruption with the first 30 minutes wet and just over 20 minutes of drying time available at the end for the riders.
Both Yamaha Factory Racing riders made as much use of the dry time as possible, testing some different chassis settings and for Ben Spies some different body positioning in the hunt for more performance. Lorenzo and his team mate recorded their fastest times of the day in the morning session going fourth and fifth respectively, positions they retained in the second heat, giving them a provisional second row position.
Position : 4th Time: 1'43.810 Laps: 15
"Today we didn't ride so much because the rain started at the end of the first session and the opposite in the afternoon. There were only 20 minutes of dry time at the end so we had only eight laps more or less to try some settings of the bike. We are quite far from first position but we have another full practice tomorrow morning to improve. I'm happy to be here with my home crowd but it's going to be tough to fight for victory. I need to be patient and calm and give it the maximum and fight for the podium."
Position : 5th Time: 1'44.646 Laps: 24
"I'm feeling good about today, it was a tricky session going out in the rain and dry, you couldn't see how wet it was on the track so I had to feel it out a bit. We had a pretty big change on the bike trying to move my position around; I think we've found something and we're hoping to now get some more dry time tomorrow. To be top five at the end of the first practice day and closer to the front is a lot better so we'll keep building on this."
"We had an odd first day; it's difficult to judge where we are because the circumstances were very strange, wet in the beginning and dry at the end of the second session. Compared to last year the lap times are slower but everybody has more or less the same situation. Hopefully tomorrow it dries so we can prepare ourselves for Sunday, so far we have no major problems."
"The weather didn't help us so much to work on the set up of the bikes today but I can see that we had good speed and after both sessions we have both riders in the top five which is a good starting point for the weekend. Let's wait and see what we can do tomorrow."
FIRST DAY OF FREE PRACTICE IN BARCELONA. DE PUNIET THIRTEENTH, CAPIROSSI RIGHT BEHIND HIM
Rain has characterized the fifth Grand Prix of the 2011 MotoGP season at Barcelona. Nonetheless, the asphalt was still wet in the afternoon session after the morning and early afternoon rain, prompting most riders to spend considerable time in their garages, waiting for the track to dry. That was the case for Randy De Puniet, who didn't trust these conditions and preferred to wait until 20 minutes remained in the session before riding his Ducati. The Frenchman's personal best lap time of the day was a 1'45.821 that came in the first free practice. The situation was similar for Loris Capirossi who, despite turning some more laps on the track, wasn't able to improve his best lap time of 1'46.136. At day's end, therefore, the two Pramac Racing Team riders were in thirteenth and fourteenth position. The final practice sessions are scheduled for tomorrow morning, with qualifying to take place in the afternoon.
Marco Rigamonti – Randy De Puniet Track Engineer
"The track conditions were so strange that drawing conclusions is difficult. We don't know if some of the changes worked or not. This morning's problem with the front disappeared in the afternoon, but another one emerged! We need to understand if the other riders also had difficulty with the track conditions. Tomorrow, assuming the rain holds off, we'll work on solving the problem."
Randy De Puniet – Pramac Racing Team – 13th fastest time in 1'45.821
"It wasn't a simple day for us. The weather conditions didn't help, especially in the afternoon. This morning I once again experienced the same problem with the bike's front end, especially on corner exits. In the second session, on the other hand, we experienced some other problems. Honestly, I can't understand what happened, but the feeling with the bike was completely the opposite between the two sessions. We must try to solve this problem, or we'll have troubles on Sunday."
Loris Capirossi – Pramac Racing Team – 14th fastest time in 1'46.136
"The weather conditions aren't helping us lately. Weather can always shuffle the cards, and we, who are already experiencing more problems than the others lately, have to work twice as hard. I must admit that we go better in the wet; I won't deny that if it rains tomorrow too, maybe I could do better. Anyway, the Team is working well, and we must continue doing so."
UNPREDICTABLE WEATHER CONDITIONS AFFECT FIRST DAY AT CATALUNYA
The first day of practice at the Catalan Grand Prix was affected by variable weather conditions that only left about a half hour of completely dry track time. Both Ducati Marlboro Team riders posted their best lap times of the day in the morning session, before it started raining.
Conditions were the opposite in the afternoon, which began on a wet surface, with the sun only drying the track toward the end. Nicky Hayden and Valentino Rossi were among the riders who weren't able to take advantage of the session's final minutes, so they finished in the eighth and ninth positions, respectively, in the combined times.
Nicky Hayden (Ducati Marlboro Team) 8th, 1:44.799
"It was quite a strange day, with the weather. You just have to deal with it, but it makes it hard to test things when conditions are changing so much. This morning we had a really fine mist through most of the session. This afternoon we tried rain tyres for a bit and then went to slicks, but I wasn't able to improve my time from this morning. In left-handers, I wasn't able to get the left side of the tyre to come in. We tried some things, but you have to be careful to not confuse yourself, because a difference that you may think is due to setup might really just be down to conditions. Hopefully we'll get some better weather tomorrow."
Valentino Rossi (Ducati Marlboro Team) 9th, 1:44.844
"This morning we started with the setup from Le Mans, but we realised that something different was needed for this track; we altered the setup, but the first changes didn't work. Then it started to mist, and that's how it was for half of the first session. The second session started with a wet track, and although we were fast in those conditions, it wasn't possible to work productively on the setup. We're left with some problems to solve and, although the two-second gap isn't accurate, we're still too far from the leaders. Fortunately, we have some ideas for tomorrow in terms of both bike settings and electronics. I spent almost all my time on the same soft tyres, which were quite worn at the finish, so it's also possible to make up some time there. Toward the end of the afternoon session, I stopped to adjust the fork setting, and I only had time left for one more lap—not sufficient to improve my time, but enough to understand that it was a step in the right direction. Tomorrow, weather permitting, we'll see how much we're able to improve. Anyway, although we'll be more competitive if it rains, I would still prefer dry conditions, since that's where we have to work at improving."