Press releases from the Moto2 and 125cc teams after the first day of practice at Mugello:
Busy day for RW Racing GP
The first day of the Italian GP at the fabulous Mugello circuit was a busy one for RW Racing GP. The circumstances for the first free practice were pretty good: warm and dry. Nevertheless Luis Salom could not lap faster than 20th – much to the dissatisfaction of the Spanish rider who rounded off his first 125cc podium finish in the Dutch TT just a week ago.
The Mugello track in the hills of Tuscany has a completely different character than the TT-circuit in the heathlands of Drenthe. Therefore the setup of the motorbike had to be changed drastically. Something had gone wrong doing so.
Crew chief Hans Spaan and his team had their hands full in between the two sessions to improve the machine.
Meanwhile the weather had changed radically. Temperatures had dropped at least five degrees, the sun was hidden behind dark clouds. In the beginning of the session it was still reasonably dry, with just a few drops of rain. Salom set his time – good for seventh – in just six laps before the team called him in. ,,Because we had made so many changes between the two practice sessions, I wanted to check if everything was working well,'' Hans Spaan explained.
Besides that the bike needed new tyres. The new, grippy surface of the track wears off the rubber more quickly. ,,I wasn't very happy to come in so soon, but when I saw the tyres I understood the need for it,'' Salom said. ,,A crash is not an option. The team doesn't want to have me in the hospital.''
While the mechanics were checking Saloms bike, the spitting turned into a real shower which made a faster lap impossible. ,,That's a pity, because I think I could have been a lot faster. Maybe somewhere around third or fourth. On the other hand: it's just a free practice. Nothing is at stake yet. But I do hope I can make a good set of laps in the remaining free practice on saturday morning to get some more rhythm and build up more feeling with my bike and the track.''
BANKIA ASPAR RIDER NICO TEROL MAKES DOMINANT RETURN FROM INJURY
Spanish rider takes control of Italian Grand Prix despite stitches in hand wound
For the third Grand Prix in succession free practice was affected by rain today as a sunny morning in Tuscany gave way to showers in the afternoon. It led to an early finish for the majority of 125cc riders in their second session but a full hour in the dry this morning gave them chance to work on their machines and series leader Nico Terol the opportunity to make a strong statement on his return from a hand injury that ruled him out of the last race at Assen.
Just as he did last year at Brno, when he also returned on top form after a one-race absence, the BANKIA Aspar rider showed no signs of rustiness and although it promises to be a long weekend the Spaniard certainly showed his intent to challenge for victory on Sunday. He was the only rider to lap in the 1'58s today, with a gap of eight tenths over his nearest rival. His team-mates Héctor Faubel and Adrián Martín also made a decent start, lapping eighth and ninth fastest respectively.
1st Nico Terol 1.58.673 (19 laps): "My finger was painful the first time I got on the bike this morning which was to be expected, especially when it is cold. I have had to change my riding a little bit to adapt but I am happy with the way I progressed and the feeling was much better than I expected. I am suffering under braking but when I get focused I can set a quick lap time. The telemetry is showing that I am braking a little early so as not to put too much pressure on my finger but other than that it is as if I am fully fit. My finger is set straight at the moment so every time I braked I was touching the lever, so we cut the lever a bit shorter. We'll see how it goes but with the way we started this morning I am hoping to perform to my full potential this weekend."
8th Héctor Faubel 2.00.767 (20 laps): "I was happy this morning and looking forward to riding because I love this circuit. Everything started well but as we looked to improve the setting we struggled to get the right output from the engine. We changed the cylinder and a few other things for the afternoon but it rained so we didn't get chance to test it properly. We needed a dry track to be able to properly compare the data but it seemed to work well in the wet so we'll see tomorrow."
9th Adrián Martín 2.00.874 (21 laps): "I am happy because we have started the Grand Prix quite well and we were able to work on the race set-up. I did a few laps behind Héctor and got to know the track because I only had a few laps here last year after a crash. The new surface offers a lot of grip and when it was dry I really enjoyed myself. I hope we can prepare well for tomorrow because my target is a top ten position on the grid."
MUGELLO GP: IANNONE AMONG THE FASTEST RIDERS, SETTING THE FOURTH BEST LAP TIME IN FP2
Today's sessions set the beginning of the awaited Gran Premio d'Italia TIM, at the Tuscan circuit of Mugello.
The weekend started positively for Speed Master team: in the first free practice, Iannone and his crew managed to complete the work that had been scheduled and to gather some initial data to prepare the setting for the Suter MMXI machine. Throughout the session, Andrea kept improving his lap times, eventually finishing sixth.
The grip on the track, later in the day, was altered by a passing rain shower before the afternoon practice, which initially made it harder to set the same lap times of the morning. With few minutes left, the rider from Vasto completed a series of laps on a great pace, ending the day with the time of 1'53.522, less than three tenth off the fastest rider.
Andrea Iannone, #29 — free practice n. 2: 4th with 1'53.522
"Today it was kind of a positive day. I'm satisfied because we have a good pace, we were one second faster than last year, starting from today. We tried out some modifications that helped us and at the moment we have some clear information regarding the work we have to do for tomorrow. Doubtlessly, after the negative phase we had to deal with, today's result turns this day into a very positive one. I'd like to thank Suter, the team, the mechanics, all the sponsors and my fans for their support."
Marc Márquez leads Moto2 in the first free practice
The Repsol rider finishes on top in two very close sessions
Good start for Márquez in Italy after his victory in Holland less than a week ago. Emilio Alzamora's pupil, who had two testing days in Mugello last month, was able to take full advantage of that experience and today was very fast on the Italian track. Márquez set the fastest time in both free practice sessions of the Italian Grand Prix.
In the morning, during his first contact with Mugello's tarmac, Marc was very strong from the beginning, reducing last year's pole time in only half a dozen laps, being the first rider to go below the 1 minute 55 seconds mark. Second place was for Germany's Stefan Bradl, leader of the overall standings.
Once the first free practice finished, in the afternoon some dark clouds covered the sky over the circuit and started to rain during the MotoGP session. Then it stopped raining and when Moto2 started the track was already dry. In this second free practice session, the Repsol rider was again the fastest in this hard-fought class, followed again by Bradl.
Always among the top ten in the classification, 5 minutes before the end he took the lead and, despite De Angelis and Bradl's attacks, Márquez kept the first position until the end of the 45-minute session.
FP1 - 1:53.701, 19 laps, 100 km.
FP2 - 1:53.241, 20 laps, 105 km.
"Truth is that we had a fairly good start and I am sure that the test we did two weeks ago helped me a lot to prepare, but tomorrow the rest of riders will improve without doubt and we also need to fine-tune some things. Track conditions had change a lot since the tests, as back then the tarmac was very slippery. Now, with the MotoGPs there is more rubber and the grip is much better.
The times set are very fast and we are at a very good level. Tomorrow we will try to find some improvement, especially in the front of the bike and then we will need to be calmed and do our job; if we do it well, I am confident we will have a good starting position on Sunday".
Electronic problems slow Lüthi's progress
Team Interwetten Paddock Moto2 rider Thomas Lüthi had a slow start into the Italian Motorcycle Grand Prix: A small electronic bug caused his engine to cut out during the first free practice session on Friday morning, and even though the team technicians and the specialists for the Honda-built engine managed to get to the source of the problem and to fix the bike for the afternoon, Lüthi still paid tribute to the lost track time and had to settle for 16th place in the classification. "There is still a lot of work ahead of us today, if we want to be fully competitive tomorrow", said team manager Terrell Thien. Tom Lüthi, his crew chief Alfred Willecke and the specialists from Suter Racing Technology and Öhlins therefore spent long afternoon hours in the garage analyzing and discussing the computer data, in order to find the right set-up for the beautiful but also very demanding 5.5 kilometre track of Mugello.< /b>
Tom Lüthi – 16th in 1.54,563:
"We are way out with the balance of the bike. The front isn't tracking as well as usual and I'm running wide in the corners. Now we have to work extra-hard in order to get our problems sorted before qualifying tomorrow. Due to an electronic problem, we didn't achieve much in the first free practice session, and now we are way behind the other with the set-up of our bike. But I'm confident that we can sort through most of our issues and that we'll be able to make a big step forward tomorrow. It's a lot of fun to ride here, especially since the re-surfaced the track and most of the bumps are gone. Mugello is a very nice place – we just need to adapt the bike to its beauty!"
BUSY FIRST DAY FOR NEW MAPFRE ASPAR LINE-UP AT MUGELLO
Raffaele de Rosa rides a Suter for first time as Jordi Torres gets used to new circuit
Unlike recent Grands Prix the Moto2 riders were the luckiest category today as mixed weather again hit free practice. The intermediate riders had two full dry sessions with Márquez, Bradl and De Angelis setting the pace in both. As expected the demanding Mugello circuit saw increased gaps in the lap times compared to usual but the fight for positions was just as eagerly contested.
The task for the MAPFRE Aspar riders today was to complete as many laps as possible, with Raffaele de Rosa making his debut with the MAPFRE Aspar Team and on a Suter chassis, whilst Jordi Torres, who rides a Suter in the Spanish Championship, had never ridden at this circuit before on a Moto2 bike. This is Jordi's second outing with the team after also competing at Silverstone three weeks ago and he marked his return with the 28th fastest time, De Rosa finishing the day in 21st.
21st Raffaele De Rosa 1.54.679 (28 laps): "Today was my first time on a Suter chassis and it is a lot of fun. It is easier to ride but like anything it needs a lot of working on. Even though it was the first day I felt comfortable and we improved my feeling this afternoon. I am sure we will improve more tomorrow. I am really happy to be riding this weekend because we weren't sure up until the last minute. I want to thank the MAPFRE Aspar Team for the big effort they have made to get me out on track. It is a while since I have worked with such a professional team and I also want to thank the race organisers for making it possible. It is exciting to be racing at Mugello because it is my favourite circuit and my home Grand Prix."
28th Jordi Torres 1.55.224 (30 laps): "The day went well and I didn't find it too hard to get my pace together. The team works very effectively and that helps too. I am happy because little by little I learnt the corners and halfway through the session I was in a good position. In this category everybody pushes hard at the end and we had made a change that didn't work as we wanted. We weren't looking for a fast lap today, we needed to get laps under our belt and get our reference points for this circuit, which is not an easy task. Let's see if we can improve tomorrow and qualify in the top twenty."
REDDING AND KALLIO BOOSTED BY PRACTICE PACE
The Marc VDS Racing Team avoided the worst of the Italian weather to enjoy a positive and productive opening day of practice for the Gran Premio D'Italia TIM today.
Scott Redding and Mika Kallio made a solid start to round eight of the 2011 Moto2 World Championship this morning. In near perfect conditions as temperatures nudged over 30 degrees at the Mugello circuit, which is nestled in the spectacular rolling Tuscany countryside, Redding was 10th quickest and Kallio 16th.
It looked like their plans to make major improvements to the set-up of their Suter MMXI machines would be thwarted by light rain that disrupted the earlier 125cc and MotoGP sessions this afternoon.
But after riding in almost constantly wet conditions in Silverstone and Assen recently, the rain stopped and this afternoon's session was run on a completely dry track. Redding and Kallio took full advantage of the sudden improvement in conditions, with both utilising front-end modifications to the maximum to set a competitive pace inside the top 15.
Redding finished fifth fastest with a quickest time of 1.54.010, the 18-year-old benefitting from weight distribution changes to improve confidence with the front-end of his Marc VDS Racing Team bike.
And a new Öhlins front fork setting inspired Finn Kallio to 12th position on the timesheets, with his best time of 1.54.331 putting him less than 0.3s behind Redding.
Scott Redding #45 - 1.54.010 - 31 laps - 5th position
"I felt pretty comfortable from the start this morning and I knew I could improve on tenth position with some tweaks to the bike. This morning I was losing in the first section and that was partially down to me. This track is so fast and flowing that you've got to relax and try and be smooth. But I'm an aggressive rider and I had to stay calm this afternoon and I felt much better in that section. The confidence I had last year with the front is gradually coming back and that is really important for me. The most important thing is that I'm in the ballpark on Friday and we know we can make some more steps to improve the bike, so it is all looking good so far."
Mika Kallio #36 - 1.54.331 - 33 laps - 12th position
"Today was much better and the biggest improvement came from changing the front fork internals. This is the first time I've used this setting and it is a completely different feeling, but it was definitely a big step in the right direction. With the new fork setting the front feels more stable and it feels like I've got more support with the front tyre now. Now we can fine-tune this front setting with some more time because in a few corners I had a small chatter problem, but nothing we can't solve I'm sure. The grip of the new surface doesn't feel much better than the old tarmac, but the big improvement is the bumps. The surface is much smoother and now in the high speed corners you can enjoy riding much more without the bike moving a lot on the bumps."
Pete Benson - Scott Redding Crew Chief
"Finally the weather favoured us today after Silverstone and Assen and it was a pretty good day for Scott. We still need to find half-a-second tomorrow but we've been working a lot with the front suspension to get it working better. We've had some little issues for a few races now but we are slowly getting it better and better and Scott was much happier today. He said the changes halved the problem we've had for a while and we've put some more weight on the front to help with the balance of the bike. We also tried some changes to the rear and we made improvements in that area. Scott is a lot faster than he was here last year so we're moving in the right direction, but 0.7s to the fastest time is still too much, though I'm confident tomorrow we'll close the gap."
Promising start for Neukirchner
West slowed with engine problems
MZ factory rider Max Neukirchner had a promising start into the Italian Grand Prix at Mugello and finished the first day of practice in a strong 15th position. The 28-year-old German, who had never raced at Mugello before, improved his lap time by two seconds from the morning to the afternoon and narrowed the gap to the best time to just 1.3 seconds. "I am happy with the improvement of Max," said crew chief Marco Nicotari. "The bike was running well, too. The only thing Max needs is to deepen his understanding of the bike and the right riding style on this track, then we are where we want to be."
Team-mate Anthony West on the other hand struggled with two problems on Friday: In the morning, his engine didn't run as well as usual and in the afternoon, the chassis settings of his bike didn't match the hard tyre compound that turned out to be the right choice for the hot and humid conditions. "Anthony's lap times were quite competitive in the morning, but we weren't able to improve in the afternoon", said MZ CEO and crew chief Martin Wimmer. "I thought the softer tyre would be the right choice and we worked on a set-up to match. When we changed to the harder rear tyre, our settings obviously weren't right any more. Luckily, Max was fast and competitive – we will now compare the data of both riders and see what we can learn!"
Max Neukirchner – 15th in 1:54.562 min.:
"I am very, very pleased. My team and I did a very good job. It was tough to ride in the afternoon because of the hot weather, but it was rewarding in the end and we got a great result. I liked the Mugello track immediately, it is a lot of fun to ride here – and the new tarmac has an incredible amount of grip!"
Anthony West –33rd in 1:55.998 min.:
"I've got a lot of silly problems but we are sorting them out. I am happy with how the bike is going, it's getting better all the time. I just lost a few laps this morning because the engine wasn't running properly. We managed to fix it for the afternoon and I tried to do as many laps as possible!"