2011 Motegi MotoGP Friday Press Release Round Up

Press releases from the MotoGP teams after the first day of practice at Motegi:

Leaders under lap record already after first day at Motegi

Round 15: Japanese GP – Free Practice One & Two

Twin Ring Motegi, Friday 30 September 2011

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

Fittingly for Honda at their circuit, the leaderboard was dominated today by Honda machines: the Repsol Honda trio of Dani Pedrosa, Casey Stoner and Andrea Dovizioso in first, second and third respectively and San Carlo Honda Gresini Marco Simoncelli fourth fastest.

The lead trio all finished the afternoon's 45-minute free practice session faster than the existing lap record, set by Stoner back in 2008, and were separated by just 0.162seconds. The fastest non-Honda was the Factory Yamaha machine of Jorge Lorenzo in fifth.

After the earthquake that shook the region back in March, part of Twin Ring Motegi was damaged and extensive work has been undertaken to fully restore the MotoGP circuit, which was also used by the IndyCar Series two weeks ago. This means that the track was partially resurfaced at the end of June and is now very smooth, and clearly very fast.

In the morning many riders used the medium compound front slick and in the afternoon all riders tested the hard compound which was favoured in these conditions because of its increased stability which is important in the hard braking zones at Motegi.

This year Bridgestone have selected softer rear tyre compounds for Motegi, based on data from last year and in response to calls from riders for improved warm-up and safety in the opening laps. In the morning session the soft compound rear worked well and was used by some riders throughout the session, but in the afternoon as the laptimes improved the harder rear was favoured. It shows though that both rear compound options are well suited to these conditions.

Hirohide Hamashima – Assistant to Director, Motorsport Tyre Development Division

"Firstly after all the conjecture this season I am pleased that we are running here in Japan and everybody can see that the situation at the circuit is quite safe. The organisers have done a very good job in repairing the damage that was done to the circuit, and the new surface is really very good. The laptimes at the front are both close and very fast, with the top three already all under the lap record which has stood since 2008, so this gives a measure of the level of performance.

"The harder front is clearly preferable here for its improved stability in the heavy braking areas, but in the two sessions today we saw riders using both rear tyre options, indicating that our allocation this weekend is well suited to these conditions and that going one step softer was a good decision. The weather forecast shows that it will be cooler from tomorrow, around 20 degrees Celsius, and this will be the most important factor in tyre compound choice."

Bautista with work to do after first day at Motegi

Publish Date: Friday, September 30, 2011

Rizla Suzuki's Álvaro Bautista recorded the 11th fastest time at Motegi in Japan today, but knows there is more potential to come from rider and machine.

Bautista completed 38 laps of the 4,801m Japanese circuit, recording his quickest time of 1'48.097 on his last lap of the day. He will continue to work through a number of various set-up changes tomorrow and carry on searching for the best tyre choice, as he prepares for Sunday's race.

Today's practice sessions were held in warm and pleasant conditions with track temperatures reaching 41ºC. Dani Pedrosa clocked the best time, with current championship leader Casey Stoner second.

Rizla Suzuki has one more free practice session at its home Grand Prix tomorrow morning, before an hour of qualifying will determine grid positions for Sunday's 24-lap race.

Álvaro Bautista:

"We tested a different setting this morning and compared it against the one from Aragon. We used the new set-up in the bike with the new swinging-arm and it was definitely better. This afternoon we tried the harder option tyres, because although the softer ones were not too bad this morning, I still had a bit of movement entering the corners. This track has a lot of hard braking and the harder front tyre is much better for that because it gives me more stability. We still don't know which compound we will use for the race, so we have to test a bit more tomorrow and it will also depend on the temperature on race-day. At the end I got into a fairly good rhythm, but I still don't feel 100% with the bike. I had a little gear-shift problem and this made judging the braking points quite difficult, and I had a lot of movement because I was moving my whole body to change down a gear. We improved at the end, but not enough and I think that we can make some big steps tomorrow. With some hard work we can make the bike perform better and improve our lap-time."

Paul Denning – Team Manager:

"We didn't get up to speed as quickly as we would have liked to here in Motegi. Álvaro has had a number of small restrictions that have held him back, but on the positive side his best lap-time wasn't faster than his regular rhythm and was very repeatable. By the end of FP2 the gap to the top-six had reduced to a level which will hopefully allow us to make in-roads during tomorrow and the team will improve the bike overnight."

"After much debate – which in the end I am glad we as Rizla Suzuki stayed away from – it's a pleasure to be back in Motegi and find the circuit and the Japanese fans so welcoming to the MotoGP circus!"

Edwards and Crutchlow make solid progress in Motegi practice

Colin Edwards and Cal Cructchlow declared themselves satisfied with progress made on the opening day of practice for the Japanese MotoGP at the Twin Ring Motegi circuit today.

Both were able to post competitive times in cloudy but hot conditions that bodes well for a strong weekend for the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Team in Yamaha's all-important home Grand Prix, which is round 15 of the 2011 World Championship campaign.

American Edwards ended 10th quickest on the combined timesheets after he'd been an impressive seventh fastest in this morning's opening 45-minute session with a lap of 1.48.169. Working hard to gain more confidence and feeling on the hard compound rear Bridge stone tyre option, Edwards was only able to marginally improve his pace to a 1.48.076 this afternoon.

He finished less than 0.3s away from Twin Ring Motegi specialist Hiroshi Aoyama in seventh, giving Yamaha's most experienced rider huge encouragement that he can fight for a place on the second row in tomorrow's qualifying session.

Crutchlow threw himself into the challenge of learning another new track with typical gusto, the British rider finishing 14th fastest on the leaderboard.

He needed just five laps of this afternoon's session to better his time of 1.49.385 from the opening practice. He continued to make big improvements as his experience of the track increased and at the second session's conclusion he had managed to shave off over a second to finish with a best time of 1.48.379.

Quickly adapting to the severe braking points on the 2.983 mil es circuit, Crutchlow finished just over 0.3s away from ninth place and he is optimistic he can compete for his first top 10 qualifying position since the Laguna Seca round in late July tomorrow.

Colin Edwards 10th 1.48.076 – 35 laps:

"It was a decent start to the weekend without being anything too special. I was reasonably happy this morning to be seventh fastest and really close to the top six. But this afternoon we ran the hard tyre for the whole session and I didn't really feel that good. I just can't get the lap time out of it even though I can't really pinpoint any specific issues with it. I can't sit down with my crew and tell them where we've got problems, but it made the bike a little bit more nervous. I expected to be higher than 10th after this morning but this is a point and shoot track and there is no getting away from the fact that we are struggling on acceleration. At a track like this where there is a lot of low gear acceleration points it shows up more. Tomorrow we need to test the softer tyre for a little bit longer to make sure we can do race distance on it, but we'll also be working harder to improve the set-up of the bike on the hard tyre to give us the best chance possible of a strong result for Yamaha on Sunday."

Cal Crutchlow 14th 1.48.379 – 38 laps:

"I'm happy enough with my pace today because this is a really weird and difficult track with a lot of really hard braking points that makes it very physical. I've had a few arm pump issues this year but thankfully the surgery I had a few weeks ago has done the trick because today I had no problems at all. And if there was going to be an issue with my arms it was going to be at this track because of all the hard braking. Unfortunately we're lackin g a bit of engine performance but there is nothing I can do about that. It is a bit of a disadvantage but I managed to find a second this afternoon, so that shows with more experience of the track I am able to make big progress. Track experience is vital because I beat Aoyama in Aragon a couple of weeks ago but today he is seventh fastest. I'm only three tenths from being inside the top 10, so if I can find that time tomorrow and get on the third row of the grid, I'll be well happy with that."

Track Action Begins at Motegi with Free Practice

The first MotoGP practice sessions for the Grand Prix of Japan got underway today at Motegi with contrasting results for the two Yamaha Factory Racing riders. Reigning World Champion Jorge Lorenzo made a solid start to the first session, wrapping it up in fifth place just over six tenths from first. The Mallorcan rider came away from the session hunting for further stability from his YZR-M1 under braking and was also looking for more edge grip. The second session saw improvements in set up bring his time down by seven tenths of a second, reducing the gap slightly to first to just over five tenths of a second.

Lorenzo's team mate Ben Spies has struggled to perform since his arrival in Japan after suffering severe food poisoning en route from the USA. Treatment with Clinica Mobile yesterday evening helped the American find enough strength for the morning practice where he finished in eighth, 0.9 seconds from the front. Exhaustion then set in, resulting in an early end to the afternoon session after just five laps. The team will continue to work closely with Clinica Mobile today and tomorrow morning to improve Spies' condition and stamina for Sunday's race.

Jorge Lorenzo

Position : 5th Time: 1'47.310 Laps: 12

"We improved the lap time quite a lot from the morning to the afternoon session but it's still not enough, the competition is very strong here. It is going to be a very difficult weekend to fight for the podium and the victory. We are trying some things on the bike to improve the stability on braking and into corners. We found a little but still need to find some more! We are fifth which could be worse today."

Ben Spies

Position : 12th Time: 1'48.197 Laps: 5

"What a shocking start to the weekend, I don't think I've ever been as sick as I was on the journey over here, I was nearly not allowed on the plane. I'm slowly getting my strength back thanks to the great guys at Clinica but didn't have enough to ride properly in the second session. I started to get tunnel vision on the straight and just felt it was too dangerous to be out there. I'm working with Clinica today and tomorrow and am sure things will be a bit better for qualifying and the race. I'm really sorry for my team and all the Japanese fans who came to watch today."

Wilco Zeelenberg

Team Manager

"The first day is not really that bad, we look worse on the time sheets than we really are. Jorge's consistency is good which is important. We are missing a little on braking stability and edge grip. We are looking forward to tomorrow, we need to solve these two things but we have a good pace. We need to improve but there is space to do that."

Massimo Meregalli

Team Director

"The food poisoning has made the start of this weekend very difficult. We are working together with Clinica Mobile and Ben's condition is getting better all the time. Yesterday he had some treatment and it helped him complete this morning's session. He thought he could also do the second but I think he used up all his energy in the first heat. We think tomorrow will be better and Sunday he will hopefully be ready for the race."


Day of studying for the replacement of Loris Capirossi for the Japanese Grand Prix, Damian Cudlin. The Australian rider, who made his debut with a MotoGP at Motegi, has ridden a total of 36 laps managing to constantly improve. From the morning free session to the afternoon, in fact, he lowered his time by almost two seconds. Even if he still far from the fastest riders, results don't look bad at all for a rookie. De Puniet finished in thirteenth place even if this wasn't one of the best first days of practice. The French rider was not able to find the right bike set-up and he will try again tomorrow to lower the gap from the firsts. Rain is expected tomorrow in the morning, while the track is expected to return dry in the afternoon for qualifying session which will begin at 2pm local.

Marco Rigamonti – Randy De Puniet Track Engineer

"We started with the same set up of Aragon and the track here, being very different, gave us some problems. We tried to work with the harder tyre, thinking that once changed to the soft one things would improve, but unfortunately it did not go well. Tomorrow we will, weather permitting, focus on the development of the bike in order to give more grip to Randy."

Randy De Puniet – Pramac Racing Team – 13th in 1'48.374

"It was not an easy first day, I am not happy with the sitting of the bike, specially to stop the bike with the braking stability very low. We tried to improve in the afternoon but it wasn't quite enough. The rear grip with the soft tyre isn't so good and we need to work very hard for tomorrow. Also with front and rear suspension we need to make some important modifications. It doesn't look easy right now, but we will not give up and we will try to lower our lap times by at least half a second to be competitive in the race."

Damian Cudlin – Pramac Racing Team - 19th in 1'51.349

"I think basically the first day went ok, we couldn't expect to be faster. It's the first time I step on this bike and the first time I ride in Motegi. There are many things to learn in a short amount of time. We improve at every lap, but I know that the closer we get to the other riders the harder it will be to improve. I just want to concentrate to improve; I am enjoying it a lot at the moment. We don't need to make many changes to the bike right now, I can guarantee that if we leave it like this we will lower our lap times tomorrow morning anyway. Let's hope to have a good Saturday to try to be with some of the other riders during the race."


MAPFRE Aspar rider continues strong recent form with ninth fastest time on opening day

With regular riders, replacements and wildcards there was a healthy number of nineteen MotoGP bikes out on the newly relaid Motegi track today as the Grand Prix of Japan got underway in positive fashion. Unlike the slow lap times that were witnessed in the 125cc class the pace from their MotoGP counterparts was inside the circuit record, with perfect weather conditions and new tarmac around 80% of the track. Casey Stoner did his best as usual to dictate from the start but it was his team-mate Dani Pedrosa who finished with the best time on a dominant day for Honda at their home track.

The effects of jetlag and two insufferable nights with indigestion were not enough to hold back MAPFRE Aspar rider Héctor Barberá, who was ninth fastest in both of today's sessions. The Spaniard's consistent recent improvements have continued here in Japan and he made one of his better starts to a Grand Prix weekend this season. Héctor lies just 1.26 seconds off Pedrosa's best effort and with lots of ideas still to try in terms of set-up, he is hoping to make up vital positions on tomorrow's grid.

9th Héctor Barberá 1.48.055 (32 laps): "I have had two rough nights, vomiting and the rest, so I am feeling pretty weak but you don't even think about that when you're on the bike. The Honda riders are doing a great job but we have our own objectives and after fighting for seventh place in the last race we can do so again here. We are doing a good job so far, we're only three tenths off seventh today and a little more than a second off the fastest time. Everything is in the right place and I know I can continue to improve tomorrow. The goal is to be the fastest Ducati and the two that are in front of us are very close. We made a set-up change at the end of the session today, playing around with the suspension height, and I think it was positive. The new track surface is good, with decent grip, and I am sure it will be even better with more rubber down tomorrow. The best thing is there are less bumps and that allows you to ride with more confidence."

Repsol Honda 1, 2, 3 in day one of practice in Motegi

After the first free practice sessions of the Japanese Grand Prix, Repsol Honda riders Dani Pedrosa, Casey Stoner and Andrea Dovizioso lead the way occupying the top three spots in a dominant performance in front of an enthusiastic home crowd at the Japanese manufacturers home GP.

As well as setting the fastest lap times of the day, the three Repsol Honda riders also recorded the top speeds with Dani at 293,5 km/h, Casey 291,7 km/h and Andrea 290,2 km/h. Lap times improved from last year due to the new surface which was laid after damage was caused to the Motegi track during the earthquake and tsunami of March 11.

Dani returned back to the track where he was unable to race last year due to his injury sustained on Friday morning, to set the fastest time of the day with a 1'46.790, almost four tenths faster than the circuit record (Stoner, 1'47.091, 2008). Casey, the winner in 2010, finished very close behind, just 0.054 off Dani, while Andrea, who took the pole position last year, is third just 0.162 off the top time. Fourth position of the day belonged to San Carlo Honda rider Marco Simoncelli, who was just two tenths off Andrea.

DANI PEDROSA – 1st 1'46.790

"We did a good job today; in the morning we took a good direction and this allowed us to improve a lot in the afternoon, by a second, and this is very important. Tomorrow we have to focus on the set up of the bike; maybe the weather will change a little bit, so we have to be aware of the conditions and try to be fast anytime. In case it does rain tomorrow and we cannot practice anymore in dry conditions, we already have a good set up for the dry. Everybody here at the Motegi circuit has done a very good job with the new surface, the grip is much better than before and this is one of the reasons why the lap times have improved quite a lot already from last year".

CASEY STONER – 2nd 1'46.844

"The bike felt pretty good this morning and then this afternoon we started the session on pretty much the same setting that we ended on this morning, it felt ok but we felt we could improve. Unfortunately we went in slightly the wrong direction and couldn't get the bike to turn or hook up on the last two exits and then we didn't really have enough time to come in and make a change. We know what direction we want to go in now and hopefully tomorrow we can make the small improvements. The new surface here feels very good, very smooth and the grip level is impressive. It's really great to be racing here on a Honda in front of the home fans and I hope we can get a good qualifying tomorrow to prepare best for the race on Sunday".

ANDREA DOVIZIOSO – 3rd 1'46.952

"I am very happy with today's sessions. All the Honda riders are constantly fast and we are all very close. The new tarmac is ok, but totally different feeling from last season, it's still bumpy, even more then before, but anyway we are faster then in 2010. The feeling with the tyres is totally different due to the new tarmac and the biggest problem is to find rear grip entering corners, this is the area where we will concentrate our efforts for tomorrow"

Shinichi Ito happy to return to Grand Prix racing

Today marked one of the most special racing weekends for Shinichi Ito at Motegi, when he re-joined the MotoGP riders for the Japanese GP.

Riding for Team HRC, Ito made good progression throughout the day, improving his afternoon lap time by almost two seconds from the morning session to finish in eighteenth position, only two tenths off Kosuke Akiyoshi, the other HRC test rider abroad the LCR Honda.

Ito returned to participate in a Grand Prix four years after retiring from racing at the same track where he took part in his final race in 2007. With his return he hopes to bring encouragement to those in the East Japan region, who like him, suffered from the devastation of the earthquake and tsunami on March 11th 2011.

SHINICHI ITO – 18th 1'49.673

"Today I returned to the MotoGP Paddock after four years away, it's a very special atmosphere that I like very much. I would like to thank everyone at Honda and I'm very happy to work again with my team manager Taddy, all the mechanics who I have known for a long time and especially HRC President, Suzuki san and HRC Executive Vice-President, Nakamoto san. I really appreciate that they came into the box to give me their comment, it meant a lot to me. After two sessions I'm more confident with 800 machine and I get a better feeling lap by lap but at this moment my lap time on the MotoGP machine is slower than my best lap time with a Superbike. Today I made almost two second progress from FP1 to FP2, but tomorrow I will try to make another step".


Motegi, 30th September: Under darkening skies the MotoGP class headed out for the first day of free practice at Twin Ring Motegi circuit which hosts the fifteenth round of the season. This is the event that was postponed from its original date in April this year due the devastating earthquake and tsunami that hit off the coast of northern Japan in March.

The 4.801 km track was built as a Honda track and the HRC riders have the added motivation for a good performance. The addition of Honda's two test riders as wild cards raises the number of RCV212Vs on the grid to eight. LCR Honda racer Toni Elias is a fan of the Japanese surface and posted a best lap time of 1'48.783 (15th overall) whilst his team mate Akiyoshi made his first run out on LCR RCV setting his best lap time on 1'49.464 (17th overall).

Elias: "We arrived here in Japan with the same target of the last races: we intend to close the gap to the front and this is a track where I always had good performances in the past. We know there's work to do after this first outing but today we made a couple of changes in the front geometry and at the end I got into a fairly good rhythm. I liked those adjustments and I feel more confident ahead tomorrow's practices".

Akiyoshi: "Well... I know this track like the back of my hand and I am very happy to race in Motegi ahead my fans. I would like to thank Honda and LCR staff for this great opportunity. I feel in a good form and today I made my first run out on this bike working through a number of various set-up changes especially in the engine management. With some hard work we can make the bike perform better and improve our lap-time."


The Ducati Team started its setup work on the GP11.1 at the Motegi circuit, lapping at a decent pace from the first free-practice session. After posting the morning's third-best time, Nicky Hayden finished the day sixth, less than six tenths from the leader, Dani Pedrosa. Valentino Rossi, who is still working on settings with the new chassis part introduced at Aragon, steadily improved his bike's setup and his times, finishing eight.

Both riders are fairly satisfied with the first day, though they're aware that they must continue to improve tomorrow in order to further reduce the gap to the front.

Nicky Hayden (Ducati Team) 6th (1:47.381)

"I had fun riding the bike today, and that's important. This morning was really encouraging, because I could ride comfortably, and we really haven't made many changes throughout the day. I've steadily got a little bit faster, but the others made a bigger jump in the afternoon. I've certainly had worse Fridays this year, but we've got a long way to go if we want to be near the front on Sunday afternoon. We've got a couple of small ideas to try to improve the bike under braking. As hard as Ducati has worked to try to help us, it would be really nice to give them a result they deserve."

Valentino Rossi (Ducati Team) 8th (1:47.975)

"We made progress with the bike throughout the day, and as a result we improved our lap times, dropping below 1:48. The pace is still far from the top, but not bad for now. There are a number of things to resolve, but we're definitely not in the situation we were at Aragon, where we always had big problems with rear grip. That's not the case here. We worked on weight distribution, loading the front a little more, and it's better. Tomorrow we must try to drop into the low 1:47 range. That's our goal. Nicky is already there, although he chose to ride mainly with the soft tyre. The track is good. The asphalt has good grip, and they did a good job."

Crash in the previous race still causes problem to Karel Abraham

Trying to get used to his Ducati Desmosedici GP11 after nasty crash which he suffered on the opening lap of the Gran Premio de Aragón, Karel Abraham had problems even in the practice sessions for the Grand Prix of Japan.

"I spent the last two weeks relaxing and trying to forget what happened in Aragon," Karel Abraham said. "Unfortunately, I can‘t be satisfied with the result of the practice sessions because I had a problems with concentration."

Although the twenty one years old Czech rider completed twenty seven laps in both practice sessions and improved his best lap time from 1:49,813 to 1:49,305 by 0,508 seconds, he finished sixteenth, 2,515 seconds behind the fastest rider Dani Pedrosa.

"I can‘t ride as I want to. I have a problem to pay attention and I can't concentrate enough," added. "Hopefully tomorrow I will get better."


The first day of free practice at Motegi was a satisfactory one for both Marco Simoncelli and Hiroshi Aoyama. "Super Sic" finished fourth fastest, in touch with the pace of Dani Pedrosa and Casey Stoner and with a solid race pace that improved significantly from the morning to the afternoon. The Italian still has some set-up changes to make tomorrow but already feels he is in good shape for qualifying and the race. Aoyama lapped seventh fastest on the opening day at his home circuit and showed the potential for further improvements tomorrow, when a potential change in weather conditions could make the good job already done by Team San Carlo Honda Gresini even more important.

Marco Simoncelli (4th 1' 47" 188) "The day went quite well and we improved from the morning to the afternoon and established a pretty good feeling with the bike. We did some tests this afternoon to try and improve it under braking but after making some wrong choices with the front forks we know to go in the opposite direction tomorrow. We still have some problems with tyre wear so we will try to work on a solution to last us the whole race. At the moment I need to find three tenths to stay the pace with Pedrosa and Stoner so that is the goal tomorrow."

Hiroshi Aoyama (7th 1' 47" 785) "A positive start although at the moment I am lacking some rear grip. We will try to improve this tomorrow and find a setting that gives me a bit more confidence. That is our objective and if we can manage it I am confident we will be able to get a good position on the starting grid for Sunday. I am happy because I think we have started on the right foot which is important for me at my home race.

Fausto Gresini "I would say this has been a more than positive day. Marco has started out on the right foot despite the crash this morning. It has been a while since he crashed so we were looking forward to it! I am joking of course! Marco was fast today and made some big improvements in the afternoon to close the gap to the top. Overall we have to be confident. He has worked with different set-ups on his two bikes and the data we have gathered should put him in a position to take another step forward tomorrow. Hiroshi also went well, perhaps with the added inspiration of racing at home, and he is not far off the top guys. He is showing that he can have a strong finish to the season because after Motegi there are some other good tracks for him."


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