Press releases from the MotoGP teams after the first day of practice at Valencia:
Stoner leads the way as Bridgestone's wets get first workout since August
Round 18: Valencia GP – Free Practice One & Two
Valencia, Friday 4 November 2011
Bridgestone wet compounds available: Front: Soft. Rear: Soft
The first wet MotoGP sessions since Free Practice three for the Czech Republic Grand Prix on 13 August provided some interesting running today on the opening day of the season finale in Valencia.
This morning's first free practice was damp after heavy early morning rain, meaning that all riders used Bridgestone's wet tyres for the entire 45minute session. Casey Stoner finished fastest, ahead of Repsol Honda teammate Dani Pedrosa and Ducati's Valentino Rossi.
More rain fell at midday and left the track soaked for the second free practice session, and in these conditions it was Suzuki's Álvaro Bautista who shone, setting the fastest time of the session 0.34seconds ahead of Ducati's Nicky Hayden with the satellite Pramac Ducati of Randy de Puniet in third.
The sun emerged towards the end of the second session and track conditions started to improve meaning that the laptimes got faster throughout, although the morning's session was still the faster of the two. Parts of the circuit remained very tricky, such as the standing water on the entry to turn one which caught out Ben Spies and Karel Abraham, who was running at the front for most of the afternoon.
Dry weather is forecast for tomorrow but rain is expected all day on Sunday, potentially meaning the first wet race this season since the British Grand Prix at Silverstone in June.
Tohru Ubukata – General Manager, Bridgestone Motorsport Tyre Development Department
"We had two wet sessions today but the conditions in each were very different. In FP1 it started damp and slowly got drier towards the end, whereas in FP2 it was fully wet. What this means is that today we have been able to assess the performance of our soft compound wets in a very wide range of conditions and from this I can say that I believe durability and consistency are sufficient for race distance in anything from damp to full wet. This is important given that rain is forecast for Sunday."
Crutchlow and Hayes shine on wet first day at Valencia
Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Team riders Cal Crutchlow and Josh Hayes quickly got to grips with challenging conditions at the Ricardo Tormo Circuit in Valencia today to finish a rain-hit opening of practice displaying impressive speed and consistency.
British rider Crutchlow was 10th quickest in this morning's opening practice session on a damp track after heavy early morning rain had soaked the 2.489 miles circuit. He posted a best time of 1.46.581 to finish just over a second away from the fastest pace.
The second session took place on a full wet track after torrential rain battered the Valencia circuit in the build-up to the start of the 45-minute practice. Crutchlow once again ad apted himself superbly to the tricky conditions and he briefly topped the timesheets as he worked on improving the wet setting of his Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Team machine to find better traction.
With the track surface much wetter than in the morning session, lap times were slower as a result but Crutchlow's best time of 1.49.350 secured the 26-year-old fifth place.
Today's performance from double American Superbike Champion Hayes, who is replacing injured compatriot Colin Edwards, was truly outstanding. Hayes has no knowledge of the tight and twisty Valencia track and he had never ridden Yamaha's prototype YZR-M1 machine before today.
The wet conditions didn't make his task any less complicated but Hayes acquitted himself magnificently and this morning he was only 1.5s away from the top 10.
Quickly adapting himself to the Bridgestone rain tyres and t he sophisticated electronics on the YZR-M1 machine, Hayes opted to gain as much experience as possible this afternoon by staying on track throughout the session. He completed 24 successive laps and managed to clock a best time of 1.50.509 to finish in 10th position. His time was good enough to comfortably outpace regulars Loris Capirossi, Hector Barbera. Hiroshi Aoyama and Toni Elias.
Crutchlow and Hayes rode with Sic58 stickers on the front of their Monster Yamaha Tech 3 bikes today in honour of Italian Marco Simoncelli, who lost his life in a tragic accident during the Malaysian Grand Prix in Sepang on October 23.
Cal Crutchlow 10th 1.46.581 – 34 laps:
"Today was a positive start to the weekend and I think I could have gone a fair bit quicker at the end of this afternoon's session and been challenging for the top three but I made a couple of small mistakes on my last lap. But I was still fifth fastest though and I felt pretty comfortable in the full wet conditions. I am happy enough even though the track hasn't got much grip at all. It was very slippery and you've got to be careful because it is easy to make a mistake. But the bike definitely felt better in the full wet rather than when it was a bit sketchy this morning. I just hope we get a dry session tomorrow to get some time on the bike in the dry. Nobody wants to be starting the race with no dry track time, so we'll have to see what happens with the weather. If it is wet tomorrow I'm sure we can make some improvements and go a bit faster."
Josh Hayes 15th 1.48.037 – 44 laps:
"My first day in MotoGP has been very difficult and quite scary at times to be honest. Before I went out this morning I don't think I have ever been so nervous in my life. I was happy with my lap times this morning in tricky conditions but then in the full wet this afternoon it meant it was quite a scary introduction to MotoGP. Although I've not experienced the full potential of a MotoGP bike because of the wet conditions, it is obvious that the Tech 3 Yamaha is a very good motorcycle and the Team has done an excellent job to try and make me comfortable. All I had to do was ride the machine and try to improve. Right now it is not so much about the set-up of the bike, it is just me learning the bike and I will continue that process tomorrow. I just hope that at some point I will get to have a dry practice so I can get to grips with the carbon brakes. I don't want to be going into the race on Sunday having to learn to ride in the dry and also adjust to the carbon brakes after two wet days. That would be the worse scenario for me but I enjoyed today a lot. It was a great experience and once again I want to thank everybody at Yamaha, Tech 3 and Monster that made this possible."
Bautista on top at a rain soaked Valencia
Publish Date: Friday, November 04, 2011
Rizla Suzuki's Álvaro Bautista led the way during this afternoon's second free practice session at Valencia as he took first place on the timesheets at the wet Spanish circuit.
Heavy rain started to fall over the 4,005m Valencian circuit at mid-day and by the time Bautista and the rest of the MotoGP riders took to the track it was fully wet. Suzuki's Spanish star acclimatised to the conditions well and produced consistent quick laps that consolidated his position at the top of the standings. His time of 1'47.975 was over 0.3 seconds quicker than his nearest rival and he looks to have a good set-up and a confident riding style for Sunday - if this afternoon's weather replicates itself for the race.
This morning's practice session started in damp conditions, with Bautista again looking impressive, but as the track started to dry out he found grip difficult to find and finished in 11th place. World Champion Casey Stoner took the honours on the drier track by recoding the fastest time of the day.
Bautista has one more free session tomorrow morning followed by an hour of qualifying in the afternoon. Sunday's 30-lap race is the final event of the season and with inclement weather forecast it looks like being a very interesting and entertaining race.
"Today has been a good day for us because we have had a full wet session to get some practice in those conditions. In this morning's session I had a good feeling at the start, but as the track became drier it wasn't as good and I couldn't ride at the limit. The bike moved a lot and was spinning-up all over the track, so it was very difficult. In the second session, after the heavy rain, the track was much wetter and the conditions were a lot worse than this morning for all the riders, so it was essential that you rode smoothly and carefully. We changed some settings in the bike to help me get a confident feeling in the GSV-R and at the end of the session I was able to find a good rhythm. We finished first today and although it's only the second free practice, you cannot improve as much in the wet as you can in the dry, so this is very good for us. I hope that tomorrow we can make some improvements in drying conditions like we had earlier today, but if it is totally dry we still have plenty of work to do to get ready. I am happy with the first day and looking forward to the rest of the weekend."
Paul Denning – Team Manager:
"Winter feels like it has arrived in Valencia and it didn't look like the most pleasant day to be on a Grand Prix bike out there. That said, cold and low grip conditions were always the situation that caused us the most problems and as we saw at Phillip Island a few weeks back - and again today - the steps that Suzuki has taken with the GSV-R have again proven to be very effective. However, improvements to the motorcycle aren't enough because you also need a confident and capable rider and Álvaro looked very assured and smooth in the full wet conditions this afternoon – it was nice to see his name at the top of the sheets. I think Álvaro – and everyone else – would prefer some dry, sunny running over the next couple of days, but whatever the weather brings our intention is to push to the maximum and achieve the best result we can."
FIFTH AND SEVENTH PLACE FOR CAPIROSSI AND DE PUNIET AT VALENCIA
A pair of free-practice sessions were completed today at Valencia, site of the MotoGP world championship's last round. Loris Capirossi, with the number 58 on his bike in honor of Marco Simoncelli, finished with the fifth-best time (1:46.108). His teammate, the Frenchman Randy De Puniet finished two positions under, in seventh place with 1:46.371.
Fabiano Sterlacchini – Pramac Racing Team Technical Director
"It went well, apart from this afternoon's result, which is a little misleading. We started with a pair of tyres that was particularly old, and that caused some problems. It's why we then decided to return to the setup form the morning, when Loris had done well, but unfortunately he began to lose some feeling. As for Randy, there's not much to say; he had a perfect session. We hope he can repeat that performance tomorrow."
Loris Capirossi - Pramac Racing Rider – 5th best time in 1:46.108
"it was an honor to ride with Marco's number on my bike. Apart from that, it was a bad afternoon. The tyres didn't work, so in the final minutes, we had to use my tyres from this morning. They were a bit worn, but I still managed to improve my second-session time by three seconds. I'm happy with how the morning went, and I'm very optimistic for tomorrow. We can do well."
Randy De Puniet – Pramac Racing Rider – 7th best time in 1:46.371
I'm satisfied. The track, this morning was quite dry, principally at the end of the session and I finished in seventh place. In the afternoon, instead, with the wet track I done well, dying with the seventh best lap time. The feeling with the bike is good, I hope it will also tomorrow. There are many chances to close this season with a good result, even if the my thought is to Marco and his family."
ELIAS HITS HOME SOIL WITH HIGH MOTIVATION ON VALENCIA GP DAY ONE
Valencia, 04 November: The curtain comes down on the 2011 MotoGP World Championship this weekend in Valencia at Ricardo Tormo circuit where Marco Simoncelli will be remembered, celebrated, and honoured. LCR Honda racer Toni Elias returns to home soil for the fourth time this year with high motivation with Marco on his thoughts like the whole MotoGP family.
The Spaniard has shown his determination in this morning first free session qualifying 8th (1'46.393) on a drying track but wet conditions marked the second premier class practice outing and the slippery conditions claimed several riders including Elias who crashed out of 6th place 15 minutes into the practice.
Elias – 16th – 1'54.342: "It was difficult to return to racing this weekend after Marco's terrible accident in Sepang, but I think it is the best thing we can do to honour him. Basically this morning I felt very confident and was pretty happy with the setting of bike one. I was missing some front and rear feeling but my pace was consistent on the damp surface. In the afternoon I went out on the same bike but after three laps I lost the front on turn two crashing out: probably I pushed too much. I rejoined the track on bike two but the set up was slightly different and we could not fix the problem with the time remaining. I did not have the same rear grip feeling but we have got a good base set up on the wet so let's see how is the weather tomorrow".
SURREAL ATMOSPHERE IN SAN CARLO HONDA GRESINI GARAGE
The first day of practice at the Grand Prix of Valencia, the first without 'Super Sic', was a very sad and surreal one in the Team San Carlo Honda Gresini garage. Marco Simoncelli has left a gaping hole behind him and the feeling of sadness was tangible today. Hiroshi Aoyama is desperate to honour his team-mate in the best way possible but he struggled for grip today on a slippery track surface and eventually crashed at the end of this afternoon's wet session.
Hiroshi Aoyama (14th 1' 47" 581 – 15° 1' 53" 286) "The conditions made life hard today and I had a crash. The grip levels weren't the best and even though I tried to find the limit it was very hard and I am not happy with the result. I hope I can be faster tomorrow and on Sunday. This is an important Grand Prix for me because it is my last in MotoGP and I am desperate to have a good race to honour Marco, who we are all missing greatly. I will try to do my best for all these reasons."
Fausto Gresini "There is so much sadness in our garage today. The atmosphere was surreal without 'Super Sic' there and it has been extremely difficult to tackle the day. It goes without saying that he is missed but it was important for us to be here and honour his memory because I am sure this is what he would want. Hiroshi tried to find the limit in difficult conditions but it was tough for him. I am sure he will give his best on Sunday in Marco's name."
Positive start for the Repsol Honda Team in wet Valencia
The final round of the 2011 MotoGP World Championship kicked off today under difficult conditions at the Ricardo Tormo circuit in Valencia.
The cold temperatures that reached a high of 16 degrees in the afternoon, mixed in with rain showers throughout the day, resulted in a very slick circuit making it almost impossible to take any direction in set up of the bike. Repsol Honda's Casey Stoner and Dani Pedrosa finished first and second respectively in the combined free practice times, with Andrea Dovizoso in ninth position.
The final classification of this first day of free practice sessions was determined in this morning's FP1 when, with the track drying up in the last minutes, new World Champion Casey Stoner set a fastest lap of 1'45.513, closely followed by Dani Pedrosa with a 1'45.736 lap and Andrea Dovizioso 0.889 off Stoner.
CASEY STONER – 1st 1'45.513
"It hasn't been a great day to be honest, we've never had a great feeling here in the wet. I love riding this circuit in the dry, but there seems to be some sort of oil or grease on the circuit, I'm not sure if it's due to a lot of car rubber down but it makes things hard for sure. It's been pretty useless in terms of finding a good set up, both sessions began with a little water and then drying out towards the end, when it's like this you're chasing the set up all day so we didn't do too much work on the bike. We tried a few small things to make it better in the wet, but then as it dried up we saw everything we had done was a waste of time. We'll wait and see what tomorrow brings and if it does rain again I hope it at least rains consistently so we can get a full wet session in."
DANI PEDROSA – 2nd 1'45.736
"This morning we had a very good run, but in the afternoon we had some issues on the bike with the rear shock and I only managed a few laps, spending a lot of time in the garage making changes. The track surface is quite old and very slippery, even when the track was drier it was still tough. The feelings are not so bad and I think we need to be ready for mixed weather conditions, improving the set up step by step. Let's wait and see if tomorrow we have some dry sessions to get out on slick tyres, this would be important to better understand the direction to take on the set up of the bike".
ANDREA DOVIZIOSO – 9th 1'46.402
"Today the conditions of the track were really demanding as there was no grip. We did good work with the team and we were careful not to make mistakes as we didn't want to take additional risks with these difficult conditions. All in all, I'm quite satisfied as I was able to ride quiet fast without pushing too much but of course we need to keep on working. I hope that tomorrow the weather and the track situation will improve".
Karel Abraham enjoys riding in wet and finishes fourth in the second free practice
Fourth fastest time set Cardion AB Motoracing rider Karel Abraham in the second free practice in Valencia. Overall he finished thirteenth.
Free practice sessions were affected by a changeable conditions. In the afternoon, when the conditions were variable, Karel Abraham set a best time of 1:47,079 and finished in thirteenth position. "Conditions in the morning were strange, half wet and half dry. Honestly, the worst possible combination. But I'm quite satisfied with 13th place," the twenty one years old Czech rider, who finished 1,566 seconds behind the fastest rider Casey Stoner, said.
Although rain disrupted the second free practice, Karel Abraham produced a fantastic performance and eventually finished fourth, just 1,046 seconds behind Alvaro Bautista. "Everything went well, but in the last lap I pushed too much," admitted Karel Abraham, who crashed few moments before the free practice session ended. "Fortunately, I'm okay," added.
DUCATI TEAM STARTS VALENCIA WEEKEND WELL
The first day of the GP de la Comunitat Valenciana started off well for the Ducati Team, with Valentino Rossi and Nicky Hayden riding comfortably in the wet conditions that marked both free-practice sessions. The teammates posted the third- and fourth-best times of the day, respectively, their fastest laps coming in the morning session.
Conditions were slightly worse in the afternoon, and all of the MotoGP riders lapped more slowly. Forecasts for tomorrow and for Sunday's race are uncertain, although conditions are expected to improve slightly.
Valentino Rossi (Ducati Team) 3rd (1:45.828)
"Our bike works very well in the wet, so this morning I was able to push and to stay up there near the front. In the afternoon we had a few more problems because we made a mistake with the rear setting. I couldn't manage to find grip under acceleration, or to ride the bike well like in the morning. I should add that we're a bit on the limit regarding the asphalt conditions, because it's very worn and has terrible grip. The rain and the cold make it worse, and it's very difficult to ride. We'll have to see how to proceed throughout the weekend, because if it stays wet, we could do pretty well. If it improves, we'll have to see how we are in the dry."
Nicky Hayden (Ducati Team) 4th (1:46.073)
"This was actually the first time I've ever ridden the GP11.1 in the wet, and I was really happy with how it felt. The track was extremely slippery. We came from Malaysia and Australia, where the surface would dry in no time, but here, even when it would stop raining, it just wouldn't dry. The grip was really low, especially on corner entry, but we made a few steps through the day that seemed to help. I'm not going to lie; it would've been nice to end up in P1, even though it's just Friday afternoon, but we spent a lot of time at the top and put up quite a few red helmets (the monitor's indication for a best time in a sector or lap). We'll see what the weather does tomorrow, but regardless, we got some good information."
HÉCTOR BARBERÁ OPENS HOME GRAND PRIX WITH TWELFTH BEST PRACTICE TIME
MAPFRE Aspar rider devotes opening day in Valencia to electronic experimentation, with further changes to be made on Saturday
The conditions for MotoGP practice followed the same theme as for the 125cc riders: A wet track, ample opportunity to make a mistake and grey clouds in the sky. There were plenty of crashes in the premier class, and the wet asphalt also led to some changes to the established order in the standings. All riders were immensely motivated to start the Valencia GP in strong fashion, in order to pay homage to the late Marco Simoncelli. The afternoon session was a more positive one for Ducati, who had several of their riders high up on the timesheet. However, Casey Stoner and Dani Pedrosa were the two quickest of day one. Saturday will further clarify the true state of affairs ahead of the final 800cc race.
Today was a day of adaptation for Héctor Barberá at the Ricardo Tormo circuit. The MAPFRE Aspar rider -still recovering from injuries suffered at the Japanese GP- was cautious about riding in the wet. His workload was focused on electronics, with a few changes to the settings proving fruitless. The Spaniard continued to try things out, however, and gradually found his way at his home track. Despite the modifications not working out, he ended the day with the twelfth best time of the MotoGP field, 1.4 seconds off the top spot. Héctor will be working in a different direction tomorrow, aiming to place well in the qualifying session.
12th Héctor Barberá 1.46.967 (29 laps): "The positive part of the day was that physically I feel a lot better than in Malaysia. It's true that wet conditions are less demanding physically, but I haven't had too many problems just yet. We tried out some electronic modifications today, and they didn't end up working out. We had good results when we tried the same changes in Malaysia, but maybe the water on the track meant that there wasn't the response that we wanted. We will take another step back to look at the big picture tomorrow, as we know what we want and I am sure that we can make a significant improvement. Because we focused on electronics today, we left the chassis set-up a bit on the backburner. It's only Friday, so we still have all day tomorrow in which to improve."
Wet and Slippery Start to Valencia Grand Prix
The Grand Prix of Valencia got underway today in difficult track conditions. The morning practice was run on a partly damp but drying circuit and the afternoon session was fully wet. Yamaha Factory rider Ben Spies took his first ride this morning since withdrawing from the Malaysian Grand Prix, gradually building up speed to finish in sixth, 0.7 seconds from first in the difficult conditions. The afternoon session saw the Texan crash out after a small mistake braking into turn one, crossing the white paint and losing grip on the slippery surface. Spies escape relatively unscathed but sore and unable to complete the session, wrapping up in 14th place.
Jorge Lorenzo's replacement rider Katsuyuki Nakasuga was fully committed to the challenge of learning the Valencia circuit in today's treacherous weather conditions. Nakasuga-san gradually built up confidence over the day as his circuit knowledge increased, moving from last place in the morning practice to 11th in the second session.
Position : 6th Time: 1'46.259 Laps:
"I'm a little beat up but that's normal after a crash. I got a little wide over the white line and hit a puddle and hydroplaned the front, lost it and went down. The bike was starting to feel pretty good and we were getting up to speed. It's not the best way to come back, I'm not really happy about it but we'll look forward to tomorrow and make it better. We made a change at the beginning of the second session which was bad, then went back to the settings from the morning and were making progress so we'll continue with that set up in final practice."
Position : 16th Time: 1'48.382 Laps:
"This is my first time at this track and it was pretty difficult at the beginning to learn the way. I'm more comfortable now as I can remember the layout. I would prefer a dry track as I think it's very easy to crash here in the wet. On Sunday I believe I can challenge for a good position, this is my target."
"A rainy first day in Valencia. We were afraid because it can be very slippery and Nakasuga-san has never ridden here before. He did quite well in the end, step by step he improved and quickly understood the track conditions. The weather actually gave him a little extra time to slowly learn the track and build up pace. We are quite satisfied with the set up so far and also his performance. We're not sure what the conditions will be like tomorrow but we believe he still has room to improve. A tough day for Ben, hitting the white line is bad under these conditions but thankfully the crash was not so serious and he is ok for tomorrow."
"Unfortunately Ben crashed today and hit his shoulder on the ground. For sure this isn't going to help his physical condition over the weekend as he's pretty sore. Hopefully he can manage the pain and keep pushing to deliver as strong results as possible. Nakasuga-san did a good job today for his first time here in wet conditions. By Sunday he should be used to the track so we'll see what he can do."