Press releases from the MotoGP teams and Bridgestone after the first day of practice at Estoril:
Crutchlow continues red-hot form in Estoril
Cal Crutchlow's phenomenal start to the 2012 MotoGP World Championship continued in impressive fashion in Portugal this afternoon, the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Team rider finishing third quickest after the opening two practice sessions.
The British rider completed just five laps in tricky conditions this morning when treacherous wet patches left by overnight rain prevented vital work on the race set-up of his YZR-M1 machine from being carried out at the 2.599 miles Estoril circuit.
In cool but dry conditions this afternoon, Crutchlow del ivered another stunning performance to back up his fantastic fourth place finishes in Qatar and Jerez, and the former World Supersport champion was challenging for a top three placing throughout.
He ended with a best time of 1.38.742 to easily finish top non-factory rider on the leaderboard and he was only 0.025s behind factory Yamaha rider Ben Spies. Crutchlow's pace was only 0.346s off the fastest time set by reigning World Champion Casey Stoner and he is confident that he can convert his early weekend speed into a top five challenge on Sunday.
The dry conditions this afternoon were a welcome boost for Andrea Dovizioso, who is concentrating on fine-tuning his riding style to best suit the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 machine.
The Italian rider has impressed with top five finishes in the op ening two rounds in 2012 but he still believes he can make significant strides in improving his confidence and feeling with the YZR-M1. He tried a different swingarm this afternoon and finished with a best time 1.39.615. That put him 10th on the combined timesheets and he is optimistic he can lap considerably faster with further modifications to his bike ahead of tomorrow's final free practice and qualifying.
Cal Crutchlow 3rd 1.38.742 – 25 laps:
“I'm happy with the way we have started this weekend. This morning was similar to the first session in Jerez and we couldn't really learn anything with the track being so damp in parts. The problem was the patches were really big at the last corner and to be honest it was pretty dangerous, so we might have to look at that in the Safety Commission. We never changed the tyres from this morning to the afternoon and that is a big plus. For that reason I'm really happy with the pace I was able to set, especially because we know that some other guys did put in a new tyre at the end to go a bit quicker. We were just concentrating on working on the race set-up and we still have plenty of margin to improve. The first two races have given me a lot of confidence and I am looking forward to carrying on the good start this weekend.”
Andrea Dovizioso 10th 1.39.615 – 29 laps:
“We tried a different swingarm on the second bike during my last run and when we made this modification we also changed the rear tyre, but it did not get to the right temperature. We tried to find out if the swingarm or the tyre was the problem but because of this situation we lost quite a lot of time and I am a bit frustrated because until that moment we were close to the fastest time. I was feeling well on the bike and I was sure I still had some margin to improve my time. It is important to try the parts to help us improve and we will be in a better situation tomorrow. I just hope that we will have good weather to continue the work we started this afternoon.”
Spies Finds Early Form in Estoril
Yamaha Factory Racing rider Ben Spies was back on form in Estoril today for the first practice sessions of the Portuguese Grand Prix. The Texan was one of the first riders to venture out in the morning session, braving mixed track conditions of wet and dry to test a big set up change. The new direction proved to be confidence inspiring, Spies topping the morning timesheets and remaining highly competitive in the afternoon, leading for a while and eventually finishing in second place, 0.321 seconds behind Casey Stoner.
Team mate Jorge Lorenzo decided to sit out the morning session with little valuable data to be gained from the mixed track conditions. The afternoon session saw him hunting a set up to provide more rear grip for his YZR-M1, eventually settling for fifth in the timesheets. The team will look to find a solution tomorrow to be ready for qualifying. Today marks not only Lorenzo’s 25th birthday but also the ten-year anniversary to his first GP session at the Jerez circuit.
Position : 2nd Time: 1'38.717 Laps: 33
“It’s a good feeling today but it’s still early, it’s Friday. The most important thing is I have to thank my crew, they made a huge change to the bike, not only to the front but we also changed some rider position settings that I asked for and the bike seems good. Not only are the lap times fast, it’s much easier to ride at that speed than the slower times at Jerez. Right now the bike is quick and easy to ride, we need to make some more improvements to it. To be in the top three on the first day after two difficult weekends is a positive start.”
Position : 5th Time: 1'38.930 Laps: 16
“Today was so-so because we didn’t find a good set up or a good feeling with the bike. Also the new asphalt is not the best, I think it’s worse than last year in some places and also the weather doesn’t help with some wet patches in corners. I expect a lot of things to improve tomorrow, especially the rear of the bike which is not right in some corners.”
“This afternoon was the first free practice for us as we sat out the morning due to the weather conditions. We’re not perfect yet; we’re missing some rear grip, especially in corner entry so we need to find it for tomorrow. We’re confident we will and will be ready for qualifying.”
“Definitely a promising start today, the new set up is giving Ben the right confidence so now it’s a matter of some little adjustments but he is up there which is the most important thing. Jorge missed the morning session due to the bad conditions; I think tomorrow he will be where he should be. A good starting day, let’s see what tomorrow brings.”
PROMISING START FOR THE PRAMAC RACING TEAM IN ESTORIL
The 2012 Grande Premio de Portugal officially started this morning in Estoril, where the White and Green team’s rider completed the first laps under an overcast sky.
Hèctor Barberà, who has had several good races at the Portuguese circuit, set a best time of 1’39.193 to finish 8th overall on the timesheet just ahead of factory Ducati rider, Valentino Rossi.
The 25-years-old began today’s free practice using his race setup from Jerez de La Frontera and working to improve his lap time.
Sunshine is forecast for tomorrow at 14:00, when the qualifying practice session will kick off..
Hèctor Barberà - Pilota Pramac Racing Team
"It’s good to be back on track here, as I really love riding at Estoril.
Today we tried two different settings during the session and we think we know what we need to do.
We had some issues in the last sector, where we lost some tenths due to the track condition, which was still damp.
I’m pretty confident, my crew and I can step up and fight to achieve a higher spots on the grid, so we’ll come back tomorrow and improve our lap time”.
Francesco Guidotti – Team Manager Pramac Racing –
"We still have a few things on the bike that we need to work on, but we had a good session today.
We were only 8 tenths of a second away from the fastest pace set by Casey Stoner, so I’m confident that we'll be able to fight in the race, which should be entertaining ".
Stoner fastest on first day in Portugal
The Grand Prix of Portugal, third round of the 2012 MotoGP World Championship, began today at the Estoril circuit with Repsol Honda's Casey Stoner on top of the time sheets (1'38.396). Team mate Dani Pedrosa finished in fourth position (1'38.797) with the combined practice times, after another tight battle between the Honda and Yamaha riders as we've already seen in the first two races of the season.
The weather played a big part in the first MotoGP practice session and again, as was the case in Jerez last week, the Portuguese GP got underway with wet patches and cold temperatures in the morning. The Repsol Honda riders went out on track on slick tyres with only 10 minutes of the first session remaining and both Casey and Dani had to wait until the afternoon to get some proper track time on the tricky Estoril circuit with the new 1000cc machines.
The Honda factory riders made the most of the second free practice to begin tuning the set up of their RC213V's at one of the most challenging tracks on the calendar, which combines a fairly long straight with long corners and very hard braking. The action continues tomorrow with FP3 and the qualifying session to decide the grid for Sunday's race
CASEY STONER 1st 1'38.396
"We did a few laps this morning to try and understand the bike, to make sure everything was working and like Jerez we wanted to see where the wet patches were on the track. Then this afternoon, unfortunately there were still areas of the track that hadn't dried out but we managed to get some good dry time, the bike seems to be working ok at this point and we have a fairly good idea of what we need to do tomorrow"
DANI PEDROSA 4th 1'38.797
"It was quite similar to Jerez, in the first session we were almost unable to ride and in the afternoon it was difficult because the track conditions were poor, it was very slippery, we had no grip in the front or rear and it was kind of hard to get feedback from the bike because the tyres were just sliding. Water is holding on the new asphalt, so it's necessary to change the line. It would be good if it doesn't rain anymore and if they could dry this area up in some way because in the last corner especially, it's very damp. I hope the track gets better tomorrow on the grip level, so we can start working hard on the suspension. As long as the track improves, the bike will do also".
POSITIVE FIRST DAY AT ESTORIL FOR ALVARO BAUTISTA
Alvaro Bautista today made a positive start to the Grand Prix of Portugal, an event he considers his fifth 'home' race with the Estoril circuit located just 500 kilometres from his home town of Talavera de la Reina. The Spaniard made the most of limited lap time on a damp track this morning to get comfortable with his machine before closing the gap to the top riders in the afternoon and finishing sixth fastest overall. Michele Pirro struggled, meanwhile, to make headway on the CRT bike at a difficult circuit.
Alvaro Bautista ( 6th 1’ 38” 959) “The track this morning was like Jerez and I was worried that we might be in for the same kind of weekend but thankfully this afternoon we managed to get some dry track time in, even though there were some wet patches out there like in the final turn. We tried two different settings to give ourselves a good base to work from tomorrow and it was positive. Now we have some reference points to start work from in terms of trying to improve my control over the rear of the bike in corner entry. We have some things to try with the suspension and I think we'll be able to improve rear grip tomorrow.”
Michele Pirro (17th 1’ 42” 252) “After the session this morning I was looking forward to a good afternoon but I struggled to get comfortable on the bike. I'm struggling to control it and get on the gas. I've spoken to my guys and I am sure that sooner or later we'll be able to get on top of it and come through this difficult moment. We have worked out a new plan of action that we will start with tomorrow.”
Fausto Gresini “Alvaro's pace was up there with the best today. His confidence with the bike is good although he could do with a little more in corner entry, especially on the rear. We will check the data and I am sure we will be ready for tomorrow but the important thing right now is that he feels more and more comfortable with the Honda RC213V every time he goes out on track. Things didn't go great with the CRT and we seem to be having the same problems but the bike is young and we need some test time with it. It's always very difficult to develop during a GP weekend.”
Stoner tops Friday timesheets at Estoril
Round 3: Portuguese MotoGP™ - Free Practice One and Two
Circuito de Jerez, Friday 4 May 2012
Bridgestone slick compounds available: Front: Soft, Medium; Rear: Medium, Hard (Asymmetric)
Bridgestone wet tyre compounds available: Soft (Main), Hard (Alternative)
Weather: Wet (FP1) Dry (FP2). Ambient 16-19°C; Track 17-31°C (Bridgestone measurement)
Repsol Honda’s Casey Stoner took over where he left off at Jerez by setting a benchmark time of 1m 38.396s in FP2 to top the Friday timesheets ahead of Yamaha Factory Racing’s Ben Spies and Monster Tech3 Yamaha’s Cal Crutchlow.
Track conditions for Friday morning’s FP1 session were poor with large wet patches on track due to early morning rain and though the track dried towards the end of the session, conditions were still challenging for riders with a resurgent Ben Spies setting the fastest time in FP1 with a 1m 40.813s lap. For FP2 track conditions were dry, but cloud cover kept track temperatures low and as a result lap-times were slower than expected. After some exploratory runs using the combination of the soft compound front slick tyre and medium compound rear, most riders switched to the medium compound front slick tyre as FP2 drew to a close.
The next MotoGP™ session, FP3 takes place at 1010 local time (GMT+1) with the one hour qualifying session starting at 1355 local time.
Shinji Aoki - Manager, Bridgestone Motorsport Tyre Development Division
“As often happens at Estoril, weather conditions were variable today with early morning rain causing the track to be wet for FP1. As there were just a few dry patches many riders decided to head out on track with wet tyres to begin with before switching to slicks later as conditions improved. In FP2 the track was dry but track temperatures were still quite low which affected grip levels, so most riders went for the soft rear slick tyre for its greater warm-up performance.
“There is a possibility of wet weather again tomorrow so we will make our main wet tyre, which at Estoril is the soft compound, as well as the alternative wet tyre in the hard compound available to enable riders to best deal with what could be inconsistent conditions. Regardless of what the weather brings, I think we will see a close qualifying session tomorrow as in FP2 the top ten riders posted similar lap-times.”
FIRST FREE PRACTICE DAY IN PORTUGAL
After the wet track in the morning, the weather was good for the free practice of the Portuguese Gran Pix first day .
In this first day Danilo Petrucci has practiced for a long time, also on the wet track, to learn as soon as possible all the Estoril Circuit parts. The Came Iodaracing Team young rider has got the twentieth position with the time 1’42.984. An elettrical problem to his TR003 has stopped his practice ten minutes before the end.
Simone Corsi has finished, in Moto2 class, at the thirteenth place with 1’42.784 at 1.009 from Redding’s best lap. The Roman rider has worked a lot on the suspensions of his FTR where he feels some problems on the rear part.
The TR002 is growing up solving many problems of the last races, Luigi Morciano closed at thirtieth place with 1’54.600, while Armando Pontone is not yet qualified just for 0.3 seconds.
"Today I focused my work on learning the track – Petrucci declared – that has very slow and very fast corners as well. We worked a lot on the setting of the TR003 and we have understood the way to follow. Unfortunately a problem to the ECU has stopped my practice ten minutes before the end and I couldn’t improve my lap time. There is still a lot to do on the bike but I’m confident on my team, one of the best of the championship”.
"I like this track very much and we are quite competitive – Corsi said – but I have a problem with the rear part of my bike that moves a lot when I go into the corners. I hope to solve this problem as soon as possible because I want to do a very good race after the bad result of Jerez”.
"Things are going better – Morciano has declared – the TR002 in growing but there is stil a lot of work to do. I think that here we can do a good race”.
"Everything is new for me here – Pontone has said – the track, the bike and the team as well. I had some problems to learn the track for the weather conditions, but I’m sure that Tomorrow will be better”.
Good feelings for Valentino Rossi and Nicky Hayden on Day 1 in Portugal
Weather conditions were typically fickle for Estoril during the first day of practice at the Portuguese Grand Prix, with the first MotoGP free-practice session marked by a damp track, whereas the surface was mainly dry in the afternoon. Nonetheless, Ducati Team riders Nicky Hayden and Valentino Rossi were able to gather valuable information that should be useful over the weekend and in the future.
Both riders opted to spend much of the morning session in the garage, but when they ventured out near the end, Hayden and Rossi set the second- and third-best times, respectively. Although they were seventh and ninth in the afternoon, both riders were able to ride near their limits, and their gap to the front was reduced compared to most of the previous dry sessions this season.
Nicky Hayden (Ducati Team) 7th (1:39.029)
“Conditions weren’t perfect this morning, but since they were calling for a good chance of rain in the afternoon, we thought it was worth having a look toward the end. The track was patchy, but I’ve got to say that Bridgestone’s new tyre is much better and safer in those conditions. This afternoon, the track was completely dry except for water seeping up in the last corner, which made it tough to see the line. We made a couple of gains during the session, but I felt like the time went by really quickly. We’ve still got a lot of work to do, especially in the side-to-side sections, where I’m having some difficulty changing direction. Hopefully we can do a good job with the data tonight and be more consistent tomorrow.”
Valentino Rossi (Ducati Team) 9th (1:39.357)
“We had a decent start to the weekend because I was able to ride the bike pretty well, I didn’t finish so far from the front in terms of lap times and, most importantly, I was fast in several sections of the track. I’m only losing a lot in the last split, T4, so along with the technicians, I’m trying to understand why I’m having such a hard time in the last corner, where there’s very limited grip and the back of the bike slides a lot. Still, I can brake hard and enter the corners pretty quickly, and if we’re able to fix the rear, we can get closer. Our goal is to try to be competitive around the entire track. We’ll see what the weather is like, because this morning’s mixed conditions were difficult, and then they were better in the afternoon. Although we went well in the wet, we hope the weather stays nice and that it will be completely dry on Sunday.”
AWKWARD CONDITIONS AT PORTUGAL GP OPENING DAY
Estoril, 4 May: the opening day of Grand Prix de Portugal has started in a similar vein to the first day in Jerez with part-wet surface in the morning whilst the afternoon session was held in dry conditions with premier class riders starting to set up properly their bikes packages.
LCR Honda MotoGP´s Stefan Bradl, who has been in impressive form in his rookie season, taking an eighth and seventh place so far, is drawing on the fact that his last outing at Estoril was a victory (in Moto2 class) but the German could not finish any higher than twelfth (1’40.898) and is hoping to improve his pace ahead tomorrow’s qualifying session.
Stefan: “So far it has been the most difficult day in my MotoGP career I guess... I had a very bad feeling with our rear grip and we are losing so much in the corners entries. Especially in the middle of the corners I do not have enough rear grip because I can not warm up the tyre properly and this cause me a lot of movements. Like this I can not be aggressive as usual but we have a lot of adjustments to try tomorrow checking the data. We are not lost so I am confident we can better our pace”.