Press releases from the MotoGP teams and Bridgestone after the first day of practice for the Italian Grand Prix at Mugello:
Crutchlow makes fast start at magnificent Mugello
British rider Cal Crutchlow played a starring role on an opening day of practice for the Gran Premio d’Italia TIM that was dominated by Yamaha at the fast and technical Mugello track.
Full of confidence after storming to a career best second position last time out in Le Mans, the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Team rider set a personal best time of 1.48.672 in cool and overcast conditions to help Yamaha claim a fantastic clean sweep of the top three places.
After this morning’s FP1 took place in far from ideal conditions on a track littered with tricky damp patches, Crutchlow was over eight seconds faster on a full dry surface this afternoon to rocket up from ninth into the top three behind Factory Yamaha pair Jorge Lorenzo and Valentino Rossi.
Crutchlow was less than 0.3s behind reigning World Champion Lorenzo and Mugello specialist Rossi and no other rider was able to lap within 0.7s of the former World Supersport Champion's impressive pace.
A hugely promising day’s work by Bradley Smith unfortunately ended in painful fashion when the rookie fell heavily while trying to consolidate an excellent eighth position on the timesheets.
Smith had superbly negotiated the tricky track conditions this morning to set the sixth fastest time, and relishing the challenge of powering his YZR-M1 machine round the undulating and high-speed Mugello track, he was lapping inside the top 10 again in FP2.
Confident he could improve on his eighth position he was pushing hard when he fell exiting Turn 15. The 22-year-old fell heavily on his left side and he needed lengthy treatment in the Medical Centre to assess a suspected left arm injury, though no bones were broken in the nasty spill.
Smith did though suffer an open wound to his left little finger after his hand was momentarily trapped under his machine. The injury will not prevent him from participating in Sunday’s race but he will require a skin graft on Monday to repair the damage.
Cal Crutchlow 34d 1.48.672 - 33 laps:
“That was a very positive start to the weekend and I am happy to be in the top three and close to the best pace. This morning was quite tricky with the damp patches but I was fast on the wet tyres and happy with the feeling of the bike. This afternoon I was able to be in the top three in the dry and that is also very positive, but it is going to be very difficult to beat Jorge and Valentino. Jorge is looking for a third straight win here, so he is very fast on this track, and Valentino obviously has some special motivation for his home race. But I am the best of the rest again, which is a good sign and we’ve still got some things to try to improve the bike. I’m not completely confident in some corners but I know my Monster Yamaha Tech 3 crew has some good ideas to help me improve. It could be tricky conditions tomorrow though if we get some rain that’s been forecast, but after my second place in Le Mans and the good feeling I had in FP1 on the wet tyres, I am still very optimistic.”
Herve Poncharal – Team Manager:
“It is a shame that Bradley suffered a big crash today because he was looking very strong and confident. We know he loves this track and he showed that his confidence is growing with the YZR-M1 because he was sixth in difficult conditions this morning and eighth when he crashed this afternoon. We have checked the data and he was not doing anything different in that corner compared to his fastest lap in the session. He had exactly the same speed but it seems he was on a brand new tyre that hadn’t reached working temperature. It is a pity because I am sure he could have finished inside the top 10, but what happened unfortunately can be part of the learning experience in MotoGP. Fortunately he has no broken bones because he landed heavily but the little finger on his left hand was quite badly damaged. The Clinica Mobile staff said he can race and I know they will do a fantastic job in getting him the very best treatment and ensure he is as prepared as possible for what will be a very difficult race. He will need a skin graft next week though.”
Yamaha Dominate in the Dry as Mugello Begins
Mugello International Circuit (Scarperia, Italy), 31st May 2013
The Gran Premio d'Italia got off to a damp start this morning at the Autodromo Internazionale del Mugello with difficult track conditions keeping the MotoGP riders on wet tyres with just a few exceptions in the final moments. The second practice in the afternoon proved to be a different story with Yamaha Factory Racing riders Jorge Lorenzo and Valentino Rossi dominating on slick tyres to the delight of the Mugello crowd.
Local hero Rossi led almost the entire session, consistently shaving time from each lap as he dropped to become the first rider into the 1’48s with 22 minutes to go. Teammate Lorenzo was not far behind and the only rider within a second of the seven-time Mugello winner. The last five minutes of the practice became a battle between the two Factory Yamahas as they swapped positions at the top of the timesheets, Lorenzo eventually taking the top spot at the chequered flag as the clock hit zero with a 1’48.375. Rossi wrapped up just 0.034 seconds behind. Fellow Yamaha rider Cal Crutchlow made it a Yamaha top three, the next riders a full second behind.
1st / 1'48.375 / 26 laps
“In the morning it was wet and bad conditions so we preferred to not exit at the end of FP1 with the slick tyres as we thought the track was dangerous. We had to wait for the afternoon and dry conditions. From the beginning the Yamaha riders were very strong and competitive which means the track is working well for us this year. We have to wait for the improvement of our rivals and the possible change in weather that can change our performance but for the moment we are very competitive and happy.”
2nd / 1'48.409 / 32 laps
“I’m happy because it's a very good practice today, starting from the beginning, staying at the top. It’s very good for the team as we are in first and second and for Yamaha because we have three Yamahas on the first three positions. Already the lap time is not so bad but we have to stay focused and concentrate for tomorrow because for sure our opponents will improve a lot. We have to make another step to improve and go faster to fight for a good position in the race.”
“Finally a good day. We are not as fast as last year but this morning was a rain session. This afternoon we were not just fastest, but also with a good rhythm. We will keep working as we have some things to solve for tomorrow but for now Jorge has a good rhythm and a good feeling with the bike. Let’s work and see what we can improve on the bike and the package for tomorrow.”
“Even if we lost the morning due to the less than perfect track conditions, this afternoon we did a great job. The base set up we started with worked very well with both riders. The consistency and the speed of both of them was superb, to see three Yamahas in the top three positions is really promising. I think we will for sure try to improve the bike as we are only on the first day but it seems very promising so far.”
Pedrosa 5th on day one in Mugello as Marquez escapes serious injury after crash
The first day of free practice for the Italian GP was both productive and dramatic for the Repsol Honda Team.
The track was still wet in the morning session and with just 14ºc track temperature both Dani Pedrosa and Marc Marquez began the session on wet option tyres. However, towards the end of the session a dry line began to appear and both riders went out on the soft option slick tyres for the final 10 minutes with Marc taking the fastest time of the session (1'54.797) and Dani in 8th (1'56.534).
In the afternoon's FP2 session, track temperatures had doubled to 28ºC and the team began their proper setup programme for Sunday's race. Unfortunately, Marc suffered a big crash midway through the session. On lap 10 as he came over the hill on the straight, he lost the front under braking. Medical staff were quick to reach him and after 45 minutes in the medical centre he was taken for treatment in clinica mobile with a heavily swollen chin - caused by the impact of his head hitting the ground, and some contusions to his shoulder, elbow and forearm. He finished the session 14th with a time of 1'50.210 taken on lap 5 of 9, completed before the accident.
Dani, who struggled with grip throughout the session, finished in 5th with a fastest time of 1'49.383 set on his final lap of 18.
Dani Pedrosa 5th 1'49.383
"Today's practice wasn't that good for us. We had problem with grip and lacked rear traction and the bike wasn't at its best because of that. We also didn't have a great feeling with the tyres. In the morning session the track was half wet, half dry, so we couldn't take any solid data from that but we hope to improve all-round for tomorrow"
Marc Marquez 14th 1'50.210
"Just after the hill on the straight I grabbed for the brakes but I closed the front. I tried to save it but the bike was pulling me towards the wall so I jumped from the bike to avoid hitting it. I hit my chin hard and strained my neck quite badly, I also have some contusions to my right shoulder, arm and leg but other than that I'm ok. Thanks to all the medical team that were quickly on the scene to assist me. Now I need to rest and see how I feel later tonight and in the morning"
Hayden fourth, crash for Dovizioso on day one at Mugello
This action-packed first day of the TIM Italian Grand Prix at Mugello was marked by challenging riding conditions, with the morning free-practice session taking place on a damp track and the surface still lacking grip in the afternoon.
Ducati Team rider Nicky Hayden finished the day in a respectable fourth position after improving upon his seventh place from the morning session, making him the top Ducati rider after the three Yamahas at the front. Meanwhile, his teammate Andrea Dovizioso fell in San Donato corner three minutes from the end of FP1, and the resultant sore neck put his participation in the afternoon session in doubt. With the help of the circuit’s medical staff and the Clinica Mobile, Dovizioso was able to ride in FP2. Though far from fully fit, the Italian managed to do fifteen laps, finishing in seventh place.
Ducati Test Team rider Michele Pirro had a strong showing aboard his Desmosedici GP13 laboratory bike. Taking part in his third race in a row, the wildcard entrant was second in the morning session and consistently near the top before concluding the day tenth in the combined times.
Nicky Hayden - Ducati Team, 4th (1:49.377)
“Today wasn’t easy at all—very difficult conditions, especially in FP1. At the time, it looked like it could rain at any moment and end maybe our only semi-dry track time of the weekend, so we had to make sure we were in the top ten to not miss out on tomorrow’s Q2 session. In the end, the position isn’t bad, but the gap to the front is large. I expected to have a better feeling with the bike, especially with grip in the middle of the corner; both ends were moving a bit, so I couldn’t really turn well at the apex. Maybe some of it’s down to the track being 'green' but that’s the same for everybody. We’ll see what the weather does tomorrow. Every bit of track time is valuable.”
Andrea Dovizioso - Ducati Team, 7th (1:49.543)
“I’m really happy that I was able to do the second session because I really didn’t think I’d be able to ride. It’s not that what happened to me was so terrible, but it’s problematic for the riding position. I can’t tilt my head back, so I’m not able to look ahead when I’m tucked on the straightaway or turn my head in the middle of the corners. I must thank Dr Costa and the Medical Centre for doing what they could to help me to ride, because otherwise I wouldn’t have been able to do it. My physiotherapist, Francesco Chionne, helped a lot as well. Let’s hope the situation doesn’t get worse, because I’m at the limit with being able to ride. Despite that, I’m pleased with the time. As for my fall, I made a mistake in turn one, which was the wettest corner. I came in a bit wide, but I wanted to try to stay on the asphalt. I was going pretty fast and lost the front, and I started to tumble in the gravel; I twisted my neck, and it definitely had an effect on my micro-hernia.”
Michele Pirro – Ducati Test Team, 10th (1:49.649)
“It was a pretty positive day. We were very competitive on the rain tyres this morning, when I was second. In the dry this afternoon, I did almost the entire session in the top six. When we put on new tyres, I had a bit of trouble with the front brakes and wasn’t able to do the time I was capable of in order to be a bit further up. Anyway, we’re gathering data and tomorrow we hope to improve the pace and make another step forward. We’re ready for any condition, so we’ll see what happens.”
BAUTISTA AND STARING LOOK TO TOMORROW
Progress was slow on the opening day of the Italian Grand Prix for Team GO&FUN Honda Gresini after a rain-hit morning session meant that the riders only had one full dry session on track. During the time spent on the bike Alvaro Bautista struggled to get comfortable and needs to make some major steps in tomorrow's final free practice before qualifying takes place in the afternoon, whilst Bryan Staring needs track time purely to find his way around a notoriously technical track that he is discovering for the first time.
Alvaro Bautista (11th 1’ 49” 733 ) “I am not really happy because we didn't get much track time this morning and then in the afternoon I struggled for confidence on the bike. We are lacking front stability under braking and the rear traction wasn't the best either in corner entry or exit. Obviously it seems the Yamaha is a more competitive package here but we are still a long way behind the other Hondas. We will work hard to improve the situation tomorrow.”
Bryan Staring (24th 1’ 54” 231) “This is another new track for me so it hasn't been easy today, made even harder by the fact we only really had one full session. We need to be patient though and look ahead to building on what we have learnt today in the two sessions tomorrow.”
Fausto Gresini “It was a strange day and unfortunately it didn't go to plan for us. We are not far off the second group even though the position isn't the best. However I am confident and I think that if we work well we can close the gap tomorrow. We need to because this is a very important Grand Prix to us and it hasn't gone well for the past few years. We have to believe in ourselves, and we do.”
BRADL EIGHTH FASTEST AT MUGELLO GP ON DAY ONE
Mugello, 31 May: after a cold and wet weekend in Le Mans, the premier class rider took the Mugello circuit today for the first day of practices of the Gran Premio d’Italia on a damp surface after last days heavy rain. The LCR Honda racer Stefan Bradl lapped strongly with the top riders since his first outing this morning as he is a real estimator of the Tuscan circuit. However the tricky conditions slightly affected the german’s pace who finished the day in 8th position (1’49.595).
“First of all I think it was a strange first day due to the tricky conditions of the asphalt. In the morning it was partially damp and, even in the afternoon, it was not completely dry so I think that Honda has bigger problems compared to the Yamaha’s in these conditions. Actually we are not far from the pace compared to the other Honda riders and this is a good sign. We are hoping to improve our rear grip situation because P8 is okay but not enough for us on this track”.
Energy T.I. Pramac Racing Team completes his first Italian race at Mugello.
Regardless of the variable and unpredictable weather at the Mugello circuit, Energy T.I. Pramac Racing Team had a good day in the free trials, with Andrea Iannone back in top form.
He was still suffering from a little pain in his leftt knee, which hasn't healed completely, but the work he put in preparing for Sunday's race seems to have payed off.
In the FP2, which was contended on a completely dry track, he registered his best time of 1:49.467, coming in sixth behind Nicky Hayden and second for Ducati. It was almost one second faster compared to the morning trials, when the conditions on the track were completely different. The circuit was neither dry nor wet, and the temperature was cool.
So tomorrow the search will continue to find that confidence during braking that has been put hard to the test on this track, which features particularly fast changes in direction, and to work on the grip which, starting in the first laps today, slowed down the Italian rider's pace a little.
Andrea Iannone – Energy T.I. Pramac Racing Team
“At the moment everything is going really well, we definitely need to improve and find a faster pace but we especially need to try and be more consistent. As long as the tires are new I manage to go fast enough and I feel good with the bike, but after the first five laps the back tire starts to lose its grip, especially in the very fast turns like the Arrabbiata 2, Correntaio and Bucine, and we lose a lot. As for everything else the motorcycle is performing well, we are positive but we also have to concentrate to find a little more faith in going in with the front brakes, which perhaps were affected today by the conditions on the track and the low temperatures. Physically I'm fine, the arm isn't hurting, and even though this morning my knee kept bothering me, we might have found a solution with a spongy protection which we adopted during the FP2, and I think I can overcome the problem. It's too bad that I couldn't do these tests here together with Andrea Dovizioso and Nicky Hayden a few weeks ago, but it just wasn't possible. Now the goal is to prepare for the race anyway and work on the motorcycle. Obviously, I'd like to achieve something special."
Ignite Pramac Racing Team back to full strength
Regardless of the variable and unpredictable weather at the Mugello circuit, the Ignite Pramac Racing Team was pleased to be back to full strength as it completed its first Italian race of the season.
Ben Spies, back in the paddock after the five weeks away from the Moto championship, maintained a constant pace, closing out the morning's FP1 among the first ten in the rankings and registering a time of 1:51.105 at the end of FP2, the last session of the day.
Compared to this morning's session, when the track was neither wet nor dry, this second part of the day took place on a dry track, allowing the Texan to regain confidence in his motorcycle and build toward Sunday's race.
Ben Spies – Ignite Pramac Racing Team
“I feel a lot better. In doing everyday things, I've seen a huge improvement, but riding a bike is a completely different story. It’s not that easy, and we have to figure out the best direction to take. Today’s weather conditions were pretty difficult for getting back on the track. The second session was better, but it’s hard to get back on the bike, and I'm just trying to get back up to speed and get used to everything. It’s now more a weakness and instability problem than pain, but I know I'm still not 100% and it shows. I can't control everything yet, and I'm not happy about it, even though I expected it. Compared to Qatar and Austin, the straight-line braking strength is much better here, but on change of direction, especially in third and fourth gear chicanes while controlling the throttle and getting back on brakes--that’s where I'm struggling. I feel much more comfortable on the bike, and it's good to see and talk with the guys. Let’s see what happens tomorrow.”
RANDY DE PUNIET TAKES CHARGE OF CRTs AT MUGELLO
POWER ELECTRONICS Aspar rider closes first day of Italian GP in ninth, whilst Aleix Espargaró concludes twelfth after unproductive experimentation
The MotoGP class kicked off its visit to Italy with mixed conditions in Friday practice at Mugello. The track had been left damp by overnight rain, and the majority of riders waited until the surface had fully dried before switching to slick tyres. The early confusion about which rubber to use left Jorge Lorenzo and Valentino Rossi low down the order and various CRT riders at the head of the pack. Crashes for Marc Marquez and Bradley Smith also served as a warning not to push too hard on the tricky surface. Lorenzo eventually took the quickest time, alongside Rossi and Crutchlow.
During the French GP, Randy De Puniet was back on form and had shown his true potential, but a visor problem put paid to his progress on race day. Today he made sure that he demonstrated the same potential in Italy. He was the fastest CRT rider on day one, in a creditable ninth place, and with a time only 1.2 seconds off the quickest lap of the day. The Frenchman had a positive day and concluded Friday a happy man, looking to maintain his form all the way through Sunday.
Three places behind him and with 1.7 tenths separating them, Aleix Espargaró concluded the day in twelfth. The Spaniard was the second best CRT rider of the day, despite not matching the imperious pace that had made him the CRT top dog in the opening four rounds. He tried out various new setup solutions, but will start again from scratch on Saturday.
9th Randy De Puniet 1'49.599 (28 laps): "I am very happy with the result today. At Le Mans we took a step forward, but bad luck meant we couldn't make it count in the race. Today I had a fabulous feeling with the bike, right from the start. We've worked very hard and now everything has gone well as a result. We have improved the electronics, the power handling and the suspension response. All these things are steps in the right direction and our lap times have been very positive -better than last year. This makes me feel very secure with the bike. I am fully satisfied with our work and it is the first time I have really felt like this in 2013, so I'm very happy. Both the team and I have done a great job, it's nice being in ninth place and just two tenths of fourth."
12th Aleix Espargaró 1'49.769 (29 laps):"We had quite a good day today, even though we tried a couple of solutions with the setup that we didn't end up liking. We tried a new setup, but when I released the front brake the bike would not turn in as it should, and this track requires a lot of maneuverability because it has several long and very fast corners. Today we wanted to try things out, and because didn't draw positive conclusions from them, we will take a step back tomorrow. The times have been pretty close to the riders at the front and with a little improvement tomorrow we can be back on form."
Abraham has started with good result in Mugello in spite of health problems
Surprisingly fourth place in morning free practice of MotoGP, and eighteenth place in the afternoon. Karel Abraham has started the race weekend in Mugello with good results, although he is struggling with fever. The morning free practice with gradually becoming dry track the Czech rider has finished on fourth place with gap of 1,077 second to the leader Marc Marquez. On dry track in the afternoon Karel has lost 3,153 seconds to the fastest Jorge Lorenzo.
„The morning free practice has really succeed, I was fast on the wet surface since the beginning of the practice, when the track was becoming dry I’ve managed to drive behind Valentino Rossi and I’ve improved my time. In the afternoon, at the end of second free practice we had a technical problem with second bike. We wanted to try two different settings on this bike; it comes from experience of previous two seasons. Unfortunately the rear wheel got blocked several times because of technical defect and I had to come back to the garage. At the end of the practice I’ve managed to take just one good lap. Unfortunately I’m struggling with some cold, so I have fever and digestive problems. I had quite tough night and I hope to feel better tomorrow, so we can focus only to racing.“
Marco Grana, Chief Mechanic Cardion AB Motoracing
„Today we started with good result on wet and we also did well on drying surface with dry tyres. The fourth place is the best result at this circuit for us of last 2 years. We have to focus on setting of the bike because we have problem with bumping rear. Tomorrow we will change the setting of both bikes and our aim is to get closer to Espargaro and De Puniet. Anyway today was very positive to us and now we have to wait what weather condition will be in these days. Definitely better for us would be ride on dry track.“
Fast start at Mugello sees Lorenzo top Friday practice
Round 5: Italian MotoGP™ - Free Practice One & Two
Mugello, Friday 31 May 2013
Bridgestone slick compounds available: Front: Soft & Medium Rear: Soft, Medium & Hard (Asymmetric)
Bridgestone wet tyre compounds available: Hard (Main), Soft (Alternative)
Weather: FP1 - Wet. Ambient 15-16°C; Track 15-16°C (Bridgestone measurement)
FP2 - Dry. Ambient 18-19°C; Track 28-29°C (Bridgestone measurement)
Yamaha Factory Racing’s Jorge Lorenzo led a Yamaha triumvirate at the top of the timesheets today at Mugello, the reigning MotoGP™ World Champion setting a time of 1’48.375 on his last lap of the day.
Lorenzo set his best time on the combination of the softer front and rear slicks after trading fastest laps with teammate Valentino Rossi throughout FP2. Rossi eventually finished second overall with a personal best time that was just 0.034 seconds behind Lorenzo. Third quickest today and the only other rider to get within one second of Lorenzo was Monster Yamaha Tech3’s Cal Crutchlow who stopped the clocks with a 1'48.672. Randy de Puniet put in an impressive performance on the Power Electronics Aspar ART machine to finish as the top CRT entry, the Frenchman among the top five riders through sectors two and three and finishing in P9 overall and a mere 1.224 seconds off Lorenzo.
After the morning FP1 session was declared wet due to widespread wet patches on the tarmac, the track for FP2 was dry with a peak track temperature of 29°C recorded. However, a strong breeze and lower than normal grip levels from the tarmac due to the overnight rain still made conditions less than ideal. With the riders wanting to extract every ounce of grip available from the tarmac at the start of the afternoon session, every rider took to the track in FP2 with softer rear slicks to get a feel for the track, with the majority of riders also opting for the softer front slick option as well. Towards the end of the session many riders switched to the harder front slick as the harder rubber in this option gives greater cornering and braking stability – a very important factor at a circuit with many high speed corners and an extreme braking zone into turn one at San Donato. The cool track temperatures meant no MotoGP riders evaluated the harder rear slick options in today’s sessions.
The twenty-five riders taking part in this weekend’s Italian Grand Prix will next be on track for the final ranked practice session – FP3 – at 0955 local time tomorrow (GMT +2).
Masao Azuma – Chief Engineer, Bridgestone Motorsport Tyre Development Department
“Cool weather and overnight rain made for tricky track conditions for the first practice session at Mugello and although conditions were better for FP2, it seems the grip level of the circuit still has room to improve. In FP2 many riders commented that the tarmac wasn’t very grippy but on a positive note it seems they were happy with the warm-up performance of the tyres which is always a priority for us, and the lap times were quite good as well. Although it was dry for FP2 no riders were able to assess the harder rear slick options due to the cool temperatures and with the possibility of cool weather and rain tomorrow, it may be that this option remains unused tomorrow also. Both front slick options were used today, and we could see that many riders improved their lap time when they switched to the harder front.”