The first Free Practice session for the US Grand Prix took place at Laguna Seca today with Repsol Honda riders Dani Pedrosa and Andrea Dovizioso finishing the one-hour period in fourth and sixth places. Under sunny skies at the highly-technical Californian circuit, the factory Honda pair began the intricate process of tailoring their RC212V machines to the unique challenges of Laguna’s flowing corners and relentlessly undulating layout.
Pedrosa made continuous steady progress today as he and his crew continued to familiarise themselves with the improved feeling from the RC212V’s modified chassis. Though he missed last year’s race here due to injury, the 23-year-old Spaniard looked comfortable and relaxed on track today and steadily climbed the timesheets, setting his fastest time on the last of the 31 laps he completed this afternoon. With a gap of 0.656s to today’s fastest time, set by Valentino Rossi, and with a further increase in pace expected in tomorrow’s practice and qualifying sessions, Pedrosa looks on course for a competitive weekend.
Dovizioso took a more direct approach to today session than his Repsol Honda team-mate, almost instantly appearing towards the top of the timesheets and holding first place early in the hour. It’s only the second time Dovizioso has ridden at the Laguna circuit – after his impressive debut in last year’s race when he finished fourth – but once again he showed his immediate grasp of the peculiar demands of the track, ending the session in a competitive sixth place and just 0.243s behind Pedrosa. The Italian will work with his crew to improve the feeling from the front of his RC212V, and when that’s achieved Dovizioso too is destined for a strong showing in qualifying tomorrow.
DANI PEDROSA – 4th – 1m 22.637s
“I’m quite happy with how this session went on my return to Laguna Seca after missing most of last year’s race meeting. I took my time this afternoon, getting familiar with the layout again before working up to full pace later in the session. We did a lot of laps and at the end of the session my hip was a little bit painful, but it wasn’t too bad and I was able to ride the bike as normal. That’s important here because this is a circuit where the machine wheelies and shakes quite a lot so you need to be able to control it. We have to work a little more to get the correct gearing and to improve the set-up so I think tomorrow morning’s session will be very important to prepare for qualifying. I’m feeling confident for tomorrow.”
ANDREA DOVIZIOSO – 6th – 1m 22.880
“The lap times came easily today and I’m quite happy with the pace we were able to achieve. We did three runs with the soft Bridgestone tyres and then the last run with the hard tyre option and the results were promising. It took a while for the hard tyres to warm up though, so in the end I couldn’t push as hard as I wanted to improve my lap time. Because of that I’m confident we have room to go quicker tomorrow. Despite the fact that it was quite easy to get the rhythm, I’m not totally happy with my feeling from the front of the bike in the middle of the turn so we will need to work on that and try a few options tomorrow. I like the challenge of this track and the atmosphere here, so I’m looking forward to getting back out there in the morning.”
KAZUHIKO YAMANO – REPSOL HONDA TEAM MANAGER
“It was important that we hit the ground running here, and that’s what we did in today’s session. Andrea was quick straight away and his crew established a good base setting from which to work. He still needs to find an improved set-up at the front of his machine to give him more confidence, but he’s made a good start here. Dani was typically methodical today and worked up to speed more gradually, finishing with a good pace. Both crews now will work on the data from today’s set-up work and tyre testing and finalise the plan for tomorrow’s two sessions.”Young Adam videoMr. Hobbs Takes a Vacation