The final MotoGP at Donington Park before next year’s move to Silverstone got underway in heavy rain today, which eventually gave way to blue skies and sunshine at the Leicestershire circuit. Fiat Yamaha riders Valentino Rossi and Jorge Lorenzo both spent time at the top of the standings in the wet before eventually finishing third and fifth in a last minute scurry for lap times as the track dried out.
A torrential downpour before the session turned to lighter rain as the practice began, but the track was still soaking and with temperatures fairly low it looked unlikely to dry fully during the hour. As at Sachsenring last week, both riders felt comfortable and confident from the off in the wet conditions and Lorenzo was on top for most of the early stages. Rossi tipped him off the number one spot with about 20 minutes to go but the sun then made a surprise appearance and a dry line gradually began to appear, meaning lap times quickly began to tumble. With some wet patches remaining until the end the riders stayed on their wet Bridgestone tyres and lap times remained some ten seconds off the current lap record. Both the Italian and the Spaniard set some fast times at the end, Rossi’s final lap putting him 0.290 seconds off leader Dani Pedrosa with Lorenzo just a couple of tenths slower.
Position: 3rd Time: 1’38.917 Laps: 26
“These strange conditions are always hard to ride in but it was important that we had some time in the wet today because we were able to understand our level. We’re quite happy because I felt confident and I was able to be fast today. The conditions changed a lot during the hour and by the end it was mostly dry, which meant it was quite hard to ride with the wet tyres but we were still quite fast and in the end we’re third, which is a good start. We’ve got a few modifications to make as usual after a Friday but we have a good base. Tomorrow it seems it will be completely dry so hopefully by the end of the day we will be ready for Sunday, whatever the weather.”
Position: 5th Time: 1’39.105 Laps: 31
“I’m really happy about this practice today because I felt comfortable on the bike and was able to brake quite late in the wet. I was pleased that we had a chance in the drier conditions later, because it showed what we need to work on for tomorrow. I had made a lot of laps in the rain so my tyre was quite worn by that time, when it was more dry, but anyway the times weren’t important for me today and I’m just happy about my performance in the wet. We learnt a lot and now we will use this to improve tomorrow.”
“To take the positives from the bad weather conditions, today gave us another good chance to test our wet setting, which could come in useful on Sunday when there’s a chance of rain. It was a positive session, with the conditions changing constantly until it was almost dry at the end. It looks like tomorrow will be properly dry so we will hopefully have a chance to complete all the set-up work we need to do in order to be ready for whatever Sunday brings.”
“We made a good start today and we were able to be very fast on the wet in the first half. At the end, with the track changing rapidly to dry, we encountered a few problems on acceleration, due to too much wear on the tyres after so many laps early on. It’s important that we work on this as on Sunday there’s a chance that the conditions could be similar today. Hopefully tomorrow we can concentrate on our dry setting. ”
Mixed conditions dominated the start of the final British MotoGP race at Donington Park today with Colin Edwards and James Toseland making an encouraging start for the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Team.
The session started in soaking wet conditions after an earlier deluge, but typically unpredictable Donington conditions saw it end on a virtually dry track after sun and strong winds took over for the second half of the session.
Edwards, twice a Donington Park podium finisher, finished in eighth position with a best time of 1.39.379 that left him just 0.752s off Dani Pedrosa’s leading pace.
Experimenting with different weight distribution settings to improve front-end feel on his Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Yamaha YZR-M1 machine, Edwards was satisfied with his performance in both wet and dry conditions.
Toseland made an assured start to his crucial home race, the British rider slowly building up his speed in full wet conditions before he started a brilliant surge up the timesheets as the track dried rapidly.
Just 25 minutes remained when Toseland found himself in third place and faster than reigning world champion and Donington Park specialist Valentino Rossi.
Cheered on by a large home crowd, Toseland looked certain to claim a morale-boosting top six until he slipped down the rankings in the closing stages when track conditions better than at any other stage in the session.
He ended 12th quickest with a best time of 1.40.522, but is confident of moving much higher up the leaderboard tomorrow.
Colin Edwards 9th 1.39.379 – 25 laps
“It was mixed conditions and that made it tough but it was probably the best conditions because we got some wet set-up time and at the end it was drying out really fast. And even though I was still on the wet tyres when it was dry, we gained a lot of information. I’m pretty happy because in the wet I was sitting in the top five comfortably and as it dried out I was looking good in the first three sections. But in the last section I was losing half-a-second. That was still the wettest section but I could have pushed harder. I felt like I was pushing but when you think you’re on the edge you still might have another 15 per cent to go. But it’s hard to gauge in those conditions until you’re either on top of the charts or in the gravel trap. I think we learned a lot and we made some big progress with the front-end problems I’ve been having. We’ve been experimenting with body position to try and help improve the front and it seems to have worked. We’re going more in (Jorge) Lorenzo’s direction to get a bit more weight on the rear and not overloading the front. So I’m happy and looking for another good result at Donington.”
James Toseland 12th 1.40.522 – 32 laps
“I didn’t have much feeling with the bike when it was full wet but it just kept drying out and I knew the bike set-up would suit the conditions better when it was drying up. So I didn’t think there was any point in coming if the track conditions were going to get better and I decided to stay out. I did a lot of laps in the mixed conditions in Germany last weekend and that really helped me out a lot today. I just kept improving and improving but unfortunately because I stayed out for the session I ran out of fuel right at the time when the track conditions were the best they had been for the whole hour. I wasn’t sure how much time was left but having done 28 laps I knew it was going to be close on the fuel. It’s a shame because I slipped down the order a little bit but I’m happy because most of that session I was right in the mix in the top six and it was pretty encouraging. This weekend is very important for me and as always I put my maximum effort into that session to start the weekend off on a positive note and I think I’ve done that. I’ve got unbelievable support here already and that makes me determined to get a good result on Sunday.”