Having had a couple of weeks off to recover from the busiest stage of the season, Fiat Yamaha Team riders Jorge Lorenzo and Valentino Rossi made a commanding return to action on day one of the Czech Grand Prix today, finishing first and second in free practice. 22-year-old Mallorcan Lorenzo was an impressive 0.399 seconds faster than his team-mate, who was in turn 0.590 seconds ahead of third-placed Pedrosa. The Yamaha pair’s closest challenger, Casey Stoner, is currently ill and has been replaced for the next three races by Finn Mika Kallio.
The riders were itching to get back into action after the summer break and the weather played along today, with mainly blue skies and temperatures in the mid-20s. This race sees the start of a new rule, which states that all riders may use a maximum of just five engines for the remaining seven races – like most of the paddock Rossi and Lorenzo each had three engines ‘sealed’ by race control last night for future use.
Lorenzo proved that he’s fully recovered from the injuries he picked up a few races back and was on blistering form throughout the session, taking the lead from his team-mate early on and holding on to it throughout. World Championship leader Rossi was close on his heels however and is confident of finding the extra tenths to match his team-mate with a little more work tomorrow.
Position: 1st Time: 1’56.595 Laps: 25
“It’s a great thing to start the weekend in such a strong way and I’ve had a good sensation and feeling with my bike from the first moment today. This isn’t usually the case so I’m really happy! I like this track a lot; I’ve had three wins here in the past and I always feel confident riding here. We need to work a little to improve the feeling with the front tyre on the entry to the corner and also we have a bit of work to do for the anti-wheelie, but I think we’re in very good shape. I am happy to be back on my bike and to be back to full fitness, but we must keep focused and keep improving.”
Position: 2nd Time: 1’56.994 Laps: 22
“Jorge and I were very fast from the start of this session which shows how good our bike is and what a great job Yamaha has done back in Japan. We’ve worked well and we’ve already shown some interesting lap times today. The setting isn’t perfect yet though so we need to work more, especially on the tyres because this track is very hard on both the front and rear. I hope the surface improves as more rubber is laid down because at the moment the grip isn’t great. I’m really sorry that Stoner isn’t here, I would always rather have my rivals to race against and I would like to wish him all the best; I hope he’s back soon.”
“This was a very positive day because the bike was already fast from the start of the session. We’ve tested all the Bridgestone tyre we have available and worked on both bikes, so we’ve already collected a lot of information and now we will work out what is best and put everything together for tomorrow.”
“It’s good to be back at work and we’ve made a good start today, always quite fast but we still have some improvements to make. We’ve checked the tyres and a few other things so now we need to work on fine-tuning the setting and looking at a few different areas to make another small step before qualifying tomorrow.”
Refreshed after a thoroughly deserved summer break, the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Team made a fast and promising return to MotoGP action at the Brno circuit today.
Boosted by his brilliant second place finish in the British GP at Donington Park, Colin Edwards continued his impressive 2009 form by clocking the fourth quickest time in today’s opening practice session.
A best lap of 1.57.741 saw Edwards miss a top three finish by just 0.157s, the 35-year-old helping Yamaha secure three of the top four places as the YZR-M1 machine dominate d proceedings.
Edwards is confident his encouraging start will boost his chances of claiming his first top six finish in the Czech Republic in Sunday’s 22-lap race, with the American lapping consistently in the top five throughout.
British rider James Toseland, who equalled his career best MotoGP result with an accomplished display in tricky conditions at Donington Park last month, ended the session with the 11th best time. The 28-year-old is confident of big improvements tomorrow as he made significant progress in solving a small front-end issue on his Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Team YZR-M1.
Today’s practice also gave the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Team its first experience of the new MotoGP engine restrictions. Edwards and Toseland are now only permitted to use five engines in the final seven races as part of a cost-cutting drive to reduce engine mileage.
Colin Edwards 4th 1.57 741 – 23 laps
“I’m happy to be high up and in fourth because I feel in really good shape and we’ve carried the confidence gained in Donington to this race. I feel really happy with the bike because we played with the setting a little bit just to get some more speed through the chicanes. That’s crucial at this track. You need to brake late but then release the brake early and carry the momentum through the chicanes. The balance of the bike is almost there, but I’ve not felt this good after the first hour for a long time. So I feel like I’m way ahead of the game at the moment. We’ve got these new engine restrictions to work with now and I don’t know if my head is being completely accurate, but I could feel a little bit of a difference. The engine felt smoother but just a little bit flatter at the top. But if there’s been any power loss it’s not that much, but the character is a l ittle bit different.”
James Toseland 11th 1.58.764 – 22 laps
“I had a small problem with the front-end at the start of the session and it took us a while to get that fixed to the point where I felt I could have gone much faster. I had slightly softer springs in the front but it wasn’t loading the front tyre enough. It made it really difficult to turn the bike in the long chicanes and being fast in those sections is crucial at this track. We got there in the end but it just took a while. By the end I was running comfortably in the 1.58s, but I’d done nearly 20 laps on the rear tyre and it just started to move a little. I felt comfortable doing that time on old tyres, so I’m sure now we’ve found a good direction with the front that I can go much quicker tomorrow. The new engine rule hasn’t changed too much for me, only that we’re only running one bike on Friday and Saturday and then another on race day to keep the mileage down on both.”