Casey Stoner set the pace on the opening day of the Gran Premio Generali de la Comunitat Valenciana, lapping almost four tenths quicker than his closest rival Jorge Lorenzo. With cool track temperatures of just 17ºC the onus for the riders was on finding grip around the short but technically demanding circuit and despite starting out with a setting he wasn’t comfortable with Stoner worked hard with his mechanics to find a solution by the end of the hour-long free practice.
Nicky Hayden also worked tirelessly throughout the session, suffering from similar difficulties to Stoner but without managing to find the key breakthrough. The American also cited a dirty track surface for slower track times than usual, with Stoner the only rider able to break the 1’33 mark today.
CASEY STONER (Ducati Marlboro Team) (1st; 1’32.813)
“We didn’t start out with a very effective base setting and I didn’t have a good feeling for the first few laps. Basically we didn’t have enough weight on the front and because of the track conditions it was difficult to get heat into the tyre, especially on the right side because there aren’t many right turns here. We knew what we needed to from the bike so I kept coming in and making small adjustments until we found it. It’s quite good, we still need to improve a lot but I’m really pleased with the job we did today and if we can make the improvements we have planned for tomorrow then we’ll be in a very good situation.”
NICKY HAYDEN – (Ducati Marlboro Team) (10th; 1’34.462)
“It was a tough session and I had certainly hoped to be a lot closer to the pace than that today. It’s a track I really like and we know the bike works well here so the team and I have a lot of work to do. Track temperatures were quite low and I had a really hard time getting the tyres working on the front and rear. It’s also quite windy so I’m not sure if maybe a lot of sand and dirt has blown onto the track but it’s definitely tricky to find grip out there. That’s our target for tomorrow anyway.”
The Grand Prix of the Valenciana comunidad didn’t begin in the best way possible for the Pramac Racing Team: Mika Kallio has concluded with the eleventh best lap time while his teammate, Aleix Espargarò, didn’t manage to go further than the eighteenth position. The Catalan rider will have to sensibly improve in the two hours at his disposal tomorrow to conquer a good placement on Sunday’s starting grid. Kallio, who didn’t start well in the first minutes of the practice, made it to improve in the final part of the session getting really close to the top ten, minimum result acceptable for the 2009 MotoGP rookie of the year.
Fabiano Sterlacchini – Pramac Racing Technical Director
“Today, notwithstanding the eleventh place doesn’t satisfy us, we have done a good work making it to improve Mika’s best lap time of last winter test ridden on this track last November. Of course our objective is to give to Mika the possibility to start on the best position possible on Sunday’s starting grid and tomorrow we will have to work really hard. From Aleix we didn’t expect to see him straight away in the top ten, but we are sure he will manage to sensibly improve tomorrow.”
Mika Kallio – Pramac Racing rider
“Today we have encountered some problem in the front and the rear part of the bike: for what it concerned the front part we have found the solution to use tomorrow, while we still have to analyze the data to find which technical solution to use to improve the rear tyre grip. I lose too much time from the beginning to half of each turn and here is where we have to improve the most.”
Aleix Espargarò – Pramac Racing rider
“There was a lot of wind today on track and this has complicated a bit my work. In the first half of the session I couldn’t manage to push to the maximum, but around the end of the session we have found some good solutions that gives us good hopes for the rest of the season. I don’t like this situation because also in the previous weekend on the Fridays I couldn’t be really competitive. It will be a really important aspect to improve next year.”