News 1 May 2010

MotoGP: Stoner leads on Friday at Jerez despite late crash

Ducati Marlboro's Casey Stoner was the pace setter in the opening practice for the Grand Prix of Spain on Friday despite a late front-end fall.

Stoner was the fastest on Friday at Jerez despite a last-minute fall.

Stoner was the fastest on Friday at Jerez despite a last-minute fall.

Ducati Marlboro’s Casey Stoner was the pace setter in the opening practice for the Gran Premio bwin de España on Friday, but despite clocking the fastest lap of the day, a late front-end slip sullied his copybook.

Looking to bounce back from disappointment in Qatar where he suffered a similar spill, the Australian led for virtually the entire session, setting his fast time of 1:39.731 on just his fourth lap on track, before sliding out at the Angel Nieto corner with two minutes to go.

Stoner emerged unscathed and will continue his charge for pole tomorrow.

Fiat Yamaha rider Jorge Lorenzo, who has started the past two races at this circuit from pole position, was second fastest of the session as he lapped at just over a tenth of a second off Stoner’s pace.

Meanwhile, Stoner’s teammate Nicky Hayden completed the top three times as he followed on from his impressive outing at round one by pacing at just over 0.4 off his colleague’s lap time.

Repsol Honda rider Dani Pedrosa will be one of the Spanish contingent looking to make home advantage count this weekend as he seeks a vast improvement from the opening weekend in the Middle East. He was fourth in the hour-long session as he took his RC212V around at just under half a second slower than Stoner’s marker.

Reigning World Champion Valentino Rossi was fifth quickest, occasionally grimacing in the garage as he found his level of comfort affected by the injured shoulder he sustained in a motocross training accident a couple of weeks ago.

The Italian, who won the opening round in Qatar, placed ahead of compatriot Loris Capirossi (Rizla Suzuki) and Monster Yamaha Tech3 rider Colin Edwards.

Impressive home showings from Héctor Barberá (Páginas Amarillas Aspar) and Álvaro Bautista (Rizla Suzuki) placed the Spanish rookies eighth and ninth respectively in the order of times, after both had experienced minor crashes – Barberá after just ten minutes and Bautista in the latter half of the session.

Marco Melandri (San Carlo Honda Gresini Team) completed the top ten, hoping to make up for the disappointment of finishing thirteenth and last in the curtain raiser with Ben Spies (Monster Yamaha Tech3), Andrea Dovizioso (Repsol Honda) and Randy de Puniet (LCR Honda) next on the timesheet.

Hard-charging home-rider Alex Debón (Aeroport de Castello – Ajo) was the fastest rider in what is quickly becoming an ultra-competitive Moto2 class.

The experienced Spaniard, who started the 250cc race from pole here last year, lapped the circuit nearly half a second quicker than anyone else, stopping the watches at 1:44.419.

A multitude of riders challenged for the fastest times as the pace picked up, with former 125cc World Champion Gabor Talmacsi (Fimmco Speed Up) eventually emerging as the best of the rest in second spot, ahead of impressive American Kenny Noyes (Jack & Jones by A. Banderas) who is familiar with Jerez after his lengthy stint in the Spanish national championships.

Former MotoGP rider and GP winner Yuki Takahashi (Tech 3) was fourth as he looked to make up for his crash in Qatar, with another Spaniard Sergio Gadea (Tenerife 40 Pons) behind in fifth.

Colombia’s Yonny Hernandez wowed the crowds as he slipped and slid his Blusens STX BQR machine into sixth spot, with Julian Simón (Mapfre Aspar), Claudio Corti (Forward Racing), Tom Lüthi (Interwetten Moriwaki) and Jules Cluzel (Forward Racing) completing the top ten.

Pol Espargaró made sure that he secured the early psychological boost in the first practice session of the 125cc class, leading an all-Spanish, all-Derbi top three which was almost a second faster than the remainder of the field.

Posting a super quick time of 1:47.327 on his 20th and final lap of the session, Espargaró was nearly a second quicker than Julián Simón’s 2009 pole position time, and was followed by Marc Márquez (Red Bull Ajo Motorsport) and Tuenti Racing team-mate Efrén Vázquez, who were 0.121s and 0.247s respectively further down the timings and the last two to get under the 1:48 mark.

Another rider on Derbi machinery, Sandro Cortese (Avant Mitsubishi Ajo) was fourth fastest with the race winner from the opening round in Qatar Nico Terol (Bancaja Aspar) maintaining a predominantly Spanish theme in the fastest times as he slotted in at fifth.

Esteve Rabat (Blusens-STX), Bradley Smith (Bancaja Aspar), Alberto Moncayo (Andalucia Cajasol) and Jasper Iwema (CBC Corse) were all inside the top ten lap times in the session.

Click here for detailed results

MOTOGP RIDER QUOTES (to be updated):

Casey Stoner: “My first run was okay but we had some problems in braking so we spent the rest of the session trying to improve this area, comparing the two bikes. The crash at the end was a similar situation to Qatar – I went into the corner with less pressure on the front and it closed. It’s never nice to crash but at least it gives us a better understanding of what happened in Qatar and which direction we need to take with the set-up over the rest of the weekend. Other than that I am really happy – I think this is the first time I’ve been fastest in any MotoGP session at Jerez. We’ve started out strongly, we have no worries and I’m looking forward to tomorrow.”

Nicky Hayden: “The session went well and I’m really happy right now because this is a big one for us. I was fast in Malaysia and Qatar but that was after a lot of testing at those tracks, experimenting with many different settings, but we’ve come here and been fast out of the gate, which was one of my goals for this season – to be on the pace on Fridays. We didn’t set the world on fire or break any track records so we’re not getting carried away but the bike is close and if we can get it a little better in the fast corners we should have a good package. The team made one little change today that helped a lot and on my last exit I was able to stay in the 1’40s from the first lap to the last. It’s a good start and if we keep working in this way we can have a good weekend.”

Jorge Lorenzo: “I’m really happy with this first day. Everything has gone well and I don’t have any pain in my hand anymore. I feel as good on the bike as I felt last year when I got pole, although my aim is to make sure I don’t repeat the same mistake in the race this time! I always feel like I ride well here and I’ve already got a good pace; with some small modifications we can be even better. I don’t think the perfect MotoGP bike exists but our Yamaha is definitely nearly there, maybe we just need a bit more top speed… Tomorrow my aim is to improve my pace just a bit more to be consistently in the 39s; I’m excited about the weekend.”

Valentino Rossi: “The shoulder is a bit sore, especially in the two or three harder braking areas, but the most important thing is that I can ride! Of course this pain makes it more difficult but I was able to do 25 laps today without painkillers, and the pain didn’t get any worse as the session went on. I didn’t take any painkillers because I wanted to understand the level and so tomorrow and Sunday we will consider something for the pain. Today we used two different settings and now we will decide which direction to go in for the rest of the weekend. We need to find a bit more rear grip in order to be more competitive, because at this moment this is slowing us down more than the shoulder.”

Colin Edwards: “We got through a lot of work in a short amount of time and it wasn’t terrible but it wasn’t great either. We can make some improvements with the gearing because we were struggling a little bit for acceleration out of some of the tight sections. We haven’t come close to finding the limit of the bike yet and with the new stiffer suspension settings, I just need a bit more time to get comfortable with that. I’m confident that the base package is close but we can definitely make it better, particularly with the gearing. I followed a couple of guys today and they definitely had the jump on me out of the corner and I was losing a little bit of ground. But it’s a decent start to the weekend and as always I know my guys at Monster Yamaha Tech 3 will improve my bike and put me in good shape for Sunday when it counts.”

Ben Spies: “I’m super-happy with today. It’s 11th and I’m over a second off the pace but after only one hour at this track I’m really happy and I don’t think it could have gone too much better than it did. I’m only one second away from being really competitive and my quickest lap was one of those when I didn’t really nail it and could say it was a great lap. And I didn’t follow anybody either. I wanted to learn by myself and I know there is a lot of time to come from me and I’m sure we can make the bike better too. There is definitely more time I can find with the fast section of right-handers at the end of the lap. They aren’t really hard but you’ve got to be in a good rhythm to really make up some time. Now I’m really looking forward to tomorrow because I like the track. It’s one of those tracks if you mess a turn up, three turns later you’re still scratching your head trying to get it back. But that is good for me because I really like flowing tracks and this is definitely one of them. I’m a lot more relaxed going into tomorrow knowing I’ll be pretty competitive, so thanks to Yamaha and the Monster Tech 3 Team.”

Loris Capirossi: “We decided to take a bit of a risk today and make some big changes to the bike in the hope that it would help us take some big steps and for sure it has certainly helped us. I have to give a big thanks to everyone involved for letting us make the changes. We had a big meeting between my guys and Sahara san and it looks like we have solved one of the biggest problems we have. Overall we need to continue to work in this direction and I think we will make yet more discoveries that will help us. Today has been a good day for me and Suzuki and I think there is more to come!”

Álvaro Bautista: “This is a new circuit with new reference points for me on a MotoGP bike, so it felt like I had to start working all over again. I tried to find a good line on the track and worked with the team to get a good base setting. At the end of the session I tried the softer compound tyres and I had a lot of grip from the rear and I was able to exit the corners much quicker, but I think I felt a bit too much movement from the front and I wasn’t able to enter the corner like I could on the harder tyres, so that is something we have to work on tomorrow. We have a lot of work to do tomorrow and we will have to work very hard to get everything right. I think we are in a good position in the classification because we are in the top 10 and at my home GP I want to have a good race, but before that we have a lot of work to do on the bike and we must get a good setting so I can compete and enjoy myself!”

Mika Kallio: “I am disappointed for not having completed the practice in the top ten, I know that this is a result that I can easily reach so I’ll commit tomorrow to get a good result in the second free practice and then in the qualifying. I have a good feeling with the third part of the circuit that is one of the most driven of the track, I’ve got the sixth time overall. I have to improve in other parts. Seeing the official Ducati riders ahead gives me enormous confidence in the motorbike and I hope to be able to get a good qualifying tomorrow. ”

Aleix Espargaro: “I still have some problems with the load on the front wheel as in Qatar. During the tests we have changed a bit the set-up and I bought a little feeling with the track and the bike, reducing my gap lap after lap. Unfortunately, the first free practice continue to be a bit difficult for me. Certainly the sixteenth time is not a good result, but I consider very positive that there is less than one second gap between me and the seventh rider of the classification. ”