News 5 Jun 2010

MotoGP: Rossi quickest, Stoner crashes on Friday in Italy

Rossi was fastest on Friday at Mugello, complete with new hair do!

Rossi was fastest on Friday at Mugello, complete with new hair do!

Valentino Rossi laid down the gauntlet at Mugello on Friday by setting the fastest time in the opening free practice session for this weekend’s MotoGP World Championship round.

The Italian is looking to reclaim his crown as the King of Mugello, after Casey Stoner’s win last year ended a run of seven consecutive victories in the Italian Grand Prix for the reigning world champion.

Rossi’s fastest lap was almost half a second faster than his championship rival, and Fiat Yamaha teammate, Jorge Lorenzo, who posted the second fastest time to make it a Yamaha one-two at the top of the timesheet today.

Rossi and Lorenzo established themselves at the forefront of the timesheet early on and Rossi continually improved his time as the session reached its climax.

With just 10 minutes of the session left to run the Italian, who is sporting a new Mohawk haircut for the Mugello weekend, finally broke the 1:50 barrier, setting a hot lap of 1:49.751.

Rizla Suzuki’s Loris Capirossi pushing up into third place with a late surge that left him just 0.608s off Rossi’s blistering pace, but the Italian veteran then crashed uninjured in the San Donato turn, ending his session early.

Colin Edwards enjoyed a good opening session and was fourth fastest, just over a second off Rossi and only one thousandth of a second ahead of Dani Pedrosa who was the highest-placed Honda rider today.

Ben Spies impressed on his first outing at Mugello by registering the sixth fastest time, just over two-tenths behind Pedrosa.

Casey Stoner had the worst possible start to the hour-long practice when he experienced a run-off at Turn 15. The Australian had to take his Desmosedici GP10 down into the gravel to avoid hitting the fence, and eventually placed seventh in the session as he completed 15 laps, the fewest of the field.

Andrea Dovizioso Nicky Hayden and Héctor Barberá all set top-ten times as well, the rookie running off at Bucine shortly after Casey Stoner had vacated the gravel trap at the same place.

Rizla Suzuki rookie Álvaro Bautista made his return after sitting out the last race at Le Mans due to his collarbone injury, but was clearly still feeling some discomfort with a best time just over 5.5s off that of Rossi.

Alex de Angelis topped the timesheet after this afternoon’s opening Moto2 free practice, lapping the Mugello circuit in a time of 1:56.422 aboard his Force GP210 machine. De Angelis set his best time on the 13th of his 22 laps, and was 0.217s quicker than second fastest, Sergio Gadea.

Tenerife 40 Pons rider Gadea pushed himself into that position with a best time of 1:56.639 on his penultimate lap, 0.076s faster than Julián Simón whose best effort came on his final lap of the Tuscan track.

Andrea Iannone made it four different chassis manufacturers occupying the top four positions, as he came in just under two-tenths behind Simón.

Stefan Bradl, Jules Cluzel, Yuki Takahashi and Shoya Tomizawa – at present second in the championship standings – were tightly grouped from positions five to eight, with Mike di Meglio and Gabor Talmacsi completing a top ten separated by just 0.918s.

Current championship leader Toni Elías was only 11th fastest, 1.032 off the time set by De Angelis. British rider Scott Redding finished the practice in 19th position.

Pol Espargaró and Nico Terol reignited their Championship battle in the opening 125cc practice session of the Gran Premio d’Italia TIM on Friday afternoon, as the former set the fastest time of the session with his last lap of the Mugello circuit.

Bancaja Aspar rider Terol, who leads the Championship standings by two points from Espargaró heading into this weekend, looked to have done enough to take the first practice honours, but his Tuenti Racing adversary posted a time of 1:58.373 right at the end to edge himself 0.058s in front.

Third fastest was last year’s race winner Bradley Smith, who found an immediate pace on his Aprilia, something which has not been the case regularly this season so far. At 0.650s off Espargaró’s time there is still work to do for the Brit, who was just under two-tenths ahead of Efrén Vázquez in fourth place.

Completing the top five was Randy Krummenacher who matched Vázquez’s time, while Marc Márquez was the sixth and final rider to get within a second of Espargaró’s marker.

Esteve Rabat, Sandro Cortese, Tomoyoshi Koyama and Jonas Folger all recorded top ten times to get their respective weekends off to a good start.

Click here for detailed results

Valentino Rossi: “I am so happy to be back here in Mugello and we did a good first practice. We worked well, trying a lot of different settings as well as soft and hard Bridgestone tyres, and we are quite fast. I still have pain in my shoulder but it seems that this track isn’t as bad and today I wasn’t suffering like I did in Le Mans. Of course we don’t know how the shoulder will feel over the weekend but at this early stage I’m quite confident. The important thing is to work at 100% to find the right setting and make sure we’re as fast as possible for Sunday.”

Jorge Lorenzo: “I’m happy about this session and I’m feeling quite good. It’s always difficult to be fast straight away here, because you need many laps to understand the track with all its changes in direction, but after I had done some laps I improved a lot. Now we have to try to improve some things on the bike. The most important thing is to get on the front row tomorrow and to do that we need to make some small changes. The weather is hot but it’s okay, I’m fit, well prepared and have a good pace already.”

Colin Edwards: “I’m really happy with today because the first three races have not been easy at all. Nothing had worked at all so far this season, so basically I completely changed the set-up of the bike today. I just told my team to change the set-up so it was completely the same as Mugello last year when I had my best result at this track. We changed riding position and got my weight moved forward because I’ve been having a problem keeping weight on the front this season. Now it just feels so natural and the bike does exactly what I want it to do. When I want the bike to do something it actually does it instead of me waiting and wondering why it didn’t work. Now it just turns and it feels like I’m spending much less time on the side of the tyre. I turn in now really quickly and don’t run wide or have to work hard to get the bike round the corner. I want to say a big thanks to Tech 3 and Yamaha because it feels like my bike again and I’m riding with much more confidence.”

Ben Spies: “This track is definitely a more difficult place to learn but it is a super fun track. There are a couple of corners that are really difficult to learn and it can take a while to get into a rhythm. But coming here on the back of a couple of bad results and being immediately this fast on such a technically challenging track is really good for me. It doesn’t feel like I should have been sixth and I guess that is a good sign. I thought I was doing fine so to see I was sixth, I was blown away with that because I thought I’d be about tenth or just outside the top ten. I’m still having a bit of trouble with the ankle I hurt in the practice crash in Le Mans. There’s quite a bit of ligament damage but the only time I really feel it is when I’m trying to tuck in tight on the straight. It’s not a major injury but it will take a few weeks to fully recover. On the bike it hurts but it’s not slowing me down. I’ll analyse the data tonight because as always when I’m starting fresh on a new track, there is more time to come from my riding and the bike. But to be sixth on my first day at such a difficult track is a good lift for my confidence.”

Casey Stoner: “I think I only managed three ‘proper’ laps and none of them were decent! I had a crash at the start, which obviously didn’t help. Basically when I went to grab the brakes at the “Bucine” corner there was nothing there! I tried to tip the bike into the corner but she was skipping wide so I just had to run her into the gravel. Stones got everywhere and that kind of stuffed that bike up for the rest of the session. It was a shame because we’d switched back to the old forks on that bike and even though I only had a couple of laps on them it was enough to make me want to use them on both bikes tomorrow. The feel with them is more aggressive but we have feel. The other bike had the new forks on but I just don’t have the same confidence with them and I was losing the front in the same kind of corners that I have been in the last races. Nothing we tried seemed to work today, it was just one of those days! All we can do is start again tomorrow – hopefully the weather stays good because we need laps.”

Nicky Hayden: “Today wasn’t as smooth out of the gate as we would have liked. The bike didn’t feel too bad but we were struggling in some of the downhill corners to get it to hold the line and change direction without using the brake to get the weight onto the front. We certainly need to take a good look at things together tonight and see where we can make it better because nothing came easy out there. It is not just a front-end thing, we need a little bit of improvement all over the bike. I know my guys will be working hard as always and tomorrow we need to get our head down again because this is such an important race for Ducati.”

Loris Capirossi: “Apart from the crash it has been a very positive day here in Mugello! We started with two different bikes and one was very good and gave me a good feeling. Overall I am very happy with the day’s work. I made the mistake and crashed at the end, it was my fault and I know what caused it so it is no big problem. I know we can still improve this weekend and I am confident for the race.”

Álvaro Bautista: “I had a very hard practice because I thought I was in better condition than I am. I feel better than I did at Le Mans, but it is still very hard to change direction and I don’t have enough strength in my left arm to ride the bike how I would like to. I am using all my body and this is making me go slower than I want. My target this weekend is to get more confident with the bike and to get a good feeling. I am determined to finish on Sunday, so that is my first goal.”

Aleix Espargarò: “Also if I’m far from the top riders, I have great confidence in the tomorrow tests. This is one of the most difficult circuit of the MotoGP and I’ll try to do my best to get a good result here. We worked hard to develop the best bike for tomorrow so that I could be able to move closer to the first riders. After the good result of Le Mans I’m very motivated to get the best result and I know that with a little of more feeling, I can improve my lap times.”

Mika Kallio: “Fortunately my shoulder doesn’t makes me feel so much pain, I have one second gap from the top eight, but I think that with the changes that we have done today, I’ll try to recover the gap and do my best. We had some setting problems that haven’t allowed me to lead in the better way my bike, but my team has already identified the problems and knew how to solve them. This is a very difficult track for me, but I will give my best tomorrow to recover some places and to gain a good position on the starting grid.”

More to come