Suzuki rider John Hopkins set the standard for Bridgestone riders on the first day of free practice at Donington Park in preparation for this weekend's British Grand Prix. Hopkins claimed the second fastest time of the day (1m29.025s)...
Suzuki rider John Hopkins set the standard for Bridgestone riders on the first day of free practice at Donington Park in preparation for this weekend's British Grand Prix.
Hopkins claimed the second fastest time of the day (1m29.025s) just 0.055s off the lead pace, as the Bridgestone engineering team were forced to swiftly deal with higher than expected track temperatures in the UK. Kawasaki's Shinya Nakano, who scored his best ever race result at Assen last weekend with second place, posted the fifth fastest time (1m29.275s) today. His team-mate Randy de Puniet, who won last year's 250cc event at Donington, was 14th (1m30.342s).
Ducati riders Loris Capirossi (1m29.798s) and Alex Hofmann (1m30.387s) secured tenth and 15th fastest of the day. Capirossi, still struggling with injuries sustained in Catalunya only a fortnight ago, opted to sit out the second session in order to retain his energy levels for the rest of the weekend.
Suzuki's Chris Vermeulen (1m29.941s) bettered his morning time by almost one second but remained in 13th spot, highlighting the faster nature of the circuit in the afternoon session. Donington has never been kind to Bridgestone in dry conditions with the circuit's characteristic playing against the Japanese tyre manufacturer's strengths, but initial results from opening practice hint towards a much improved performance level ahead of this year's race.
Shinji Aoki, Assistant Manager Motorcycle Race Tire Development: "We have always struggled in the dry at Donington, as we can see from last year's qualifying results when we only had one rider in the top ten. The main issue has always stemmed from a fundamental lack of grip, particularly in the downhill corners. At smooth surface circuits like Donington, this problem is exacerbated. But we have worked hard on this problem and have seen some encouraging results today. We brought several types of compound with us this weekend. We will not derive any benefit from the special low temperature compounds we used in Assen because of the unexpected high temperatures we are likely to have all weekend. However, we have tried a variety of harder compounds with each of our three teams today and have identified suitable tyres with which we can carry out long runs in tomorrow morning's practice hour. From there, we will have a much better indication of our relative competitiveness this weekend."