French GP: Repsol Honda Friday notes

The Repsol rider was the fastest during the two MotoGP free training sessions. Esteve Rabat improved considerably -sixth in the 125-, as did Julian Simon, also sixth in the 250cc category. The first day of free training sessions in the top ...

The Repsol rider was the fastest during the two MotoGP free training sessions. Esteve Rabat improved considerably -sixth in the 125-, as did Julian Simon, also sixth in the 250cc category.

The first day of free training sessions in the top category at the French Grand Prix was dominated by Repsol Honda Team rider Dani Pedrosa. The Spaniard finished both sessions leading the classification, though once more the protagonists of the day were four riders. Along with Pedrosa, Casey Stoner, Valentino Rossi and Jorge Lorenzo were the main actors in the first event of the French Grand Prix.

The weather forecast had predicted rain today on the French track, but fortunately it was not the case and the sessions were held on a completely dry track. In the top category, Dani Pedrosa set a very fast pace on the French track, running the fastest time in both free training sessions. Pedrosa, who last year finished second in Le Mans after an exciting duel with Valentino Rossi, concentrated today on testing tyres, his sights always set on the race. Teammate Nicky Hayden, with more setup problems than expected on the French track, had a complicated day and classified in a low fourteenth position in the morning, and twelfth in the afternoon.

Julian Simon continued improving along the lines of what he already showed in China, and again ran a regular and fast pace throughout the sessions. The Repsol rider did not have any problems in his forearms, meaning he was able to concentrate entirely on his riding and on finding the right adjustments for the KTM 250 FRR. During the first free training session, Simon was among the fastest in the category most of the time. He was finally sixth, the same position as in the timed session, and in both cases finished as the best KTM. Hiroshi Aoyama and Mika Kallio, riders who receive technical support from Repsol, had a complicated day on the French track, running the ninth and tenth fastest times, respectively.

In the quarter-litre category, quite a positive day for the Repsol KTM riders. Tito Rabat ran his best training sessions this season, riding consistently among the fastest in the category. The Repsol rider arrived at the French track with renewed hopes of turning the situation around, and right from the start felt comfortable taking the bends on the French track, due to the new adjustments to his KTM 125 FRR. In the free training sessions, Rabat finished fourth, and in the timed sessions, in spite of a problem halfway through which kept him at the box for ten minutes, he was able to score the sixth fastest time.

Teammate Marc Marquez ran today on the Le Mans Circuit for the first time, and also performed well. The Repsol rider concentrated on learning the layout by heart and adjusting the bike to his preferences. In the free session he finished nineteenth, after deciding upon which was the best way of distributing the dead weight for comfortable riding. In the timed session, after a few changes to the adjustments done in the previous session, he was more comfortable on the bike. However, soon after starting he had a fall on the bend leading to the finish line, though fortunately he was unhurt. As a result he slowed down his pace, and finally finished in 25th position.

Quotes

MotoGP Dani Pedrosa >> 1'34.227 secs, 55 laps, 230 Km.

"We worked very hard today because we heard that the weather forecast for tomorrow isn't so good. At least we did get two hours of dry track time, which we dedicated to quickly finding a good basic set-up and then doing some work on tyre choice for Sunday's race.

The revised part of the circuit seems quite bumpy, so I ran straight on there several times during the day, same as a few other riders. Overall I'm feeling quite happy about my machine after this first day but we must keep our heads down and keep working hard because the top few riders are all very close together on lap times."

Nicky Hayden >> 1'35.378 secs, 52 laps, 218 Km.

"Things didn't go as smooth as we'd have liked today. Braking at this track is so important and I don't have a good feeling when I'm braking. Straight line or leaned over, the front end doesn't feel so good. I don't know why, but I was hurting a little bit in that area in China too.

We're basically a full second off the pace and that's a lot on a 1 minute 34 lap, so we need to sort something overnight. We really never found a direction all day, we were chasing our tails, so that makes it hard, and it's never good to fall behind when there's rain in the forecast. I know the team will work hard, so I'm confident in that."

250cc

Julian Simon >> 1'39.051 secs, 47 laps, 197 Km.

"These training sessions were much better than the first day on any of the other circuits. We soon found the right course and the ideal adjustments for this track, which haven't changed that much since China.

Today's analysis isn't bad. We were in a very good position in the morning, and in the afternoon we finished sixth, close to the first classified. We still have some improvements to do, especially on the engine, as in some bends it behaves too aggressively. We have to make it more progressive and easier to control. For the time being I'm happy with our work, let's hope the weather is good tomorrow and we can improve our position."

125cc

Esteve Rabat >> 1'44.344 secs, 34 laps, 142 Km.

"It wasn't bad. We did some good training sessions and it looks like we're finding our way out of the tunnel we were going through. In the morning I finished fourth, and in the afternoon I had to confirm that it wasn't just a coincidence.

We confirmed it, because in spite of a problem we had which made us stop for a while, we managed to find solutions for more comfortable riding. The last part, the last three curves, is where I find it the toughest, and we'll have to find a better setup which gives me more speed arriving on the straightaway."

Marc Marquez >> 1'46.230 secs, 35 laps, 146 Km.

"This circuit is new to me, and this morning I soon felt comfortable. The bike wasn't properly fine-tuned, but in the afternoon I went out there and it looked like I was doing better.

However, soon after starting I had a fall, which made me slow down my pace slightly. I wasn't pushing too hard, but I lost control of the rear end. I didn't feel too comfortable on the second bike. Let's see if tomorrow we're lucky and it doesn't rain, giving us a chance of improving both our position and our times."

-credit: repsol honda

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About this article
Series MotoGP
Drivers Nicky Hayden , Valentino Rossi , Jorge Lorenzo , Julian Simon , Mika Kallio , Hiroshi Aoyama , Dani Pedrosa , Marc Marquez , Tito Rabat
Teams Repsol Honda Team