Konica Minolta Honda swelters at hot Japanese Grand Prix
The first practice sessions for this weekend's Japanese Grand Prix took place in sweltering weather conditions today. Once more the lap times were extremely close with the top 15 riders being covered by just one second. Shinya Nakano spent the day evaluating tyres andmaking suspension changes to his Konica Minolta Honda RCV212V, as he tried to find a tyre and suspension combination that worked well around the 2.98mile Twin Ring Motegi circuit. After being in the top ten during the morning session, the former All-Japan 250cc champion slipped to 12th in the afternoon's session, but is confident of making improvements before tomorrow's qualifying session.
Gianluca Montiron - Team Manager Konica Minolta Honda
"Today I'm not completely satisfied as I think Shinya could have made a bigger step forward this afternoon, but with the new tyre regulations we must save our best tyre for tomorrow. In the morning our situation was better as Shinya was fast and consistent, but this afternoon as other people made big improvements our improvement was not as large, but Shinya was still able to make his best time towards the end. We know we have to work hard to find a good setting for tomorrow and we are sure that Shinya can make a good qualifying time, we just also need to try and be consistent during the full race distance, so we hopethatany improvements we make will help Shinya's overall race rhythm."
Shinya Nakano - Rider, Konica Minolta Honda (48 laps - 1' 48.697")
"It's good to be home! Today was quite good in the morning, although the afternoon session was even warmer so this made it difficult to choose our tyres. Tyre choice will be critical here and we may need to use a harder tyre than we first thought. Today we chose two tyres that we will use tomorrow and compare their performance. The nature of Motegi means that both tyre and suspension settings are key to a good lap time, so we will be working hard to find the right combination. I'm confident for qualifying tomorrow, although as we've seen today it's going to be very close indeed!"
Giulio Bernardelle - Technical Director, Konica Minolta Honda
"Things are fairly positive, as our situation is not so different from Estoril because we're not so far behind the top runners. In fact, perhaps we're closer as only Dani Pedrosa was able to do a 1m47 lap. The main point we have been working on today is our ability to be able to run more consistently in the 48s, at the moment it's not so easy for Shinya to do those times, so we need to do some more work on the bike to help achieve this. Today we can't be really fast in the last three corners, but if we can solve this problem then it's possible to cut 0.4s from our lap time. To do this we will have to work on our suspension settings, as there are lots of hard braking and hard accelerating points from low speed, so Motegi works the suspension quite hard. It's very hot here today! Temperatures mean that we will finalise tyre choice tomorrow at some point. Here it seems that the morning temperatures aren't too different from the afternoon which helps with consistency, although Sunday's race may take place in cooler conditions."