By: Gordon Hatch, MotoGP Correspondent
Reigning MotoGP Champion leads the way in Monterey
Jorge Lorenzo ended day one of the Red Bull US Grand Prix at the Laguna Seca Mazda Raceway on top ahead of Repsol Honda teammates Dani Pedrosa and Casey Stoner. The three riders swapped positions on the timing sheets throughout the day but it was the Yamaha Factory Racing man who topped the final timing session ahead of qualifying tomorrow.
Riding in Yamaha’s 50th anniversary grand prix racing colours, Lorenzo was on top for the majority of this afternoon’s session under the Californian sun and would eventually set a fastest time of 1m 22.056s which he set just over halfway into the session. Pedrosa, still on a high coming off the back of his victory in the German GP last week, also had a good day riding his RC212V to record his best time of 1m 22.197s ahead of Stoner with his time of 1m 22.231s despite topping the morning session.
It’s not so bad to begin and we will try to go faster tomorrow!
Lorenzo was content with his performance today but is still looking to imrove his set-up for qualifying tomorrow. “I am very happy to be back riding here at Laguna, a track I love. Today went pretty well, the bike felt ok. P1 I’m happy with but we need to try to improve corner entry for the bike because there are some tenths in that and it will give me more confidence turning in. It’s not so bad to begin and we will try to go faster tomorrow!”
Pedrosa likewise was happy with his first day riding the infamous Laguna Seca circuit with its notorious ‘Corkscrew’ turn saying, “The second session in the afternoon was pretty interesting, we made some changes on the bike and tried the race tyre, looking to set up the bike to absorb the bumps of which there are many in this track and they especially affect the front. The grip was a little poor today and it was also very windy out there, so we haven't yet found the perfect ride. In the morning we tried the softer compound and it had a little more grip, and in the afternoon, with the race tyre, it was more difficult to find grip, but perhaps the track conditions were not perfect, so we are hoping to keep improving tomorrow.”
Stoner continues to be affected by rear grip issues with his bike and is not feeling too conifident in his bike’s current setup. “We've been trying all day to get a slightly different balance with the bike to get the tyres working differently but we're struggling to get the feeling that we want and that we've had in the past. We've changed the set up quite substantially, with pivot positions and trying to get the rear to work with a little less temperature in the tyre, which we've accomplished but still haven't got the grip that we want and we're creating too much wheel spin.”
Stoner added, “Also, we're struggling to find a good feeling in the front and just not totally comfortable with the bike in general so we have a some work to do tonight and will continue in the morning to get prepared for qualifying.”
Andrea Dovizioso was next home in 4th position on a time of 1m 22.537s ahead of top American Ben Spies (Yamaha Factory Racing) setting a time of 1m 22.615s on front of his home fans. Following Spies into 5th with a time of 1m 22.803s is San Carlo Honda Gresini rider Marco Simoncelli whose somewhat reformed riding style is seeing much better performances for the Italian. Rizla Suzuki’s Alvaro Bautista finished his first day in 7th position with another good performance setting a best time of 1m 23.056s.
Randy de Puniet claimed the title of top Ducati today for his Pramac Racing squad on a time of 1m 23.135s. The Frenchman got into the top ten today while the factory Marlboro riders, Valentino Rossi on his GP11.1 and Nicky Hayden continue to struggle. Hayden, who tested both his current bike versus the bike Rossi has raced in the last two races, just crept into the top ten claiming the spot with a time of 1m 23.195s while Rossi continues his woes with a time of 1m 23.369s. Hayden was beaten into 9th position by his fellow countryman Colin Edwards on his Monster Yamaha Tech 3 YZR-M1 after setting a best time of 1m 23.183s.
Hector Barbera sits in 12th place on the timing sheets after setting a time of 1m 23.424s on his Mapfre Aspar Ducati GP11 with the Spaniard just ahead of Cal Crutchlow (Monster Yamaha Tec 3) on a time of 1m 23.707s. Karel Abraham (Cardion AB Motoracing) took a cautious approach to the Monterey circuit in today’s sessions and finished in 14th place with a best time of 1m 23.811s. Abraham finished just ahead of LCR Honda man Toni Elias on time of 1m 23.830s.
Hiroshi Aoyama (San Carlo Honda Gresini) is once again at the back of the field and only managed a time of 1m 24.590s. Loris Capirossi returns to the MotoGP Paddock this week after a lay off due to injury and set a time of 1m 24.663s to finish in 17th and one place ahead of American Superbike rider Ben Bostrom who makes his MotoGP debut with a wild card entry from LCR Honda. Bostrom ended the afternoon session to finish over six seconds away from Lorenzo on a time of 1m 26.159s.