Héctor Barberá Makes Strong Start Motegi
MAPFRE Aspar rider continues strong recent form with ninth fastest time on opening day
With regular riders, replacements and wildcards there was a healthy number of nineteen MotoGP bikes out on the newly relaid Motegi track today as the Grand Prix of Japan got underway in positive fashion. Unlike the slow lap times that were witnessed in the 125cc class the pace from their MotoGP counterparts was inside the circuit record, with perfect weather conditions and new tarmac around 80% of the track. Casey Stoner did his best as usual to dictate from the start but it was his team-mate Dani Pedrosa who finished with the best time on a dominant day for Honda at their home track.
The effects of jetlag and two insufferable nights with indigestion were not enough to hold back MAPFRE Aspar rider Héctor Barberá, who was ninth fastest in both of today's sessions. The Spaniard's consistent recent improvements have continued here in Japan and he made one of his better starts to a Grand Prix weekend this season. Héctor lies just 1.26 seconds off Pedrosa's best effort and with lots of ideas still to try in terms of set-up, he is hoping to make up vital positions on tomorrow's grid.
9th Héctor Barberá 1.48.055 (32 laps): “I have had two rough nights, vomiting and the rest, so I am feeling pretty weak but you don't even think about that when you're on the bike. The Honda riders are doing a great job but we have our own objectives and after fighting for seventh place in the last race we can do so again here. We are doing a good job so far, we're only three tenths off seventh today and a little more than a second off the fastest time. Everything is in the right place and I know I can continue to improve tomorrow. The goal is to be the fastest Ducati and the two that are in front of us are very close. We made a set-up change at the end of the session today, playing around with the suspension height, and I think it was positive. The new track surface is good, with decent grip, and I am sure it will be even better with more rubber down tomorrow. The best thing is there are less bumps and that allows you to ride with more confidence.”