Simoncelli leads the way after mixed opening day at Mugello
Bridgestone slick compounds available: Front: Medium, Hard. Rear (asymmetric): Medium, Hard
Wet compounds available: Front: Soft. Rear: Soft
Marco Simoncelli was fastest overall today, setting the pace in the dry this morning at the newly resurfaced Mugello circuit. His last-lap effort saw him leapfrog Repsol Honda riders Casey Stoner and Andrea Dovizioso who were second and third respectively. Compound choices were mixed today with all specifications being used to good effect.
For free practice one the conditions were fine and some of the hottest of the season so far with an air temperature that reached 27 degrees Celsius and 47 degrees Celsius on track.
Riders started the first session assessing the level of grip of the new tarmac, and throughout the 45-minute session the times tumbled, clearly demonstrating that the track is now grippier as well as smoother. Using Bridgestone’s asymmetric rear slicks, which have been brought to Mugello for the first time this year, and on the improved track surface the top five riders all lapped under the existing circuit lap record, set by Dani Pedrosa last year. Simoncelli’s fastest lap was an impressive 0.6seconds faster than the previous best, and if conditions are fine for the rest of the weekend the times are bound to get faster still.
MotoGP seems cursed by rain this year however, and the afternoon’s session was affected by light rain that fell just before the start and continued for most of the second practice. A handful of riders ventured out in the early stages using Bridgestone’s soft compound wet tyres, but many opted to remain in their garages whilst the conditions meant that there was little useful data to be gained.
By the half way point, only three riders had completed flying laps, with only a few more completing a sighting lap to judge grip levels before returning to their pit garages. By the end of the session the track had dried and riders were lapping on the softer option slicks again with Dovizioso topping the pile, but the morning’s times were faster.
This weekend is the sixth to be affected by rain this season out of eight grands prix so far, counting this Sunday’s Italian Grand Prix, but the current forecast for the rest of the weekend is fine and dry.
Hirohide Hamashima – Assistant to Director, Motorsport Tyre Development Division
“This morning the conditions were very good and the laptimes were fast. I am happy with the performance of our asymmetric slicks here and combined with the new track surface, which seems very smooth and grippy, the top five riders are already under the lap record which is encouraging. Both options of front and rear slick have been used today and I am happy that performance of all specs seems good here. This afternoon the conditions were not great with many riders deciding there was nothing to be gained from venturing out in the light rain so much of the session was lost, so tomorrow it will be very important to check race-distance durability of each option.”