Crutchlow and Hayes shine on wet first day at Valencia
Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Team riders Cal Crutchlow and Josh Hayes quickly got to grips with challenging conditions at the Ricardo Tormo Circuit in Valencia today to finish a rain-hit opening of practice displaying impressive speed and consistency.
British rider Crutchlow was 10th quickest in this morning's opening practice session on a damp track after heavy early morning rain had soaked the 2.489 miles circuit. He posted a best time of 1.46.581 to finish just over a second away from the fastest pace.
The second session took place on a full wet track after torrential rain battered the Valencia circuit in the build-up to the start of the 45-minute practice. Crutchlow once again ad apted himself superbly to the tricky conditions and he briefly topped the timesheets as he worked on improving the wet setting of his Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Team machine to find better traction.
With the track surface much wetter than in the morning session, lap times were slower as a result but Crutchlow's best time of 1.49.350 secured the 26-year-old fifth place.
Today's performance from double American Superbike Champion Hayes, who is replacing injured compatriot Colin Edwards, was truly outstanding. Hayes has no knowledge of the tight and twisty Valencia track and he had never ridden Yamaha's prototype YZR-M1 machine before today.
The wet conditions didn't make his task any less complicated but Hayes acquitted himself magnificently and this morning he was only 1.5s away from the top 10.
Quickly adapting himself to the Bridgestone rain tyres and t he sophisticated electronics on the YZR-M1 machine, Hayes opted to gain as much experience as possible this afternoon by staying on track throughout the session. He completed 24 successive laps and managed to clock a best time of 1.50.509 to finish in 10th position. His time was good enough to comfortably outpace regulars Loris Capirossi, Hector Barbera. Hiroshi Aoyama and Toni Elias.
Crutchlow and Hayes rode with Sic58 stickers on the front of their Monster Yamaha Tech 3 bikes today in honour of Italian Marco Simoncelli, who lost his life in a tragic accident during the Malaysian Grand Prix in Sepang on October 23.
Position 10th - Time 1.46.581 - Laps 33
“Today was a positive start to the weekend and I think I could have gone a fair bit quicker at the end of this afternoon's session and been challenging for the top three but I made a couple of small mistakes on my last lap. But I was still fifth fastest though and I felt pretty comfortable in the full wet conditions. I am happy enough even though the track hasn't got much grip at all. It was very slippery and you've got to be careful because it is easy to make a mistake. But the bike definitely felt better in the full wet rather than when it was a bit sketchy this morning. I just hope we get a dry session tomorrow to get some time on the bike in the dry. Nobody wants to be starting the race with no dry track time, so we'll have to see what happens with the weather. If it is wet tomorrow I'm sure we can make some improvements and go a bit faster.”
Position 15th - Time 1.48.037 - Laps 38
“My first day in MotoGP has been very difficult and quite scary at times to be honest. Before I went out this morni ng I don't think I have ever been so nervous in my life. I was happy with my lap times this morning in tricky conditions but then in the full wet this afternoon it meant it was quite a scary introduction to MotoGP. Although I've not experienced the full potential of a MotoGP bike because of the wet conditions, it is obvious that the Tech 3 Yamaha is a very good motorcycle and the Team has done an excellent job to try and make me comfortable. All I had to do was ride the machine and try to improve. Right now it is not so much about the set-up of the bike, it is just me learning the bike and I will continue that process tomorrow. I just hope that at some point I will get to have a dry practice so I can get to grips with the carbon brakes. I don't want to be going into the race on Sunday having to learn to ride in the dry and also adjust to the carbon brakes after two wet days. That would be the worse scenario for me but I enjoyed today a lot. It was a great experience and once again I want to thank everybody at Yamaha, Tech 3 and Monster that made this possible.”