Track Action Begins at Motegi with Free Practice
The first MotoGP practice sessions for the Grand Prix of Japan got underway today at Motegi with contrasting results for the two Yamaha Factory Racing riders. Reigning World Champion Jorge Lorenzo made a solid start to the first session, wrapping it up in fifth place just over six tenths from first. The Mallorcan rider came away from the session hunting for further stability from his YZR-M1 under braking and was also looking for more edge grip. The second session saw improvements in set up bring his time down by seven tenths of a second, reducing the gap slightly to first to just over five tenths of a second.
Lorenzo’s team mate Ben Spies has struggled to perform since his arrival in Japan after suffering severe food poisoning en route from the USA. Treatment with Clinica Mobile yesterday evening helped the American find enough strength for the morning practice where he finished in eighth, 0.9 seconds from the front. Exhaustion then set in, resulting in an early end to the afternoon session after just five laps. The team will continue to work closely with Clinica Mobile today and tomorrow morning to improve Spies’ condition and stamina for Sunday’s race.
Jorge Lorenzo Position 5th - Time 1.47.310 - Laps 18
“We improved the lap time quite a lot from the morning to the afternoon session but it’s still not enough, the competition is very strong here. It is going to be a very difficult weekend to fight for the podium and the victory. We are trying some things on the bike to improve the stability on braking and into corners. We found a little but still need to find some more! We are fifth which could be worse today.”
Ben Spies Position 14th - Time 1.48.567 - Laps 5
“What a shocking start to the weekend, I don’t think I’ve ever been as sick as I was on the journey over here, I was nearly not allowed on the plane. I’m slowly getting my strength back thanks to the great guys at Clinica but didn’t have enough to ride properly in the second session. I started to get tunnel vision on the straight and just felt it was too dangerous to be out there. I’m working with Clinica today and tomorrow and am sure things will be a bit better for qualifying and the race. I’m really sorry for my team and all the Japanese fans who came to watch today.”
Wilco Zeelenberg - Yamaha Factory Racing Team Manager “The first day is not really that bad, we look worse on the time sheets than we really are. Jorge’s consistency is good which is important. We are missing a little on braking stability and edge grip. We are looking forward to tomorrow, we need to solve these two things but we have a good pace. We need to improve but there is space to do that.”
Massimo Meregalli - Yamaha Factory Racing Team Director “The food poisoning has made the start of this weekend very difficult. We are working together with Clinica Mobile and Ben’s condition is getting better all the time. Yesterday he had some treatment and it helped him complete this morning’s session. He thought he could also do the second but I think he used up all his energy in the first heat. We think tomorrow will be better and Sunday he will hopefully be ready for the race.”