Gordon Hatch, MotoGP Correspondent
Repsol Honda rider tops both sessions in mixed weather conditions
Dani Pedrosa stamped his authority on both of today’s Free Practice sessions at the Sachsenring in preparation for the eni Motorrad Grand Prix Deutschland where the riders got to experience the famous German circuit in both dry and wet conditions with rain falling heavily in the FP2 this afternoon.
The weekend has started pretty good for us; I felt comfortable in both the dry and wet conditions.
Pedrosa was at the top of the timing sheets with his Repsol Honda teammate Casey Stoner for company for the majority of both sessions and their fellow championship rival Jorge Lorenzo also setting fast times on the Yamaha Factory Racing YZR-M1 but neither of the joint-championship leaders could match Pedrosa’s pace and his fastest time of 1m 32.228s.
However, in this afternoon’s wet session it wasn’t Stoner or Lorenzo nearly grabbing the top spot, it was German rookie Stefan Bradl on his LCR Honda in front of his home crowd. Bradl chipped away at the factory riders’ times all session and with 5 minutes to go he pulled the pin and set the second fastest time of 1m 32.304s with Lorenzo having to settle for third on the timing sheets with a 1m 32.327s lap.
Stoner finished the day in 4th with a lap of 1m 32.408s while the Ducati Racing Team fared much better once again in the wet with Valentino Rossi in 5th with a 1m 32.532s lap and teammate Nicky Hayden following the Italian with a time of 1m 32.657s. Cal Crutchlow sits in 7th after day one and his best time of 1m 32.744s and leading his Monster Yamaha Tech 3 teammate Andrea Dovizioso in 8th on a 1m 32.817s lap.
Yamaha Factory Racing’s Ben Spies ended up in 9th setting a best lap of 1m 33.107s and the American was swapping lap times with 10th place man Hector Barbera for the Pramac Racing Team (1m 33.147s) and San Carlo Honda Gresini man Alvaro Bautista with his best time of 1m 33.227s. The best CRT rider today was James Ellison on his Paul Bird Motorsport ART machine setting a best time of 1m 34.894s ahead of Aleix Espargaro (Power Electronics Aspar) in 13th with a best lap of 1m 34.910s.
Mattia Pasini recovered from a bizarre incident in this morning’s session when the Speedmaster rider fell off his machine in pitlane while trying to avoid a mechanic and after being passed fit at a local hospital, the Italian set a best lap of 1m 34.946s to secure the 14th fastest time. Avintia Blusens rider Yonny Hernandez finished the day in 15th on a time of 1m 35.204s while Power Electronics Aspar’s Randy de Puniet finished day one in 1m 35.311s.
Danilo Petrucci finished the day in 17th for the Came IodaRacing team with a 1m 35.355s lap ahead of Michele Pirro and the San Carlo Honda Gresini team with the Italian setting a best time of 1m 35.461s. Franco Battaini is filling in for Karel Abraham on the Cardion AB Motoracing Ducati and the Italian finished with a 1m 36.019s lap. Ivan Silva sits in 20th with a best lap of 1m 36.800s for the Avintia Blusens squad while NGM Forward Racing and rider Colin Edwards continue to experience problems with their machine with the American unable to manage better than a lap time of 1m 43.245s.
Somewhat of a Sachsenring specialist, Pedrosa was very happy with today’s result saying, “The weekend has started pretty good for us; I felt comfortable in both the dry and wet conditions, but we only managed half of our plan today. We wanted to test the hard rear tyres in the afternoon, because in theory the hardest compound should be working better in this track where you are leaning to the left a long time, and with the soft the bike slides a lot.
Anyway, it's been also good to try the bike in the wet for one practice session because it looks like the weather will again be very unstable. Today I've been using the new chassis we received in Assen and the feeling was ok, but weather permitting, I would like to compare both chassis again tomorrow before qualifying. We've had a good start, but we cannot relax; the times are very close here, as usual, and we still have margin to improve,” Pedrosa added.
Bradl was thrilled with his performance especially in front of his home crowd. “It was a first crazy day because the weather was so unpredictable,” said Bradl while continuing, “This morning the sun was shining and we had very good track temperature but later in the afternoon it was pretty unstable with on and off rain showers. In those conditions it’s difficult to find the proper set up but at the end we made some little adjustments that helped me to get more feeling in the wet. Unfortunately we could not fine tune the bike in the dry because of the weather but in both conditions we are prepared. Second position looks fantastic and it’s a good feeling for me and the Team but we keep our feet on the ground”.
Lorenzo was still feeling the pain after being taken out by an errant Bautista in turn one at the Dutch TT in Assen. He said, “I have more pain walking than on the bike which is good and adrenaline helps with it too. I’m not 100% and I get more tired in the upper body compensating but I think we still did a good job this morning and this afternoon. The injury, the loss of points and the loss of the engine makes it more difficult for the Championship but this just gives me more motivation to keep working and come back stronger to win.”