Gordon Hatch, MotoGP correspondent
Spaniard sets best time of the day ahead of Rossi and Lorenzo
Repsol Honda rider Dani Pedrosa ended up on top of the timing sheets during the main free practice session at Jerez, Spain today that saw a change in the fortunes of the Ducati Team’s Valentino Rossi who ended up second with Yamaha Factory Racing rider Jorge Lorenzo finishing the day in third position.
With rain lashing down on the track and then drying to a stage where it was hard for the teams to choose a wet or dry set-up for the first Free Practice session, most of the MotoGP riders opted to stay in the pits to wait for a change in the weather although conditions didn’t improve that much in the afternoon’s session with the track still wet and only drying out near the end out making it hard for the riders to choose a set-up or to collect data of any major significance.
The first feeling on the bike was good for me, the bike felt good and I'm riding well.
While some of the CRT teams were at the sharp end during the morning, it was the factory riders who got to grips with the conditions at the end of the day with Pedrosa making setting the best time of 1m 50.780s ahead of Rossi who was on top for a good part of the session and setting a best lap of 1m 51.440s with Lorenzo not close behind with his best time of 1m 51.873s.
Pedrosa is hoping for more consistent weather for tomorrow’s Qualifying session and remains focused on the task at hand. “It has been a strange day due to the weather conditions. In the morning we decided to not go out because the track was not wet enough then we had more or less the same conditions in the afternoon, but it was necessary to do some laps and get some rhythm. The first feeling on the bike was good for me, the bike felt good and I'm riding well but I hope we have better weather tomorrow, full dry or full wet.
Anyway, it is important for us to do a good qualifying practice tomorrow and we will need to be clever and quick because the conditions can easily change and in one minute can be the option to make the lap time for the pole and one minute later can be a disaster. So let's keep focused and try to do a good job,” Pedrosa said.
Rossi was evidently happy with ending up in second position after the torrid time he and his team endured during the first race of the season at Qatar where he finished a dismal 10th. Speaking after the two sessions, Rossi said, “We go pretty well in the wet. We’re happy to be second this afternoon because it confirms that the GP12 has the same good feeling in the wet that last year’s bike did, and that’s important. I felt good immediately today. We worked on the setting a bit but because we had already started with a good feeling, I was able to immediately ride at the limit and do some good times. Now we have to wait to see what the weather does tomorrow, and especially on Sunday.”
Today’s conditions weren’t enjoyed by Lorenzo who is looking for an improvement in his YZR-M1 in anticipation of the same weather conditions on Sunday. Lorenzo said, “This morning we couldn’t practice and this afternoon it was wet and then finally drying at the end. In these conditions we are not so good because the middle of the tyre is dropping a lot, after eight or ten laps we don’t have any more grip so we have to slow the pace. We have to work on that for Sunday if the conditions are going to be the same as today. If it rains with a lot of water then that’s one story but if it’s like today we are not the fastest so we need to gain some grip on the rear.”
Pedrosa’s teammate Casey Stoner ended up in 4th place with a best lap of 1m 52.106s with Nicky Hayden close behind on his Ducati GP12 (1m 52.254s). Monster Yamaha Tech 3 rider Andrea Dovizioso finished the day in 6th after setting a best time of 1m 53.070s ahead of San Carlo Honda Gresini’s Alvaro Bautista with his best time of 1m 53.166s. Cal Crutchlow (Monster Yamaha Tech 3) ended his first day in 8th after a setting a best lap of 1m 53.352s with Ben Spies close behind on a best lap of 1m 53.409s while Stefan Bradl and his LCR Honda RC213V rounding off the top ten with a 1m 53.409s lap.
The CRT machine of Randy de Puniet (Power Electronics Aspar) was next with a best lap time of 1m 54.155s ahead of Speed Master rider Mattia Pasini (1m 54.370s) with Karel Abraham (Cardion AB Motoracing) in an uncharacteristic 13th place with the Czech Republic rider managing to set a best lap of 1m 54.378s. Pramac Racing’s Hector Barbera ended the day in 14th after setting a best lap of 1m 54.581s ahead of Colin Edwards and the NGM Forward Racing team in 15th place with a best lap of 1m 54.707s.
Ivan Silva was on top in the first session this morning but while the track dried the true speed of the Avintia Blusens FTR-Kawasaki machine wasn’t enough to maintain the Spaniard’s first session form with a best lap of 1m 54.748s. Silva’s teammate Yonny Hernandez followed close behind with his best lap of 1m 54.915s ahead of Danilo Petrucci and his Came IodaRacing team on a best lap of 1m 55.752s. Michele Pirro (San Carlo Honda Gresini) set his best time of 1m 56.067s for 19th while James Ellison (Paul Bird Motorsport) ended up in 20th place with a best time of 1m 57.475s ahead of Aleix Espargaro and the Power Electronics Aspar team bringing up the rear with a best time of 1m 57.789s