Valentino Rossi wrapped up the first day of action at the Monster Energy Grand Prix de France as the fastest Yamaha rider and third overall behind rival Dani Pedrosa. The Italian spent the day’s two free practice sessions working to set up his YZR-M1 for the Le Mans circuit, focusing on a soft front and hard rear tyre combination.
Teammate Jorge Lorenzo was as usual quick from the start of the first session, contesting with the fastest riders and wrapping up the morning in second place. The afternoon saw more of the same fast consistency from the reigning World Champion, taking the session lead with a 1’34.2 second lap with 17mins remaining.
A flurry of fast laps in the final minutes dropped him to fourth however he was just 0.166 from first. Lorenzo remained fourth in the combined times. The Spaniard also focused on a hard front, soft rear tyre option but opted for the 2013 chassis to evaluate the Le Mans circuit.
Valentino Rossi (3rd, Time - 1'34.173): “Today we were good in braking because we modified the settings and we tried two different settings to understand which way to follow to improve the braking, that was the main problem. This morning was not too bad and this afternoon especially I made the comparison one more time. I took the setting I preferred with some small modifications and the last run was very good.
I could brake hard, which was the main problem in Austin and also in Jerez so it's a good day. We try to modify also the rear for to not stress the rear tyre so much; that helped me a lot; I did my best laps with a used tyre that had more than 30 laps on. The practice this afternoon was good so I’m happy.
We are already quite good with the setting of the bike so now we wait for the weather tomorrow. In case of rain we are more or less ready and if dry we can try something else, some small details to modify. We are very close to those in front so its not so bad.”
Jorge Lorenzo (4th, Time -1'34.201): “We are changing the bike to improve the feeling because at the moment we have a lot of margin for improvement. I think we can make a big step to improve the constant pace for the race. I think if it rains tomorrow things will change completely and it will be a different story. We will have to be as always more careful and have more concentration in the wet.”
Wilco Zeelenberg - Yamaha Factory Racing Team Manager: “The first day at Le Mans and a dry day too! Overall everything is very close and tight. After FP2 we are in fourth but just two tenths away and our lap times are very close to Dani. We are not satisfied as we have some small details to solve. We are not ready for race day yet but hopefully tomorrow we will have another dry session so we can make the next step.”
Massimo Meregalli - Yamaha Factory Racing Team Director: “A promising first day. I think the Monday test in Jerez gave us a good result because we were satisfied with it and also its effects here. The pace is good; the tyre life issue seems to be solved as well, maybe due to the temperature but also due to our testing in Jerez. Lets see what the weather brings tomorrow as it may be wet. Anyway I think we are ready for all circumstances.”