Yamaha Factory Racing’s Valentino Rossi wrapped up the first day of practice for the Gran Premi Aperol de Catalunya at the top of the time sheets as the fastest rider in sweltering conditions and a track temperature that topped 50 degrees.
Rossi wrapped up the morning first practice in fifth position, just under half a second from the front.
He upped the pace in the afternoon, diving under the circuit record in the last three minutes with a 1’42.297 lap on a fresh soft tyre to go top.
Reigning world champion Jorge Lorenzo was on typical form in front of his home crowd today and was quick to find his trademark blistering pace. Lorenzo wrapped up the morning session in first, 0.023 seconds ahead of fellow Spanish rider Dani Pedrosa.
The afternoon saw a repeat performance as he led for the majority of the session, only passed by his teammate in the final minutes to leave him in second place, 0.049 seconds from Rossi in first.
Valentino Rossi (1st, Time 1'42.297): “I love this track it is one of the best, the M1 is always great here in Catalunya. It is just Friday but I am very happy to be in front but we have a lot of work to do.
We have to decide which tyre to use and we have some corners and sections where we have to improve for tomorrow. Anyway, it is a great to be in the first position.”
Jorge Lorenzo (2nd, Time 1'42.346): “We started very well but we tried two settings that didn’t work so well. We stayed with the same tyres for the whole practice to understand why they are dropping in this weather so we could solve this problem that I think all the riders are having.
It is always possible to improve so we have to try and improve the bike so I have more confidence, then I can stay in the middle of the 42 second mark which is my target.
We don’t focus so much on the classification because not all the riders kept on the same tyres during the practice, a new tyre can give you half a second or more. We have to trust the pace and the pace is good, one of the best of the grid."
Wilco Zeelenberg, Yamaha Factory Racing Team Manager: “A very good first day in very hot conditions it was important to see how the bike behaved this afternoon. Jorge was not really pleased with the performance but I was actually pleased as we have a clear direction for tomorrow, this is what counts. It’s the first day, we are still second and Vale was fast with the soft tyre at the end. We found our direction to work in for tomorrow which is good.”
Massimo Meregalli, Yamaha Factory Racing Team Director: “A really good starting point, having both bikes in the top two is a good result. We still have a lot of work to do. We have to perfect the set up and decide on which tyre to use in the race, so far we’ve done a good job so let’s see what we can do to make it even better tomorrow.”