Solid start for Dovizioso and Crutchlow at rain-hit Jerez
Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Team riders Andrea Dovizioso and Cal Crutchlow began their preparations for the start of the European phase of the 2012 MotoGP World Championship in challenging and unpredictable conditions at the Circuito de Jerez in Spain today.
Track conditions in this morning's opening practice session weren't sufficiently wet to evaluate Bridgestone rain tyres or dry enough for slicks, and with no possibility of carrying out any meaningful set-up work, Dovizioso and Crutchlow didn't complete a single lap.
The tricky track conditions remained for this afternoon's second practice, with the session commencing on a wet track under threatening grey and cloudy skies. Patches of dry tarmac started to appear by the end of the session but Dovizioso and Crutchlow spent their time exclusively assessing Bridgestone's wet weather tyres in case Sunday's 27-lap race takes place in similar conditions.
Dovizioso was sixth quickest on board his Yamaha YZR-M1 machine this afternoon and seventh on the combined timesheets. His best time of 1.53.070 ensured he finished leading non-factory rider but the Italian is looking to improve rear traction in the wet with rain forecast to play a major part in proceedings for the rest of the weekend.
British rider Crutchlow, who made a sensational start to the 2012 campaign in Qatar earlier this month when he claimed a maiden front row start and fantastic fourth position, was only 0.3s behind his team-mate.
The 26-year-old set a best time of 1.53.352, which put him eighth quickest in the session and ninth overall ahead of factory Yamaha rider Ben Spies. He too will concentrate on improving rear grip in tomorrow's final practice and qualifying sessions.
Position 7th - Time 1.53.070 - Laps 11
“It has been a day of pretty much constantly changing weather and track conditions and unfortunately that meant we were not able to try anything on the set-up of the bike. We did not have dry conditions at all and even though it has been raining we didn't get the chance to ride in full wet conditions. I went out to try the bike because we might have the same conditions for the race on Sunday, s o it was important to go out and collect some information. For tomorrow I just hope that we can do some more meaningful work. I don't care if it is wet or dry but anything is better than mixed conditions so that we can focus on improving the bike.”
Position 9th - Time 1.53.352 - Laps 15
“If we get more of the same conditions for the rest of the weekend then we have a lot of work to do. To be honest we struggled a little bit with a lack of rear grip and that is where we are going to have to work on because we could be racing in similar conditions on Sunday. This track dries really fast and with the rain tyres we are having a lot of spinning. Although we've got some issues with the rear grip, I am really happy with my position on the timesheets considering the problems and that makes me really confident that if we make the settin g better I will be very competitive.”