JACQUE SIXTH FASTEST ON OPENING DAY IN ISTANBUL The three-week break seems to have had a reviving effect on Olivier Jacque, who led the charge for the Kawasaki Racing Team today to finish this afternoon's free practice session sixth fastest ...
JACQUE SIXTH FASTEST ON OPENING DAY IN ISTANBUL
The three-week break seems to have had a reviving effect on Olivier Jacque, who led the charge for the Kawasaki Racing Team today to finish this afternoon's free practice session sixth fastest overall at the impressive anti-clockwise circuit of Istanbul Park.
After two days of fickle weather, the forecast have been respected today and a sunny but cold day has characterised the opening day of the Turkish Grand Prix, although overnight rain left the 5.34 km track damp and slippery.
Jacque was one of the first ones to go out on the track in this morning's hour-long session and the improvements tested at Jerez's test proved to be on the right direction allowing him to carry out a steady performance since the very first moment.
With the track almost ten degrees warmer in the afternoon, Kawasaki's 33-year-old kept working on the gearbox and the balance of his Ninja ZX-RR as well as their choice of tyres. After last year's performance, it was a mystery how competitive Bridgestone tyres' were going to be and eight of their riders at the top ten was a splendid result for the Japanese manufacturer.
Worse was the debut of Jacque's teammate. Randy de Puniet was one of the numerous riders to suffer the consequences of this morning's unpredictable track. The 26-year-old Frenchman was high-sided off his Ninja ZX-RR due to an excess of confidence that led him to rush when opening the throttle on only his second lap at the Turkish circuit.
With his right heel a bit sore, de Puniet had to catch up on his programme in the afternoon. With the same tyre for almost all the session, the young Frenchman worked on the chassis balance and suspension set up in order to improve rear grip and handling of his Ninja ZX-RR.
With both riders satisfied with the base set up of their machines, tomorrow will be the time for thorough work with the tyres and balance adjustments in order to gain consistency on the lap times to face Sunday's 22-lap Grand Prix with more confidence.
"We started where we left in Jerez. The bike is more efficient now and both sessions have been quite significant. I felt comfortable riding the bike and my lap times improved in every run I did. The set up we found in Jerez is working well here. The engine is the same one but with the new mapping it seems to be more powerful. We also improved the balance of the bike and the gearbox, as this circuit is a little bit tricky, and worked as well with three different rear tyres and two front ones. We don't know yet which ones are best and that is what we will try to confirm tomorrow. In short, it has been a positive first day and it is important to start like this."
"I had a bad crash in my second lap this morning and I hurt my right heel. It was so painful and I thought I would probably have broken it but it wasn't broken. I have been lucky! There are no excuses; I made a mistake. I tried to make up the time in the afternoon and we went through slight changes in the set up and also a couple of tyres with positive results. I did 22 laps with the same tyre, and set my best lap on the last one. We will go through it again tomorrow, but anyway, it is quite promising. Stoner was so fast today but all others are quite close. I struggle a bit entering the corners so, apart from the tyres, the plan for tomorrow is to work on the balance of the bike."
"Unfortunately, Randy crashed in the morning and that delayed a little bit our programme. The most positive is that he wasn't injured. Olivier went step by step and progressed a lot throughout the session. Hopefully he will keep doing it tomorrow. About the set up, there are still some points to improve, mainly regarding the feeling, and tomorrow we will keep working on geometry and suspension in order to fix it. Tyre-wise our choices are limited, like everybody else's, but we are optimistic. The main issue now is the balance as this circuit has a lot of hard-braking points and accelerations. We need more stability if we want to improve the consistency of our lap times."