Preparations for the Grand Prix of Valencia began today as the first two 45-minute MotoGP practice sessions took place at the Ricardo Tormo circuit in Spain. Repsol Honda riders Andrea Dovizioso and Dani Pedrosa began the process of setting up their RC212V machines for the tight and twisty Valencia lap and both were grateful for the dry track time after the abysmal weather encountered at the previous two races in Australia and Portugal.
Dovizioso was quickly up to speed and finished third in the morning session, setting a lap time of 1m 33.500s, which was 0.603s behind Casey Stoner at the top of the timesheets. In the afternoon Dovizioso, who notched up his 50th Grand Prix podium finish at Estoril last weekend, made marginal improvements and trimmed his best to 1m 33.470s while remaining on the hard option Bridgestone tyres, as other riders set faster times on the softer option slicks. Fifth overall on combined times today, Dovizioso is confident he has plenty of potential still to exploit come tomorrow.
Dani Pedrosa made a steady start to the weekend as he continues to get up to full pace after his collarbone injury and subsequent operation last month. Although the Spanish favourite was placed back in a relatively lowly 12th in both sessions, the gap to the fastest time was just 1.2s and, as Pedrosa continues to bed in at a circuit he loves, that gap is likely to close considerably in tomorrow's practice and qualifying sessions.
ANDREA DOVIZIOSO - 5th - 1m 33.470s +0.780s
"I have always struggled on this track but today we have got off to a good start and I'm confident on the bike. We did some useful work today and the lap times from both the morning and afternoon sessions were reasonable, although they are not fast enough yet to be competitive in the race so we have more work to do. We tested some different set-up options and gained a clearer idea of the direction we will follow tomorrow. I'm fast in the first two sections of the lap, while I'm losing quite a lot in the last two sections. Our main area to improve is entering the corners and if we do this then it will give us a time advantage for the whole lap. I'm confident that we can move forward from our current position."
DANI PEDROSA - 12th - 1m 33.927s + 1.226s
"The feeling is more or less the same as in Portugal except that this is a left-hand circuit which means there is a lot of braking into left corners - this makes it hard for me. I'm still not going really fast and because this is a short lap, 1.2s is quite a big gap to the front. Still, we have two more sessions of practice to go and I have the chance to improve my pace in those and move closer to the fastest times. We have to think about the race and improve things step by step tomorrow because there will be a lot of fans here supporting me and I really want to be ready for Sunday."
TOSHIYUKI YAMAJI - REPSOL HONDA TEAM MANAGER
"We had good weather today which is a welcome change to the previous two races where the conditions on Friday have been anything but straightforward. There are some areas to work on for both riders and in Andrea's case he's looking for improved stability under braking which should allow him to close the gap to the front riders. Like everyone, Dani didn't get much dry track practice time in Estoril and so he's still building up his rhythm. We're expecting him to climb up the timesheets step by step tomorrow as he becomes more comfortable."