Repsol Honda Team riders Dani Pedrosa and Andrea Dovizioso clocked the third and fourth fastest times in the opening practice session for this weekend's Grand Prix of Catalunya as the MotoGP series was given a very warm welcome back to Spain today.
Repsol Honda Team riders Dani Pedrosa and Andrea Dovizioso clocked the third and fourth fastest times in the opening practice session for this weekend's Grand Prix of Catalunya as the MotoGP series was given a very warm welcome back to Spain today. Air temperatures soared to 37 degrees and the track surface reached a tyre-sizzling 53 degrees as Pedrosa and Dovizioso lapped the fast, undulating curves of the Circuit de Catalunya.
Pedrosa finished the hour-long session just 0.372s back from the fastest time and declared himself satisfied with the start he's made to his home Grand Prix. The 24-year-old is one of the favourites for this race both in terms of his potential for victory and his popularity among the fans. Many will be focused on the predicted duel between him and his fellow Spaniard Jorge Lorenzo, who set today's fastest lap of 1m 43.259s - which was still some way off Pedrosa race lap record of 1m 42.358s, set on his way to victory in 2008. With the high temperatures reducing grip levels, Pedrosa and his crew will work on machine adjustments to give the RC212V more mid-corner grip in tomorrow's practice and qualifying sessions.
Though much attention will be focused on his Spanish team-mate this weekend, Dovizioso is confident he can also pose a serious challenge to the frontrunners. The Italian likes this circuit a lot and was quickly on the pace this afternoon, clocking a time just 0.094s back from Pedrosa's. Dovizioso and his crew will focus on electronic settings tomorrow and is confident that the intense heat - which is forecast to continue for the rest of the weekend - could actually favour the power of the Honda RC212V. Sunday's 25-lap race looks set to be a test of both machine speed and rider endurance.
DANI PEDROSA -- 3rd 1m 43.631s +0.372s
"I'm quite happy with the first session today. It's not going to be easy to improve our lap times but for the first practice I'm reasonably happy with the bike. We started with the hard option Bridgestone tyre and then on the last outing we changed to the soft one, and this was the opposite way of working to most of the other riders so it's natural that we moved forward towards the end of the session. We can see that we have to improve the grip and so we have to work a little bit more on the chassis set-up for this. The temperature was very high today, and the track surface temperature especially, and this affects the levels of grip. We started at the point where we finished in Assen and the bike feels ok. We have to discuss all the details from today in our team meeting tonight but I think we have found a decent direction. In general I'm quite happy so far. Already I can feel the anticipation building for this race and the support from my home fans so I'm excited about the rest of the weekend."
ANDREA DOVIZIOSO -- 4th 1m 43.725s +0.466s
"I have a good feeling with the bike and, although it's only a single session today, we succeeded to complete all the testing of different set-up solutions we had planned. We still have to fine-tune the settings of the electronics but I'm satisfied with today's first practice session. Of course we have to continue to work to improve the lap times and close the gap to the front in tomorrow's two sessions, but I'm confident we can do this. It's very hot out there, and from a physical point of view it's very demanding. There is not so much grip and the bike slides a lot because of the heat, but this is also the characteristic of the Montmelo circuit. I'm not worried about these hot temperatures which are likely to continue for the weekend and I actually think this can be an advantage for the Honda RC212V. Our pace was quite good for the first day, but we need to be faster tomorrow."
TOSHIYUKI YAMAJI - REPSOL HONDA TEAM MANAGER
"The Repsol Honda Team made a reasonable start to the Catalan GP weekend today, making adjustments to suspension, gearbox and electronics as is normal for a Friday session. This track can be a tricky one to find the right balance for suspension and electronics particularly, and the high ground temperature reduced grip levels today, so we will continue to work in this area and take a little bit more time to find the ideal set-up. Dani and Andrea's lap times are not so far away from the top time at this moment, so we are confident we can mount a strong challenge this weekend."