Hopkins and Melandri lead the way in Shanghai practice Several Bridgestone-shod riders have shown themselves to be in strong contention for this weekend's Chinese Grand Prix after the opening two free practice sessions at the Shanghai ...
Hopkins and Melandri lead the way in Shanghai practice
Several Bridgestone-shod riders have shown themselves to be in strong contention for this weekend's Chinese Grand Prix after the opening two free practice sessions at the Shanghai International Circuit today.
Suzuki's John Hopkins, who was the top rider on Bridgestone tyres in last year's race in fourth position, set the 800cc benchmark with a time of 2m01.204s, just 0.099s ahead of Honda Gresini's Marco Melandri. Only one second separates the top fifteen riders after the opening day of action with a mere 0.2s splitting the top seven.
The Ducati pairing of Loris Capirossi and current championship leader Casey Stoner finished the day in fifth and eighth places respectively, both comfortably setting lap times on race tyres in the mid-high 2m01s range, while Pramac d'Antin's Alex 'The Hoff' Hofmann made it up to an encouraging ninth place on the last of his 16 laps this afternoon.
Tyre Talk with Junichi Kawajiri - Bridgestone Motorsport - Manager, Motorcycle Race Tyre Development
How was the first day of testing with 800cc bikes at the Shanghai International Circuit?
"Both of today's practice sessions were used to carry out the first runs with the new generation 800cc bikes at this track. While teams worked on tuning the bike settings for this circuit's characteristics, we were also able to devote some time to initial evaluations of our range of tyre compounds for Shanghai. This work has been useful in determining the best direction for the weekend. It was a relatively trouble-free day with some positive results, although the field is extremely competitive with only a quarter of a second between John in first and Casey in eighth."
Did any riders conduct long runs today?
"It is only the first day but some of our riders were able to carry out a longer run to assess the durability and consistency of the tyres. We are quite pleased with the outcome in terms of performance and durability, but we have more work to carry out in this area tomorrow. There is quite a difference in lap time between today and the dry weather practice times from last year. This is largely attributable to the drop in power output from 990cc to 800cc bikes and how the riders have naturally adapted their riding style to cope with the new machines at this track. Overall though, John, Marco, Loris and Casey have already shown they could be strong contenders this weekend, while all our riders were starting to get into a good rhythm and set good lap times towards the end of the second session."
What is the weather forecast for the rest of the weekend?
"It has been very overcast today but has thankfully stayed dry. There is still a chance of some rain tomorrow morning, so it is good that we gained some useful data in today's two dry sessions because the rain should stay away for Sunday's race based on the current forecast. I hope we have another dry session tomorrow morning in order to properly prepare for Sunday's race, but we will be ready with the wet weather tyres just in case."
Weather: Dry track - Air 23C, Track 25C, Humidity 49% (Session 1)
Dry track - Air 24C, Track 26C, Humidity 36% (Session 2)