Cautiously optimistic after opening day in Brno Czech Republic Grand Prix - Free Practice Brno, Friday 18 August 2006 -- Bridgestone's Czech Grand Prix got off to an encouraging and trouble-free start in Brno today with three of its six riders...
Cautiously optimistic after opening day in Brno
Czech Republic Grand Prix - Free Practice Brno, Friday 18 August 2006 -- Bridgestone's Czech Grand Prix got off to an encouraging and trouble-free start in Brno today with three of its six riders inside the top six of the combined practice classification. French Kawasaki rider Randy de Puniet worked on a combination of race and qualifying set-up during the day and stole second place in the dying moments of this afternoon's session with a time just 0.157s from Valentino Rossi's pace-setting lap.
De Puniet's team-mate Shinya Nakano set a string of consistent times in the mid 1m59s while working on a long run, well placing him to be among the challengers this weekend. Loris Capirossi underlined the proven potential of the Ducati Corse team around the 5.403m Brno circuit by clocking the third fastest time of day on his penultimate lap. With Sete Gibernau still recovering from a recent shoulder operation, German Alex Hofmann once again stood in for the Spaniard.
Hofmann, who also deputised in Assen and Donington, had to settle for 15th place today. The Suzuki pairing of John Hopkins and Chris Vermeulen were classified in 11th and 16th in the combined standings for both practice sessions, although Hopkins ended the second session in tenth place to make it four Bridgestone riders in the top half of the field this afternoon. Typically, it was the track which dictated the accuracy of results obtained on the opening day of the weekend. Dirty, dusty conditions from the outset of first practice this morning lowered the levels of grip offered by the circuit and prompted Bridgestone to adjust tyre compounds accordingly.
Tyre performance alone is not as influential as it can be at other circuits, so teams are also under additional pressure to hone and adapt bike set-up to cope with the technicalities of the Brno track.
Shinji Aoki -- Bridgestone Motorsport - Assistant Manager Motorcycle Race Tire Development "We can derive encouragement from what we have achieved in today's two practice sessions. The track conditions have been dirtier than in previous years, so grip levels have been lower than we would normally expect here. Things have improved as the day has progressed, but it does leave us looking to tomorrow morning's practice session to ratify today's results. We are pleased with the long run that Shinya completed this afternoon which gives us quite a firm indication of our consistency and relative competitiveness. We have worked closely with each of our three teams on tyre comparison and selection today, but Brno is a technically demanding circuit, which also requires a lot of work on bike set-up, so we all have a significant role to play in the outcome of Sunday's race. I am cautiously optimistic that our Bridgestone tyres will be up to the challenge this weekend, but that is dependent on the conditions that greet us for the rest of the weekend."