Stoner takes close second on opening day in France Ducati Corse's Casey Stoner got his French GP preparations off to an encouraging start in Le Mans today as the reigning world champion finished a close second, just 0.049s from Dani Pedrosa's ...
Stoner takes close second on opening day in France
Ducati Corse's Casey Stoner got his French GP preparations off to an encouraging start in Le Mans today as the reigning world champion finished a close second, just 0.049s from Dani Pedrosa's pace-setting lap.
Five Bridgestone-shod teams have riders in the top half of the classification with last year's Le Mans winner Chris Vermeulen on the pace with fifth place aboard his Suzuki. Winner of the Chinese GP, Valentino Rossi, set the sixth fastest time of the day, but his best morning session lap was marginally quicker than his afternoon best. Honda Gresini duo Shinya Nakano and Alex de Angelis were in seventh and tenth positions respectively, while John Hopkins posted the ninth quickest time for Kawasaki.
Track temperatures hovered between 20 and 30 degrees in both sessions as clouds built up over the Bugatti circuit during the day. Both free practice sessions were held in totally dry conditions, though, enabling teams and tyre manufacturers to gain good initial data for the weekend ahead.
Bridgestone riders conducted the usual Friday tyre comparison programme, also looking at the latest rear tyre specification which has been designed specifically for the lower temperatures expected for this weekend. More work is required on honing the individual bike, machine, tyre packages, which will be the focus for tomorrow morning's practice session and first part of the afternoon qualifying hour.
Tyre Talk with Tohru Ubukata - Bridgestone Motorsport - Manager, Motorcycle Race Tyre Development
How have you approached this weekend's French Grand Prix?
"We expected the weather in Le Mans to be quite cool, so based on the performance of our tyres in the cooler conditions in Qatar and Jerez, we worked on developing a new specification rear tyre that could give us some improvements in such situations, and give our riders more feeling from the tyre when the asphalt temperature is low. We tested these tyres in the post-Estoril group test and brought them for all teams this weekend. All riders have selected this tyre in their allocation, and we conducted initial evaluation in today's free practice sessions."
Were you satisfied with the end results?
"Thankfully the weather remained dry in both sessions so we were able to carry out some important work. I am reasonably satisfied with the performance level in today's session, but there is more to be done to give the riders more grip and feeling throughout the lap. Casey and Ducati made some good improvements during the day and ultimately were able to lap as quickly as Dani, who seems to be very competitive again here. Chris and Suzuki also performed well today to get a strong top five placing. It has been a busy day, but we have to work overnight and continue to make progress tomorrow."