French GP: Gauloises Yamaha Friday practice notes

GAULOISES YAMAHA TEAM PLANS HIT BY RAIN IN FRANCE The Gauloises Yamaha Team's preparations for the fourth round of the MotoGP World Championship in France were hit by rain on a typically gloomy first day of action at Le Mans this afternoon.


The Gauloises Yamaha Team's preparations for the fourth round of the MotoGP World Championship in France were hit by rain on a typically gloomy first day of action at Le Mans this afternoon. Valentino Rossi and Colin Edwards had made a positive start to the weekend with consistently fast times in the first free practice in the morning, with Edwards topping the time sheets by 0.366 seconds from his team-mate, who was fourth fastest.

However, the dense grey clouds hanging ominously over the legendary circuit finally gave way halfway into the afternoon session and the riders were forced to take shelter in the pit box. Whilst the rain quickly ceased and allowed the riders to return to action for the rest of the session, the track remained damp and prevented the riders from improving any further, with Edwards and Rossi both unable to better their morning times and completing just fourteen laps between them.

The only option for the team was to concentrate solely on gathering information about the performance of the Yamaha YZR-M1 in the damp conditions, with the unpredictable weather expected to continue for the rest of the weekend and a very real possibility of a third wet race in succession. Alex Barros (Honda) holds the quickest time overnight after posting a lap of 1'31.171 on his ninth lap of the afternoon session, just before the rain struck, with Colin Edwards fourth and Valentino Rossi fifth overall. The action continues with the third free practice and single qualifying practice on Saturday.

COLIN EDWARDS (1'34.701, 36 laps)

"I get along with this track and so does the bike. This morning I was turning out 1'34 after 1'34 and I was comfortable, the bike felt great. We began the afternoon session testing out a couple of tyres for Michelin but they weren't really what we were looking for; then we returned to the same tyre we had in the morning and it started raining. We don't know what to expect for the rest of the weekend in terms of the weather but whether it's rain, hail, snow or sunshine, I'll be ready."

VALENTINO ROSSI -- (1'35.067, 30 laps)

"I was also trying a different tyre for Michelin at the start of the afternoon session and we stayed out there maybe a bit too long as it wasn't right. I came in to change but then it started raining and we ended up further down the time sheets than we would like to be. It's only free practice, though, so it doesn't matter. After that the conditions were very difficult as it was drying in some areas but very wet in others so we didn't really learn anything. This morning things went well and I was confident of a good session in the afternoon. We used the base we had found for a dry race in China and it was working well. The weather is not looking good and if it rains I'm just hoping we can find a good setting, like in China, although I'd prefer it to be dry. I'm a bit fed up actually, it seems as though the bad weather is following us around. Where is summer?"


"In the dry conditions this morning both riders were consistently fast so that's a good sign for the rest of the weekend, regardless of the weather this afternoon. I think it's important to set the record straight about some comments reported in the Italian media this morning as they seem to have appeared elsewhere now. I said that we are going to start working on an extension to Valentino's contract and we will be discussing it after Mugello. I was then asked about any plan Valentino might have to drive in Formula One and I said that would be Valentino's decision and it might happen. I certainly did not say that he would be in F1 from 2007. From Yamaha's side we hope that he will still be riding for us but I cannot predict Valentino's future!"

<pre> COMBINED FREE PRACTICE TIMES: 1. Alex Barros BRA Camel Honda 1'34.171 2. Sete Gibernau SPA Movistar Honda MotoGP 1'34.290 3. Max Biaggi ITA Repsol Honda Team 1'34.618 4. COLIN EDWARDS USA Gauloises Yamaha Team 1'34.701 5. VALENTINO ROSSI ITA Gauloises Yamaha Team 1'35.067 6. Shinya Nakano JPN Kawasaki Racing Team 1'35.067 7. Marco Melandri ITA Movistar Honda MotoGP 1'35.125 8. John Hopkins USA Team Suzuki MotoGP 1'35.127 9. Carlos Checa SPA Ducati Marlboro Team 1'35.206 10. Nicky Hayden USA Repsol Honda Team 1'35.359


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About this article
Series MotoGP
Drivers Nicky Hayden , Max Biaggi , Carlos Checa , Valentino Rossi , Colin Edwards , Alex Barros , Sete Gibernau , Shinya Nakano , John Hopkins , Marco Melandri
Teams Team Suzuki MotoGP , Repsol Honda Team