STRONG START FOR FIFTH FASTEST SIMONCELLI AT SACHSENRING, MELANDRI ENCOURAGED BY NINTH Today marked the first positive opening session of a Grand Prix since the start of the season for Team San Carlo Honda Gresini, with Marco Simoncelli quickly...
STRONG START FOR FIFTH FASTEST SIMONCELLI AT SACHSENRING, MELANDRI ENCOURAGED BY NINTH
Today marked the first positive opening session of a Grand Prix since the start of the season for Team San Carlo Honda Gresini, with Marco Simoncelli quickly getting into his rhythm and setting a fast pace that saw him end with the fifth best time. Naturally there is still a lot of work to be done before Sunday's race but if the Italian can improve the grip of his Honda RC212V he is determined that he can be running with the front pack. His team-mate Marco Melandri is still suffering with his injured sternum but also managed some highly respectable lap times, finishing the opening free practice of the German Grand Prix as the ninth fastest rider on track.
Marco Simoncelli (5th 1' 23" 204): "I am happy with the fifth fastest time although it doesn't mean that much because there are a lot of riders in just a few tenths of a second. It wouldn't take much to drop from fifth to the bottom of the time sheets but I can't deny I'm pleased to be inside the top five for the first time in MotoGP - it feels good. Obviously we still have a lot of work to do because we're still having some problems with rear grip but I think we have the data we need to make the right changes for tomorrow. Other than that, like I say, I am happy and confident that I can do well again tomorrow. One thing is for certain -- we have started out on the right foot."
Marco Melandri (9th 1' 23" 290): "I am satisfied -- the shoulder is responding well and I feel looser on the bike. I am still struggling a little with my sternum and get the odd sharp pain in my left collarbone but I feel a lot better than Barcelona. I can ride easier and better. The bike is working well at this track and if we can improve the set-up a little we can have a good session tomorrow, improve on recent qualifying performances and try to close the gap to the front guys so I am feeling extremely confident."
Fausto Gresini: "This was an extremely positive first session for us -- the first Friday since the start of the season when we can say we are truly satisfied. Simoncelli has confirmed his recent progress with an excellent result and he put together a good number of laps at a fast pace. Of course we still have work to do but we're convinced he can improve more tomorrow once he has found a better balance to cope with these temperatures. Everybody is close and it looks like it's going to be a fun Grand Prix. Melandri also had a positive session, setting a good pace once he had found the right balance for his bike. He also has a lot of work to do tomorrow but this is a good start. It is always important to get off on the right foot at such a demanding track as Sachsenring."
-source: gresini racing