Elias, De Angelis In Frantic Race Against The Clock San Carlo Honda Gresini Team riders Toni Elias and Alex de Angelis embarked on a frantic race against the clock today, as the Grand Prix of Japan got underway with the first 45-minute free ...
Elias, De Angelis In Frantic Race Against The Clock
San Carlo Honda Gresini Team riders Toni Elias and Alex de Angelis embarked on a frantic race against the clock today, as the Grand Prix of Japan got underway with the first 45-minute free practice session of the weekend. It is the first time since the introduction of reduced practice at the start of the season that the riders have visited a track with no previous set-up data and their job today was made even more difficult by uncharacteristically cold conditions at Motegi. A new springtime slot for the event, which is usually run in the autumn, saw ambient temperatures of just 13ºC -- much cooler than normal - with 22ºC on track.
Elias and De Angelis both struggled to find rear grip on the chilly asphalt, lapping ninth and fifteenth quickest respectively, although the Spaniard's cause was helped by chassis updates for his factory-spec RC212V that HRC have brought to this race. The riders used Bridgestone's softer compound tyre today and with rain forecast for tomorrow's final free practice and qualifying session, the weather looks set to play a pivotal role in the outcome of Sunday's race.
Toni Elias (9th 1'50.209): "The conditions were probably even more difficult today than they were in Qatar because the cold was incredible. The problem we've been having all preseason getting heat into the tyres is exacerbated by the low track temperatures but Honda have brought us some new chassis parts here that have helped. We are still too far from where we need to be but I was the second fastest Honda today, only a tenth off the fastest one, and even though I am not satisfied with the position the important thing is we're closing the gap."
Alex De Angelis (15th; 1'50.601): "The change in temperature from the heat we had here yesterday to the cold today certainly changed the cards on the table and for us it meant that when we rolled the bike out we ran into the same kind of problems we had in the Qatar test, when it was similarly cold. We have rear grip issues and even though the guys made some changes during the session that seemed to work, by moving the balance to the rear I had problems keeping the front end down in the hard acceleration zones and I had to close the throttle, which obviously loses time, so we need to look at the data tonight and try to find a better compromise."
Fausto Gresini - Team Manager: "The first session hasn't been easy for us. The top guys have set a quick pace already whereas we have struggled a little, especially because of the cold track. In general Toni has been able to improve slightly thanks to some technical modifications brought here by Honda so hopefully we can continue the positive trend tomorrow, weather permitting. Alex isn't too far off the pace but with the reduced practice time available there is less time on track and less opportunity for him to capitalise on and demonstrate each step forward he is taking with the set-up. We need to have something better out of the box on a Friday and this is our aim for future races."