Gordon Hatch, MotoGP Correspondent
Yamaha Factory Racing man on top of timings at famous Italian circuit
Jorge Lorenzo threw down the gauntlet to his rivals during today’s free practice sessions at Mugello in preparation for Round 9 of the MotoGP championship at the Gran Premio d'Italia TIM. Lorenzo was on top of the timings for both of today’s sessions while Repsol Honda’s Dani Pedrosa sits in second with Ducati Racing's Nicky Hayden sitting third.
I’m really happy because from the beginning we’ve been quite fast.
This afternoon’s session saw a number of incidents taking place mainly at the end of the straight before turn one. Lorenzo was one of these and had a light fall while trying to get out of the gravel. There was also a slight break in proceedings when Hector Barbera fell and his Pramac Racing machine kicked up a lot of gravel onto the track and the red flags came out for a few minutes while the track was cleaned.
Lorenzo was straight on the pace from the off and little by little the 2010 champion continued to improve his lap times until setting his best time of 1m 48.076s – a time just .042s off Casey Stoner’s circuit record from 2011. Pedrosa wasn’t far off his fellow Spaniard with his best lap of 1m 48.107s with Hayden giving the Ducatisti something to cheer about with his lap of 1m 48.157s. Despite his fall, Barbera managed to launch himself into fourth place on the timing sheets with his best lap of 1m 48.254s with Monster Yamaha Tech 3 rider Andrea Dovizioso in fifth with a 1m 48.308s lap while Casey Stoner jumped from outside the top ten into sixth place (1m 48.527s).
Yamaha Factory Racing’s Ben Spies ran seventh with a lap time of 1m 48.540s while Alvaro Bautista (1m 49.208s) completes the top ten with the San Carlo Honda Gresini team’s livery in black and white this weekend to commemorate the life of Marco Simoncelli who died tragically last year. The management at Mugello also paid tribute in putting the rider’s #58 on the viewing stand at the famous Arrabbiata turns.
The top CRT rider today was Power Electronic Aspar's Aleix Espargaro setting a time of 1m 50.015s with his teammate Randy De Puniet close behind (1m 50.269s). San Carlo Honda Gresini’s CRT rider Michele Pirro was next along with his best time of 1m 51.130s and he was followed by Yonny Hernandez for the Avintia Blusens team (1m 51.322s) with Speedmaster’s Mattia Pasini close behind with a lap of 1m 51.384s. NGM Forward Racing’s Colin Edwards continues to search for better settings on his machine with the American setting his best time of 1m 51.857s ahead of James Ellison on the Paul Bird Motorsports machine (1m 51.966s). Danilo Petrucci set a best time of 1m 52.109s for the Came IodaRacing team while Ivan Silva (Avintia Blusens) set a best lap of 1m 52.558s. Karel Abraham is once again not racing this weekend due to hand injuries and the Cardion AB Motoracing Team have not fielded a replacement rider for this round.
Speaking afterwards, Lorenzo was thrilled with how he and his team have started their preparations saying, “I’m really happy because from the beginning we’ve been quite fast. We haven’t had to make many changes to the bike, the feeling is great with the track and it’s working well. I feel good with the suspension, throttle and braking. Everything seems quite clear, we have to work on some small details but we’ve made an excellent beginning.”
Fresh from his victory last weekend at the Sachsenring Pedrosa is content after day one. “We had some troubles with the tyres in the morning,” said the Spaniard while continuing, “but in the afternoon we made a step forward that I'm happy with in order to keep improving tomorrow. We struggled to get up to the pace a little in FP1, but during the day we were getting closer to Lorenzo, who seems to have the set up quite clear from the beginning. In the afternoon we wanted complete the 12 laps Bridgestone requested on the standard hard option tire.
I went out planning to make this long run on my first exit but I couldn't complete it due to the red flag. Anyway, we finished the day quite well and we have some ideas for tomorrow; we need to find some more grip and better braking to gain three or four more tenths,” Pedrosa added.
Hayden was very happy with how his day went and focused on getting his GP12 machine working with the hard tires. He said, “Things started out pretty well this morning. I did a 14-lap run with times that were steadily pretty good. From there, we haven’t really made a big step with the hard tire. My best time was with the soft, which we tried for a couple laps just to make sure there are no surprises when we put it in for qualifying. We’re struggling a bit with grip on rear entry, which hasn’t been the case lately, but we have some ideas to try. This track is tough, but I like it, and there’s still time to improve before Sunday.”