Repsol Honda trio in top five on first day
The three Repsol Honda Team riders all ranked within the top five in a sunny but windy first day of the eni Motorrad Grand Prix Deutschland race weekend.
Dani Pedrosa, last year's winner of the Grand Prix of Germany, was third on the time sheet, just two tenths of a second off the provisional pole position. Casey Stoner finished fourth and Andrea Dovizioso fifth in one of the shortest but also most technical circuits of the MotoGP calendar.
In the afternoon, the conditions of the track improved a little compared to the morning's free practice, when both Casey Stoner and Dani Pedrosa (along with Valentino Rossi and Toni Elias) suffered crashes due to the cold track temperatures in a circuit where it is especially difficult to warm up the tyres on the right hand corners. All four riders fell at the same place, in Turn 11, the long right hand corner after seven consecutive left hand corners.
Fortunately Pedrosa and Stoner avoided serious injury and both riders returned back on track in FP1. After the first session, the Australian had a precautionary X-ray on his right arm which confirmed there was no fracture, just a small bone contusion.
In the afternoon session, all three Repsol Honda riders consistently improved their times from FP1. Pedrosa recorded his fastest lap in the last minute improving by 1.2 seconds, Stoner by 0.5 seconds and Dovizioso by 0.7 seconds.
The Italian was in a good shape after his recent podium in Italy and felt comfortable from the beginning in Sachsenring where he has decided to use the new swing arm that they tested in the post race test in Mugello, as has team mate Casey Stoner. Pedrosa didn't use the swing arm today, but may do so tomorrow.
Dani Pedrosa: "We had a quite positive start despite the accident I had in the morning practice session. I crashed in the fast downhill right hand corner, like everyone else because the tyre was very cold and I had no warning. Fortunately I didn’t hurt myself, which is good, and in the afternoon I was able to improve my lap times because in the morning, after the crash, we didn't have much time on track. In the second practice, with sunshine and a little more temperature on the track, we had better grip especially in these critical turns on the right, although the track conditions still are not great. Anyway, times are pretty good compared to last year, though the track conditions are worse. We’ll keep working on the bike tomorrow and I’ll probably try the new swing arm I tested in Mugello on Monday."
Our confidence was knocked today, and I'm feeling a little sore...
Casey Stoner: "I'm not too happy with how today has gone, we had a crash second lap out in FP1 and this affected us quite a lot, we lost a lot of time coming in and changing leathers and then I had to go out on a bike that I wasn't quite as comfortable with, so apart from the last few laps, this morning's session was a bit of a waste for us. Then this afternoon we tried the bike from this mornings crash, but something wasn't quite right with it so we had to come back in and get on the other bike. We definitely made some progress, we started using hard tyres front and rear and made some positive steps but we still need to take a big step forward tomorrow. Our confidence was knocked today, and I'm feeling a little sore still but we remain positive for tomorrow and hopefully we'll be able to close the gap a little more."
Andrea Dovizioso: “I’m happy with how we worked in both sessions today. This is a complicated track as there are only three right corners and it’s difficult to get the right side of the tyre into temperature plus there isn’t much grip. This morning it was colder than expected and we saw many crashes. We focused on riding constantly at a good pace without being too much on the limit. In this circuit you spend most of the time on the edge of the tyre, so we tried to maintain a good rhythm to avoid stressing the tyres too much. We started well this morning and improved in the afternoon session. We tried to ride consistently with race tyres, as it’s hard to maintain a good rhythm for 30 laps of the GP on Sunday."