Qatar GP: Gresisni Racing Friday practice report

DE ANGELIS DAZZLES AS LOSAIL SPOTLIGHT FALLS ON MOTOGP OPENER San Carlo Honda Gresini Team rider Alex De Angelis was the surprise package of the opening free practice session of the 2009 MotoGP World Championship, which roared into life today ...

DE ANGELIS DAZZLES AS LOSAIL SPOTLIGHT FALLS ON MOTOGP OPENER

San Carlo Honda Gresini Team rider Alex De Angelis was the surprise package of the opening free practice session of the 2009 MotoGP World Championship, which roared into life today under the spectacular floodlights of the Losail International Circuit in Qatar. The San Marino man was the fastest Honda rider on track, lapping fifth fastest in the single 45-minute session, with his team-mate Toni Elias looking to make full use of the two remaining sessions tomorrow as he aims to build on twelfth place.

The reduced practice time made for a frantic but entertaining session this evening, with De Angelis quickly amongst the frontrunners. He was into the 1'58 mark on only his second run, improving his pace on his third and final run to stop the clock at an impressive 1'58.452. Elias has work to do to close the gap on the frontrunners but the Spaniard made an important step today, switching from Bridgestone's softer rubber to the harder compound that he'd found impossible to use during testing here a few weeks ago.

Alex De Angelis (5th 1'58.452): "It's nice to be the fastest Honda today because we've been a little bit behind the others in testing and this shows that we're working in the right way. I had a good feeling with the bike as soon as I went on track and this really helped. We've still got a few problems to sort out, which is normal when you've only had 45 minutes of set-up time, but that also means we have room for improvement so I'm confident we can keep this up tomorrow. It definitely helps to be starting the season with a year of experience under my belt and I really think I can demonstrate my ability this year."

Toni Elias (12th; 1'59.094): "Considering how the test went here a few weeks ago, this isn't a bad start. At the test we didn't manage to find a set-up that allowed us to use the hard tyre on any of the three days but we've been able to start using it today and the lap times are within what we could expect at this stage of the process. We obviously have more to work on in that area tomorrow, as well as working on the electronics. We're not getting maximum potential out of the engine in certain sections of the track, which is a question of the electronics, so we'll try to work that out tonight and make a bigger impact tomorrow."

Fausto Gresini - Team Manager: "We're happy with this first day, especially with Alex's performance because he was on the pace right from the start. He obviously still has a lot of work to do but with only one practice session on a Friday now it is more important than ever to make progress quickly, so we're delighted he has been able to start out on the right foot. With Toni we're still working hard on the set-up of the bike to give him better feeling but the lap times are close, there is a big group of riders close together and we're thinking positive."

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Series MotoGP
Drivers Toni Elias