The blazing Californian sunshine and a bumpy new track surface made life even more turbulent than usual at Laguna Seca today as preparations for the US Grand Prix got underway for the Camel Yamaha Team and their MotoGP World Championship rivals.
The blazing Californian sunshine and a bumpy new track surface made life even more turbulent than usual at Laguna Seca today as preparations for the US Grand Prix got underway for the Camel Yamaha Team and their MotoGP World Championship rivals. Valentino Rossi and Colin Edwards made a bright start to the day, lapping fifth and second fastest in the morning free practice, but both struggled in the afternoon session and were unable to improve their times as they focused on adapting the set-up of their YZR-M1 machines to the unique demands of the wild western circuit. Rossi himself indulged in a moment of rodeo riding as he ran across the gravel traps after misjudging a braking marker going into the Corkscrew corner.
To make matters worse for Edwards he also began to struggle from the effects of flu symptoms and an upset stomach, which were not helped by afternoon temperatures exceeding of 30ºC. His morning benchmark was bettered by only five other riders, however, the fastest of those being American compatriot Kenny Roberts Jr. (Team KR) with a lap of 1'23.859 - just inside Edwards' own official lap record of 1'23.915 set during the race last year. Tomorrow the pair will have one more free session to adjust their machine set-up before tackling the all-important qualifying practice.
COLIN EDWARDS (5th; 1'24.310, 44 laps)
"At the moment we're just working to get the bike better, trying to find the right setting for the track. The new surface is not great - I don't think they could have made it any bumpier if they tried. It's been hard to ride today because I've also been suffering with flu symptoms and an upset stomach. I'll go to the Clinica Mobile for some treatment tonight and hopefully get a good night's sleep because I really don't want to feel like this again tomorrow, it was really hard to ride this afternoon. The morning session was quite good and I was feeling pretty confident, but I started to feel worse throughout the day and things went downhill a bit this afternoon. We tried some new things in the second session and didn't find exactly the right setting, but we have some more ideas for tomorrow and I'm confident that if I'm feeling okay I can be back on the pace."
VALENTINO ROSSI (11th; 1'24.674, 47 laps)
"I think that they've done a good job on the circuit and done nearly everything we've asked for. The track is quite dirty at the moment but the new asphalt has much better grip and by Sunday I think it will be okay. Turn one is especially much safer and much less dangerous. The problem that we have now is that it's still very bumpy in parts of the track, which is not good. In most places it's better but they've put the new asphalt down over the old bumps, so they're still there. This is unfortunate; the worst part is after the corkscrew, turns 9 and 10. I was happy with how we started today - I did some good laps towards the end this morning and was starting to feel good with the bike and the track - but this afternoon we had a lot more problems. I didn't have a good feeling in the corner and the bike was quite hard to ride. The bumps are causing us some difficulties and we need to understand how to make the M1 work at this track. It is only Friday but we have a lot of work to do. We need to make some tests with the qualifying tyre tomorrow morning and hopefully we will have a better situation than in Germany. It is going to be very important that we qualify well because it's hard to pass on this track."
DAVIDE BRIVIO - CAMEL YAMAHA TEAM DIRECTOR
"We have some work to do, as always on a Friday! After the morning session we expected to be a lot closer to the front in the afternoon but the situation remained the same and we didn't make any major improvements. We have collected a lot of data that our engineers will check overnight and we will see how we can move forward in the morning. With the American riders all going fast here there is more competition at the top so Valentino knows he has work to do. Colin did a good job today considering his physical condition so we hope he will be feeling better tomorrow and will be able to make some more steps forward with the bike before qualifying."