Yamaha Factory Racing riders Jorge Lorenzo and Valentino Rossi both made a flying start today in the first practice sessions for this Sunday’s Grand Prix of the Czech Republic.
The benefit of a recent private test at the Brno circuit was clear to see as Jorge Lorenzo shot straight to the top of the time sheets at the beginning of the first practice and remained unchallenged throughout. By the end of the session he was within one second off the pole record for the track and wrapped up the only rider under the 1’57 mark with a 1’56.698 second lap.
Valentino Rossi’s morning was equally successful, the Italian cracking straight on to the pace as the session got underway and mixing times with the top three riders. His first run saw him get down to a 1’57.425 lap. With 35 minutes remaining of the session he was in second position, improving on his second run to get down to a 1’57.243 lap.
The nine-time world champion made another big step in the afternoon, breaking into the 1’56s with a 1’56.726 to take fourth overall and separated from the top rider by just 0.226 seconds.
Jorge Lorenzo 2nd | 1'56.538 | 19 Laps
“I started in a very good way in the morning and also in the beginning of the second practice. Then we started to try some things on the bike that weren’t as good as we expected. We spent all the practice trying things so I wasn't very fast at the end of the session. Anyway, the positive thing is tomorrow we have a clear direction so we can go more quickly to a better lap time. We can improve tomorrow on braking, and the smoothness of the bike at the beginning of the corner.”
Valentino Rossi 4th | 1'56.726 | 29 Laps
“I think that we are equal at this track because Dani won last year with the Honda after the battle with Jorge on the last lap. For sure the Yamaha is more competitive here in Brno and also I am more competitive because I like the track and I ride in a better way than in Indianapolis. Today it was a positive day for me, especially this afternoon, we modified the bike and I improved a lot. I was fast with the soft tyre and the hard tyre and I have quite a good pace. We are all very close; we are five or six riders within a few tenths. We hope for tomorrow and Sunday we have good weather because the forecast says it’s not so positive.”
Wilco Zeelenberg - Yamaha Factory Racing Team Manager
“It’s the first day in Brno and we are quite satisfied with the result. The pace is very consistent and Jorge feels good on the bike. We need to make some small adjustments tomorrow so let’s hope it stays dry. We are on the right path to getting a good result.”
Massimo Meregalli - Yamaha Factory Racing Team Director
“It’s been a positive first day. We still have a lot of things to try and improve the set up as much as we can. Anyway we have started in the right way. We have a big advantage as we tested here a few weeks ago so we will try to keep this step ahead until Sunday afternoon. We were able to test both tyre compounds. It seems both are working but one slightly better than the other. We are in a good shape and we are optimistic we can continue like this.”
Crutchlow and Smith make positive start in close Brno practice
The start of the 11th round of the 2013 MotoGP World Championship in Brno saw Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Team riders Cal Crutchlow and Bradley Smith in fast and consistent form at the end of a closely contested opening day of practice.
After the long trip back to Europe from last weekend’s Indianapolis round in America, Crutchlow and Smith quickly got back down to business and were able to set the sixth and seventh fastest times respectively in sunny and warm conditions.
Crutchlow has fond memories of the fast and undulating Brno track, as it was a year ago at the Czech Republic venue that he scored a career first MotoGP podium.
The British rider’s quest for a repeat of that success got off to a flying start this morning when he set the third best time in FP1, while continuing to work on a new fuel tank and seat unit upgrade he raced for the first time at the legendary Indianapolis Motor Speedway five days ago.
This afternoon’s second 45-minute session was an incredibly close battle, with a personal best time of 1.56.800 putting Crutchlow in sixth position.
His time was only 0.300s off the fastest pace and just 0.2s outside of the top three, with Crutchlow optimistic that he has the pace to challenge at the front for a fifth podium of the season in Sunday’s 22-lap race.
Smith’s encouraging form in his rookie premier class campaign continued on a positive day for the 22-year-old, who was comfortably lapping inside the top 10 in both sessions.
Eighth fastest this morning, Smith shaved over 0.5s off his pace in hotter conditions in FP2 to climb up the rankings into seventh and he was only just over 0.5s behind teammate Crutchlow.
All six riders in front of Smith today have won a race or finished on the podium in 2013 and his performance is further evidence of the outstanding progress he is making in his first premier class campaign.
Cal Crutchlow 6th 1.56.800 – 32 laps :
“It wasn’t an easy first day here in Brno but the positive point is I was very consistent and the lap times between the top six are very close. The overall lap time is not the best but I am able to lap in the 56s consistently and that is encouraging for the rest of the weekend. We need to improve the bike, so I am hoping it stays dry tomorrow and we can try the modifications we need to improve. I can’t turn the bike well and I am also struggling a little bit for rear grip. I got my first podium in Brno last year and it would be great to repeat that achievement on Sunday. It will be tough but I will be giving it my all.”
Bradley Smith 7th 1.57.351– 32 laps :
“Today was a positive start to the weekend although I encountered a couple of small issues with the front-end. I need to get some more grip to allow me to carry more corner speed but I am happy because I was able to make a big step in the second session. This is a track that the Yamaha really likes and I am enjoying riding the YZR-M1 here, so if I can get some more confidence with the front I am sure I can be even stronger. It is going to be difficult to make that final step to get into the 56s but we will pour over the data tonight and try and find a solution to help me do that.”