Yamaha Factory Racing riders Jorge Lorenzo and Ben Spies managed to avoid the rain today as the Portuguese GP got underway at Estoril. Lorenzo got down to business quickly in the first free practice as he looked to set up for his fourth consecutive win in Portugal. The afternoon’s second session saw him make a step forward, spending the majority of the 45 minute practice as one of only two riders to break under the 1’38 barrier. The reigning World Champion and current Championship leader completed the second heat in second place just 0.061 from first.
Today marked Texan rider Spies’ first opportunity to ride the Estoril circuit in the dry. With no race experience and no dry set up from last year the crew started with a base set up from Jerez in the morning. A number of set up changes followed and Spies also tried the harder Bridgestone tyre option in the afternoon session. The Yamaha Factory rider made steady improvements from morning to afternoon, finishing the day in eighth having improved on the morning session by 0.332 of a second.
“It’s good to be back on track here, I really love riding at Estoril. We have to improve some sectors for Sunday, especially in braking. We lost some tenths in the first sector but we make up for it in the other three so we are up there in second. We are always in the top four which is important.”
“It hasn’t been a perfect day; we’ve struggled a little bit. We tried to get a feel for the harder tyre this afternoon and don’t think that’s the right way for us. We tried some different settings through the sessions and we think we know what we need to do. We’re not close to the front but we’ll find our way up there. I’m pretty confident my guys and me can step up and be there, it’s in me and the bike so we’ll come back tomorrow and improve.
Wilco Zeelenberg – Yamaha Factory Racing Team Manager
“We’re quite lucky because it started to rain on the last lap of the second session. We’re happy we missed it because we had quite a few things to try today. This afternoon we focused on some new electronic settings for better grip. We’re not ready yet but we had positive comments from Jorge so we are satisfied with the position and lap time so far.”
Massimo Meregalli – Yamaha Factory Racing Team Director
“We worked to find a good, balanced set up today for Ben. It was his first day on a dry circuit here in Estoril so it was a learning experience. We’ve been working hard to make the bike as he wants it; we still have more to do as the set up is not as he would like it yet. Jorge did a really good long run; he definitely has the right rhythm and good pace and should make another step forward tomorrow.”
Edwards and Crutchlow return in style at Estoril
Colin Edwards and Cal Crutchlow made an impressively fast return to MotoGP action in Portugal today, the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Team riders lapping consistently inside the top ten during the opening day of practice at the Estoril track.
Edwards ended with the sixth fastest time, the experienced American taking full advantage of unexpectedly dry and warm conditions to set a best time of 1.38.203 that put him less than 0.5s away from the top three.
Forecasts had predicted rain for the opening day of the Portuguese Grand Prix but both sessions took place on a full dry track with temperatures this afternoon nudging close to 25 degrees.
Edwards, who was fourth until the final moments of the second 45-minute session, made big progress in improving side grip with his Monster Yamaha Tech 3 machine having made swingarm set-up changes after he was seventh fastest this morning.
Rookie Crutchlow produced another fantastic performance that not only showcased his ability learn and master new tracks quickly, but the British rider also demonstrated his determination to ride at 100 per cent despite facing a gruelling physical test.
During the long break following the postponement of the Japanese Grand Prix, Crutchlow underwent surgery to solve a numbness issue in his right hand that occurred during the first two races in Qatar and Jerez. But Crutchlow was struck by a chronic arm pump issue again this morning and he needed a large build-up of fluid draining from his right arm in the Clinica Mobile ahead of the second session.
A modified handlebar position helped Crutchlow feel much more comfortable on his YZR-M1 machine this afternoon and he was unlucky not to finish inside the top seven after a brilliant performance.
He was as high as seventh in the final stages when he was unfortunate to be bumped down the order to 13th. He ended with a best time of 1.38.912 having knocked nearly 1.5s off from his best time from this morning and he was only 0.5s behind Edwards and marginally over a second away from the fastest pace set by Marco Simoncelli.
“That was a pretty good day and I’m really satisfied. We just rolled the bike off the truck and immediately I had a good feeling without having to make any changes. I’ve always gone well at this circuit and I’ve no idea why, but right out of the gate I felt comfortable on the bike and I was able to lap easily inside the top six for most of both sessions. This afternoon I never used the soft tyre and I probably lost a bit of time that would have put my further up the timesheets, but that’s not a big issue on Friday. We played with the balance of the bike this afternoon a little bit and tried something different with the swingarm that gave me better side grip with the hard tyre. I wanted to be open the throttle smoothly and generate some speed and we found a good direction, so I’m happy.”
“I’m really happy because to be only a second off the pace on a track I’ve never seen before gives me a lot of confidence. I honestly feel I should have kept that seventh place because I made a late change to the bike and everybody went quicker. I could have gone quicker once I was back on track but I encountered a lot of traffic and it was like a 125 session! I got held up and that cost me at least a couple of tenths, which would have easily put me in the top ten. This track is much harder to learn than Jerez. It is quite bumpy and you have to be so precise with your lines that it has been quite difficult. But I’m only 0.5s behind Colin and he has a good record at this track. After this morning I didn’t think I’d be so fast because I was really struggling with my arm. There was a massive build-up of fluid at the end of the session that I had to get drained and I’m not sure why it has happened. I rode a motocross bike last week without any drama, but the brake pressure on a MotoGP bike is incredible. We moved the handlebars out for this afternoon and it was definitely better and I felt more confident on the brakes, but at the end I’ve got another big fluid bump on my forearm.”
2011 MotoGP Portugal
1 Marco Simoncelli Honda ITA 1’37.663
2 Jorge Lorenzo Yamaha ESP 1’37.724
3 Daniel Pedrosa Honda ESP 1’37.727
4 Valentino Rossi Ducati ITA 1’38.102
5 Casey Stoner Honda AUS 1’38.102
6 Colin Edwards Yamaha USA 1’38.203
7 Karel Abraham Ducati CZE 1’38.473
8 Ben Spies Yamaha USA 1’38.563
9 Nicky Hayden Ducati USA 1’38.596
10 Hector Barbera Ducati ESP 1’38.611
11 Hiroshi Aoyama Honda JPN 1’38.645
12 Andrea Dovizioso Honda ITA 1’38.658
13 Cal Crutchlow Yamaha GBR 1’38.760
14 Toni Elias Honda ESP 1’38.912
15 Loris Capirossi Ducati ITA 1’39.021
(Daniel Pedrosa, 1/1/2009)
Fastest Lap Ever:
(Jorge Lorenzo, 4/13/2008)
Last Years Winner: