Rizla Suzuki’s Álvaro Bautista took full advantage of the favourable weather this morning to post a competitive time and put him in a position to make further advances at Mugello this weekend.
Bautista (P10, 1’50.658, 20 laps) was regularly in the top-10 during the morning free practice session that was held in bright sunshine and temperatures of 26ºC – stark contrast to the last two races at Silverstone and Assen. Unfortunately this afternoon’s practise was heavily influenced by a short, sharp downpour of rain that dampened the whole of the 5,245m Italian circuit just before the session began. The damp, but drying track made conditions very difficult and most riders chose not to venture out until very late in the session.
After the chilly conditions of the previous two races it a pleasure for all concerned to be greeted with much warmer weather here in Italy. The new surface on the Mugello track was praised by all riders as many of the bumps that hampered stability have now been removed, making the track much smoother. Marco Simoncelli on a Honda was the quickest rider today, with championship leader Casey Stoner second.
Rizla Suzuki has one more free practice session tomorrow morning followed by qualifying in the afternoon. Sunday’s 23-lap race is scheduled to get underway at 14.00hrs local time (12.00hrs GMT) on the 3rd of July.
“It was a bit like my first time at a MotoGP at Mugello here today because I could not ride like I wanted to last year as I was still recovering from the injury to my shoulder. This morning I felt quite good on the bike and I think the track is much better now as well! It is a lot flatter and most of the bumps have gone, the grip is still as good, but without the bumps it makes it more fun to ride. We tried to get a better feeling in the front this morning because I didn’t quite have the stability I wanted in the corners and for this afternoon we wanted to try something else, but that was impossible because of the rain. I did a couple of laps in the afternoon session, but it was very difficult out there, because the track was not completely dry. We will have to work hard tomorrow morning to get the best setting for Sunday’s race, but I’m sure we can do a decent job here.”
Paul Denning – Team Manager:
“The newly resurfaced Mugello circuit has gained rave reviews from all riders and it looks like a real pleasure to ride a Grand Prix bike around this fantastic race-track. The GSV-R immediately worked reasonably well this morning and Álvaro’s a lot closer to the front group than we were at Assen last week. That said, there were still some issues this morning that were holding him back. We will hope to get those dialled out tomorrow and that – added hopefully to good conditions on-track after the wasted session this afternoon – will help us to keep chipping away and get closer to the front.”
Gran Premio D’Italia TIM Free Practice Classification:
1. Marco Simoncelli (Honda) 1’48.987: 2. Casey Stoner (Honda) +0.040: 3. Andrea Dovizioso (Honda) +0.101: 4. Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha) +0.264: 5. Ben Spies (Yamaha) +0.377: 10. ÁLVARO BAUTISTA (RIZLA SUZUKI MOTOGP) +1.671: