Rizla Suzuki’s twin attack of Álvaro Bautista and John Hopkins got off to an impressive start in the Czech Republic today, with both riders inside the top-10.
Bautista completed 32 laps of the 5,403m Brno circuit to record a best time of 1’57.857 and eighth place on the leader-board. Bautista was regularly in touch with the top six throughout both of today’s practices and is confident that with a few more adjustments to his GSV-R tomorrow he can make further steps forward.
Hopkins is appearing as a wild-card at Brno and acquitted himself well in both practice sessions. This morning he signalled his intentions by finishing in seventh place and followed that up this afternoon with an equally impressive 10th. His best time of 1’57.880 from his 33 laps was only .023 seconds behind his team-mate and just over three-tenths-of-a-second away from a top five finish. Hopkins knows he still has a lot of work to do, but is convinced there is still more to come from him and his machine.
Today’s sessions were both held in bright and sunny conditions with track temperatures reaching 32ºC. Honda’s Dani Pedrosa set the fastest time of the day, with current championship leader Casey Stoner second.
The Rizla Suzuki duo will have one more free practice session tomorrow morning, before an hour of qualifying in the afternoon will determine grid positions for Sunday’s race. The 11th round of the 2011 MotoGP World Championship gets underway at 14.00hrs local time (12.00hrs GMT) on Sunday 14th August.
“Today was my first full MotoGP day at Brno when fully fit, so I am pleased to have done that. Last year I crashed in the second free practice and the rest of the weekend was quite hard for me. The first thing today was to get a good feeling with the bike, but this morning I felt the bike slide a bit in the corners, this might have been because the track was a bit dirty, but we made a change that also helped to improve the problem. I can do a long run with used tyres and after 26 laps my rhythm was good and I could do low 58s. We then put in a new front and rear tyre and I was able to push a bit more, but I found some traffic on the last laps and I couldn’t improve my time. I am happy with today because I have done the fastest lap I’ve ever done at Brno, my previous best was 59.1 and today I did 57.8 so that is a good improvement. I have a good feeling with the bike and I’m sure we can improve the rhythm and the lap-time, so on Saturday we will work on a couple of things to do that. I am really looking forward to tomorrow because I think we can make a good position in qualifying to get a good start in Sunday’s race.”
“First of all I want to give a massive thanks to Suzuki, Paul Denning, Rizla, Fixi and all the other sponsors that have made this possible. The have all helped to ensure that the team has two bikes here at Brno, so once again thanks to all concerned. It’s been a big culture shock today, the most elite riders in the world are all packed in the MotoGP field, but it has still been a good day for us. When I rode in Jerez my mindset was still with prototype racing, because I hadn’t quite got into Superbike riding, but all this year I’ve got very comfortable with a Superbike and so coming into this weekend I was a bit afraid it would all feel totally different and I couldn’t ride a GP bike anymore – luckily that wasn’t the case! I tried to get comfortable this morning and follow as many people as possible, because to be honest I need as much help as I can get at the moment! I was well within the top-10 this morning and I managed to follow Álvaro and he showed me some lines – which was really cool – I was very happy with that, and the fact that he didn’t get upset and just let me follow. This afternoon we tried a few things with the bike to see where we could improve, but we never really went too far away from the set-up we had this morning. We used a couple of tyre variations to see how they worked and that gives us something to go on for the rest of the weekend. I did a quicker lap today than my best lap here before, which was in the race in 2007, so that was a good thing. I’ll now sleep with the track on my mind and come back a lot better tomorrow morning, I’m sure if I can get more comfortable on the bike and find a rhythm, then I can get at least half-of-a-second of my time from today.”
Cardion AB Grand Prix Ceské Republiky Free Practise Classification:
1. Dani Pedrosa (Honda) 1’56.328: 2. Casey Stoner (Honda) +0.503: 3. Marco Simoncelli (Honda) +0.808: 4. Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha) +0.846: 5. Andrea Dovizioso (Honda) +1.207: 8. ÁLVARO BAUTISTA (RIZLA SUZUKI MOTOGP) +1.529: 10. JOHN HOPKINS (RIZLA SUZUKI MOTOGP) +1.552: