As the short summer break comes to an end the MotoGP paddock got back to business today in Brno with the first and second free practice sessions of the Czech Republic Grand Prix.
Yamaha Factory Racing riders Jorge Lorenzo and Ben Spies blew off the cobwebs after their holidays and spent the morning and afternoon sessions making the first steps in set up for the Brno circuit. World Champion Lorenzo and his crew were focused on improving the stopping ability and turning ability going into corners over the two sessions. He finished the morning session in fourth, 1.259 seconds from first and improved in the afternoon, remaining fourth but reducing the gap to first to 0.720 seconds.
Spies performance echoed his fellow Factory Yamaha team mate, finishing the morning session in sixth 1.575 seconds from first and improving in the afternoon. He retained sixth position but reduced the gap to first to 1.177 seconds. The Texan rider’s performance was hampered by a numbness in his left arm caused by a trapped nerve in his neck which is being treated by Clinica Mobile after each session.
Position 4th – Time 1’57.174- Laps 27
“Today’s sessions have not been exactly as we expected. We are struggling a bit on braking and we lose too much time over the lap. Tomorrow we will work hard to improve the bike in the morning to be ready for qualifying because at this moment we are pretty far from the front.”
Position 6th – Time 1’57.631 – Laps 31
“It was an ok day for us, I’m actually pretty happy with the results. I’ve got a little bit of a pinched nerve in my neck and I’m struggling a little bit on the bike but I’m still giving it 100%. Lap times aren’t too bad I’m just not able to put too many laps together in a row. We’re going to do a lot of physio over the next couple of days to get it where it’s comfortable for the race and I’m pretty optimistic about how we can turn things around for Sunday.”
Wilco Zeelenberg – Yamaha Factory Racing Team Manager
“The afternoon free practice went a bit better than the morning but still we are lacking a bit of confidence in the front. It’s difficult to say why but it looks like a lack of grip over the front. Turning ability has improved a bit but not enough from the morning so we need another step for the next session. For tomorrow we need to find a clearer direction to improve. P4 is not so bad to start but we have three bikes in front of us and some work to do.”
Massimo Meregalli – Yamaha Factory Racing Team Director
“The bike set up is working quite well for Ben at the moment but he has a problem with his left arm which is preventing him from pushing hard. Apart from this he is reasonably happy with the tyres and set up and progress. He is going to have some therapy tonight and tomorrow with the Clinica Mobile and we will see how much he can push on Sunday. Jorge has made a good start to the weekend, but is still looking to resolve some front end issues to improve his set up for Sunday.”
Crutchlow and Edwards make positive return to action in Brno
The Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Team returned to action in Brno today and the opening two practice sessions saw Cal Crutchlow and Colin Edwards make a solid start to their preparations for Sunday’s Czech Republic MotoGP round.
After a well deserved two-week summer break, Crutchlow was instantly back in the groove in cloudy conditions this morning, the British rider setting the ninth quickest time.
The 25-year-old was able to dedicate all his time on improving the set-up of his Monster Yamaha Tech 3 YZR-M1 machine having previously raced at the Brno circuit in the World Superbike Championship.
And he put that previous track knowledge to good use in this afternoon’s second session, which was run in hotter and brighter conditions that saw temperatures increase to 23 degrees. Crutchlow improved his pace by more than half-a-second this afternoon and a time of 1.57.859 put him sixth at one stage. He eventually finished ninth but giving his confidence a major boost, he finished just over 0.3s away from fifth position on combined times.
Position 9th – Time 1’57.859 – Laps 33
“Today was a positive day and we made a good improvement with the bike and I feel like the front-end feeling I’ve been missing in the last few races is definitely better. We tried a new handlebar position, bringing them closer to me and it was a positive step. It is still not as good as I’d like it to be but we’ll try and change the set-up of the bike for tomorrow to gain some more turning performance. I should have been a little bit quicker but I made a mistake on the last lap and I’m sure I could have been in the top seven. Valentino (Rossi) and (Alvaro) Bautista just got me at the end but I’m confident I can be battling for around seventh place in the race on Sunday. Not having to learn the circuit today has been a big help and I’ve proved with some track knowledge I can finish in front of some guys with a lot more experience than me in MotoGP. Maybe I’ve been pushing too hard in the last few weeks without the track knowledge on new circuits, but today my pace was pretty consistent and it was a solid start and gives me a platform to build on now for the rest of the weekend.”
Position 12th – Time 1’58.313 – Laps 33
“Today has been a bit of a struggle to be honest and I was hoping to be a bit higher up the timesheets than 12th. We are working hard to find a solution but right now we’re still missing something in the set-up of the bike that allows me to push at a level I feel comfortable and confident at. My biggest problem is the rear grip and it doesn’t feel like the tyre is getting the force into the ground I need and I’m riding on a small contact patch. As a consequence that also has an impact on front feeling and that is not the formula for setting fast lap times. I’m running wide a lot and to make sure I can get the bike turned I have to slow the corner speed right down. But losing a lot of corner speed kills the lap time, so I’ve got have a sit down tonight with my crew and come up with a plan to change the bike for tomorrow to see if we can make it better.”
2011 MotoGP Czech Republic
1 Daniel Pedrosa Honda ESP 1’56.328
2 Casey Stoner Honda AUS 1’56.831
3 Marco Simoncelli Honda ITA 1’57.136
4 Jorge Lorenzo Yamaha ESP 1’57.174
5 Andrea Dovizioso Honda ITA 1’57.535
6 Ben Spies Yamaha USA 1’57.631
7 Valentino Rossi Ducati ITA 1’57.745
8 Alvaro Bautista Suzuki ESP 1’57.857
9 Cal Crutchlow Yamaha GBR 1’57.859
10 John Hopkins Suzuki USA 1’57.880
11 Hector Barbera Ducati ESP 1’58.120
12 Colin Edwards Yamaha USA 1’58.313
13 Randy De Puniet Ducati FRA 1’58.454
14 Nicky Hayden Ducati USA 1’58.568
15 Loris Capirossi Ducati ITA 1’58.573
(Jorge Lorenzo, 1/1/2009)
Fastest Lap Ever:
(Valentino Rossi, 8/16/2009)
Last Years Winner: