Yamaha Factory Racing riders Jorge Lorenzo and Ben Spies made a strong start to the Grand Prix of Japan today in the first free practice sessions. Championship leader Lorenzo was straight to the top of the time sheets as the morning session began and was unchallenged for the duration. Team mate Spies was also quickly up to speed, initially running in second behind his team mate before dropping slightly to fifth, 0.7 seconds from the front at the end.
The afternoon session saw more of the same class leading pace from Lorenzo, topping the session from the start and only surpassed by Championship rival Pedrosa towards the end by 0.102 seconds. Spies also continued to improve from the morning session, making steps in the set up to bring his time down by nearly half a second. The Texan completed day one in sixth in the combined times with a 1’46.912.
Position 2nd – Time: 1’46.190 – Laps 33
“We started in a very good way here, much better than in Aragon where we had issues with the life of the rear tyre. We have a very good pace and with a little change in the electronics were able to go a bit faster. We tried with the hard tyre, for me it’s not better than the soft although we can go fast on it. For tomorrow I think the soft one will be better. The Hondas are very good here but our bike is also so I think we can fight with them for the victory.”
Position 6th – Time: 1’46.912 – Laps 27
“Today wasn’t bad, the second session was a bit slow in the beginning but we got going pretty well in the end. We didn’t try the soft rear but focused on trying to make the hard tyre work in case it’s the race tyre. I think it’s unlikely as everyone who went out faster than us at the end was on the softer option, so to be eight tenths off on the hard is not so bad. I think with the soft we’ll see a true result of where we can be and what the bike is capable of.”
Wilco Zeelenberg – Yamaha Factory Racing Team Manager
“A very good two practice sessions today, Jorge was first this morning and second in the afternoon and very close to Dani. He has a good feeling with the bike but obviously we need to improve a little and the track will also get better over the weekend I think. Overall a good first day.”
Massimo Meregalli – Yamaha Factory Racing Team Director
“A good start, we still have to figure out some balance for the bike but the set up is not that far. Hopefully tomorrow we will decide on the rear tyre for the race, we found the right front option today. Jorge delivered very consistent lap times with both the hard and soft tyres; the soft especially was really used so his first day is very promising.”
Dovizioso makes impressive start in Yamaha’s home race
Andrea Dovizioso made a flying start to Yamaha’s all-important home race in Japan today, the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Team rider finishing third fastest in both practice sessions at the Twin Ring Motegi.
With the stop and go nature of the 2.983 miles circuit perfectly suited to Dovizioso’s hard braking style, he wasted no time in showing his potential in gloriously sunny conditions this morning.
A best lap of 1.46.919 put him third behind Jorge Lorenzo and Dani Pedrosa and he continued that impre ssive form into the second session. Once again he was able to finish the fastest non-factory rider in third position to boost his hopes of recording a seventh podium of the campaign on Sunday.
Dovizioso improved his pace by almost 0.7s in FP2 and his best time of 1.46.282 was only 0.092s behind World Championship leader Lorenzo in second place and 0.194s away from Pedrosa’s quickest pace.
The opening day turned out to be the difficult challenge Cal Crutchlow had predicted, with the hard braking nature of the Twin Ring Motegi not best suited to his braking and cornering style.
Crutchlow dedicated the majority of his time on track today to improve his feeling in the hard braking zones, but he was never able to find a comfortabe set-up with his YZR-M1 machine and he finished ninth on the combined leaderboard.
Crutchlow remains confident he can make big progress tomorrow and his best time of 1.46.984 was less than 0.1s away from a top six position.
Position 3rd – Time: 1’46.282 – Laps 33
“It has been a really good start to the weekend because I did my time with the hard tyre and that looks like being a probable choice for the race. The good thing is I am very competitive already but I know we can improve on the last part of the entry to the corner. I don’t feel comfortable in that area, but even if I don’t feel 100% confident with the bike and ready to push as hard as I know I can, I am very close to the fastest two. I believe I will be able to follow Dani and Jorge on Sunday and that is basically my aim for the weekend. It will be difficult to fight with them for the victory but I am certainly looking to be battling for the podium again on a track that I really like.”
Position 9th – Time: 1’46.984 – Laps 26
“Today wasn’t the start I was hoping for at all because we worked very hard to improve the bike but I was unable to find a comfortable setting. I am way down on the timesheets and a long way behind Andrea and we are both on the same bike and the same tyres, so it is clear that we have a lot of work to do to improve tomorrow. Nothing we tried seemed to work and give me the feeling I wanted and I certainly need to improve and be faster with the hard tyre because that might be the tyre I need to race with. There isn’t one particular place where I am struggling. We have quite a few issues but I will sit down with my Monster Yamaha Tech 3 crew tonight and see if we can come up with a solution to help me be more competitive tomorrow.”
2012 MotoGP Japan
Twin Ring Motegi 12/10/2012
1 Daniel Pedrosa Honda ESP 1’46.088
2 Jorge Lorenzo Yamaha ESP 1’46.190
3 Andrea Dovizioso Yamaha ITA 1’46.282
4 Stefan Bradl Honda GER 1’46.428
5 Valentino Rossi Ducati ITA 1’46.687
6 Ben Spies Yamaha USA 1’46.912
7 Casey Stoner Honda AUS 1’46.978
8 Alvaro Bautista Honda ESP 1’46.983
9 Cal Crutchlow Yamaha GBR 1’46.984
10 Nicky Hayden Ducati USA 1’47.551
11 Katsuyuki Nakasuga Yamaha JPN 1’47.801
12 Hector Barbera Ducati ESP 1’48.232
13 Aleix Espargaro ART ESP 1’48.470
14 Karel Abraham Ducati CZE 1’48.757
15 Randy De Puniet ART FRA 1’48.770
(Daniel Pedrosa, 1/1/2011)
Fastest Lap Ever:
(Casey Stoner, 10/2/2011)
Last Years Winner: