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Rossi Takes Charge in Catalunya

Yamaha Factory Racing’s Valentino Rossi wrapped up the first day of practice for the Gran Premi Aperol de Catalunya at the top of the time sheets as the fastest rider in sweltering conditions and a track temperature that topped 50 degrees. Having named the track as one of his top three favourites the nine-time champion was clearly enjoying being back at the Circuit de Catalunya on his YZR-M1. Rossi wrapped up the morning first practice in fifth position, just under half a second from the front. He upped the pace in the afternoon, diving under the circuit record in the last three minutes with a 1’42.297 lap on a fresh soft tyre to go top.

Reigning world champion Jorge Lorenzo was on typical form in front of his home crowd today and was quick to find his trademark blistering pace. Lorenzo wrapped up the morning session in first, 0.023 seconds ahead of fellow Spanish rider Dani Pedrosa. The afternoon saw a repeat performance as he led for the majority of the session, only passed by his teammate in the final minutes to leave him in second place, 0.049 seconds from Rossi in first.

Valentino Rossi – 1st, Time 1’42.297

“I love this track it is one of the best, the M1 is always great here in Catalunya. It is just Friday but I am very happy to be in front but we have a lot of work to do. We have to decide which tyre to use and we have some corners and sections where we have to improve for tomorrow. Anyway, it is a great to be in the first position.”

Jorge Lorenzo – 2nd, Time 1’42.346

“We started very well but we tried two settings that didn’t work so well. We stayed with the same tyres for the whole practice to understand why they are dropping in this weather so we could solve this problem that I think all the riders are having. It is always possible to improve so we have to try and improve the bike so I have more confidence, then I can stay in the middle of the 42 second mark which is my target. We don’t focus so much on the classification because not all the riders kept on the same tyres during the practice, a new tyre can give you half a second or more. We have to trust the pace and the pace is good, one of the best of the grid.”

Wilco Zeelenberg, Yamaha Factory Racing Team Manager

“A very good first day in very hot conditions it was important to see how the bike behaved this afternoon. Jorge was not really pleased with the performance but I was actually pleased as we have a clear direction for tomorrow, this is what counts. It’s the first day, we are still second and Vale was fast with the soft tyre at the end. We found our direction to work in for tomorrow which is good.”
Massimo Meregalli, Yamaha Factory Racing Team Director

“A really good starting point, having both bikes in the top two is a good result. We still have a lot of work to do. We have to perfect the set up and decide on which tyre to use in the race, so far we’ve done a good job so let’s see what we can do to make it even better tomorrow.”

Crutchlow fourth after fast start in Catalunya

Cal Crutchlow’s sky high confidence was once again reflected on the MotoGP timesheets after the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Team rider challenged for the top three in both free practice sessions at the Circuit de Catalunya today. The British rider wasted no time in establishing a fast rhythm this morning when he stormed into the top three in FP1, a personal best lap of 1.42.492 only 0.070s off reigning World Champion Jorge Lorenzo’s best pace. With air and track temperatures soaring under gloriously sunny skies this afternoon, Crutchlow logged a best time of 1.42.776 in FP2 to clinch fifth spot on the leaderboard. Rather than use a soft Bridgestone rear tyre to improve his pace, the 27-year-old preferred to check endurance with the harder option to give the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Team as much information as possible on tyre wear ahead of Sunday’s 25-lap race. Crutchlow was fourth fastest on the combined rankings with his faster pace in FP1 this morning meaning he was only 0.047s outside of the top three and less than 0.2s away from Valentino Rossi’s best pace of 1.42.297.

Today’s action proved to be another tough and painful learning experience for Bradley Smith, the rookie finishing 14th after a fast fall in the second session. After heavy falls during preparations for the previous round in Mugello left him with left hand and wrist injuries, Smith made a positive start to then Gran Premi Aperol de Catalunya today when he set the 12th fastest time in FP1. As temperatures soared to a gruelling 28 degrees this afternoon, Smith had already dropped his pace to a 1.44.247 when he suffered a tumble at Turn 3 shortly after the halfway stage. Fortunately he was uninjured in the spill and he will now work closely with his Monster Yamaha Tech 3 crew to find some improvements with his YZR-M1 ahead of tomorrow’s final practice and qualifying sessions.

Cal Crutchlow – 4th, Time 1.42.492

“I am really happy with today’s practice because we experimented a lot with the bike and found some very positive things that will help me for the rest of the weekend. This afternoon when the temperature really came hot I didn’t use a soft tyre and we can see from the timesheets how much of an advantage that was. I am sure if I had used the soft tyre I’d have been inside the top three but I preferred to do a long run with the hard tyre and it was positive. I need to improve a bit in the first sector but we have some changes planned for tomorrow that should help make me stronger and overall today I am really happy. I am convinced it is going to be a big fight on Sunday with the Spanish boys obviously wanting to put on a show here but I am looking forward to being part of the battle.”

Bradley Smith – 14th, Time 1.44.247

“Today was another tough day. I am not feeling so confident with the setting and I am missing some confidence myself. I am lucky I didn’t damage my body in the crash because it was another big fall. I lost the front and as I tried to save it the rear tyre gripped and threw me off. The bike hit my left knee and that’s why I was limping in the gravel but luckily I am fine. Right now I need to work hard and sit down with my crew to find where I am loosing most of the time. I don’t really know what is missing but we will find something tonight and approach it at 100% again tomorrow.”

2013 MotoGP Spain

Catalunya 14/06/2013

1 Valentino Rossi Yamaha ITA 1’42.297
2 Jorge Lorenzo Yamaha ESP 1’42.346
3 Daniel Pedrosa Honda ESP 1’42.445
4 Cal Crutchlow Yamaha GBR 1’42.492
5 Alvaro Bautista Honda ESP 1’42.752
6 Marc Marquez Honda ESP 1’42.857
7 Nicky Hayden Ducati USA 1’42.890
8 Andrea Dovizioso Ducati ITA 1’42.988
9 Stefan Bradl Honda GER 1’43.005
10 Aleix Espargaro ART ESP 1’43.204
11 Andrea Iannone Ducati ITA 1’43.272
12 Randy De Puniet ART FRA 1’43.644
13 Michele Pirro Ducati ITA 1’43.648
14 Bradley Smith Yamaha GBR 1’44.247
15 Hector Barbera FTR ESP 1’44.461

Circuit Length:
4727

Weather:
Hot

Lap Record:
1’42.358
(Daniel Pedrosa, 1-1-2008)

Fastest Lap Ever:
1’41.186
(Casey Stoner, 8-6-2008)

Last Years Winner:
Jorge Lorenzo