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Fiat Yamaha off to flying start at Motegi

The Fiat Yamaha Team made a flying start to the Japanese Grand Prix at Motegi today in a close-fought practice session, with Valentino Rossi making a welcome return to the top of the time sheets and Jorge Lorenzo finishing the day in third.

Rossi was expecting this track to be particularly hard on his shoulder so he was delighted to find himself in less pain than last time out and feeling much stronger on the bike. The Italian used an upgraded engine specification for the first time today and his feedback was positive, finding particular improvements in the higher gears. He was fast from the very start of the session and then put in a blistering final lap to finish on top, two-tenths ahead of Andrea Dovizioso.

Championship leader and last year’s race winner Lorenzo also made a good start to the weekend, putting in a consistently fast performance despite not yet having the engine upgrade. Lorenzo has one less engine left from his allocation than Rossi at this stage of the season so he is likely to wait until later in the weekend to use the new one. He is hopeful that he and his crew can make some small improvements to their rear traction tomorrow but he is already in good shape and finished the day three-tenths off his team-mate. The Mallorcan’s only championship rival, Dani Pedrosa, fell during the session and is expected to undergo surgery tomorrow to fix a broken collarbone.

Valentino Rossi – Position: 1st Time: 1’48.147 Laps: 27
“I’m really happy about today, it is honestly a big surprise for me to be first! I was expecting to suffer a lot here with my shoulder because there are so many hard braking areas but in fact they are all quite straight so I was happy to find I was okay. In fact I felt very good on the bike right from the start and we have done a great job here with the setting. I used the new engine and Yamaha have done an excellent job on it, it is especially better in fourth and fifth gears and everything is working very well. I know it’s only Friday but it’s a long time since I have been in front like this so I have to enjoy this sweet feeling! I know there’s a chance of rain for the rest of the weekend, which is a pity, and if it is wet we will do our best. I am sorry for Dani; I saw the crash from far off and it’s bad luck, I hope it is not too bad.”

Jorge Lorenzo – Position: 3rd Time: 1’48.474 Laps: 27
“We are much better here than in Aragon, which is a relief! I don’t have the new engine yet like Valentino, I hope we can use it soon, but anyway here we lose much less in the straight here compared to at the last race and we have better acceleration. We can improve the traction a bit in some parts of the track but in general this was a good day and we are not so far off Valentino. I hope the rain stays away so we can continue to improve tomorrow. I don’t want to think for now how Dani’s situation will affect me, but I am sorry for him, it’s very bad luck to be injured at this stage of the season.”

Davide Brivio – Team Manager
“It’s been a while since we finished a session in first! This was a really good practice for us because firstly it’s nice to be in front but more importantly because Valentino was able to ride fast from the start. Our base setting worked very well here. We used the new upgraded engine for the first time and it is working well. We are in good shape and we hope to continue like this tomorrow.”

Wilco Zeelenberg – Team Manager
“Firstly I want to say that we are really sorry for Dani and we wish him all the best. Today we tried two different settings and Jorge was able to ride fast with both, so tomorrow we will continue in the same way and try to find the best package. Valentino was using the new engine and it looks very good, so we are looking forward to being able to use it soon as well. Tomorrow we need to find a little bit more rear grip but all in all we have a good rhythm and the bike is feeling good for Jorge.”

Spies and Edwards make fast start in Japan

Ben Spies and Colin Edwards made a confident start to the Japanese MotoGP weekend today, the American duo posting competitive lap times to finish inside the top seven at the end of first free practice. The Japanese MotoGP race was cancelled in April when an Icelandic volcano eruption caused global travel chaos. But when the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 finally took to the Twin Ring Motegi circuit this afternoon, Spies showed his debut performance at the track was well worth the wait.

Spies slipped seamlessly back into learner mode today, the 26-year-old quickly getting accustomed to the 4.801km circuit, which provides a tough examination of braking sta bility and acceleration with its stop-and-go nature.

A small mistake at turn three while evaluating Bridgestone’s soft front tyre compound saw Spies suffer a slow speed tumble. The crash though failed to halt his rapid rise up the timesheets and a best lap of 1.49.302 put him an impressive fifth quickest.

Edwards was also delighted with his progress this afternoon, the 36-year-old finishing seventh fastest with a best time of 1.49.377. Edwards experimented with a new weight distribution set-up that helped corner exit acceleration and he is confident he can fight for a first top six finish of the campaign in Sunday’s 24-lap race.

Today’s session was run in warm but windy conditions with air temperatures peaking at 26 degrees. Conditions were in stark contrast to the gloomy skies that produced torrential rain for much of yesterday. Sunday’s race is the first of a grue lling flyaway triple header with the Sepang race in Malaysia and Phillip Island clash in Australia following in quick succession.

Ben Spies – Position: 5th Time: 1’49.302 Laps: 27 laps
“Being in the top five having never seen this track before is a really good start. This track isn’t super technical and it doesn’t really help us much with all the stop and go sections that hurt us a little bit on speed. It was a little tricky learning the track because the conditions don’t seem to be what everybody is used to. So it was even trickier for me trying to build up trust in some corners. I used the soft front tyre at the start of the session and I wasn’t too keen on it. I came in for the hard tyre but the team wanted me to do one more stint on the soft and on the second lap of that run I got in deep at turn three. I had to let off the brake to gather it back up but I was trying to keep the bike on the t rack because I didn’t want to get into the gravel with all the rain we’d had yesterday. As soon as I got to the edge of the track I lost the front. I was only going really slow, probably like 10ks, but I landed really hard on my left elbow on the kerb. It’s not too painful and shouldn’t be a problem for me on the bike. It kind of proved that I didn’t like the soft front tyre but the hard one felt good on the spare bike and the rest of the session went pretty smooth.”

Colin Edwards – Position: 7th Time: 1.49.377 Laps: 24 laps
“It was a decent start and I’m reasonably happy because we tried a new setting today to try and help with a wheelie issue that we’ve always seemed to struggle with at this track. You’ve got all this hard acceleration out of low gear corners and we’ve always found it difficult to control wheelies here. I remember last year it felt like the whole weekend was wheelie manage ment, so we put a lot of weight on the front-end today and it felt good. We were actually moving forward out of the corner under acceleration, so we might have found something that can help us at a few other tracks. Without having to concentrate so much on stopping the wheelie problem, I can focus on accelerating a bit harder and that is helping us a lot. I was really close to sixth and not far behind Ben, so hopefully this is the start of a good weekend for me.

Circuit Length: 4801
Temp: 26
Weather: DryLap Record: 1’47.968 (Loris Capirossi, 01/01/2005)
Fastest Lap Ever: 1’45.543 (Jorge Lorenzo, 28/09/2008)
Last Years Winner: Jorge Lorenzo


2010 MotoGP Japan – Motegi 01/10/2010

Free Practice

Pos. Rider Manu. Nat. Total Time
1 Valentino Rossi Yamaha ITA 1’48.174
2 Andrea Dovizioso Honda ITA 1’48.387
3 Jorge Lorenzo Yamaha ESP 1’48.474
4 Casey Stoner Ducati AUS 1’48.481
5 Ben Spies Yamaha USA 1’49.302
6 Hiroshi Aoyama Honda JPN 1’49.357
7 Colin Edwards Yamaha USA 1’49.377
8 Hector Barbera Ducati ESP 1’49.544
9 Loris Capirossi Suzuki ITA 1’49.568
10 Marco Simoncelli Honda ITA 1’49.581
11 Marco Melandri Honda ITA 1’49.620
12 Alvaro Bautista Suzuki ESP 1’49.644
13 Nicky Hayden Ducati USA 1’49.882
14 Randy De Puniet Honda FRA 1’49.957
15 Aleix Espargaro Ducati ESP 1’50.158


One Comment

  1. Kriega R35 says:

    Good to see Rossi back on form should be an interesting next year. I will be watching him very closely.

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