Fiat Yamaha riders Valentino Rossi and Jorge Lorenzo made a promising start to Yamaha’s home Grand Prix at the Twin Ring Motegi this afternoon, with Rossi finishing at the top of the time sheets and Lorenzo close behind in third. This afternoon’s session was run in cool, dry conditions but with the weather looking unsettled for the rest of the weekend this might be the only dry session before the race and therefore data gathered today could prove key.
Rossi, who claimed his eighth championship title at this track just six months ago, was fast from the outset and found his M1 was working well despite the cold conditions. Lorenzo too felt confident with his base setting immediately and spent some time at the top of the time sheets mid way through the 45-minutes. In the closing stages it looked like the Yamaha pair would end the day in second and third, behind Casey Stoner, but Rossi’s final lap edged him ahead and he finished the day with an advantage of 0.056 seconds over his Australian rival.
Valentino Rossi – Position: 1stTime: 1’48.545Laps: 18
"This is a very good start because we’re at the top and this is very important! The conditions today were hard and it was difficult to reach the limit and work to the maximum with the bike and tyres, but it looks like we have a good potential here so I am happy. It’s important to be in front, even though it’s only Friday, because in Qatar we were second in every session and really we don’t like second so much; for sure first is much better! Tomorrow it seems it may rain but we haven’t had the chance to try the new Bridgestone rain tyres yet so I think that this could be an important chance for us to understand how they are. It will be interesting and I hope they are good!"
Jorge Lorenzo – Position: 3rdTime: 1’48.965Laps: 19
"I’m so happy with this practice session because we often struggle a bit at the start of the weekend but today this wasn’t the case at all and I felt great from the start. My M1 felt good when braking, under acceleration and in the corners so I think we are in good shape and now I hope we can continue like this tomorrow even if it rains, in fact I am quite curious to see what happens in the rain and how the lap time is."
Davide Brivio – Team Manager
"It’s nice to be back on top, even if it’s only Friday! It was always going to be very important to make the most of this session because there’s a chance it could be the only dry one, so we wanted to try to explore a few different things. It went ok; we can definitely improve more but we have made a good start."
Daniele Romagnoli – Team Manager
"We’ve made a good start today and we’re confident that we have a good base for this circuit, which is very different to Qatar. Because this could be the only dry session we worked to collect some extra data for the race to make sure that we’re prepared if it’s wet tomorrow and then dry on Sunday. We have made good use of this first session."
Edwards and Toseland set promising pace in Japan
Monster Yamaha Tech 3 duo Colin Edwards and James Toseland showed promising form to end the first day of action in Yamaha’s all-important home race at the Twin Ring Motegi in fifth and tenth places respectively.
American Edwards continued his stunning start to the 2009 MotoGP campaign, ending the 45-minute session with a best time of 1.49.697 to finish just 0.7s outside of the top three. Today’s session was run under cool and grey skies, and looks certain to be the only dry session ahead of Sunday’s 24-lap Japanese MotoGP race. Tomorrow’s forecasts predict a 90 per cent chance of rain. As a result of tomorrow’s gloomy outlook, Edwards spent the entire session using the same hard compound Bridgestone front and rear tyres to gain crucial endurance data, with the 35-year-old expecting the harder compounds to be his race selection.
British rider Toseland adopted the same tactic to easily produce his best performance on the impressive 2009 Yamaha YZR-M1 so far. After a difficult winter testing campaign and a disappointing first race in Qatar, the 28-year showed his motivation remains as strong as ever as he featured in the top six for the majority of the session. Fine-tuning a new front fork set-up to help with braking stability, Toseland’s final position of tenth didn’t reflect his brilliant return to form on the 2.983 miles circuit, and he’s confident of mounting a strong challenge in Sunday’s race.
Colin Edwards – Position: 5th Time: 1.49.697 Laps: 19
"Today was all about gathering information. My thinking even yesterday was to start with the hard tyre because we knew it was going to be cold and the forecasts were showing rain for tomorrow, so I needed to get some information in the dry before the race. I started out with the hard tyre and didn’t change it for the whole session, just switching the same tyre between bikes to play around with the setting. I’m sure if I had run the softer compounds I could have gone quicker, but Bridgestone think the hard front and rear will be what I’ll need for the race. It feels to me like the left side of the tyre is a little bit too hard and I’ve got to make sure I get it warmed up. The right side feels really good, but you can’t take too much risk in the beginning on the left, but once it comes to temperature it works fine. The bike feels really great to show what a great job Yamaha has done again. Today was a good start to the weekend and hopefully I can continue that to give Yamaha a good result in Japan."
James Toseland – Position: 10th Time: 1.50.432 Laps: 19
"That was a bit more like it. Right to the end I was looking good to be around the top six but I caught (Yuki) Takahashi on my last lap when the tyre was working pretty good, so I’m sure I could have got into the 1.49s. My guys have done a great job because I had a slightly different setting on the front fork today to get a bit more control under braking. This place is all about hard braking and that is an area I’ve needed to work on. I’ve got a bit more control on initial braking so it doesn’t upset the bike as much when I’m turning in. I ran most of the session on the hard tyre with the weather not looking too good for tomorrow, but I did try the softer one at the end just to check on it. I doubt we’d be able to run it in the race, even if the temperature is quite low. So if it rains tomorrow and it’s dry for the race, at least I know I’ll run the harder tyre. It was a difficult first race but we’re not losing motivation and my team have all stuck together. Rain or shine I’m determined to get a good result for them and Yamaha in their home race."
Circuit Length: 4801