Repsol Honda’s Dani Pedrosa fired the opening shot for this weekend’s British Grand Prix, finishing on top of the timesheets at Donington Park in a session that started very wet and ended almost dry. His factory Honda team-mate Andrea Dovizioso was also on the pace, recording the fourth fastest time with a lap just 0.442s behind Pedrosa.
Rain fell for the first half of the practice this afternoon before sunshine allowed a dry line to slowly develop around the 4.023km (2.500-mile) circuit. Pedrosa used the initial part of the session to work on the wet settings on his RC212V and then began to up the pace, extracting the absolute maximum from Bridgestone’s treaded wet tyres on his final flying lap. The surface never fully dried however, and Pedrosa’s fastest lap was 10s off his own lap record at Donington – a time of 1m 28.714s set in 2006.
Dovizioso also took advantage of the ever-changing conditions to analyse the performance of the Honda RC212V in a wide range of grip levels. Once again displaying his prowess in tricky marginal conditions by picking his was around the damp patches that remained on the circuit, Dovizioso climbed steadily to fourth place by the chequered flag and felt he could have gone quicker still at the close of the session. Like Pedrosa, he is confident of a strong showing tomorrow.
Both Repsol Honda riders have previously won two Grands Prix apiece at Donington Park and will be gunning for the hat-trick of wins on Sunday. Qualifying for the 30-lap race takes place tomorrow at 13.55, local time.
DANI PEDROSA – 1st – 1m 38.627s
“It feels great to be on top today and I’m pleased with how we handled a tricky practice session. The conditions were continually changing and so we needed to make the best use of the track time to learn as much as we can. There are a few areas we can improve upon – such as the feeling from the bike when it’s really wet – and we’ll look at working on the settings for those conditions because the weather doesn’t look so stable for the weekend and we could see more rain on Sunday. It nearly dried out fully towards the end of the session but we stayed on wet tyres for the whole time and I think this was useful because you can have this sort of situation in the race. We’re in reasonable shape for the rest of the weekend and I hope I can be in this position at the end of Sunday afternoon.”
ANDREA DOVIZIOSO – 4th – 1m 39.069s
“I’m satisfied with the job we did today. Of course we need to tune the set-up and improve the traction in wet conditions, but this was a good way to begin the last British Grand Prix at Donington. The practice started in very wet conditions and I had a good feeling on the bike from the beginning of the session so I’m pleased about that. The track had quite a reasonable level of grip and the pace I could set was good straight away. Conditions were changing all the time and in the last part of the session when the track was 90 per cent dry, I couldn’t set the fastest lap that I was capable of because I waited for a couple of laps and didn’t use the wet tyres to the maximum when they were new. So I’m confident for tomorrow and I think we have a decent chance of getting a good grid position here.”
KAZUHIKO YAMANO – REPSOL HONDA TEAM MANAGER
“Well, I have to say that the session reflected the weather we’ve been experiencing since we arrived in Britain – wet and then dry. Dani and Andrea made a positive start to the weekend and this is important for the Team. We can build on this strong start and prepare for a good race on Sunday. It was important to make the most of this session because, although the conditions were never stable, it’s quite possible that we could see this kind of weather on Sunday so we need to learn all we can.”