Today’s first practice at the Enzo e Dino Ferrari circuit in Imola was abandoned after less than two laps due to the lack of grip at the 4.936 kilometre track. The slippery track caused a crash straightaway and all the riders rode straight back to the pits after numerous slides. The officials set about cleaning the track, but it was only at 17.45 that the riders were able to go out for a free practice session. Although the track was in much better condition, there were still areas of concern and the lap times were down on when the teams tested here in July.
After nearly eight weeks out of action, Ruben was back in the saddle. Despite having broken the top of his femur and surgery that required three screws inserted into it and his hip, he rode superbly today and was happy to end with the 16th fastest time. Troy Corser and his mechanics spent the sole session of the day trying out a variety of settings on the traction control and throttle feel, but still managed to finish in the top ten. Michel Fabrizio (Ducati) ended the day fastest, with Carlos Checa (Honda) second and Ben Spies (Yamaha) third.
Troy – 10th, 1:50.876
I’m pretty happy to be in the top ten, considering the circumstances, and we were able to try out quite a few things and end with some positive ideas about what we want to do tomorrow. The first time we all went out was incredible because the track was unbelievably slippery. It felt like the front tyre had suddenly gone flat and it was impossible to ride. I lost count of the number of slides I had – in just two laps! There was a Touring Car race here last weekend and if felt as if a lot of diesel was on the track, but I don’t think I’ve ever had this kind of feeling on a track that was not wet! They cleaned the track and cancelled all the sessions except us and Supersport and we went out late – at 5.45 pm! The grip was definitely better, but there are still three areas where the grip is poor. I hope that the conditions improve tomorrow, but already we are at a disadvantage to most teams because we really need as much track time as possible.
Ruben – 16th, 1:51.527
I am very happy with my performance this afternoon, but I would have liked to have had the other session to get back into the groove properly. I haven’t ridden for almost eight weeks and it takes time to get back into the swing of things and this is what I tried to do today. The track was incredibly slippery when we tried to start the first session and it was obvious that it needed cleaning before we could ride. After the hour long session, my hip and leg don’t feel so bad. My arms are a bit sore because of all the concentration required in the areas of the track that are still slippery, but I feel very positive about the rest of the weekend.
Berti Hauser – Team BMW Motorrad Motorsport Director
Firstly, I am very happy to welcome Ruben back and see that he is getting back into it so easily. I am happy that he took things steadily and rode using his mind and we are all waiting to hear his comments on the bike when he has pushed it a bit harder. The decision to abandon the first practice was correct. So many riders complained about the track and there could’ve been many injuries if the session had gone ahead. It’s strange to start your first real practice at 17.45, but that’s the way it had to be. We lost a session today and that puts us at a disadvantage, but we will battle away tomorrow and see what we can achieve.