News 16 Oct 2009

MotoGP: Rossi leads as all Yamahas in top 10 at Phillip Island

MotoGP action got underway at Phillip Island in Australian today and Championship leader Valentino Rossi was in menacing form, leading the way almost from start to finish in the first practice session. His Fiat Yamaha team-mate Jorge Lorenzo finished the day sixth fastest, escaping unhurt after sliding off his YZR-M1 in the closing stages.

After heavy rain for the last two days the coastal track was granted a reprieve today and the sun shone brightly throughout the day’s action. Rossi, who has not won at what is his favourite track for the last three years, set off in strong style and continued to improve his pace throughout the session as he fine-tuned the setting of his Yamaha, shaking off the issues that troubled him last time out in Portugal.

Lorenzo meanwhile struggled today – he was feeling slightly unwell and also lacked grip, ending the session by sliding off at turn four. He was totally unhurt however and hopes that some overnight alterations to his setting and a good night’s rest to recover his strength will see him on the pace tomorrow.

Valentino Rossi – Position: 1st Time: 1’31.032 Laps: 31
“Today we made a great start. We were concentrated and strong and I am really happy to start in front here at Phillip Island, which is somewhere that I love to ride. We were able to get a lot done in the practice session and try many different things and I was able to ride just how I wanted to. We can definitely improve more – even though we already have a good pace we will continue to work tomorrow and try to find a little bit more, but for the first day I think we can be very happy about our work.”

Jorge Lorenzo – Position: 6 Time: 1’32.077 Laps: 23
“I just couldn’t go fast today. I wasn’t feeling too good – I think that I ate something last night which didn’t agree with me and I felt very weak, which made it very hard to ride the bike. We had some spin and not enough grip or confidence and there were two times where I nearly crashed before I actually did. Luckily I didn’t hurt myself at all and now I will just try to get a good night’s sleep and then hopefully I will be much better tomorrow.”

Davide Brivio – Team Manager
“We’ve made a good start and it looks like we have a good pace here. Now the target is to further improve our set-up to make sure we’re at the maximum. The weather has helped us today; it’s always good to have the first day in the dry. Of course now we hope that it stays like this so that we can continue our work tomorrow, but if not then we will be ready for the rain too.”

Daniele Romagnoli – Team Manager
“Today we didn’t quite make the good start that we’ve maybe become used to lately, plus Jorge wasn’t feeling very well; he was quite weak which made his job much harder. The main problem is on the rear, we don’t have enough grip on the entry to the corner or under acceleration and at this track these areas are particularly important. Unfortunately towards the end of the session Jorge slid off at turn four when trying some improvements. He was okay but now we need to work hard to analyse all the information that we have in order to be in better shape for tomorrow, when we hope that he will be feeling better too.”

Strong start for Edwards and Toseland in Phillip Island

Colin Edwards and James Toseland made a strong start to the Australian MotoGP weekend today, the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Team duo both finishing inside the top seven in opening practice at the spectacular Phillip Island circuit.

Despite gloomy forecasts, today’s session was run in sunny but blustery conditions with no repeat of heavy rain that had battered the circuit earlier this week. And Edwards and Toseland took full advantage of the favourable conditions to post competitive lap times throughout the session that bodes well for a strong performance in Sunday’s 27-lap race.

Reverting to a front-end setting that he hadn’t used since pre-season testing, Texan Edwards lapped in an impressive 1.31.846 to finish fifth quickest, missing out on fourth spot by just 0.060s.

British rider Toseland quickly found his rhythm to sit comfortably in the top six for most of the opening half of the hour-long session. The 28-year-old suffered a small crash at Turn 10 when he lost the front-end of his YZR-M1 machine shortly after the halfway stage.

The tumble did little to dent Toseland’s confidence as he bounced back to finish in strong fashion, his best lap of 1.32.255 securing him an encouraging seventh place.

Colin Edwards – Position: 5th Time: 1’31.846 Laps: 24
“I went back to a geometry setting on the front that I haven’t tried since we were testing in Malaysia right back at the start of the year. Honestly, I asked what Jorge (Lorenzo) has been running and they said it was the setting I’d used in the Malaysia test. So with it obviously working well for him lately, I decided to give it another go because I really liked it in testing. It’s basically just taking a bit of weight off the front compared to what I’ve been running most of the season. At the start it didn’t feel that great but we played around with some spring settings and the feeling was much better. This track is so fast that you’ve got to make the setting much softer and that’s what we did. And it felt much better because once you’ve got a stable bike underneath you at this track then it becomes a piece of cake. But if the bike is set too hard then it makes it really difficult to ride with such a rigid feeling. I need to thank my guys at Tech 3 because in one hour we got through a lot of work this afternoon to get to where we ended up with the bike. Generally we show up and the bike is in the ballpark, but today we were still out in the car park waiting to get in. But my guys did an amazing job and we can still make it better tomorrow, so I’m confident we can have a strong weekend.”

James Toseland – 26 laps Position: 7th Time: 1’32.255 Laps: 31
“I’m satisfied with seventh because we’ve managed to get some good information on the set-up and I feel I’m in my best position on a Friday for a long time. I was fast right from the off and in the top six for a long period which was really encouraging. My guys worked hard as always to improve the bike and by the end of the session I felt we’d made some real progress. I had a small issue with the balance from front to rear when exiting corners, but we’ve got some ideas on how to improve that tomorrow. I had a small crash going down the hill after Lukey Heights and that was just a small mistake of mine. I was good in that section of the track and looking to make up some time on the splits where I wasn’t quite so fast and I just lost the front. It cost me a bit of time but didn’t knock me out of my rhythm too much and by the end I was happy with my times and confident I can be fighting for a top six on Sunday.”