The weather in Le Mans was true to form today, with the first day of practice for the French Grand Prix interrupted by rain. Valentino Rossi and Jorge Lorenzo, who were part of an all-Yamaha podium at this race last year, completed the session in sixth and seventh places respectively.
From this race onwards all practice sessions will last for one hour, as in previous years, which will give the riders an extra 45 minutes of track time across the three sessions. With about fifteen minutes of today’s hour lost to the rain however this made no difference and the Fiat Yamaha pair are hoping for a little French sunshine tomorrow so they can make more headway with their settings. Both riders had used the rain break to make some modifications and were hoping to get a few more dry laps in at the end, but it began to spit with rain again after a lap and that spelt the end of today’s track time.
Fastest man on the track this afternoon was Andrea Dovizioso with Rossi 0.615 seconds off him with a time of 1’36.751, set just before the rain came, and Lorenzo a further 0.273 seconds adrift of his team-mate.
Valentino Rossi Speaks…
"We always seem to have bad luck with the weather here! The conditions weren’t easy today, it was quite cold and the track wasn’t so good, and then it rained and so we couldn’t use all of the session. It was still useful to get some laps done in the dry though, even if we couldn’t learn as much as we would have liked to today. Every lap has it’s own small problems and during the first rain break we made some modifications to our setting and actually I was quite confident that we were on the right track. We hoped to get a few more laps before the end of the session once the rain stopped but unfortunately it started again and so we had no real chance to check our work. We know we’re fast in the rain but I prefer it dry…the problem is that you never know with Le Mans, the weather seems to change every five minutes!"
Jorge Lorenzo Speaks…
"It’s a pity about the rain because we needed the time today, but this is the situation so we have to deal with it. I just hope it doesn’t continue. At least we had some dry track time but the situation of the track wasn’t so good and I was quite slow. We need time at each circuit to learn how our bike works with the Bridgestone tyres and we didn’t really have enough time today, but we will keep trying tomorrow and hopefully we can improve our pace."
Team Manager David Brivio Speaks…
"Luckily we had 30 minutes before it rained, because we know that this is going to be a difficult weekend where the weather is concerned. It looks like it’s going to be unsettled for the next two days so we have to take what we learnt today and use it to the best of our advantage. We still need to do some work because we didn’t really get the chance to check the work we did today, so we’re looking forward to more time on-track tomorrow.
Team Manager Danielle Romagnoli Speaks…
"This difficult weather doesn’t help our job plan! We were able to do half the session in the dry, which was useful, although it was very cold. It was interesting to see our pace and understand our potential, but we definitely have some work to do tomorrow. Let’s hope for a dry day."
Combined Free Practice Times
1. Andrea Dovizioso (ITA) Repsol Honda 1’36.136
2. Casey Stoner (AUS) Ducati Marlboro Team 1’36.194
3. Randy De Puniet (FRA) LCR Honda MotoGP 1’36.293
4. Chris Vermeulen (AUS) Rizla Suzuki MotoGP1’36.301
5. Dani Pedrosa (SPA) Repsol Honda 1’36.476
6. Valentino Rossi (ITA) Fiat Yamaha Team 1’36.751
7. Jorge Lorenzo (SPA) Fiat Yamaha Team 1’37.024
8. Marco Melandri (ITA) Hayate Racing Team 1’37.024
9. Colin Edwards (USA) Monster Yamaha Tech 1’37.224
10. Loris Capirossi (ITA) Rizla Suzuki 1’37.224
11. Toni Elias (SPA) San Carlo Honda Gresini 1’37.270
12. James Toseland (GBR) Monster Yamaha Tech 1’37.738
13. Mika Kallio (FIN) Pramac Racing 1’37.800
14. Sete Gibernau (SPA) Grupo Francisco 1’37.875
15. Nicky Hayden (USA) Ducati Marlboro Team 1’38.032
16. Alex De Angelis (RSM) San Carlo Honda 1’38.323
17. Yuki Takahashi (JPN) Scot Racing Team 1’38.639
18. Niccolo Canepa (ITA) Pramac Racing 1’39.116
Le Mans: Record Lap
V. Rossi (Yamaha) 2008, 1’34.215
Le Mans: Best Lap
D. Pedrosa (Honda) 2008, 1’32.647