The first of two American races this season got underway for MotoGP at Laguna Seca today with a strong showing from the Fiat Yamaha Team pairing of Valentino Rossi and Jorge Lorenzo, who finished first and second respectively. The spectacular Californian track was bathed in sunshine throughout the day and the riders took full advantage to begin refining their set-ups to suit the tricky nature of the 3.601 km track.
Rossi won in spectacular fashion here last year and he looked immediately comfortable out on track, lapping consistently in the top three aboard his M1 and Bridgestone tyres. Lorenzo meanwhile, who did not complete the race here last year on his Laguna debut, proved lack of track experience was no barrier to fast lap times and spent most of the session in second before setting a brilliant lap with 11 minutes to go and moving into first. He looked to have the practice sewn up until his championship-leading team-mate sneaked ahead on his final lap, bettering the Spaniard's lap time by just one tenth of a second.
Valentino Rossi Speaks... (P1, 1'21.981 Laps: 32)
"I am happy with the session today, it was a good performance and at the end, with the harder tyre, we did an especially good job and I was able to make the best time. We got a lot of data about the track, which we will use tomorrow in order to improve things further. We need to work a bit to improve the front feeling because we can still make the bike a bit easier to ride in one or two corners and then we will also look at the electronics in order to control the wheelie, because there are a lot of bumps and jumps on this circuit. Once again me, Lorenzo and Stoner are very close so we can expect another big fight this weekend, but we are confident that our M1 is working well."
Jorge Lorenzo Speaks... (P2, 1'22.093 Laps: 38)
"I was very fast today and I feel good here at this track in the California sunshine! I know that this is a very complicated circuit to get used to and that you have to make a lot of laps to learn it, but I did have some time on it last year and I feel great here now. Today I stopped after a few laps and changed the tyre to the harder Bridgestone one and then I felt even better; I was having a lot of fun riding the bike and I was able to do more or less race distance with consistent lap times. We will work on further improving our setting tomorrow and I hope that I can continue in the same way again."
Davide Brivio Speaks... (Team Manager)
"Another good start to a weekend! Valentino's lap times are already good and it's certainly a much better first day than we had here last year! As usual after this first practice there are one or two small areas that we can improve so we will work tomorrow to fine tune everything further. However we've made a strong start and our base is working well so we are feeling confident."
Mr. Forcada Speaks... (Crew Chief)
"Unfortunately our Team Manager Daniele Romagnoli can't be with us this weekend as he has had to return to Italy to be with his father, who is unwell. We wish him our best at this time. As for today, Jorge made a good start and our base setting is working very well here - we didn't have to change anything during the session. We tried both types of front and rear tyres in order to compare and we already have quite a clear idea for the race, so it just remains to confirm that tomorrow. We need to work a little bit on the electronics now but overall we're in good shape."
Combined Free Practice Times
1. Valentino Rossi (ITA) Fiat Yamaha Team
2. Jorge Lorenzo (SPA) Fiat Yamaha Team
3. Casey Stoner (AUS) Ducati Marlboro Team
4. Dani Pedrosa (SPA) Repsol Honda
5. Toni Elias (SPA) San Carlo Honda Gresini
6. Andrea Dovizioso (ITA) Repsol Honda
7. Marco Melandri (ITA) Hayate Racing Team
8. Chris Vermeulen (AUS) Rizla Suzuki MotoGP
9. Colin Edwards (USA) Monster Yamaha Tech 3
10. Alex De Angelis (RSM) San Carlo Honda Gresini
11. Randy De Puniet (FRA) LCR Honda MotoGP
12. Loris Capirossi (ITA) Rizla Suzuki MotoGP
13. James Toseland (GBR) Monster Yamaha Tech 3
14. Nicky Hayden (USA) Ducati Marlboro Team
15. Sete Gibernau (SPA) Grupo Francisco Hernando
16. Gabor Talmacsi (HUN) Scot Racing Team MotoGP
17. Niccolo Canepa (ITA) Pramac Racing
Laguna Seca: Record Lap
C. Stoner (Ducati) 2008, 1'21.488
Laguna Seca: Best Lap
C. Stoner (Ducati) 2008, 1'20.700