Having had a couple of weeks off to recover from the busiest stage of the season, Fiat Yamaha Team riders Jorge Lorenzo and Valentino Rossi made a commanding return to action on day one of the Czech Grand Prix today, finishing first and second in free practice. 22-year-old Mallorcan Lorenzo was an impressive 0.399 seconds faster than his team-mate, who was in turn 0.590 seconds ahead of third-placed Pedrosa. The Yamaha pair’s closest challenger, Casey Stoner, is currently ill and has been replaced for the next three races by Finn Mika Kallio.
The riders were itching to get back into action after the summer break and the weather played along today, with mainly blue skies and temperatures in the mid-20s. This race sees the start of a new rule, which states that all riders may use a maximum of just five engines for the remaining seven races – like most of the paddock Rossi and Lorenzo each had three engines ‘sealed’ by race control last night for future use.
Lorenzo proved that he’s fully recovered from the injuries he picked up a few races back and was on blistering form throughout the session, taking the lead from his team-mate early on and holding on to it throughout. World Championship leader Rossi was close on his heels however and is confident of finding the extra tenths to match his team-mate with a little more work tomorrow.
Jorge Lorenzo Speaks… (Position: 1st Time: 1’56.595 Laps: 25)
"It’s a great thing to start the weekend in such a strong way and I’ve had a good sensation and feeling with my bike from the first moment today. This isn’t usually the case so I’m really happy! I like this track a lot; I’ve had three wins here in the past and I always feel confident riding here. We need to work a little to improve the feeling with the front tyre on the entry to the corner and also we have a bit of work to do for the anti-wheelie, but I think we’re in very good shape. I am happy to be back on my bike and to be back to full fitness, but we must keep focused and keep improving."
Valentino Rossi Speaks… (Position: 2nd Time: 1’56.994 Laps: 22)
"Jorge and I were very fast from the start of this session which shows how good our bike is and what a great job Yamaha has done back in Japan. We’ve worked well and we’ve already shown some interesting lap times today. The setting isn’t perfect yet though so we need to work more, especially on the tyres because this track is very hard on both the front and rear. I hope the surface improves as more rubber is laid down because at the moment the grip isn’t great. I’m really sorry that Stoner isn’t here, I would always rather have my rivals to race against and I would like to wish him all the best; I hope he’s back soon."
Daniele Romagnoli Speaks… (Lorenzo Team Manager)
"This was a very positive day because the bike was already fast from the start of the session. We’ve tested all the Bridgestone tyre we have available and worked on both bikes, so we’ve already collected a lot of information and now we will work out what is best and put everything together for tomorrow."
Davide Brivio Speaks… (Rossi Team Manager)
"It’s good to be back at work and we’ve made a good start today, always quite fast but we still have some improvements to make. We’ve checked the tyres and a few other things so now we need to work on fine-tuning the setting and looking at a few different areas to make another small step before qualifying tomorrow."
Combined Free Practice Times
1. Jorge Lorenzo (SPA) Fiat Yamaha Team
2. Valentino Rossi (ITA) Fiat Yamaha Team
3. Dani Pedrosa (SPA) Repsol Honda
4. Colin Edwards (USA) Monster Yamaha Tech 3
5. Andrea Dovizioso (ITA) Repsol Honda
6. Toni Elias (SPA) San Carlo Honda Gresini
7. Mika Kallio (FIN) Ducati Marlboro Team
8. Alex De Angelis (RSM) San Carlo Honda Gresini
9. Loris Capirossi (ITA) Rizla Suzuki MotoGP
10. Marco Melandri (ITA) Hayate Racing Team
11. James Toseland (GBR) Monster Yamaha Tech 3
12. Nicky Hayden (USA) Ducati Marlboro Team
13. Chris Vermeulen (AUS) Rizla Suzuki MotoGP
14. Randy De Puniet (FRA) LCR Honda MotoGP
15. Niccolo Canepa (ITA) Pramac Racing
16. Gabor Talmacsi (HUN) Scot Racing Team MotoGP
17. Michel Fabrizio (ITA) Pramac Racing
Brno: Record Lap
C. Stoner (Ducati) 2008, 1’57.199
Brno: Best Lap
V. Rossi (Yamaha) 2006, 1’56.191