The much-anticipated European phase of the 2010 MotoGP motorcycle racing world championship kicked off in Jerez today with Monster Yamaha Tech 3 duo Colin Edwards and Ben Spies clocking the seventh and 11th fastest times respectively.
Edwards worked tirelessly on improving the set-up of his YZR-M1 machine in preparation for Sunday’s 27-lap race, the Texan setting a best time of 1.40.913 as he got more comfortable with a stiffer front and rear suspension setting.
The 36-year-old was less than two tenths away from claiming a place in the top six and he’s confident overnight gearing changes to improve acceleration will help him challenge closer to the front in t omorrow’s final practice and qualifying.
American team-mate Ben Spies once again highlighted what a fast learner he is after he started the tough challenge of learning the 4.423km circuit in breathtaking fashion.
The Andalucian road race circuit is one of nine tracks on the calendar that Spies has never raced at previously. But boosted by his brilliant fifth place in the opening race at Qatar earlier this month, Spies wasted no time in mastering the Jerez circuit.
He needed only ten laps to break into the top seven and at the end of the moto session he was a respectable 11th fastest and less than a second away from the top five with a best time of 1.41.200.
This weekend’s Spanish GP at the Andalucian city of Jerez is round two of the 2010 MotoGP world championship following the recent postponement of the Twin Ring Motegi race in Japan due to an Icelandic volcano.
Colin Edwards (7th 1.40.913 – 26 laps) says: "We got through a lot of work in a short amount of time and it wasn’t terrible but it wasn’t great either. We can make some improvements with the gearing because we were struggling a little bit for acceleration out of some of the tight sections. We haven’t come close to finding the limit of the bike yet and with the new stiffer suspension settings, I just need a bit more time to get comfortable with that."
"I’m confident that the base package is close but we can definitely make it better, particularly with the gearing. I followed a couple of guys today and they definitely had the jump on me out of the corner and I was losing a little bit of ground. But it’s a decent start to the weekend and as always I know my guys at Monster Yamaha Tech 3 will improve my bike and put me in good shape for Sunday when it counts."
Ben Spies (11th 1.41.200 – 28 laps) says: "I’m super-happy with today. It’s 11th and I’m over a second off the pace but after only one hour at this track I’m really happy and I don’t think it could have gone too much better than it did. I’m only one second away from being really competitive and my quickest lap was one of those when I didn’t really nail it and could say it was a great lap. And I didn’t follow anybody either. I wanted to learn by myself and I know there is a lot of time to come from me and I’m sure we can make the bike better too."
"There is definitely more time I can find with the fast section of right-handers at the end of the lap. They aren’t really hard but you’ve got to be in a good rhythm to really make up some time. Now I’m really looking forward to tomorrow because I like the track. It’s one of those tracks if you mess a turn up, three turns later you’re still scratching your head trying to get it back. But that is good for me because I really like flowing tracks and this is definitely one of them. I’m a lot more relaxed going into tomorrow knowing I’ll be pretty competitive, so thanks to Yamaha and the Monster Tech 3 Team."
Moto GP Free Practice Times – Friday
1. Casey Stoner (AUS) Ducati Marlboro Team
2. Jorge Lorenzo (SPA) Fiat Yamaha Team
3. Nicky Hayden (USA) Ducati Marlboro Team
4. Dani Pedrosa (SPA) Repsol Honda Team
5. Valentino Rossi (ITA) Fiat Yamaha Team
6. Loris Capirossi (ITA) Rizla Suzuki MotoGP
7. Colin Edwards (USA) Monster Yamaha Tech 3
8. Hector Barbera (SPA) Aspar Team
9. Alvaro Bautista (SPA) Rizla Suzuki MotoGP
10. Marco Melandri (ITA) San Carlo Honda Gresini
11. Ben Spies (USA) Monster Yamaha Tech 3
12. Andrea Dovizioso (ITA) Repsol Honda Team
13. Randy de Puniet (FRA) LCR Honda MotoGP
14. Mika Kallio (FIN) Pramac Green Team
15. Marco Simoncelli (ITA) San Carlo Honda Gresini
16. Aleix Espargaro (SPA) Pramac Green Team
17. Hiroshi Aoyama (JAP) Interwetten-Honda MotoGP