Grand Prix motorcycle racing returned to Silverstone for the first time in over two decades today as MotoGP landed at the iconic British track. Jorge Lorenzo, the sole representative of the Fiat Yamaha Team while Valentino Rossi is recovering from injury at home, took to the new track with aplomb, finishing the day at the top of the standings in a session cut slightly short by rain.
After sunshine had greeted the paddock yesterday, today was much cooler and the track temperature did not climb much above 20 degrees throughout the session. Lorenzo was nonetheless determined to get to grips with the new circuit and completed 23 laps, more than any other rider this afternoon.
With just under ten minutes to go he put in his best time of the day and moved into first place, remaining the only rider to dip under the 2’06 mark. Casey Stoner was second and Andrea Dovizioso third.
Jorge Lorenzo says: “I’m happy with our first day’s work here at Silverstone and I’ve really enjoyed the new circuit; it’s fast and fun to ride. We’ve worked really hard and I’ve ridden a lot of laps in order to begin to understand every corner and every straight. Unfortunately it was cold today and the asphalt was cold too, which meant that without any reference points in the beginning it was quite difficult, but hopefully tomorrow and Sunday will be better. Then in the last three minutes it started to rain so we decided to stop. We made a good start and then step-by-step I improved, so I think we are in good shape for a good race weekend. We will continue in the same way tomorrow and aim for the front row.”
Wilco Zeelenberg says: “The target was to learn the track in a safe way and Jorge did well in this task, starting gently and learning step-by-step, without forcing himself into mistakes. The bike feels great with some really good points and some that could be a bit better – for example in the exit of the corners – but we are in good shape. We think we can improve more but we’re already feeling strong. Tomorrow everyone will know the track better and therefore be faster but hopefully we will be too!”
Casey Stoner says: “The layout of the track is simply fantastic. It is great fun to ride and some of the corners are awesome. Unfortunately there are a few bumps on the ‘old’ part of the track where the asphalt hasn’t been relaid but when they get around to doing it I think we can safely say it will be one of the best circuits in the world. We’ve worked hard on the set-up today and for the moment we are still looking for the right solution. The bike was a little too stiff for the bumps and it was difficult to find the limit or understand how fast we can really go. We’ll make some changes tomorrow and hope the weather is good to us.”
Nicky Hayden says: “The first impressions of the circuit are good I just do not like that much the first chicanes and we need to make the bike a bit more manageable there. The surface is more smooth on the second half of the lap where the grip also is better. I was on the pace for the first part of the session, then we tried some set-up changes on the second bike and they didn’t work out how we planned. We dropped back so I got back on my first bike but only got a couple of laps in before the rain came. I would have preferred the opportunity to stay out there until the very end to keep learning the track but all in all I think it was a positive enough first day for us.”
Dani PEDROSA says: “It’s funny because there was a very precise forecast of rain to arrive at 2.50pm and that’s exactly when it came – with five minutes to go – so in fact we were very lucky to have most of the session with a dry track on our first visit to Silverstone. It’s quite good fun to ride at this circuit – and it’s also pretty bumpy. You can feel the difference between the old and the new parts of the track because the old sections are bumpy and slippery whereas the new sections are quite good.”
“There are two or three very fast corners and some long straights, and obviously we’ve started with an approximation of the right gearing and we will need to adjust this a little bit. I think that the lap times will be very different tomorrow. At the beginning of the session we had a lot of traffic because everyone was checking the track. I didn’t really push today for a lap time – I preferred to check my braking points and get my bearings. The circuit was also quite dirty especially at the start of the session, but I think it will improve tomorrow and the times will come down a lot”.
Andrea DOVIZIOSO says: “The first impressions of Silverstone are very positive. It’s a technical track, very fast and I had a lot of fun riding here today. There are different kinds of asphalt but this is not an issue, the main difficulty is the bumps. There are many bumps and it’s difficult to control the bike because of these. I’m happy that I managed to interpret the track layout quite quickly from the beginning of the session. I had a good feeling with the bike and I think that we are starting from a good base.”
“I also think there is a lot of room of improvement and we didn’t push too much at the end because it started raining. We didn’t test the new frame we have available here because it was important to learn the new circuit first. I hope we will have dry conditions tomorrow and for race day. Anyway the weather forecast is good so I’m optimistic we can have another good weekend”.
Randy De Puniet says: “Well… I had fun today and I am a big fan of this track. It suits my riding style and I am enjoying myself very much. In my opinion this is the best track in the calendar! It’s just a bit bumpy but we can rely on our machine set up. I lapped on hard rear tyre and the pace was consistent and gathered some useful data for tomorrows session. We must fix some small things as this is our first outing here on this machine but I am pretty confident ahead tomorrows qualifying session”.
Ben Spies says: “It is a super fun track with a really cool design. It is really fast in a lot of places an d I really like the fast right and left combination where they are building the new pits and paddock. And coming out of the first corner you are really picking up a lot of speed before that twisty part and it is all about finding the limit, learning how deep you can run it in. It was a decent session though it took me a while to get going. With everybody shooting in the dark in terms of set-up, we were missing a little bit in places with the gearbox setting but overall I’m happy. I think everybody will improve quite a bit tomorrow and I know I can be much faster. I tried a completely different set-up to Mugello and that has helped in a couple of places and towards the end I was getting more comfortable with it. We can improve the bike, particularly with the gearbox, so I’m looking forward to tomorrow now we’ve got some experience and information on the track.”
Colin Edwards says: “The track is absolutely awesome and hats off to Silverstone because they did a fantastic job. The first corner is cool and then you’re flat-out going all the way to the twisty section and you really need to be brave at that point. It is so fast and reminds me of Phillip Island where you can really push the bike to the limit of its performance and the whole lap is just fast, flowing and really challenging. It’s just a lot of fun and they’ve done a great job. You’re going so fast that it takes time to get your brain in gear so you can work out how to go faster. I know there were some concerns about bumps. There are some out there but definitely no more than any other track. I’m only 12th which isn’t fantastic but I know there is a lot more to come. The bike at the moment just feels a bit heavy and not just in the change of direction. It is a bit of an effort just to get the bike back upright from maximum lean angle, but we know we can make it better for tomorrow and get it feeling easier.”
Marco Melandri says: “The track is incredible to ride and really good fun – it´s just a shame there are a few too many bumps but that´s the same for everybody. I hope that is something they can look at in the future though because the track really is wonderful. We have done a good job, starting out with the base from Mugello and then gradually adapting the suspension to the demands of this track. At the end I went out on a hard rear tyre and the feeling was good but it started to rain and I had to come back in. I´m really confident and looking forward to tomorrow.”
Marco Simoncelli says: “That was quite good – it was just a shame about the rain because it brought and early end to the session. I felt I could have gone a little faster at the end, especially just at the moment it started to rain because I was behind Dovizioso and getting a good idea of the racing line, but overall I feel happy and confident. The track is great, it´s just a shame there are a couple of bumps but it is down to us to work on adapting the setting to cope with them. We also want to alter the gear setting because it is too long at the moment. ”
Fausto Gresini says: “For a first session it went well, we´re working on similar lines with the best out there. It has been a positive day but there are definitely areas to improve. The only shame was the weather, which denied us the opportunity to verify the last couple of changes. Hopefully we can continue to work well tomorrow and secure some good grid positions for Sunday, with both riders up near the front.”
Álvaro Bautista says: “It has been a good experience today, because when we came here earlier in the year and did some laps on a road-bike it was totally different to riding the GSV-R here today. It was like riding a totally different track – mainly because the corners now feel closer together due to the power of the GSV-R. My shoulder is better, but still not 100%. It is stronger than Mugello and now I can start to work a lot more normally on the bike than I did there. We need to do some work on the exit of the corners because we’re getting a lot of movement and that is pushing me wide and making it difficult to get on the gas. Tomorrow we must find a solution for this and make sure we improve on today.”
Loris Capirossi says: “At the start of the session we didn’t get the grip we wanted from the bike so we tried to change the set-up a bit, but in the first pit-stop we didn’t quite solve the problem and after the second one the feeling was a bit better. I tried to go a bit faster and push a bit harder, but it started to rain and we couldn’t really do a full test. It seemed a bit better but we didn’t have enough time after losing so much with the pit-stops. Overall the track is good and it is nice to ride. It is an interesting layout and quite bumpy in parts and now we just have to fix the bike to work on it and we’ll be ok.”
Paul Denning says: “This was not really the start we wanted for the team’s home Grand Prix and especially for Loris it was difficult to find any rhythm, given that the bike just didn’t work well out of the box. Clearly everyone will go quicker as the track improves and the riders’ knowledge and confidence also improves, but we’ve got bigger steps to make than most and we’ll have to hope that the direction changes we make overnight will allow the riders to push much harder tomorrow morning and get much closer to the leading group.”
Hiroshi Aoyama says: “The first impression of the track is very fast. The surface is partly new and partly old and you have to be careful with the choice for the Bike’s set up. You have to find a good compromise here. I didn’t have the best feeling with my bike today and we have to work on that now.”
Daniel Epp says: “I was hoping for more today, but we should not forget that this is a new track and we don’t have any data for it yet. Hiro never rode here before. It is a very fast track and the surface is not perfect after the modifications and therefore the work between bike and rider is very important. The team needs to find a set up that works and Hiro needs to feel comfortable on his bike. At the moment I cannot say that we are satisfied.”
Aleix Espargarò says: “This track is amazing, I love it, the fast curve exalts my riding style. The part I like more is the first part with long and quick curves. I had some problems with the front of my bike in the slow curves but my technicians have already found the remedy to balance in the best way my bike. I have a gap of almost two seconds from the first but I hope to further improve my lap time tomorrow so that I can be able to start again Sunday’s Grand Prix in the top ten position. ”
Mika Kallio says: “Having four seconds gap from the first rider is not a positive situation. The gap is significant but is not insurmountable. Unfortunately, I always have problems with the new tracks, but thanks to my technicians who have tried new settings, lap after lap I improved my feelings with the track and I found the routes that I have to follow to obtain a good lap. Tomorrow I have to improve my feeling with the track, so that I can obtain a good result for the Sunday starting grid. After two difficult races, I strongly want to come back to fight for important positions. ”
Tohru Ubukata (Manager, Bridgestone Motorcycle Tyre Development Department) says: “I am very pleased today because we have seen that both our tyre choices for Silverstone were correct which means our track inspection and analysis was accurate. This was a significant decision for us as it is the first time our tyres have been used on a MotoGP bike at the new Silverstone. Rider feedback has been good for both compound options, and we can see that both the medium and the hard slicks are performing well. Jorge has recorded more than race distance on the softer option slicks which shows that they can manage race distance durability, and Casey has shown that the hard compound tyres are performing well even with this low track temperature.”
“Both our rear slick tyre options at Silverstone are asymmetric, which means they feature a harder compound in the right shoulder and a softer compound in the left shoulder. I am pleased with their performance today as they are providing good durability through the circuit’s ten right-handers whilst giving good warm-up performance through the eight lefts. We are still continuing to monitor tyre performance and durability as the circuit was still a little dirty today and as it cleans the challenge for tyres will increase.”
1. Jorge Lorenzo (SPA) Fiat Yamaha Team 2’05.991
2. Casey Stoner (AUS) Ducati Marlboro Team 2’06.133
3. Andrea Dovizioso (ITA) Repsol Honda Team 2’06.347
4. Randy de Puniet (FRA) LCR Honda MotoGP 2’06.439
5. Ben Spies (USA) Monster Yamaha Tech 3 2’07.250
6. Dani Pedrosa (SPA) Repsol Honda Team 2’07.586
7. Marco Melandri (ITA) San Carlo Honda Gresini 2’07.588
8. Aleix Espargaro (SPA) Pramac Green Team 2’07.927
9. Marco Simoncelli (ITA) San Carlo Honda Gresini 2’07
10. Nicky Hayden (USA) Ducati Marlboro Team 2’08.300
11. Hector Barbera (SPA) Aspar Team 2’08.452
12. Colin Edwards (USA) Monster Yamaha Tech 3 2’08.525
13. Alvaro Bautista (SPA) Rizla Suzuki MotoGP 2’08.666
14. Hiroshi Aoyama (JAP) Interwetten-Honda MotoGP 2’09.639
15. Loris Capirossi (ITA) Rizla Suzuki MotoGP 2’09.805
16. Mika Kallio (FIN) Pramac Green Team 2’10.227