Just four days after his commanding MotoGP win at Silverstone, Lorenzo served up more of the same form during the first free practice session at Assen today.
The Mallorcan continued to keep the Fiat Yamaha Team at the forefront of the action despite Valentino Rossi’s absence with a dominant performance at his favourite track on the opening day of the 80th Dutch TT.
Lorenzo found himself comfortable and fast on his M1 from the start of the session, taking the lead mid-way through and remaining at the top of the standings as he consistently improved his time.
The 23-year-old tried both the soft and hard Bridgestone tyres and worked especially on the front tyre, having encountered some small problems in that area at this race last year.
The track has undergone an alteration to the chicane at turns six and seven, meaning Lorenzo’s time today was almost a second quicker than Rossi’s pole of last year.
The track temperature was relatively high for Assen, peaking at 44 degrees Celsius during the free practice, resulting in most of the riders favouring the harder option front and hard asymmetric rear slicks.
Ducati Team’s Casey Stoner finished the session just 0.011 seconds adrift of Lorenzo, also using the harder slicks to set his best time, but teammate Nicky Hayden and Monster Yamaha Tech3’s Colin Edwards finished third and fourth respectively on the softer rear slick.
In the hot conditions, every rider preferred the harder front slick tyre for its increased stiffness and therefore stability. Despite making the laptimes faster than previously, the modification to the circuit layout for this year has little effect on tyre performance.
Jorge Lorenzo (Position: 1st Time: 1’35.169 Laps: 28) says: “I am happy with today and I feel very good on the bike; the weather is perfect and I love Assen! The new corner is very fast and I really like it, it’s great fun to ride through the chicane at such a speed. We could probably have a bit more traction but we have two more sessions to work on this and then we will try to get the best possible grid position again. The team is working so well and the ambience and atmosphere in our garage is amazing at the moment.”
Wilco Zeelendberg (Team Manager) says: “The weather is unbelievable which we’re really happy about because it can be quite nasty here, but it looks like being very consistent, which is exactly what Jorge was today! He enjoyed it from the start and this showed in his times. We tried both the soft and hard Bridgestone tyres and worked a bit on the front, where he had some issues last year, but it looks good so far. We think the track will be about two seconds faster in the end so we can definitely find some more pace tomorrow, but we’ve made a good start here in Holland.”
Tohru Ubukata – Manager, Bridgestone Motorcycle Tyre Development Department says: ” The weather conditions today were relatively warm for Assen, but similar to this session last year. Tyre temperatures were slightly higher so most riders preferred the harder option slicks, but we still saw many riders try the softer options and Nicky and Colin set good times on the softer rear.”
“This year we have selected asymmetric rear slicks for this circuit and after this first session we have received good feedback from the riders. Randy completed more than race distance on a single set of harder slicks so already we can see that even in these conditions our tyres have adequate durability and consistency.”
“The revised circuit layout has little effect from a tyre perspective so it was not a consideration when selecting our tyre compounds, although we did of course check the new circuit layout and the new tarmac that has been laid. We can see from this afternoon’s results that once again both our slick tyre compounds are working well in these conditions and there is a good performance overlap, which is and always has been a key factor in both our tyre development and our compound choice for each race.”
Combined Free Practice Times
1. Jorge Lorenzo (SPA) Fiat Yamaha Team 1’35.169
2. Casey Stoner (AUS) Ducati Marlboro Team 1’35.180
3. Nicky Hayden (USA) Ducati Marlboro Team 1’35.686
4. Colin Edwards (USA) Monster Yamaha Tech 31’35.699
5. Andrea Dovizioso (ITA) Repsol Honda Team1’35.868
6. Dani Pedrosa (SPA) Repsol Honda Team 1’35.922
7. Aleix Espargaro (SPA) Pramac Green Team 1’35.927
8. Ben Spies (USA) Monster Yamaha Tech 3 1’35.942
9. Marco Simoncelli (ITA) San Carlo Honda Gresini 1’36.002
10. Marco Melandri (ITA) San Carlo Honda Gresini 1’36.269
11. Randy de Puniet (FRA) LCR Honda MotoGP 1’36.294
12. Hector Barbera (SPA) Aspar Team 1’36.735
13. Loris Capirossi (ITA) Rizla Suzuki MotoGP 1’36.786
14. Mika Kallio (FIN) Pramac Green Team 1’37.261
15. Alvaro Bautista (SPA) Rizla Suzuki MotoGP 1’37.384
16. Kousuke Akiyoshi (JPN) Interwetten Honda MotoGP 1’41.332
Assen: Record Lap: V. Rossi (Yamaha) 2009, 1’36.558
Assen: Best Lap: C. Stoner (Ducati) 2008, 1’35.520