Repsol Honda rider Dani Pedrosa was the quickest rider combined off two practice sessions on the opening day of the Aragon Grand Prix, Round 13 of the MotoGP Championship, posting a 1:50.506.
Second went to Ducati Team rider Nicky Hayden, who was 0.411 of a second slower, followed by Fiat Yamaha rider Jorge Lorenzo, who was 0.011 of a second slower than Hayden.
Fourth and fifth quickest went to Ducati Team rider Casey Stoner and San Carlo Gresini Honda rider Marco Simoncelli.
At Motorland Aragon, MotoGP returned to a three-practice format, two on Friday and the third on Saturday preceding qualifying.
Here’s what the riders were saying after Friday’s practice sessions:
Dani Pedrosa says: “In general this has been a good first day of practice for us at a brand new circuit for MotoGP. This morning we started well and got into a rhythm quickly, which was important because it makes a big difference going from the one hour practice sessions we’re familiar with to 45 minutes. It’s necessary to stay out on track for longer runs and not spend too long in the garage, and this morning we did a good job to maximize our time.”
“This afternoon in the wet we also started pretty well when it was raining properly, but then we had a small electrical problem with one bike and the other machine wasn’t ready to go out, so we lost some time in the garage and I wasn’t on track when the surface was improving at the end. The track is quite technical; it has some difficult turns and you really have to find a good line and also to set up the gearbox properly to be able to make a good lap time. The grip from the track surface feels good and the Bridgestone tyres are also working well so far. I hope we can continue in this positive way tomorrow.”
Andrea Dovizioso says: “Overall the work we did today was positive, although I’m not totally happy with the final lap times we achieved. We started well enough this morning but then we weren’t able to get the maximum from our package, which means we can improve tomorrow. In the morning we began with a good base and actually I’m confident because of this. However, after the good start, we couldn’t improve the lap time this morning because on the second exit we didn’t use new tires as most riders did.”
“So I think there’s more to come from us in the dry because tire wear is quite critical here. In the afternoon we struggled a bit in the wet compared to other tracks where we’ve gone well in conditions like this. We needed to change the set-up during the session – and with only 45 minutes available this eats into the available time. The new Aragon track is really nice and it’s good fun to ride. The key characteristic is the downhill braking areas and it has some similarities to the Istanbul circuit with interesting corners and undulations. So I’m looking forward to getting back out there tomorrow.”
Jorge Lorenzo says: “I really like this track, it’s so fun to ride and it is quite different, a new challenge. It is interesting to ride the M1 here after coming here on an R1. We are lacking a bit of grip but I hope we can improve our setting more tomorrow so we can make another step. Unfortunately it rained this afternoon but it was good to get the chance to try our wet setting and it seems our bike was okay in these bad conditions. It was good to have two practice sessions today; even though the overall amount of time is the same over four days, four separate sessions makes it easier to get to know the circuit and what we need in order to be fast here.”
Valentino Rossi says: “I’m very happy about having four sessions again here and especially today because we got to try the bike in the wet and in the dry. We gathered a lot of information; this morning in the dry I was sixth but this afternoon in the wet I was fourth and I was very pleased because it’s a long time since I tried the bike in the rain. We need to improve our setting because we’re not at the maximum but I am happy about this start. My leg is very good now but my shoulder is giving me some problems and we know we have to manage like this now until the end of the season. It’s easier for the shoulder in the wet but I would still prefer it to be dry because this is a fun track to ride on.”
Nicky Hayden says: “I think they’ve built a track they can be proud of. It’s a nice facility, the layout is good and safe. There are some fun sections with blind entries, some fast corners and some slow ones… it’s a nice mix. This morning we were second in the dry and then in the afternoon we were third in the wet so it’s been a good day. Casey looks strong too so it’s good for the team and everybody back at the factory, who are working hard to give us the opportunity to be competitive over the last six races. Hopefully we can pick up the kind of results that they deserve.”
Casey Stoner says: “In the dry session this morning we were more or less happy with the setting. We had a little problem with the balance of the rear wheel that caused some chattering towards the end of the session otherwise I think we could have been a bit faster. Anyway, we were satisfied with how the morning went. We haven’t had many wet sessions this year so I think everybody had a lot of work to do this afternoon but we made some progress and at this stage I am happy with the setting in both conditions. As for the circuit, it is quite technical and the last corner is quite different but other than that I don’t think it’s anything out of the ordinary.”
Colin Edwards says: “I love the circuit. I’m not sure what I expected but I hoped somebody would have designed something good and that’s obviously what happened. It is a lot of fun to ride and there are a few points that remind me of other tracks. I guess it feels quite similar to Sepang but there’s the reverse Corkscrew, which is pretty cool. Some of the fast corners are a bit like Mugello and overall it is a cool track. It’s not really demanding and it really flows and there are no real slow parts. The important thing is the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 YZR-M1 likes the track too.”
“The bike felt good this morning in the dry and it was turning awesome. There’s not a lot of tight and twisty stuff but when I need that turning, the bike is delivering. And I felt good in the rain this afternoon too. It felt like a long time since we’ve hammered it in the wet but the grip for a new track is really good. I can’t complain about that because sometimes on a new track you get a bit of dirt and dust coming out on top of the surface, but it felt great. I’m happy also to go back to Friday morning practice. I like that format better even if we aren’t getting any extra track time. You can make bigger changes between sessions and it saves on hanging around with nothing to do until the afternoon!”
Ben Spies says: “I really like the track. It has got some good elevation changes that make it pretty cool and the first couple of corners remind me of Istanbul Park on the video game. You know it is a fun track when you want to stay out and ride and that’s how I felt today. I was pleased with progress in the dry this morning and I’m really happy with how it went in the rain. I just stayed out to get a feeling for the bike in the wet conditions. In Germany earlier in the season I did about three laps in the wet and that’s all my MotoGP experience in the wet since Indianapolis in 2008.”
“It was a bit of an eye opener and it took me a while to get up to speed. But once I got comfortable I felt good. And if we do have to ride in the rain now I’m confident that we’re not miles off. The limits are super high in the rain and my lap times were coming down all session, so now I’ve got my head wrapped around what this bike and tyres can do in the wet, hopefully we can step up again next time.”
Hiroshi Aoyama says: “This weekend we have an extra practice session, but as we suffered from electronic problems during the first free practice we could not make the best out of this opportunity. In the afternoon it started to rain and my last experience in the rain was seven month ago at the test in Sepang/Malaysia. Again it did not help much to prepare for the race on Sunday. We will start all over again tomorrow in free practice three.”
Marco Simoncelli says: “The track is really nice – much more so today on a MotoGP bike than yesterday on the scooter! I am quite happy because I was pretty quick in the dry and not too bad in the wet. It was definitely a good thing to have the extra session because it makes Friday a much more interesting and fun day. I didn’t like having just one session in the afternoon. We started out with the setting we found at Misano and it looks like it’s a good base for us to work from.”
Marco Melandri says: “Luckily we have gone back to four practice sessions here and that meant we got a dry session in this morning. It is a really nice track but it’s difficult too because there are so many blind corners where you are braking without seeing the apex and change in camber. The grip wasn’t bad in the wet although the drainage isn’t perfect in some corners. Overall the track isn’t bad and it’s a nice facility. The only negatives in my view are that there is too much asphalt outside of the track and too much artificial grass.”
Álvaro Bautista says: “We had the opportunity to ride in both wet and dry conditions today and that was good because we were able to learn a lot about the track. This morning I used the softer option of tires and at the beginning of the session they worked very well. It is a new track with new reference points so I had to try to push on without really knowing where I was going and I was able to learn the track – I felt good on the bike and the lap-times were pretty good as well.”
“I made a stop in the middle of the session and carried on with the same tires, but the rear was too soft and I was losing a lot of time from the exit of the corners – so I was unable to improve my lap-time. This was a good session for us though because it meant we learnt that we could not do a race distance with that type of tire. This afternoon in the wet I just wanted to ride the track and find where the limit was. I rode very quietly and tried not to take too many risks and improve step-by-step. The lap-time was not very fast compared to other riders, but my feeling was good out there. I know I can improve the setting and performance in both wet and dry for tomorrow and I have a lot of confidence that we will make big steps over the weekend whatever the weather.”
Aleix Espargarò says: “This morning slip haven’t certainly helped me even if I don’t feel pain in my right foot when I ride my bike. Too bad for the rain because it would have been important for us to do as many laps as we could on a dry track. From tomorrow, the climate situation should be better and hopefully things will be also better for us. ”
Mika Kallio says: “I like this track, too bad that the weather had ruined a bit the work we have planned. Weather forecasts give good conditions for tomorrow and Sunday, so we’ll start our work almost from the beginning. Up to this moment has been a strange season for me and I have to absolutely prove my value. This weekend I will give it all.”
Randy de Puniet says: “We had two free sessions today after a long time which I think it is good to learn the track but 45 minutes are not enough to make some runs. However this morning my pace was quite good (close to the top-six) considering that I lapped on same tyres for the whole session. I expected to do the same this afternoon but the track conditions changed due to the rain shower early in the session.”
“After a four-lap first run we struggled with some engine brake problems and I came in to adjust the engine mapping but it took us a little longer than what we expected and we still have to fix the problem. Anyway I am pretty satisfied about this first day of practices and I feel confident on this track both in the dry and in the wet.”