Jorge Lorenzo took to the track Friday for the first time since clenching the 2010 MotoGP Championship, and his performance on a wet Phillip Island was impressive.
The Fiat Yamaha rider posted the quickest time of 1:41.146 in Free Practice 1 for the Australian Grand Prix, but only 0.335 of a second behind was Ducati Team rider Casey Stoner.
Rounding out the top five were Stoner’s teammate Nicky Hayden, and the San Carlo Honda Gresini pair, MarcoS Simoncelli and Marco Melandria, respectively.
Here’s what the riders were saying following Fridays soggy practice session for Round 16 of the 2010 MotoGP Championship.
Jorge Lorenzo says: “Today was the first day on the bike after we won the title and I am still very happy. We can’t stop now, we have to keep going and finish this season in the best way possible, working for the future. The conditions today were really hard – wet, cold and windy. I am very happy to be so fast in rain, because it didn’t use to be this way, but we need to be prepared because it could be a hard weekend. I would like to ride in the dry, of course, but we will have to wait and see what happens.”
Valentino Rossi says: “This weather is unbelievable and it was really at the limit of what you can race motorcycles in today. It’s even more amazing because yesterday was beautiful! I hope it will be better tomorrow but it doesn’t look too hopeful. My setting here in the wet was okay and I feel quite happy on the bike, but I didn’t want to push too hard in these conditions. I think we can improve it more, but we need to wait and see how the weather is tomorrow. We hope for sun!”
Dani Pedrosa says: “The plan today was simply to check my condition on the bike – in these conditions I didn’t want to take any unnecessary risks. What I can say is that I had some strength to move on the bike and put pressure on the handlebars which is good. However, I didn’t feel very comfortable with the leathers because they were tight and there was pressure – but even with that I could do some laps and tomorrow I will try again – we will go step-by-step. Now it’s quite painful but we will see how the pain goes through the night and tomorrow we will take another step. We knew it wouldn’t be easy but I just hope that the effort is worth it in the end.”
“To ride in wet conditions is more smooth than in the dry, but also more risky. The asphalt today was very very cold and here it’s a problem because on the right hand turns you don’t have any grip at all. The hardest point was braking, changing direction and in the right hand corners because I have to stretch my arms a lot – but I hope we can work a little bit on the leathers to make it more comfortable for tomorrow. Afterwards I went to the Clinica Mobile and they told me that now I need to relax the muscles. We’ll see how it goes tomorrow.”
Andrea Dovizioso says: “It was an interesting session today and it was worth pushing hard because at this circuit we can have this type of conditions for the race, so we need to know what to expect. The problem was that the track conditions changed a lot during the session however. We used wet tires for the whole time and at the beginning of the session when it was fully wet we were quite fast compared to the other riders.”
“On my second time out of the pits there was almost a dry line all the way round the circuit, but we didn’t try slick tires because the temperature was really low and it would have been risky to ride on slicks before they got up to temperature. So we stayed on wet tires even though they were very worn by the end of the session. It was very windy and at the end of the straight the bike wheelies a lot so it was an important test of the electronic controls. We still have work to do on the machine settings, but we understand the direction to work in tomorrow and I think we can move forward.”
Casey Stoner says: “The conditions were difficult today and obviously we had the big delay too, which is not the ideal way to prepare. Also we would prefer a fully wet session but it started to dry towards the end and that denied us the opportunity to confirm the settings or get a full understanding of the conditions. Other than the wind, which made things very difficult, it was quite a successful day.”
“We made a couple of changes and I feel we made a little improvement with the bike but again because of the conditions we weren’t able to get much of a direction. Hopefully tomorrow we get consistent weather, whatever it may be, so that we can get a proper idea of our set-up in either the wet or the dry.”
Nicky Hayden says: “Those were nasty conditions… I mean nasty. It wasn’t so much the wet but the wind. It was really strong and for me it took a little while to get comfortable with being blown around so much. Other than that the bike worked well in the wet. We made a little bit of a change to help the bike turn, keeping some weight on the front, for the second run and I was able to go okay.”
“My pace wasn’t too bad. Obviously it could be all for nothing if the forecast is right and the conditions are dry from here on but at this track you have to be prepared for anything and take advantage of every situation. We’re in the top three and very close in the wet so that’s a good sign. Anyway, we’ll see what the conditions are like tomorrow and try to take advantage of whatever they are.”
Colin Edwards says: “That’s got to be some of the worst conditions you’ll ever have to ride in. The track was still wet, it was freezing cold and the wind was blowing at 900mph. But after the delay I guess we were just lucky to even get some time on track. The wind was pretty unpredictable and going into the first corner it was unbelievable. Once you pass the finish line it just blasts you from the right and I had to turn my handlebars while I’m going in a straight line just to fight the wind.”
“And then you have to turn the handlebars back to brake. That is all happening at a fast speed and it is a pretty weird sensation. It was a session where the times don’t really matter that much so we treated it like a wet test. We played around with all kinds of stuff on the bike. So as miserable as the conditions were, it was still a pretty worthwhile session and we learned a few things that can help us in the rain in the future, particularly with the balance of the bike.”
Ben Spies says: “There wasn’t a lot to be gained out there today. I did a couple of laps and it is not the rain and the cold, but the wind was so unpredictable it was making it quite dangerous. I couldn’t really brake on the right line and to gain anything out there this afternoon I’d have to ride so on the limit that it wasn’t worth taking any risks. If it was Saturday morning and it was going to be like this all day I’d have stuck in a full session, but I wasn’t going to learn much when the conditions are that bad.”
“I didn’t want to risk getting hurt or tearing up any equipment and making the guys have to build up a new bike for tomorrow just because I made a mistake in less than ideal conditions. Hopefully the weather will be better tomorrow and we can get some serious work done because I love this track and am confident of another strong performance in the race.”
Marco Simoncelli says: “The conditions were really prohibitive today, especially the wind, which was very strong. We were going down the front straight in sixth gear and losing the front, it was really difficult to manage. Anyway, I felt good straight away from the first lap in the wet and we were able to make constant improvements from there. The track conditions changed towards the end of the session because three quarters of it were practically dry but we didn’t have time to change to a slick tire. Anyway, I am happy and if the race conditions are like this we will be competitive.”
Marco Melandri says: “It was a difficult session because of the conditions. It was really cold and there was so much wind that it was hard to ride. A good part of the track was dry by the end but with rain tires on it was impossible for us to improve our best time – by the end of the session the left side of the tire was completely destroyed. Obviously in terms of finding a dry set-up the session was completely useless but we were able to confirm that we have a good pace in the wet.”
Loris Capirossi says: “It’s been a tough day because until nearly four o’clock we didn’t know what we were going to do! The conditions in the practice were a little bit crazy in the beginning, not because it was wet, but because the air and the track were so cold. It was hard to warm the tires and with it being so cold it made my condition worse than in Sepang last week.”
You have to move your body a lot here and there are many right turns so that put extra pressure on my foot as I moved my body and that gave me a bit more pain. Overall the session was not too bad and we’re now really looking to see what will happen with the weather tomorrow, because I want to do a good job here at Phillip Island.”
“This is one of my favorite tracks and I really love to ride here, but with the conditions as they are we don’t know how our bike will go here this time. We have struggled in the past, but I am crossing my fingers because I really hope that we can go well this year.”
Álvaro Bautista says: “It’s been a strange day today, because we have practiced two hours later than usual, so this has made the start to the weekend very different. At the beginning it was very wet and I just tried to get as many kilometers as possible in those conditions, because so far this year I’ve only ridden in the wet twice.”
“I didn’t have a feeling of much contact with the track at the start of the session – it was like I was floating – so I went into the garage and made some changes, but when I exited again the track was starting to dry and this made it very difficult because some parts were very wet and others dry. This was a shame because we couldn’t tell if the modifications we made were better or not. It was good to have the opportunity to ride here in the wet and we’ll have to see what tomorrow brings. If it rains then we need to decide whether we keep working in the direction we were going today, or if it’s dry then we just have to start from the beginning.”
Mika Kallio says: “Riding my bike with the shoulder in these conditions becomes increasingly difficult, riding it on a wet track is even more difficult. I’m quite happy because I was able to reduce my lap time in the last minute. Certain the gap from the former riders cannot enjoy myself much, but I am still confident for tomorrow’s qualifying, where we will try to limit the damage and gain a good starting position for Sunday’s Grand Prix.”
Aleix Espargarò says: “With today’s weather condition I tried to go fast while avoiding taking excessive risk and this does not helped me to be very fast. The gap from the first rider is huge, but I do not give much importance to this think, also because I hope that tomorrow the weather conditions are getting better so that I can be able to fight for a good starting position.”
Hiroshi Aoyama says: “The first day at Phillip Island would have been nicer in the dry. It is such a beautiful place and the track is great as well and I think it is a pity that we could not make the best out of it. I didn’t have the best feeling with the front and rear tires, as it is difficult to heat the up under these conditions. We have to work on that, but if the rain continues tomorrow we will go on with the rain set up.”
Randy de Puniet says: “Well…. today’s conditions were pretty bad but at the end I could complete my TO DO list in the wet doing a 22-lap long run with a good pace. Following the adverse conditions we worked on the chassis set up and engine mapping and I am pretty satisfied because I lapped consistently fast.”
“At the end the surface started to dry up and I damaged my rear tire so I could not improve my lap time. Anyway the adjustments we made in the wet helped me to be back on my pace and this is very important for me. Now we see what the weather will be for tomorrows qualifying but I am not worried about the wet conditions.”