Shanghai : Fiat Yamaha – Day One
A weekend of close racing beckons at the Grand Prix of China as the first day of practice finished with the top fourteen MotoGP riders separated by less than a second in Shanghai today.
Fiat Yamaha team-mates Valentino Rossi and Colin
Edwards were right in the mix and ended the day sixth and seventh fastest respectively in the combined standings, with Edwards just 0.2 seconds off the day's fastest time, set by John Hopkins.
With rain forecast for the afternoon this morning's Free Practice looked like being a crucial one and Rossi got things off to a strong start by finishing third fastest. Despite overcast skies and humid conditions however the rain stayed away and this afternoon's practice remained dry throughout, giving the riders further time to concentrate on set-up and tyre work with Michelin, conscious that bad weather could still arrive tomorrow to play havoc during Qualifying. Both riders were pleased with how quickly they were able to adapt their YZR-M1's to the demands of the stop-and-go circuit and will aim to make further improvements tomorrow, aware that every tiny advantage here could spell the key to success over their rivals.
Valentino Rossi :
"I'm not so happy with sixth position but the difference from the top is very small, only 0.18 seconds, and so the actual time is not so bad. All the riders are very close and already you can see that it's going to be a hard battle. For this reason we have to find every millimetre of difference in every corner of the track in order to have an advantage and it's also going to be important to start from the front.
We're working hard to get the bike in the best possible shape but I can already ride my M1 quite well. We are missing a little bit of top speed on the straight but we're obviously making it up in other areas of the track where our bike is strong, because our overall times are similar to our rivals. Of course we've also been working closely with Michelin on the tyres and tomorrow we have a few more thin gs to try; a couple of possibilities remain for us and from them we will decide our final race tyre. We were lucky with the weather today because we were waiting for rain but now it looks like it will come tomorrow or on Sunday instead. It's a pity; of course it's always better to race in the dry but we have had success here before under the rain and I think our bike is fast in the wet this year so lets wait and see."
Colin Edwards :
"I've got a small engine modification to try here but actually I only managed a few laps with it at the end of the second session today. Tomorrow we'll use it a bit more and see how we get on with that. Anyway my time wasn't too bad today; it's ridiculously close amongst the top group so it looks like we could see some pretty exciting racing this weekend! I feel pretty good overall - we made a small modification to the geometry this afternoon and that's improved things a bit and we've got a couple more ideas just to finally tweak the setting a little more tomorrow. As for the tyres, we've found something good but we've got a couple more things to check before we make our final decision about the race tyre. However what we can do tomorrow might well depend on the weather!"
Davide Brivio :
"All the riders are very close today so it's going to be very important to really fine-tune the bike and try to find the perfect setting. We've got both Valentino and Colin in the first group of riders and so far the bike seems to be working quite well for both of them. Now we need to work on the final tyre selection for both riders. Today we were expecting some rain but luckily it didn't come and we were able to use all the practice time we had. Now it looks like tomorrow could be wet so the information we got today is going to be very important for us."