In Le Mans
A gruelling run of seven races in ten weeks got underway today at the historic circuit of Le Mans, as the MotoGP paddock returned to Europe for the Grand Prix of France.
After the high-speed demands of Turkey and China, the Fiat Yamaha Team spent today
looking to adapt the YZR-M1 to the different technical demands of the 4.180km Bugatti circuit, which boasts a longest straight of only 450m. After a rainy set-up day yesterday riders Valentino Rossi and Colin Edwards were relieved as the clouds cleared and the sun came out this morning, enabling them to make the most of the two hours of free practice time.
The Yamaha duo got their respective French challenges off to positive starts this morning as Rossi finished the first Free Practice second fastest and Edwards was just 0.3 seconds off his team-mate in seventh. This afternoon however t heir fortunes differed slightly as Edwards continued to progress and put in some consistent laps to finish the day fourth, but Rossi ran into unexpected problems as he tried to find the right balance for bike and tyres. The Italian was unable to improve his time from this morning and ended the day seventh in the combined standings.
The fastest lap of the day was set by last year's race winner Marco Melandri with a time of 1'35.319, just slower than Rossi's existing 990cc lap record.
Colin Edwards :
“I think we've made a good start here today. We made some small adjustments to the bike setting and generally stiffened it up a bit in order to make it a little bit more responsive at this track and it seems to have worked.
The bike's definitely feeling pretty good at the end of day one. The tyre rules are once again making things a little difficult; we've found a good tyre which we added onto our selection at the last minute last night and I think I did my best lap on that this afternoon after quite a lot of laps! We'll check it again tomorrow but if the conditions don't change then it looks like being the number one choice for my race tyre. I had a bit of a problem this afternoon when a bee somehow flew into my boot! I'd literally just passed the entrance to pit lane when I realised so I had to get round a whole lap with it in there. It stung me a couple of times in my foot but I think I'll survive...! Anyway, the bike feels good, we've made a strong start and hopefully we can carry on like this tomorrow."
Valentino Rossi :
« This morning things were going okay but this afternoon we ran into a few problems and we weren't able to improve our situation much. The tyre rule isn't great for us here and we haven't yet found the right tyre from our selection, however we've gathered a lot of data today so hopefully we can make some changes tomorrow to get our package working better. I think that we didn't find exactly the right direction today with regards to the setting; this is quite a strange track and at the moment I can't ride the bike how I want to. I have a big score to settle here after what happened last year so we've got to keep focused and work at 100% in order to be in the best shape for a battle on Sunday. We need to close the gap to the others tomorrow. Colin is a bit faster than me and he showed the bike is working quite well, so hope fully we can study the data we have and come up with a new direction for tomorrow.”
Davide Brivio :
"We've definitely got some work to do! The situation for Colin is better than for Valentino and he has found a tyre that's working okay for him, but there's definitely a little way to go yet for both riders. Valentino was quite fast this morning but then this afternoon things didn't carry on so well for him and he wasn't able to improve his time. However we collected a lot of information for both riders and now we will study this together tonight and find some solutions to improve things for tomorrow. We'll keep going and work hard as usual."