Catalunya : Fiat Yamaha – Day One
Fiat Yamaha Team rider Valentino Rossi rounded off the first day of the Grand Prix of Catalunya in positive fashion today, setting the second fastest time of the day on his penultimate lap as temperatures climbed into the thirties at Montmelo.
Fresh from a spectacular victory at his home-race in Italy last Sunday, Rossi and his team arrived here on a high and wasted no time in getting down to business this morning as they seek their first back-to-back set of victories since their Mugello-Barcelona double last year.
Team-mate Colin Edwards finished the day slightly further down the order in eighth, one of many riders who did not better their time from the morning session. After a difficult weekend in Mugello however, when he failed to find a comfortable bike set-up all weekend, the Texan is feeling much more positive about this race. T he team still have some work to do tomorrow but Edwards is confident of further improvements and a return to the strong qualifying form he has shown at most races so far this season.
Rossi's lap of 1'43.313 was good enough to top the time sheets in this afternoon's second free practice session but the overall number one spot today went to Dani Pedrosa, who set a lap of 1'43.099 in this morning's cooler session.
With twelve riders inside a second today tomorrow's hour-long qualifying session looks like being a close one when the action kicks off at 1345 local time.
"We've made a good start to the weekend and my bike is already going very well. This morning was okay but then this afternoon especially we made a lot of steps forward with the tyres and with the setting. We've got a few different options for our tyre choice and we seem to have good grip in the long corners, which is very important at this track. Now tomorrow we will continue with our work and make a final decision about tyres.
I found a strong rhythm straight away today and this afternoon I put in a consistent run of laps - almost a half-race distance - and things are already feeling good for Sunday. We still have some improvements to make with the setting and hopefully with a few modifications we'll be going even better tomorrow. However it's a long race and if it's as hot as this then it's going to be a battle of physical strength for everyone!"
"My position doesn't really show it but actually we're not in bad shape today, considering where we were this time a week ago in Italy! We're missing a bit of traction but we've got some ideas to work on overnight and tomorrow which will hopefully help us in this department. Our forte is entry and corner speed so we'll work on honing those for this track and hopefully that will give us an advantage. As for tyres, nothing's really jumping out at us today but we've got three or four that feel okay so with some more laps we should be in a better position to make a decision for Sunday. Anyway I'm feeling a lot happier here than I was in Mugello and with any luck we can be back in fine form for qualifying tomorrow."
"We've made a very good start with Valentino and it seems he's in good shape already. Luckily the weather is better here and so we were able to do a good day's testing and get some helpful information regarding tyres. Tomorrow we will look to fine-tune the setting and make our final tyre choice, but we're already at a good level. Colin is a bit further back but the times are very close and we have some good ideas about what's needed tomorrow to bring him even closer to the top."