Donington : Repsol Honda Day One
Repsol Honda riders Nicky Hayden and Dani Pedrosa made a bright start to the British Grand Prix on Friday as both one-hour free practice sessions were held in wet conditions at Donington Park.
The pair finished in first and second
positions in the afternoon, with Dani Pedrosa topping the timesheets in the rain, confirming his growing prowess on a wet track. Nicky Hayden wasn't far behind in the afternoon, finishing second in both sessions and providing the Repsol Honda Team with a strong start to the weekend.
With rain forecast for Saturday and Sunday at the 4.023km (2.498-mile) circuit, the Repsol Honda duo made full use of today's conditions to narrow down the options for tyre selection and bike set-up. As wet tyres are not subject to the new rules introduced for the 2007 season limiting the number of slicks available, the job of choosing the right treaded rubber for the infinitely variable track conditions is at least as complex as in the dry.
Hayden and Pedrosa were only bettered overall today by Casey Stoner who set the fastest time as grip improved towards the end of the morning session.
A further hour of practice takes place on Saturday morning ahead of the afternoon's qualifying session. Sunday's 30-lap Grand Prix of Great Britain begins at 13.00hrs local time (14.00hrs CET).
It was a pretty wet, cold, slippery, nasty day out there, but that's probably as much fun as I've had on the bike since Valencia last year. So I'm not going to complain about cold fingers! The conditions were varying a bit and there were times when the rain was heavier than others, but overall my bike felt pretty good in the wet and I had a good feeling. We'll be looking at a few details to improve it into the corners and midcorner, but coming out of the corners I've got really good traction and the Michelins are working really well under hard acceleration. We need to get things working a little better when the rain is really heavy, but overall the bike's working pretty well and so are the tyres. I enjoyed it today. Now we've basically got to see what the weather does. I feel like we've got a really good start to the weekend. Hopefully if it does dry out we can carry it over to those conditions too.
I've been improving in the wet this year and it's something I've been working on and thinking about, so it's nice to finish on top of the timesheets in a wet session for the first time I'm happy about that. Today it was raining all day so we had two hours of practice to look for the right set-up and tyres for these conditions. The feeling from the bike is good and today has been useful. It's better when the conditions are fully wet like this because we can really learn something about the set-up we need and the tyres that work best. When it's half dry and half wet the track changes every lap so it's good that we had fairly consistent conditions today.
It's a good start to the weekend but there's a long way to go and we have to keep our concentration because things could change tomorrow and we must be ready for this.
The one-two finish in the second practice is very good for us, and I think last season nobody could have believed the Repsol Honda Team would achieve this in a wet session. Nicky rode consistently quickly today with the same chassis he tested after the race in Catalunya and his feeling on the bike in the wet is quite good. Dani has gained some very useful practice in wet conditions at the test in Jerez and also the Le Mans race and he is becoming very strong in the rain now. I think some people will say he is now a rain-meister! The Michelin tyres are working well, although I think they are best when the rain is not too hard so we must be ready to improve things in heavy rain. Both our riders are in a good position now so we'll be working hard to keep them there.