Laguna Seca : Kawasaki – Day One
The Red Bull US Grand Prix practice sessions began today, in preparation for Sunday's race: the 11th round of the 2007 MotoGP world championship.
With Kawasaki running three bikes at the event, Randy de Puniet and Anthony West were
joined by wildcard AMA Superbike and Supersport regular, Roger Lee Hayden, on the 3.61km, Laguna Seca circuit and it was a constructive day for all the crews.
On combined times after the day's two sessions, de Puniet was classified 12th fastest. After clocking the highest top speed of the first practice with a recorded 256.3kmh, the 26-year-old Frenchman fell in the second session after going in to the first corner too quickly. Fortunately, he was unhurt and returned to the pits. Taking out his second bike, he took a while to settle back in to a rhythm but, by the end of the hour, was back, picking up speed and finishing just over a second off leading man of the day, Casey Stoner.
Anthony West followed closely behind, coming home 13th quickest on combined times. Today was the first time the 26-year-old Australian had ridden at the Californian track and learning it was his priority. With his laps getting progressively faster throughout the two practice sessions, he made a pretty good job of it. Just 0.034 seconds off team mate, de Puniet, West's best time was only 1.080 seconds off Stoner.
American Hayden, meanwhile, used his superior track knowledge to take the Ninja ZX-RR around the circuit with enthusiasm, regularly running times in the top ten. He ended the day in 15th position after showing the sixth highest speed of the second session: 251.5kmh. Having only ridden the Kawasaki for one day prior to this MotoGP event, Hayden impressed the team and his home fans alike with his performance.
Furthermore, the three fastest men of the day run Bridgestone rubber, which will also boost Kawasaki's confidence for the rest of the event.
The weather for both sessions was clear, warm and sunny and there's more of the same to come during the weekend. Tens of thousands of fans are expected to descend on Laguna as the track celebrates its 50th year and the team hope they'll have something to celebrate themselves when it comes to qualifying tomorrow and then the race on Sunday.
Randy de Puniet
“I'm ok but I had a crash at end of the start/finish straight. I went in too fast, locked the front wheel and tried to stop but couldn't, then crashed close to the wall. It was a bit like the accident last weekend at the Sachsenring. With the second bike we had some problems with rear grip, so we made some adjustments but then it started vibrating as it entered corners. Obviously, we need to fix this because it's difficult to ride at the moment. My times got better at the end but there's some work to do yet.
At least I'm not injured: I banged my head but I'm ok.”
“I really struggled to learn the track this morning. At first, I wasn't sure where the lines were or anything but it got better and it all started to fall in to place in the last ten minutes or so. It seems the more laps I do the faster I get, which is positive. I had wanted to follow somebody around but every time I went out, there didn't seem to be anybody on the same bit of track! Still, I'm learning it on my own and maybe I'll be able to see if I can stay with the other guys tomorrow. Every time I get to the Corkscrew I'm holding my breath and worrying if I'm going to make it but it's exciting, that's for sure. Anyway, it felt good and, although the set up is not perfect yet, the times were quite consistent in the end and I hope we can continue like that tomorrow.”
Roger Lee Hayden
“Things went pretty well. I'm still learning so much about the bike but managed to go faster every time I went out, which was my aim, so I'm glad about that. All in all, I think the first day went pretty well and we're just getting some ideas to maybe make the bike a bit better for tomorrow. There's been a bit of chatter, and a few little things to sort out which may help me go a little faster, but it's good, getting used to working with the crew: they're doing a great job and making me feel really welcome. I had a lot of fun out there and I just want to do my own thing. I don't want to get in anybody's way.”