On close first day at Estoril
The top 17 MotoGP riders were separated by less than a second on a very close first day of practice for the Grand Prix of Portugal at Estoril today.
Repsol Honda duo Dani Pedrosa and Nicky Hayden looked competitive, finishing in fourth
and eighth places with Pedrosa recording a lap just 0.251s from the fastest time and Hayden ending up a mere 0.317s behind his team-mate.
The 4.182km (2.597-mile) Estoril circuit provides the challenge for round 14 of the MotoGP World Championship, with the Repsol Honda Team spending today's two onehour sessions adjusting the 800cc RC212Vs to the demands of the tight and bumpy track.
Pedrosa declared himself reasonably happy with the day's progress, and will be looking to further improve the stability his factory Honda on Saturday. Hayden too was positive after taking a useful step forward from the morning to the afternoon session and will be determined to secure his third successive front row start in tomorrow afternoon's one-hour qualifying session.
Any advantage in the ongoing battle between tyre manufacturers in the year's championship was not clear cut today, with Casey Stoner topping the time sheets on Bridgestone tyres, followed by Makoto Tamada on qualifying Dunlops and Valentino Rossi and Dani Pedrosa close behind on Michelins. With the track surface conditions expected to further improve, tomorrow's practice and qualifying sessions promise to be close, exciting and unpredictable.
“I'm reasonably happy with how today has gone. The track was a little dirty this morning and so we took some time to work up to full pace. In the afternoon the condition of the surface improved quite a lot and this helped us to take nearly a second off the morning's fastest lap. In the morning we had some trouble finding a tyre that worked very well but this afternoon we quickly found something that gave us more speed, which is good. We must continue to test the endurance of this one to check that it could be usable in the race. We will also work to improve the stability of the machine because the bumps at this circuit mean the bike always moves around quite a lot, so we'll have to reach the best combination of grip of stability. Let's hope we can move things on further tomorrow.”
“This was a pretty routine Friday for us. The position is obviously down a little bit from where we would like to be, and half a second is quite a lot, but time-wise it's not as far back as we've been at some tracks on Friday. We made a good step from the morning to the afternoon session and I've got a few clear ideas on direction for the machine set-up, so that's encouraging. I need to improve in T3 – that's my biggest problem area at the moment – but overall we've made some good progress today.
The track conditions were pretty perfect in both sessions and the surface wasn't too dirty to start with this morning. That little flip-flop chicane is probably the trickiest part of this track so we need to make sure we're getting through there a little better tomorrow.”
“Our situation at the moment is not too bad. The times were very close today and I think we can expect this situation to continue for the weekend. Dani has found some of his tyres work well and some are not so good but his position is looking quite promising. Nicky is also pretty close too. He has commented on a lack of traction in certain places of the circuit so we must work to improve this. I think the track surface conditions will improve over the next two days and so we must focus on getting the best out of this situation.”