MotoGP returned to Honda's home at the Twin Ring Motegi circuit today as the first practice sessions for the Grand Prix of Japan took place.
The Honda riders, who always tackle this event with special motivation, did not disappoint and today both Daniel
Pedrosa and Marco Melandri were on podium pace in both the morning and afternoon sessions.
Melandri was third fastest overall, four tenths behind provisional 'pole' setter Pedrosa, and was more than satisfied with his progress. Marco set a fast and consistent pace and is confident of taking another step forward tomorrow.
Toni Elias is also confident despite ending the day down in fifteenth position today. The work on finding a compromise between traction and stability was only partially successful but the Spaniard is confident the team have at least identified the way they need to work tomorrow.
The first day of practice took place in extremely high temperatures, with the track reaching 46° and humidity levels touching 36%.
MARCO MELANDRI (3rd, 1'48"351):
"I'm really satisfied with this first day of work. The bike has improved a lot in terms of power delivery and engine braking thanks to the new mapping that we received this morning. I'm happy because the bike is much more manageable now. I'm also happy with our choice of tyres - we've worked well with Bridgestone today and I hope to make another small step forward with my race pace tomorrow. This is a particularly difficult track to manage fuel. The heat today was most unusual for this time of year but the forecast is for the weather to change. I'm happy because we'll be ready for wet or dry conditions.
TONI ELIAS (15th, 1'48"881):
"We' ve done a lot of good work with the team today and in general I am happy. We tested a lot of things - not everything gave the result we were looking for but it was important for us to find the right way to work. The Bridgestone tyres are working very well here and because of the intense heat we decided to save some of the softer tyres for tomorrow."
"Marco has done a good job again and I am happy. The bike has improved a lot from the last race and that has allowed Marco to get immediately on the pace. Tomorrow we'll work to take another step forward. Toni, meanwhile, has been working hard on his setting and even though he is still struggling a bit with the set up, he always gives his maximum on the track and we have to compliment him on that."