Edwards and Toseland happy with early pace at Donington
Valentino Rossi, who is scheduled to contest his 200th Grand Prix on Sunday, got his weekend off to a solid start today by finishing third overall in the first free practice sessions at Donington Park. The 29-year-old
Fiat Yamaha Team rider, whose first ever 125cc race was back in 1996 at Shah Alam, has an illustrious record at this circuit with eight wins to his name, including two with Yamaha in 2004 and 2005.
Rossi started off steadily this morning, finishing the first session in eighth as he struggled to perfect his set-up to suit the tricky Donington surface. In the later stages of the afternoon session the Bridgestone-shod Italian and his crew improved things somewhat, finding a better setting which gave them more grip and finishing the day third in the combined standings, behind Casey Stoner and Nicky Hayden.
Valentino Rossi "This morning we were struggling and we're not in perfect shape yet. Fortunately however, this afternoon on the last run things improved a lot and we are now third. The main problem here is the asphalt because it doesn't have any grip anymore and riding on it is very difficult. Of course the temperature was quite low, which didn't help, but in some parts of the track the asphalt is finished. It's a pity because this track is great, one of my favourites! We have to hope that the weather stays dry because if it's wet it will be even worse. We have a couple of ideas to try tomorrow; we will try some different tyres and also some other solutions for the setting, in order to be faster in the direction changes.
We had a very long meeting after the session in order to try to understand the problem, it's very strange because we used some tyres which are usually very good for us, but here they don't seem to work as they normally do. Third position is okay however, we're not so far from the top and tomorrow we will try to make some more steps forward."
Davide Brivio - Team Manager : "We definitely improved this afternoon, as the times show, but we still have a lot of work to do on a few things specifically. Tomorrow we need to focus on improving the setting still further to suit this track; the surface here isn't great and the lack of grip makes it quite difficult to find the right set-up. We also need to do some more work on the tyres with Bridgestone before we're in a position to make a choice. Luckily it was dry today so now we hope the English weather is going to be kind to us again tomorrow so that we can continue with what we started this afternoon."
Edwards and Toseland happy with early pace at Donington
Tech 3 Yamaha team pairing Colin Edwards and James Toseland made an encouraging start to the British GP at Donington Park, both clocking top ten times at the end of the first day of free practice.
Edwards showed why Donington is the track where he's enjoyed the most success in his MotoGP career as he clocked the fourth best time overall. Edwards has claimed four top six finishes at Donington and he was third fastest this morning despite small issues with the gearing on his Tech 3 Yamaha YZR-M1. Edwards held second until the closing stages this afternoon and a best lap of 1.28.969 clinched fourth as the American spent the opening day evaluating Michelin tyres and a new rear shock from Ohlins.
Making his MotoGP debut at his home track, Toseland was able to immediately post competitive and consistent lap times, which only got faster as he honed the set-up of his YZR-M1 to suit the challenging Donington layout. Toseland set a best time of 1.29.341, confident with more time on the new set-up that he will be able to fight for a front row position in tomorrow's crucial qualifying session.
Toseland will unveil a special one-off paint-scheme for his home race tomorrow, having given fans a glimpse today of what to expect with a St George's flag on the front and rear of his YZR-M1 machine. A crowd of close to 80,000 is expected to flock to the East Midlands to see Toseland's eagerly anticipated British GP debut. Today's action was run under dry but cloudy skies, with forecasts predicting heavy rain for tomorrow.
Colin Edwards : "I'm reasonably happy because I didn't get in many quality laps this morning. I either caught traffic or the bike wasn't quite right but this afternoon we made a change to the gearing and I felt good right away. This year the rev limiter is different on the bike so we had to make a change to alter that. When you've come here for a few years you know what the revs are in certain corners and when to change and you don't have to think about it. But I wasn't sure if I was going down one too many gears or going up one too less because the gearbox was a bit out. We got the gearbox sorted and with some electronics the grip got better and better and Michelin have done a fantastic job. Every tyre I put in it seems to work and this will probably be the only time all year where I could use three tyres in the race on Sunday. Credit to Michelin because they have done an amazing job. This afternoon I did some more laps on a tyre that I'd already done 22 laps on and I was only two-tenths slower than my best lap so we are in great shape.
Minus the Australian I'm happy because Casey has been impressive and we've got to work something out to get closer to him. But the rear shock from Ohlins I really liked. It's not often you get a new suspension piece and throw it in and it works. Usually you have to tinker with it and work out what springs work with it, but it feels great. It just keeps the rear planted more on the entry and it is not pitching weight to the front as hard. So braking is better and mid-corner it feels like there is no speed limit. You can brake harder because the rear tyre stays consistently in the same position."
James Toseland "The times are very close but unfortunately I found it difficult with the setting we had from the Catalunya test that I thought would work. I came away from that test with a lot of confidence but the settings don't work here. We tried to persevere with it but it was the wrong direction and at the end we made a change and it was night and day different. At least now we are moving the right way. I'm really comfortable doing low 29s but with the Catalunya setting I couldn't enter the corner. I didn't have the contact with the rear and that was losing me a lot of corner speed. Around this track you have to keep it fast and flowing and I couldn't keep my momentum up. I'm sure I can get it in the 28s and it looks like that will be the race pace so we have got to find a bit more. But with more time on the new setting I'm confident we can improve because we found it a bit too late to really dial it in.
I'm pleased to be in the ballpark, but obviously not pleased with eighth but I don't think that is a reflection on where we could and should have been. It is quite a bit different riding at this track on an 800 that what I did last year in World Superbikes. I tried my old lines but they don't work! The speed is just so much faster and that determines the corner speed you carry. Using my old lines I couldn't square the corner off, so even though I know the track I have to learn and adjust. The support for me out there is amazing with all the JT flags and 52 flags. I think everybody wants to see a British guy do well, so it's just down to me to get the job done."