The Repsol Honda Team this afternoon began its preparations for the Spanish Grand Prix at Jerez, with riders Andrea Dovizioso and Dani Pedrosa completing a busy opening practice session.
The 45-minute duration of the practice periods in 2009 once again saw
the team working at lightning pace in the pit garage to get through an intense schedule of testing and evaluation ahead of qualifying tomorrow and Sunday's 27-lap race.
Dovizioso was quickly up to speed today as he began the meticulous process of machine set-up and Bridgestone tyre evaluation. The 23-year-old Italian clocked a lap time of 1m 40.601s around the 4.423km (2.748-mile) track, which was good enough for fifth place. It's a position Repsol Honda's new signing for 2009 is becoming familiar with, having finished the first two races of the season in fifth.
But with sunshine forecast for tomorrow's practice and qualifying sessions, and the latest developments on his RC212V to work with, the former 125cc World Champion is determined to move forward as the weekend progresses.
“Today the conditions of the track and the weather were perfect and I was able to ride fast from the beginning of the session”, he said. “For part of the practice I was trying some new parts and I was impressed with the laptimes I could do without a lot of set-up time. Time is very limited with only 45 minutes per session but we've found some potential. We need to do quite a lot of work to maximise this potential, but I'm satisfied of this first test session for Spanish Grand Prix."
Dani Pedrosa was riding at the Jerez circuit for the first time this year, having missed the MotoGP pre-season test at the end of March as he recovered from surgery.
The 23-year-old finished the session in 10th place which, bearing in mind he won the race here last year, was lower than he would have hoped for, especially in front of his home crowd. Pedrosa encountered an electrical problem with one of his machines this afternoon which the team will iron out, and he still has some set-up work to do, so everyone is expecting the Spanish favourite to climb the timesheets tomorrow - most of all the fanatic crowd that will descend on the Jerez circuit.
“It's a good feeling to be back in Europe and especially to be riding at Jerez again. It's only Friday but there are already a lot of fans out on the banking so I know it's going to be another special weekend for the Spanish riders”, he commented. “The first session didn't go quite according to plan for us though and I think we can go faster than this tomorrow. We had an issue with one of my bikes and our general machine set-up still needs some work. The Bridgestone tyres seem to be working pretty well though, so set-up will be the main issue for us tomorrow."