The 2009 MotoGP World Championship officially landed in Europe today as the first free practice session for the Grand Prix of Spain took place under the welcome shimmer of the southern Spanish sunshine.
Casey Stoner and Nicky Hayden began set-up work this
afternoon but both struggled to make the right changes in time to significantly improve their lap times.
For Stoner, who started out with the same set-up that allowed him to set the fastest lap at the official preseason test here one month ago, an issue with front end stability affected his confidence and lap time, although the Australian was still impressive as he set the third quickest lap.
"We started with the setting from the test and everything felt quite good. We're struggling with some small issues in a couple of areas but I think it was mainly because the tyre pressure was too high and we just need to drop it down a little. We tried the second bike but unfortunately had a technical issue so I went back to my first one and tried a few things without improving the set-up a heck of a lot”, he explained. “The bike was turning really well but I lost the front a couple of times and we couldn't really understand why. We tried a setting that helped front stability but the turning was much worse. We need to work on getting it back tomorrow by finding the right balance. Anyway it is nice to be back in Europe and working under ‘normal' conditions, with this great weather. It felt good to have to use my dark visor again! Hopefully it will stay like this because I'm sure we can make the right changes to the bike tonight and make lots of progress tomorrow.
Hayden, meanwhile, spent the session working to adjust his set-up to the harder compound Bridgestone tyre but he is still feeling the effects of his crash just five days ago at Motegi and could only manage 17th overall.
“It wasn't a particularly great first session for us but it's not as bad as it looks either. The bike is a little different from how we had it at the test but not hugely so. We didn't have a great set-up at the test so we've made a couple of changes and tried the hard tyre on both bikes just to try and understand it a bit more”, he said. “I've struggled with the harder tyre recently so we just stuck at it today and tried to make the bike work with it. The lap time isn't what we were looking for at this stage but my feeling with the bike was actually okay. I was a bit unsure about how I might feel physically and to be honest I didn't feel great out there but it is possible to ride. We've got a few things to talk about with the team and hopefully tomorrow I can make a big step. I just need to be faster!”