Catalunya : Repsol Honda - Day One
The first day of practice for Sunday's Grand Prix of Catalunya saw Repsol Honda's Dani Pedrosa make a promising start to his home race as he finished the day in third place, just 0.199s behind the fastest time. As the splendid Catalunya
circuit began to fill with fans, the Spaniard quickly worked up to speed to set a time of 1m 43.036s – faster than last year's race lap record.
Having ridden here at the IRTA tests in March, Pedrosa was in the unusual position this season of having previous experience of the circuit on a MotoGP bike. The reigning 250cc World Champion made the most of it, setting the third quickest time in both the morning and afternoon sessions on his RC211V.
His team-mate Nicky Hayden, who sits equal on points at the head of the riders' world championship, struggled a little with grip in Catalunya's long corners and finished the day in tenth place, with a lap-time just 0.685s from the fastest time. But with a plan for tomorrow, the 24-year-old American star remained positive about making big improvements before Sunday's 25-lap race and continuing his brilliant start to the 2006 campaign.
Once again this season the weather interrupted proceedings with a rain shower at lunchtime causing a slow start to the afternoon session.
The circuit dried quickly in the 25 degree heat and after fifteen minutes the riders were back up to speed, yet the lost track time contributed to several riders, including Hayden, being unable to improve their times from the morning session.
Nicky Hayden :
« Obviously we're not thrilled with our position today and the bottom line is we're not fast enough here right now. I think we kind of went down a bit of a wrong path this morning so we'll go back to something different tomorrow morning. Actually I've been in this position a lot on Friday and I definitely believe in the guys around me so we'll come up with some ideas to help us a lot tomorrow. It's mainly in the long corners that I don't have enough corner speed – the front feels like it wants to run wide and the rear wants to spin a lot. There are a lot of long corners here and if you're slow in those corners you lose a lot of time. So we'll sit down and try to make a big step up in the morning. I think we'll have a good package come Sunday. »
Dani Pedrosa :
« Today went ok, and we were lucky because it was raining at lunchtime but we had almost a full dry practice this afternoon. We'll see if the weather stays sunshine. Normally on Friday I'm not so fast so I'm happy with where we are – the fact that I've ridden the bike here before probably helps. Still, we have a long way to go and a lot of work to do tomorrow because for sure everyone will improve. I think the set-up is not so bad and the lap-times are good but we'll have to see how the lap-times improve tomorrow, and see what the weather does too. The conditions are much better than the test here in March, because then it was very cold. There are already many fans here, and tomorrow I think we'll see the grandstands will be almost full - I think they will enjoy it ! »
Makoto Tanaka - Team Manager
« Our biggest problem this season has been with the weather! I'm really hoping that the rest of the weekend will be fine. Dani was able to improve much quicker than usual on the first day, which was good for the local supporters. He put in some longer runs and his lap-times were promising. He needs more machine set-up time, but tomorrow I think he could spring a surprise. Nicky wasn't able to improve from the morning to the afternoon and we have to improve his rear edge grip, yet the machine balance is not too bad. I think tomorrow he'll make a big improvement as usual. »