Sepang : Camel Yamaha - Day 1
Camel Yamaha Team riders Valentino Rossi and Colin Edwards completed a hard day's work with their Yamaha YZR-M1 machines today, as preparations got underway for the Malaysian Grand Prix with two free practice sessions.
Both riders were
eager to test the performance of their bikes at this circuit after a positive recent test in the Czech Republic, however it quickly emerged that the setting the team found at Brno was not as well suited to this layout or track temperatures in excess of 45ēC, which put the tyres under extreme stress.
After making dramatic changes to the bike for the afternoon session, reigning World Champion Rossi was able to knock almost a full second off his time within the first six laps, giving him renewed confidence after a disappointing morning when he could only manage the eleventh fastest time. Edwards suffered similar problems but was unable to solve them in time for an assault on the top positions today. The American is hoping to find a quick solution in tomorrow morning's final free practice before qualifying takes place in the afternoon.
Last year's winner Loris Capirossi (Ducati) set the pace today, dipping under pole record time with a lap of 2'01.711. There was bad news, however, for fellow title candidate Dani Pedrosa (Honda), who suffered a knee injury in a high-speed crash this afternoon.
Valentino Rossi (7th 2'02.970; 41 laps): "It's been a difficult first day more so in the morning than the afternoon, which means we are working in the right way. I was confident after the Brno test, especially about the tyres and the way they are working now with our M1. Unfortunately in the conditions we have found here that setting doesn't work so well and we had a few problems with tyre life. So in the afternoon basically we adapted the setting using the data we gathered in the January tests, when I was very fast, and things improved a lot.
Tomorrow we'll move even closer to that setting and I'm very confident we can make a big improvement again. Loris was very fast today and it looks like it will be a tough challenge to beat him, but we have good base data for this circuit and I'm sure we can get back to the pace I know I am capable of here."
Colin Edwards (12th 2'03.355; 41 laps): "That was a really hard day and not what we were hoping for at all. I'm pretty disappointed after the good test we had at Brno because I expected to be in good shape from the start here. I couldn't find the right set-up today and there was no way for me to ride the bike properly. We're going to have to work in a completely different direction tomorrow and try to sort the situation out before qualifying. Valentino seems to have improved by going back towards the settings from January, despite the fact that the bike we have now is very different from the one we had then, so maybe this is the way to work. We will have a think about things tonight and start again tomorrow!"
Davide Brivio Camel Yamaha team director: "Today everyone has had to work very hard! Both riders have been testing different things and now we have to put it all altogether to find the right package and make sure we are competitive both in tomorrow afternoon's qualifying session and Sunday's race. Valentino is very close to the top and I think with a little bit more work he can be in good shape tomorrow. Colin is struggling a little at the moment but hopefully he too can improve in the morning. Tomorrow the weather might change things but we hope that it stays dry so that we can continue to make progress."