At Phillip Island
Camel Yamaha Team riders Valentino Rossi and Colin Edwards were welcomed to the Phillip Island circuit by bright blue skies and cool ambient temperatures of 18ºC today, as the paddock breathed a sigh of relief that dismal recent forecasts were denied on
the first day of practice for the Australian Grand Prix.
The relatively good weather gave the riders ample opportunity to begin set-up work on their YZR-M1 machines as they worked to find an ideal configuration to suit the demands of the fast and flowing circuit over 27 laps on Sunday.
However relatively fresh track temperatures of 28ºC, compared to 45ºC on the first day in Malaysia one week ago, made life difficult for the Italian and the American as they tried to adapt their bikes to cope with the lower grip levels.
Both riders struggled for rear traction and after ending the day in eighth and thirteenth place respectively they will aim to work specifically on this area in tomorrow morning's final free practice session before qualifying takes place in the afternoon. Randy de Puniet (Kawasaki) set the pace today with a best lap of 1'29.745.
VALENTINO ROSSI (8th - 1'31.045; 58 laps)
“Friday is always a difficult day for us because we have to make a lot of changes to the bike from one circuit to the next and today was no different. Especially here, since the track temperatures and the conditions are a big change from Malaysia, which makes life especially difficult and we have some work to do. The grip levels are lower than in past years and I think both Colin and I are struggling with the rear. For me it is taking me four or five laps to get the tyre up to a temperature where I can ride at the maximum so obviously this is not the ideal situation for me.
We have to find a setting and a tyre that can deal with these cooler conditions better tomorrow because this is a very important race for us and I want to do well in front of the Australian fans. However we have gathered a lot of data today and we have some good ideas for tomorrow, so we're quite confident that we can improve the situation.”
COLIN EDWARDS (13th - 1'31.514; 55 laps)
“It hasn't been a bad first day despite how it may seem on the time sheets. My only problem at the moment is on the rear – it steps out if I brake too hard, runs off line if I'm too fast through the corner and spins up if I get on the gas too early. The front end is great but the low track temperatures are really not helping the bike to work with the rear tyre we have at the moment. This will be our main focus tomorrow and I think once we get that sorted out then the lap times can come down dramatically. It seems Valentino has some similar problems and between both sides of the garage we have some good ideas, so let's see what happens tomorrow.”
DAVIDE BRIVIO – CAMEL YAMAHA TEAM DIRECTOR
“Today was quite cold and we have found ourselves in a completely different situation to Malaysia, which we expected. Valentino spent a lot of time working to find a good race tyre, whilst Colin worked hard on adapting the setting of his bike after struggling at Sepang. We didn't test here in February like the other teams so we have a lot of work to do compared to them. Already we can see that our rivals are setting a strong pace and they will be hard to beat on Sunday, but we are confident we can make the right steps forward tomorrow.”