Qatar : Gresini Honda – Day One
The countdown is over.
The 2007 MotoGP World Championship got underway today at the Losail circuit in Qatar, the first of 18 mouthwatering rounds that will cross fifteen nations and four continents over the next eight months.
Team Honda Gresini riders took to the track today with great enthusiasm as they began preparations for the first race of the year. New limitations on the numbers of tyres each rider can use in a weekend (14 front and 17 rear), has changed working procedure inside the box. The riders have instead been able to focus purely on bike set-up as opposed to running endless tyre tests, like last year.
Both Marco Melandri and Toni Elias are happy with the progress they have made on race rubber. Melandri, in particular, enthused about the cycle part of the bike and the tyre choice made by the team. Elias was also in good spirits as he continued to improve his feeling with the bike.
Melandri finished 7th, 6 tenths behind Valentino Rossi who scored the best time (1'56”467) ahead of his team mate Colin Edwards, 2nd oh Yamaha and Casey Stoner, 3rd on Ducati. The Spaniard Toni Elias finished 9th with 1'57”382.
MARCO MELANDRI (7th, 1'57”112): “I like this track. The climate is perfect and there isn't the same pressure as in European rounds. I like the bike and I'm happy with this first day of practice. The reduction in the number of tyres available to us over the course of a weekend has changed the way we are working. Now it is really important to set a strategy out before we start because we can't test too much.
Today I tried a few tyres that gave positive feedback although we still need to improve the race rhythm. I'm feeling relaxed though because we have a good base to work from in the cycle part and the tyres.”
TONI ELIAS (9th , 1'57”382): “I'm quite happy. Compared to the last test here not even a month ago we've taken a big step forwards thanks to the new tyres that Bridgestone brought for me at Jerez. My feeling with the bike has improved and I feel much more comfortable. We're still a little behind on the set-up of the bike but the most important thing is that we are working in the right direction.”