Jerez : Gresini Racing Day One
The MotoGP World Championship returned to Europe today as the second round of the season got underway in Spain at Jerez de la Frontera.
The Grand Prix of Spain looks like being an even closer affair than usual, with fifteen of the
twenty riders in the field separated by less than a second. The free practice programme started in the best possible way for the Gresini Honda rider Toni Elias setting the third fastest time just one tenth off pacesetter Carlos Checa (Honda), with Dani Pedrosa completing an all-Honda and all-Spanish top three.
Elias immediately felt comfortable in the morning session and in the afternoon he was able to continue working on set-up, improving his feeling with the bike and tyres. It was also a good day for Marco Melandri, who was second fastest in the morning but dropped to twelfth in the afternoon despite only being six tenths off Checa's best lap of 1'40851.
Melandri, who arrived in Jerez with flu, has focused on finding a set-up and tyre choice for the demanding circuit conditions, which change dramatically from the morning to the afternoon.
TONI ELIAS (3rd 1'40972):
To set the third fastest time on the first day is a good way to start, even though we are all very close and we need to keep working. The test after the race in Qatar was really useful and today I found a good feeling straight away.
I have got a good rhythm and it will be important to keep working with the Bridgestone technicians to choose the right tyres for the characteristics of this circuit.
MARCO MELANDRI (12th, 1'41477):
We're all very close. I'm happy with the way the bike is working with the tyres. The track conditions changed a lot from the morning to the afternoon, making it difficult to find a good set-up. Tomorrow we have to continue to work on the suspension to improve the feeling. I tried to do a run of a few laps but I was still struggling with the flu and it was hard to breathe properly. In any case I'm really confident about the rest of the weekend.