News Report 30 May 2008

2008 MotoGP Italy - Mugello

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5245 m
06 / 01 / 2008
Time to be confirmed

Rossi homecoming marred by heavy rain in Mugello

Free practice

It was a wet and gloomy return to home turf for Fiat Yamaha Team rider Valentino Rossi today, as heavy rain greeted the MotoGP paddock on the opening day of the Italian Grand Prix at Mugello. The weather was in stark contrast to the bright Tuscan sunshine that’s generally expected at this race and made for a muddy day on the hillsides for Rossi’s army of Italian fans.

An early morning shower meant that this morning’s first free practice was run on a drying track, with times decreasing throughout. Rossi was quite fast early on but did not go out when the track was at its driest and times were fastest, finishing the session in tenth. This afternoon was an even wetter story, with a heavy shower during the first quarter of the session and steady drizzle from then on meaning that there was standing water on the track throughout, but it gave Rossi and his crew an important chance to gather more information about the Bridgestone rain tyres and also to refine their wet set-up. The Italian was very pleased with the improvement and finished the afternoon session in fourth, setting a best time in the wet of 2’02.327, although he remains tenth in the combined standings due to the faster times from this morning.

Rossi’s team-mate Lorenzo meanwhile was also impressively fast in the wet this afternoon, finishing the second session in sixth. Luckily today’s rain looks like being a one-off and better weather is forecast for the next two days, with both Fiat Yamaha riders looking forward to getting started on their race set-up in the dry tomorrow.

Valentino Rossi 10th in combined standings - Time: 1'58.672; “There was really a lot of water here today! It’s a pity because it’s wonderful here when it’s sunny and I think that like this it’s not so fun for the fans, plus we’ve really lost a whole day of practice because it seems it’s going to be dry from now on! This morning was very tricky with the track quite patchy, so I preferred to take it easy in these conditions. This afternoon was very useful however and we were able to make some important modifications to our wet set-up, which enabled us to go quite fast at the end and finish fourth. At the start of the session it was so wet that it felt a bit dangerous, so it was necessary to be very careful, but it was better in the second half and I am glad we’ve had this session because it reassures us that we’re fast also in the wet. From now on here I think, and hope, that it’s going to be dry so we will start again tomorrow. Missing one day like this means that our setting for Sunday in the dry won’t be as perfect as it might have been, but anyway we would still prefer it to be dry, for us and for the fans!”

Davide Brivio Team Manager; “It’s been varying degrees of wet all day which means it’s been quite difficult, with a lot of work for the team, but anyway it hasn’t been so bad and it’s given us a great opportunity to understand more about Bridgestone in the wet and also to work on the set-up of our bike in these conditions. We’ve made some good steps forward in the rain but now it seems that the race at least will be dry so we’re hoping for good weather tomorrow as well so that we can start with our race set-up.”
It was a promising day Spanish youngster Jorge Lorenzo as he was able to make significant steps with his rain set-up. Sunday will be the 21-year-old’s 100th Grand Prix start but today was only his 99th Friday session as he did not turn 15 until the Saturday of his first ever race, the 2002 Spanish Grand Prix, and was therefore unable to take part in the opening day’s practices.

Lorenzo is still recovering from the two fractured ankles that he sustained in China earlier this month but his physical condition is much improved and he is now finding riding much easier. With heavy rain early on making for extremely tricky conditions on a drying track this morning however he took it easy and refrained from taking any risks, finishing the session in 14th. With the track fully wet this afternoon it was a different story and he and his crew made the most of the conditions to work their way through some new Michelin wet tyres and to improve the rain set-up of their M1. The Mallorcan completed 25 laps, more than any other rider, and a best time of 2’02.562 put him sixth this afternoon, although with times this morning having been faster on the drier track he remains 14th in the combined standings.

Jorge Lorenzo 14th in combined standings - Time: 2'00.004; “Today I am actually very happy because we were quite fast in the rain! When I first rode the M1 in the wet I found it very hard but bit by bit we have improved and today I felt quite confident. The morning was very strange and I didn’t want to take too many risks; my ankles are feeling much better but I don’t want to make any more mistakes! This afternoon however when it was fully wet I did a lot of laps and I was able to make one long run of 19 consecutive laps, during which I was able to find a good rhythm. We tried some new Michelin rain tyres and it seems they’re very good, so I’m happy about this. Now though I hope it’s going to be dry because it is easier like this and also it means the race will be shorter, which I prefer while I am still not physically at 100%.”

Danielle Romagnoli Team Manager; “This has been a very important wet session for us today and it’s been Jorge’s best performance so far in the rain. He is really starting to understand how to ride the M1 in the rain and we are refining the setting to suit him, so this is very encouraging. He did a string of 19 laps and it was good to see him growing in confidence lap-by-lap. Michelin have some good wet tyres so I think we’re going to be in great shape for the next wet race. Luckily though it seems that the sun is going to come out tomorrow – we hope so anyway – and we are now looking forward to getting started on our set-up for a dry race.”
James Toseland impresses in Mugello monsoon

Tech 3 Yamaha rider James Toseland produced a masterful exhibition of wet weather riding this afternoon to set one of the fastest times in a rain-lashed second free practice session in Mugello. The British rider, who was using a new shorter wheelbase set-up for the first time to help improve rear grip, clocked a best time of 2.02.412 to finish just 0.085s behind MotoGP world championship leader and Mugello expert Valentino Rossi.
Toseland led the session for long periods as he took full advantage of a special wet tyre test he took part in at Michelin’s Clermont-Ferrand headquarters last week, first moving to the top of the timesheets just before the halfway stage. Toseland was untouchable as conditions worsened with riders fighting to control big straight-line slides as they powered through large patches of standing water at 190mph.
At one stage, Toseland’s advantage over the field was an impressive 2.585s, but as the appalling conditions improved towards the end, Toseland was dropped to fifth, and he finished 13th on the combined timesheets after the best times of the day were logged on a drying track this morning. American Edwards ended the session eighth, though he had been as high as third shortly after the halfway stage as he looks to build on his third place finish in Le Mans. Edwards, who has been on the front row of the grid four times in the opening five races, finished 19th overall after a problematic session this morning.

James Toseland 13th in combined standings - Time: 1.59.899; “I’d done a few laps on a MotoGP bike back in 2004 when Ducati gave me a present for winning the World Superbike title, so at least I knew which way the track goes. I’ve really noticed at the last three races that have been brand new for me that it is a big disadvantage and it was nice to come somewhere a little bit familiar. On a new track I have always felt one step behind and that has been frustrating, but I’ve got a good set-up now. I’ve got the shorter wheelbase that the other Yamaha guys have been using and it has given me much more confidence with the rear, especially in the wet conditions. That extra weight on the rear makes a big difference and there’s a lot more contact patch and that gives me the confidence to push. I was quite confident in the rain because I was pretty fast on Sunday morning in China, so we’ve obviously fallen on a good base setting for the rain. I’m really happy with the session and at the end I was a bit disappointed to drop out of the top three. But at one point I thought they would have to stop the session. There was a lot of standing water and one time I was going down the straight pinned in sixth gear and the bike just flicked sideways as I hit the crest.
That’s when conditions started getting borderline because there was so much water, no wet tyre in the world could disperse it all. Going to Michelin last week was good timing for wet conditions and they have done a great job.”
Colin Edwards 19th in combined standings - Time: 2.03.586; “The bike is working good and I spent this afternoon just trying to find a tyre that could last the distance if we get a wet race on Sunday. I kept the same front tyre for the whole session and it is brilliant, so Michelin have done a great job with that. The front is so good I could probably run it in the dry! It seems to work okay, but we are just looking for a bit more grip on the rear. I’ve got good grip but I just need it to be a bit more consistent. I’m sure I can find a bit more time from the set-up which we can improve, and the front doesn’t feel perfect, especially when it starts to dry out a little bit.
It’s a shame it wasn’t dry because we changed the set-up a bit in Clermont-Ferrand to help the bike change direction a bit faster for this track, but we haven’t run it. It should be a good direction though if we get a dry track. I only did slick tyre testing last week for Michelin and at times conditions today were pretty bad. It grabs your attention when you are flat-out in sixth gear going over the hill at the end of the straight and the rear decides to step out.”