News Report 10 April 2009

2009 MotoGP Qatar - Doha/Losail

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Losail Circuit
5380 m
04 / 12 / 2009
Time to be confirmed

Rossi and Lorenzo make strong start with second and fourth in Qatar night

Free practice

The long-awaited first round of the 2009 MotoGP World Championship finally got underway in Qatar tonight, with Fiat Yamaha riders Valentino Rossi and Jorge Lorenzo making a promising start to their weekend by finishing second and fourth. Tech 3 Yamaha rider Colin Edwards was third, making it three Yamaha’s in the top four under the floodlights of the Losail International Circuit.

With the first Friday practice session now cancelled and all other sessions cut to 45 minutes, it was a strange first ‘day’ for the riders but the Yamaha duo made the most of the shortened time to adapt to the night time conditions and fine-tune the base settings they found during the test here last month, with conditions much warmer this time around. Rossi was fast from the outset, finishing 0.386 seconds off leader Casey Stoner, whilst Lorenzo took a little longer to find his rhythm but put in a fast lap at the end to jump up the order.

The M1’s of Rossi and Lorenzo ran a new logo for the first time tonight for Official Sponsor Packard Bell, which had its global unveiling this morning. The Packard Bell brand means cutting-edge design, style, the ability to understand trends and to enliven desire with creativity. The new red colour and rounded edges fit perfectly with the MotoGP world, evoking competitive spirit, style and trends.

Valentino Rossi - Position: 2nd Time: 1'57.439 Laps: 18
“This evening I am quite happy because at the test we were one second from Casey but now the gap is much less. We had some ideas after the test to improve our pace and I am happy to say that they all seemed to have worked. I am fast, I have a good pace and I am happy with this opening session. We can still improve; the track was quite dirty tonight so I think that tomorrow we will be able to push a bit harder. It’s much warmer than at the test and this is helping us too, I am more confident and I can ride my M1 how I want to. It’s strange only having 45 minutes in a session and you have to be quite well organised and plan more in advance, but on the whole it doesn’t seem so bad to me. This weekend I have a special sticker on my bike, which says ‘Forza Abruzzo.’ It’s a message from us for the people of Abruzzo, where the earthquake was last weekend. It’s not so far from my home in Tavullia and I want them to know that we are with them at such a terrible time.”
Jorge Lorenzo - Position: 4th Time: 1'58.272 Laps: 18
“We had a few problems, mainly in the hard braking areas where I didn’t have such a great feeling with the front tyre, but apart from that it’s been ok. The track was quite dirty so it was difficult to go at 100%, and I think tomorrow it will be much better. At the end today we made a big improvement and my last lap was much better, so I am not worried and I think tomorrow, with more time on track, we can improve. 45 minutes doesn’t feel enough to me but I do understand the reason for this change; if it helps the championship then it’s important and we just need to get used to this new way of working. The track should be much less dirty as well tomorrow so I hope we can start from where we finished tonight and keep going.”

Davide Brivio - Team Manager
“It was a good practice tonight because we’ve taken what we learnt here during the test and at Jerez and made some good improvements to our base setting. Now we just need to continue to work in the same way and stay as close as possible to the top. It was the first time with just one Friday session, our aim was to ensure we used the reduced time as well as possible and I think we achieved this.”

Daniele Romagnoli - Team Manager
“Tonight was not so bad, although it will take some time to get used to the new, short practice! It’s quite hard for Jorge as well because he generally likes to do quite a lot of laps. We had a few issues in the hard braking and some understeer into the turns but we improved at the end. Also the track conditions were not perfect which didn’t help, but we’re positive for tomorrow.”

Dazzling start by Colin Edwards in Qatar

Colin Edwards made a dazzling start to the new MotoGP world championship season in Qatar tonight, the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 rider finishing the opening practice session of 2009 in third position.

The American's best time of 1.57.835 on his last lap was only bettered by Casey Stoner and Valentino Rossi as the MotoGP field got accustomed to a new practice format. With track time reduced from one hour to 45 minutes under new cost-cutting rules implemented for 2009, Edwards quickly worked on fine-tuning the front-end set-up of his Yamaha YZY-M1

Despite windy conditions, track temperatures were 10 degrees hotter than at last month's night test session, and Edwards quickly took advantage to move into second place with 19 minutes remaining. He only slipped down to third with a late attack by reigning world champion Rossi. Edwards though was only 0.396s off the Italian.James Toseland was content with 11th place on the timesheets as the British rider set a best time of 1.58.850. That impressive display left him just 0.079s outside of the top ten. It was a morale-boosting performance from the 28-year-old who occupied a place in the top six until the closing stages to show two big pre-season crashes haven't dented his confidence going into his second MotoGP season.The start of the new season was a special occasion for the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 squad with the number 52 taking on extra significance. As well as being Toseland's race number, team manager Herve Poncharal celebrated his 52nd birthday today.
Colin Edwards 3rd 1.57.835 – 17 laps
“I'm pretty happy to have started close to the front because it is always important to try and hit the ground running. We played around with the front-end mainly because I had a few issues at the last test in Jerez with movement on the front tyre whenever I tried to really push hard. It was a bit like a speed limit in Jerez but the changes we have made feel really good. It's not a massive change, I'm only talking a millimetre here and there but it has taken away some of that movement and that is crucial for me because I'm such a front-end guy. I'm happy it was the right direction too because you really can't afford to waste any time with less track time now. You've got to back yourself and your team that the changes you make are going to be an improvement, and tonight it worked out. I've still got some small issues but I needed to make this change because it is obvious the way I force the handlebars with my arms is different to Valentino and Jorge. I'm happy to have got a good start for the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 team and give Herve something to smile about on his birthday!"
James Toseland 11th 1.58.850 – 18 laps
“I'm pleased with tonight because it has been a tough winter but I was in the ballpark right from the start. I'm eleventh but on the lap times I'm really close to the top six and that is really encouraging. The team did a great job with the base setting because I've not had much time on the bike, and their understanding of what I need has been fantastic. I felt comfortable on the bike and that was important for me. My right foot is a little bit sore after the crash in Jerez but it is not proving a big problem on the bike at all. I'm delighted with my recovery because for a while I couldn't even put any weight on my right foot. But if we had a race tomorrow then I'd be going for a top six position and that's where I want to be coming off the winter. I used the softer tyres tonight because with the track temperature ten degrees hotter than at the test, I wanted to save the harder tyres because that is what I'll need for the race. With the shorter session and less tyres, it really comes down to strategy and my team were brilliant. Hopefully now I'll be able to give Herve a belated birthday present on Sunday.”