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Morbidelli and Rossi Inside the Top-Ten on Opening Day in France

Morbidelli and Rossi Inside the Top-Ten on Opening Day in France

Franco Morbidelli and Valentino Rossi fifth and ninth in Le Mans Free Practice.

PETRONAS Yamaha Sepang Racing Team got their FrenchGP off to a great start, with both MotoGP riders ending the opening day inside the top-ten. With threatening clouds overhead Franco Morbidelli posted the fifth fastest time, while Valentino Rossi was ninth in the combined times.

Morbidelli’s FP1 got off to a steady start, as the Italian assessed the damp conditions, and saw him set a time just outside of the top-15. Franco was able to improve his time and move into the top-ten, but at the end of the session he slipped down to 13th – 1min 41.423secs. At the beginning of the afternoon’s dry FP2 session, Morbidelli’s opening laps saw him post times just outside of the top-ten. Biding his time until the final moments of the 45 minutes to set his fastest times, Franco was momentarily third on the timing screens, but ended the day fifth with a 1min 32.279secs lap.

Rossi had a strong start to FP1, setting a time that placed him within the all-important top-ten places, before improving further to sixth. As conditions changed towards the end of the session, which saw some riders gamble on slick tyres, Valentino’s 1min 41.524secs lap saw him end FP1 14th. Starting the dry FP2 with a strong pace, the Italian’s opening laps placed him inside the top-five. With times improving rapidly throughout the session, Rossi found himself out of the top-ten at the halfway point, but soon recovered. His best lap of 1min 32.669secs placed him ninth in the combined times.

Tomorrow’s MotoGP track action will get underway at 9.55am local time (3.55pm MYT) with Free Practice 3, before the first of the two afternoon’s qualifying sessions begin at 2.10pm local time (8.10pm MYT).

Franco Morbidelli

"It was important today, especially in the dry conditions this afternoon, to do a good lap time and be inside the top-ten. We actually saw that FP2 was more like a long qualifying, than a normal Free Practice session. I’m happy that we were able to be fast and put ourselves fifth, directly through to Q2 potentially. We were not able to take the time to properly understand things with the bike this afternoon, like the feeling, as we were forced to go for the lap time. Tomorrow we will try to look at this more and attempt to look at some things on the bike, so see if we can improve the feedback and feeling. Overall today was a positive day though and I’m happy."

Valentino Rossi

"Today was better than the previous GPs and we had a positive feeling with the bike. We were lucky because we needed a dry practice to understand if what we improved in the Jerez test also works here. This morning in the wet I was quite fast, but this afternoon I felt better with the bike and was able to ride better as well: I had a decent pace, I was more precise and also more consistent. It is only Friday but being inside the top-ten was important today. We need to work on some things, but it is just normal weekend work and it looks like I can be stronger here this weekend. The settings and the balance are better now, plus the Yamaha is normally good at Le Mans, so this is important."