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Third on Home GP Opening Day for Morbidelli at Mugello

Third on Home GP Opening Day for Morbidelli at Mugello

Franco Morbidelli begins ItalianGP with third in Free Practice; Valentino Rossi 21st.

The opening day of the Gran Premio d’Italia proved to be a mixed one for home heroes Franco Morbidelli and Valentino Rossi. A masterful lap from Morbidelli around Mugello saw the PETRONAS Yamaha SRT rider end the day third, just 0.184secs shy of first, while team-mate Rossi was 21st.

Morbidelli had a good start to his home GP, staying inside the top-ten during his first few laps of the Mugello circuit in FP1. Dropping outside of this slightly as the session wore on, the Italian put in a series of quicker laps towards the end of the 45 minutes, the fastest of which – 1min 47.184secs – placed him fifth. The start of FP2 saw Franco once again inside the top-ten, however he then chose to focus on a longer run on used tyres. Biding his time until the final moments to complete his time attack, Morbidelli’s final lap of 1min 46.331secs saw him jump up the timing screens to end the day third.

Team-mate Rossi also had a strong start to FP1, holding fifth place on the timing screens momentarily. The Italian then had a steadier end to the opening practice session and rounded out FP1 in 17th, with a fastest lap time of 1min 48.302secs. Valentino had a tougher time in FP2 and found himself running wide at Turn 1 on a couple of laps. Opting to try the harder compound tyres in the afternoon session, Rossi was unable to lap at the pace he wanted. Switching to the soft tyre for his final run, his best time of 1min 47.719secs placed him 21st in the combined times.

Tomorrow will see Free Practice 3 begin at 9.55am local time (3.55pm MYT) for the Italian duo, with the first of the MotoGP qualifying sessions due to get underway at 2.10pm local time (8.10pm MYT).

Franco Morbidelli

"First of all it feels great to be back in Mugello. This track is unique and it is such a huge pleasure to be riding on it again, you always forget how nice it is and it feels even better to be fast here. I was able to do some good laps on used tyres and we were able to understand some more things with the bike. I was also able to do a good lap on the soft tyre and be in the top three. We still need to figure out which tyre we will use in the race, but we have been looking at all the tiny details of the bike and I’ve been giving my maximum when I ride; I think with this combination we can do well. This home GP has a different feel and there is extra motivation to do well, although it is a big pity that there isn’t going to be a big crowd on the hill this weekend."

Valentino Rossi

"It was a difficult day, especially in the afternoon. First of all we tried the hard tyres, but that was not the right choice so my pace wasn’t the best. At the end I did one lap with the soft tyre and I improved my lap time, but it is not a good position. I had some problems when trying to stop the bike; I was not the quickest when changing direction and I made some mistakes, so tomorrow we need to try something different. We tried the new front start device today too and, although the feeling wasn’t perfect, it looks alright for a first test of it. We’ll now look at changing the setting of the bike to improve the balance and hopefully be stronger tomorrow."