This morning’s first free practice was run in unexpectedly cool temperatures but the Italian’s M1 worked well out of the box and he was second fastest, 0.764 seconds of Casey Stoner. Rossi was confident of being able to improve his times this afternoon as the track heated up but the temperature increased by only a few degrees and he was unable to better his time from this morning. He is nonetheless confident that he has not yet reached his full potential here and will be able to make further improvements tomorrow.
Rossi’s team-mate Jorge Lorenzo was 13th fastest on what is his first ever ride at this track, whilst the time sheets were topped by Casey Stoner, with Nicky Hayden in second.
Valentino Rossi - Position: 3 Time: 1'22.679 Laps: 65
“We started quite well this morning and we were quite fast from the start. We used our standard base setting and it seemed to work quite well here, and I think that in fact I could have gone faster this morning but in my last run my grip wasn’t perfect so I slowed down. This morning I was quite happy but this afternoon we tried to modify something in the set-up of the bike, because we’re still looking for the ideal configuration for this track, and it wasn’t as good as we had hoped. Now we must put the best things of each session together and then I believe we will be able to be some tenths faster tomorrow. We have a good potential here and I know we haven’t reached it yet; we need to do some work on the suspension but the Bridgestones are good which is encouraging. I am looking forward to making more progress tomorrow and closing the gap to Stoner.”
Davide Brivio - Team Manager
“Overall this has been a good day. We are quite pleased with how we started this morning and now we’re working hard to fine-tune our set-up, especially the suspension, chassis and electronic mapping, in order to optimise our potential here. It was cooler than we expected today but our Bridgestone tyres are working very well at this track. We didn’t improve this afternoon as much as we’d hoped but we will look at the data tonight and continue with our work in the morning.”
Lorenzo takes it easy as he finds his way at Laguna Seca
Fiat Yamaha Team rider Jorge Lorenzo made his competitive debut at Laguna Seca today on the first day of practice for the US Grand Prix, finishing 13th in the combined standings. The 21-year-old visited the track as a commentator for last year’s race but this was his first time on a bike around the famous California circuit.
Lorenzo has been looking forward to riding here all season and he spent this morning’s session familiarising himself with the nuances of the 3.610 km track, especially the famous corkscrew at turn eight. This afternoon he felt confident enough to begin working on bike set-up and he improved his time by nearly a second. He is still lacking some rear grip however and will be looking to make significant strides with this tomorrow. Lorenzo’s team-mate Valentino Rossi was third fastest today, behind Casey Stoner and Nicky Hayden.
Jorge Lorenzo - Position: 13th Time: 1'23.415 Laps: 63
“The first laps here in Laguna Seca this morning were incredible for me and I had great fun learning the track. On my first lap I was very lucky at the Corkscrew because Nicky Hayden was in front and he knows this track very well, so I followed him and I came out alive! It’s very different to anywhere else we go and very complicated, so I am trying to take it gently until I am sure of my lines. For me the hardest part is the first corner, but I felt better about it this afternoon. I had some problems with my rear tyre, we don’t have enough grip, and I also need more confidence in the front of the bike. I think I need to do some more laps here in order to have more feeling and knowledge about the track and the right lines. I’ve been looking at the Superbike times and they’re doing almost the same times as me, so I know I have some work to do. We have some issues but we’re working hard towards being faster tomorrow. I’ve enjoyed my first day here.”
Daniele Romagnoli - Team Manager
“The number one priority of today was for Jorge to learn the track, so we did quite long runs in order to improve his understanding of the lines and the braking points. In general he understood quite quickly and it seems he’s enjoying riding here at Laguna Seca. We still have some rear grip issues to address, especially on the entry into turns, and we will concentrate on this tomorrow and try out some different solutions for our bike.”
Tech 3 Yamaha duo looking for improvements
Colin Edwards ended the first day of his home race at Laguna Seca with the seventh fastest time, while James Toseland was 16th quickest as the Tech 3 Yamaha team experienced a tough start to the American GP.
Struggling to get the best performance out of his Michelin tyres, Edwards was also hampered by a neck injury that he suffered when crashing out of a rain-lashed German GP just five days ago. Edwards was due to have further medical examinations with Dr Art Ting tonight to assess the neck injury.
Less than 24 hours after confirming he had signed a new contract with Tech 3 for the 2009 world championship, Edwards clocked a best time of 1.23.077 in the closing stages of this afternoon’s session, which was run under blue skies but in cooler than normal air temperatures of 22 degrees. Conditions though were significantly better than this morning when heavy cloud and mist covered the spectacular California circuit.
British rider Toseland had a difficult first day too, which culminated in him crashing unhurt at the end of the second session.
Colin Edwards - Position: 7th 1.23.077 - 58 lapsM
“That certainly didn’t go as well as I expected and right now it looks like it is going to be a tough weekend. Firstly, something is wrong with my neck. I’m trying to be the tough guy but I can’t even turn my head to look around. There is something clicking and grinding in there so I am going to get an X-ray on my neck with Dr Ting just to make sure everything is okay. The issue is with the down force and in particular with the weight of my helmet pushing down on my head. It is like somebody is ramming a red hit poker or a knife in my neck. It happened in the crash in Germany and it is certainly not helping me. But I have got a few issues that are making it tough. I’m having problems with getting heat into the tyres at the moment, and to do the lap time I did right at the end, I’m giving myself a pat on the back for that. I did my best time on my 18th lap on that tyre, so obviously it gets better the more you use it. But early on with the temperature issue it is tough to run the pace of where we need to be. I guess we just got to hope it gets a bit warmer to try and help the grip.”
“I’m not happy at all. It has been hard to do the lap times I expected and we have got some problems with the set-up and the tyres. I’m really struggling to have a good feeling and it has been a bit frustrating. I was pushing hard at the end of the session and crashed at turn three and I was only going to really improve by a tenth and maybe gain one position, and 15th is not where I expected to be. The main issue at the moment is getting heat into the tyres because we have got mostly harder compound tyres in my allocation. I’ve got a couple of softer options but I need to save one for the race and possibly use one tomorrow afternoon to make sure it is the direction that we need. I’ll sit down tonight with my guys to see if we can do something with the set-up that will push us a bit further forward. But today I was going as fast as I could and not feeling like I had much room for improvement. We’ll try and improve tomorrow as we always do and remain positive looking ahead to the race.”