Repsol Honda’s Nicky Hayden has been good in the wet this season. His runner-up finish at the Indy rain-fest and now he is looking good for the finale at Valencia.
Wet weather cut into the final MotoGP practice session of the year but that didn’t stop Repsol Honda’s Nicky Hayden and his teammate Dani Pedrosa from posting the top times of day. Practice was shorter than usual as water pooled-up on the racing surface forced an early ending as riders crashed again and again throughout the afternoon. Hayden led the way all day, finishing with the fastest time at the end of the first and second sessions. For Hayden, this is the last time he will fly the Honda colors after a decade long relationship with the Japanese powerhouse. He has already signed-on to race alongside Casey Stoner (Who finished fifth in final practice) and the Ducati MotoGP effort for the 2009 season.
The first practice was held under heavy rain conditions but as they day wore on the rain slowed down somewhat. The sloppy conditions allowed the teams to work on wet-weather set-up as the forecast continues to be rain for tomorrow and possibly race day.
Home town hero Jorge Lorenzo is hoping to end his rookie season on a high note. The 21-year old was third fastest aboard the Yamaha M1. Lorenzo is sporting a special livery for the season finale, aptly anointed ‘Lorenzo’s Lands’ as it incorporates flags from the 14 countries he has claimed a victory in during his MotoGP career. His teammate and recently crowned MotoGP champion, Valentino Rossi, suffered a low-side in the second session.
Valentino Rossi (Fiat Yamaha) “Today was a difficult day because this track is quite bad when it’s wet and cold like this – the asphalt really doesn’t give enough grip. This morning I went out just when it started to get really heavy and so I wasn’t able to do any good laps, but this afternoon was better. In fact I felt good and I was quite fast with the Bridgestone wet tyres, so I think we have good potential if the conditions are like this again. Unfortunately I had a small crash at the last corner when I made a mistake and lost the rear, but I wasn’t hurt at all and I was able to go back out with a slightly harder tyre and continue to work. Anyway, we were fourth finally and I am quite happy although we can be faster. Now we have to wait and see the weather for tomorrow.”
Andrea Dovisioso (JiR Honda) “This afternoon we have done a good job with both the team and Michelin. I am happy with the result that we have reached, because under these conditions It was not easy to go fast and many riders have been slow. This morning we started working on a wet setting, but we stopped testing with ten minutes to go as the conditions were just too bad and we would be taking unnecessary risks. In the afternoon the track was still damp, I tried to run with three types of tyres from the wet range and we understood the way to go for practice tomorrow, if the weather does not change. I did want to try another configuration, to anticipate conditions tomorrow but we did not have time. Either way, I am confident that tomorrow we can improve. “
Loris Capirossi (Rizla Suzuki) “Today has been very tough because we have been working all day to find the best
Although Chris Vermeulen has struggled so far in the slippery conditions he has been good in the rain throughout his career. Can the Rizla Suzuki rider turn things around this weekend and make a push for the podium in the finale?
solution to the conditions. It feels like I have zero grip on the rear and every time I lean the bike over I feel like I am going to lose it. We tried many things with settings and in the end we changed a lot of things and immediately went one second quicker, but the session was then over and we couldn’t keep on working to see what more improvements we could make. We certainly have a lot of work to do because we are still far away from the top and we still don’t really understand why we have the problem with the rear, but we will be looking at the data to see what is happening – we really hope it rains tomorrow so we can fix the problem. We know we have to go much better, and we certainly have the capability to do so!”
John Hopkins (Monster Kawasaki) “Going from the heat of Malaysia to the freezing cold conditions of Valencia has been a huge change and the conditions on circuit were pretty bad today. In the first session there was a lot of standing water on track and a lot of the guys decided to sit out the final 15-minutes as the rain worsened. It was so bad I hardly got my knee down at all and I had a few big moments out there. We had a few problems this afternoon with one of our machines, but we have spent the entire time trying to improve the rear grip of the bike. We also evaluated new engine components, but because of the conditions the results aren’t conclusive, as we weren’t able to ride at the maximum today. They say the weather is going to improve, but either way we have some things to try should it carry on raining tomorrow.”
Anthony West (Monster Kawasaki) “It’s incredibly slippery out there on track, and this is a circuit that is supposed to flow, so it’s been quite hard work today. The bike feels quite nervous and I can’t get hard on the brakes into the turns. Then, whenever I get on the throttle it just feels like I’m going to highside, although for some strange reason everything felt perfect at turn two. The conditions on circuit were not good, in fact many of the riders sat out the final part of the first session, so it’s difficult to see where we’re at. Hopefully things will improve for tomorrow as I’m determined to finish the final race of the year with a good result.”
Free Practice Results:
1. Nicky Hayden (USA) Repsol Honda 1’45.777
2. Dani Pedrosa (SPA) Repsol Honda 1’45.864
3. Jorge Lorenzo (SPA) Fiat Yamaha Team 1’45.959
4. Valentino Rossi (ITA) Fiat Yamaha Team 1’46.070
5. Casey Stoner (AUS) Ducati Marlboro 1’46.260
6. Andrea Dovizioso (ITA) JiR Team Scot MotoGP 1’46.522
7. Randy De Puniet (FRA) LCR Honda MotoGP 1’46.807
8. Sylvain Guintoli (FRA) Alice Team 1’47.055
9. Colin Edwards (USA) Tech 3 Yamaha 1’47.314
10. Shinya Nakano (JPN) San Carlo Honda Gresini 1’47.483
11. Chris Vermeulen (AUS) Rizla Suzuki 1’47.620
12. Alex De Angelis (RSM) San Carlo Honda Gresini 1’48.015
13. Marco Melandri (ITA) Ducati Marlboro 1’48.437
14. John Hopkins (USA) Kawasaki Racing 1’48.469
15. Anthony West (AUS) Kawasaki Racing 1’48.504
16. James Toseland (GBR) Tech 3 Yamaha 1’48.771
17. Loris Capirossi (ITA) Rizla Suzuki MotoGP 1’49.092
18. Toni Elias (SPA) Alice Team 1’51.871