While Casey Stoner was satified with his second-best time during practice, the ’07 world champion was concerned over his Ducati set-up.
Stoner heaped praise on the revamped Silverstone circuit despite joining a chorus of complaints about a bumpy surface after opening MotoGP free practice. The 2007 world champion steered his factory Ducati GP10 to the second-fastest time in opening free practice that saw a lap of 2’06.133 finish just 0.142s away from Jorge Lorenzo. Stoner said he was satisfied with his pace having edged out Andrea Dovizioso in third place by just 0.214s and he spoke afterwards of his immediate admiration for the fast and challenging Silverstone track.
“I’m quite satisfied position wise but the way the bike is reacting I’m not really happy and we’ve good quite a lot of work to do mainly over the bumps. This circuit is fantastic, it is amazing, the layout of the circuit is lot of fun and it is really nice to ride. It’s different, it is technical and it’s fast, it’s slow and got a bit of everything but unfortunately with the bumps it is making near impossible to really just focus on the track.”
Elaborating on the issue of the bumpy surface, Stoner said it was making finding a good machine set-up a particularly complex challenge. The 3.667-miles track has differing tarmac in some sections and also bumpy on the old parts because of its heavy use for four-wheeled activities. The 24-year-old, who has yet to claim a rostrum finish in 2010, said:
“You are that worried about picking the bike up over certain bumps or going into a corner not too hard because you lose the front on a bump and you are not able to ride the track to its full potential. That’s a little disappointing. I think they’ve had too much experience with cars and with cars the bumps aren’t such a big issue but with bikes there are huge issues and it is making things very difficult on fast track to be so bumpy. I’ve tried going inside, outside and I found one corner that I can go inside them but unless you are on the kerbs you are better off on the kerbs. This track, Mugello and a couple of others are starting to come very bumpy like Brazil used to be and Welkom.”
The bumpy surface though didn’t dampen Stoner’s likeness for the new track and he was a big fan of the fast Abbey and Farm Curve section near to where the new pits and paddock complex are being constructed. Picking out his favorite part he said:
“The first new part when we turn right and into the left, that left corner is unbelievable and if it wasn’t followed by a tight hairpin it would be one of the best corners in the world because it is that much fun. It has a really fast entry and you think you are going in too fast but then the corner opens up and you can get straight back on the gas and get on the left. It’s fourth gear and without the hairpin after it would be fourth gear flat and that’s a lot of fun.”
After taking first on the timesheets during Friday’s free practice, Jorge Lorenzo feels confident for Sunday’s race.
Stoner said one possible remedy for the bumps would be a complete resurface in time for next year’s race, with Silverstone having a contract to host the British MotoGP for the next five years. “The track layout and safety seems great just the surface they need a kick up the arse about that because even the new parts of the track are so bumpy,” said the 2007 champion.
Jorge Lorenzo is confident he will be able to mount a strong challenge for his third victory of the 2010 MotoGP campaign at Silverstone this weekend. The Spaniard made the perfect start to the first British MotoGP clash to be staged at the Northamptonshire track since 1986 when he topped the timesheets in first practice. Fighting a lone battle for the depleted Fiat Yamaha squad with Valentino Rossi recovering from the broken leg he suffered in Mugello, the 23-year-old set a best time of 2’05.991 to deny Casey Stoner top spot by 0.142s. Giving his first impressions of the fast and flowing Silverstone track, the double world 250GP champion said:
“It is a beautiful track. It was very difficult in the first few laps because it was a long time since we arrived in a new track. I think it was in Misano in 2007 and that was quite easy to learn. But this is a difficult track, very long and hard to understand and to find the braking points and the lines. I felt so strange at the beginning but by the end I was quite fast. We’ve worked really hard and I’ve ridden a lot of laps in order to begin to understand every corner and every straight. Unfortunately it was cold today and the asphalt was cold too, which meant that without any reference points in the beginning it was quite difficult, but hopefully tomorrow and Sunday will be better. But the first section to the chicane are very funny corners. You must be very smooth and I think also you can slide a lot in some parts of the track and I really like to ride on it.”
One issue for Lorenzo was the bumps, with the Silverstone surface given a lukewarm reception by the majority of the premier class field.
“There are a lot of bumps and some parts of the corners are so bumpy,” said the Mallorcan. “But the bike on the bumps is working well. Maybe the only problem we have is in some acceleration but the bike is in good shape.”
Lorenzo again faced yet more questions about his thoughts on the absence of Italian icon Rossi and how it impacts on his quest for a first MotoGP world title. Lorenzo, who leads compatriot Dani Pedrosa by 25 points going into Sunday’s 20-lap encounter, added:
“In Mugello I just wanted to finish the race. I had this feeling more than other races because I knew that if I finished second I would have a 25-point lead but if I crashed I could have been second or third in the championship. My main objective in Mugello was to finish because the situation changed a lot. I’m concentrated on enjoying the riding now and trying to improve. My goal has always been to be world champion. I’m not in any rush to get it and I still don’t have a rush. It is true that Valentino was clearly the favorite and without him I’m the second favorite after Stoner because he’s been a world champion.”
Ben Spies clocked an impressive time of 2’07.250 on the Silverstone circuit that was good enough for fifth-place.
Rossi will miss at least five races after he broke his right leg in a practice high-side for his home race in Mugello earlier this month.
Ben Spies was in impressive form at the fast and challenging Silverstone circuit today after the Texan clocked the fifth-best time in opening practice. The reigning World Superbike champion showed that when he’s not starting at a major disadvantage he is a serious top six threat. Only Casey Stoner and Monster Yamaha Tech 3 teammate Colin Edwards had previously raced at the Northamptonshire circuit. But the facelift to turn Silverstone into the longest and fastest circuit on the calendar meant little remains of the track that Stoner and Edwards competed on.
That was a major benefit to Spies, who for once started on a level playing field against his rivals. And the Texan was able to secure fifth place in opening practice with a best time of 2’07.250. That left him trailing fastest rider Jorge Lorenzo by 1.259s and more than 0.8s adrift of Randy de Puniet’s LCR Honda in fourth. The French rider though had been at Silverstone last week taking part in a trackday to familiarize himself with the 3.667-miles layout.
Spies said of Silverstone: “It is a super fun track with a really cool design. It is really fast in a lot of places and I really like the fast right and left combination where they are building the new pits and paddock. And coming out of the first corner you are really picking up a lot of speed before that twisty part and it is all about finding the limit, learning how deep you can run it in. It was a decent session though it took me a while to get going. With everybody shooting in the dark in terms of set-up, we were missing a little bit in places with the gearbox setting but overall I’m happy. I think everybody will improve quite a bit tomorrow and I know I can be much faster. I tried a completely different set-up to Mugello and that has helped in a couple of places and towards the end I was getting more comfortable with it.”
Ben Spies took advantage of Silverstone being a new circuit for everyone and had a time that was 1.259 seconds adrift of Lorenzo.
Teammate Colin Edwards was a lowly 12th but confident he can pick up his speed tomorrow after he finished more than 2.5s slower than Lorenzo. The veteran American though was raving about the revamped Silverstone circuit.
“The track is absolutely awesome and hats off to Silverstone because they did a fantastic job,” said the Texas Tornado. “The first corner is cool and then you’re flat-out going all the way to the twisty section and you really need to be brave at that point. It is so fast and reminds me of Phillip Island where you can really push the bike to the limit of its performance and the whole lap is just fast, flowing and really challenging. It’s just a lot of fun and they’ve done a great job. You’re going so fast that it takes time to get your brain in gear so you can work out how to go faster. I know there were some concerns about bumps. There are some out there but definitely no more than any other track. I’m only 12th which isn’t fantastic but I know there is a lot more to come. The bike at the moment just feels a bit heavy and not just in the change of direction. It is a bit of an effort just to get the bike back upright from maximum lean angle, but we know we can make it better for tomorrow and get it feeling easier.”
Suzuki boss Paul Denning is adamant that the 2010 factory GSV-R machine has not yet shown its true potential after a frustrating and disappointing start to the campaign. Veteran campaigner Loris Capirossi has already crashed out of two of the opening four races and scored just 13 points to sit 15th in the overall rankings heading into this weekend’s British GP at Silverstone. Meanwhile Spanish teammate Alvaro Bautista has been severely handicapped by a weakened left shoulder he broke shortly before the French GP at Le Mans. The former 125GP world champion has mustered only eight points with Suzuki comprehensively outshone by rivals Yamaha, Ducati and Honda.
Denning conceded the start to 2010 had been below pre-season expectations, with the latest version of Suzuki’s V4 GSV-R contender arguably its best since the opening 800cc premier class campaign in 2007.
Rizla Suzuki rider Loris Capirossi has struggled so far in the ’10 season, crashing out twince in four races and scoring just 13 points.
“Where we are right now obviously stinks but there is a lot to do,” said Denning. “The only positive aspect is that the bike has definitely improved and when the rider confidence improves I think we have a competitive machine. I don’t think for a moment we can go and challenge Jorge (Lorenzo) or Dani (Pedrosa) to win races but I think we can fight for top positions and be on the group that’s on the TV and in the race. Suzuki has done a good job with the bike, they’ve won before and are doing very well in the World Superbike championship but in racing you need everything to gel together and it hasn’t quite happened yet. It is reasonable package right now. All the bikes are really good and the riders are high quality and everyone has the same tire, so small details are making a big difference and rider confidence is a huge part of that. We need to focus on a bike that allows the riders to use its 100% ability all the time. It is frustrating when the bike has definitely improved a lot. Alvaro has no reference point with last year’s bike but Loris is basically really happy with the bike and really happy with improvements to acceleration and power delivery. It’s the first year I’ve not heard our riders complain about engine performance.”
Jorge Lorenzo says he would relish the chance to partner veteran American Colin Edwards in Yamaha’s official factory MotoGP squad. The Texan is leading candidate to take Valentino Rossi’s vacant YZR-M1 machine while the Italian recuperates from the broken right leg he suffered in Mugello recently.
Lorenzo said: ““I don’t know if this is sure but if Colin moves then I’d be very happy with that. He is a very funny person and a great guy and you could have a lot of fun with him.”
Edwards seemed certain to move to partner Spaniard Lorenzo in the Fiat-backed factory squad that he rode for between 2005 and 2007. But the issue has become somewhat clouded given the difficulty for Herve Poncharal to find a replacement for Edwards in the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 squad. Edwards was to move to the factory team for at least
Honda’s Dani Pedrosa has yet to remove himself from title contention and believes in the importance of fighting for each and every race victory.
three races as cover for Rossi, who has targeted a Brno return on August 15 after his horror home race high-side. But reigning World Supersport champion Cal Crutchlow knocked back the chance to partner Ben Spies at the forthcoming Catalunya, Sachsenring and Laguna Seca races.
Dani Pedrosa has indicated that arch Spanish rival Jorge Lorenzo should find it a formality to lift his first MotoGP world crown in 2010 with Valentino Rossi sidelined through injury. The broken right leg Rossi suffered during practice for his home race in Mugello earlier this month killed off the Italian’s hopes of a 10th Grand Prix title. And his absence made Lorenzo a red-hot favorite, with the double world 250GP champion holding a healthy 25-point advantage over Repsol Honda rival Pedrosa going into the fifth race at Silverstone this Sunday.
Triple world champion Pedrosa said of Lorenzo: “He (Rossi) left Lorenzo alone at the top of the championship with a big lead. I think it looks pretty easy for him but for me I just have to keep trying. Without Rossi you have one more spot in the top three because he was always going to be there. But the championship is still a championship and you have to fight against your rivals and sometimes your bike and the conditions. Rossi was a big thing but you still have to cope with many things if you want to win the championship. You have to fight against Lorenzo but without Rossi there is one spot left because he was not behind us and now he’s gone.”
Mugello winner Pedrosa certainly hasn’t ruled himself out of title contention at such an early stage in the season but he said the key point will be to ensure he’s fighting for the victory in every race.
“If I can keep my level of Mugello then, yes (can fight for title),” said the Repsol ace. “But if I don’t have the consistency then it will be difficult. Right now I’ve had two good races and two bad races, so I just need to have a better average of the good races.”
Jorge Lorenzo fears winning the 2010 MotoGP world championship will be a hollow victory without the formidable threat of Valentino Rossi to defeat. Speaking on the eve of this weekend’s British MotoGP clash at Silverstone in Northamptonshire, the 23-year-old said:
“It is a real pity because the world championship without Valentino loses something and also for me to fight for the title against him has more value than without. It’s a bad thing because I enjoy a lot fighting with him for the victory. You can learn a lot of things racing with him because he is a teacher for all of us. To beat him is a big pleasure but now he’s crashed and it is a completely new championship.”
Jorge Lorenzo expressed that one of his fears in winning the 2010 MotoGP world championship is that it would be a hollow victory in Valentino Rossi’s absence.
Lorenzo, who wasn’t even born when the last MotoGP race was held at Silverstone back in 1986, added, “Before Valentino’s crash I beat him two times. I don’t know if that affected his mind and he crashed because of that or not, but it is a pity for everyone that Valentino is not here. Winning the world championship is always a great feeling but without Valentino then maybe it loses a little bit of its value.”
Lorenzo conceded that Rossi’s crash in Mugello might have been a distraction after he failed to muster any challenge to compatriot Dani Pedrosa in the Italian MotoGP race.
“I was a little bit confused and I didn’t change my mind because when Valentino crashed the championship changed a lot for us. After some hours after his crash and before the race, maybe it was difficult to digest this and not think too much about it. On one hand the bike didn’t work the same as in practice and from another side I didn’t race like I normally do,” said Lorenzo.
Despite the disappointment at failing to challenge Pedrosa closer in Mugello, Lorenzo is still thrilled by his flying start to the 2010 campaign. He’s claimed 90 out of 100-points up for grabs so far, saying: “I’m really happy so far and the start has been perfect for us. If someone had come to me with a piece of paper before the start of the season and say you’re going to have two wins and second places in the other races, I would have signed.”