Ducati’s Casey Stoner set the fastest time during a wet practice session on Friday but was still more than 10 seconds off Pedrosa’s time set during the first session.
Casey Stoner might have topped the timesheets in a wet second MotoGP practice session at the Motorland Aragon track today, but the Australian wasn’t overly impressed with the stunning new Spanish venue. Having finished fourth-quickest in the dry this morning, the 24-year-old was in brilliant form in wet conditions this afternoon. His quickest time of 2.01.710 saw him easily beat Fiat Yamaha rival Jorge Lorenzo by 0.568s and he said he was been surprised at how much grip was provided by the new Aragon surface in tricky conditions.
“I was surprised because there are maybe two points that are a bit slippery but not in really dangerous areas,” Stoner said. “It is strange because the surface doesn’t give you a lot of feedback but it doesn’t do anything wrong. You can feel the bike and the tires moving on the surface so you know they won’t do anything crazy or quickly on you. But at the same time you don’t get a sensation of what it is actually doing.”
Stoner confirmed this afternoon’s dismal weather thwarted his plan to run a radical new set-up on his factory Ducati GP10 machine. He has a new seat position, geometry and shorter swingarm length ready to experiment with, but said: “We didn’t do any runs this morning. We were supposed to do that for this afternoon. The first part of the session was getting some laps in learning the track and this afternoon would have been handy to get out on that setting. We’ll decide if it is wet tomorrow if we’ll run it but if it is dry we’ll definitely run it. This morning would have been better but on the second run I had a wheel out of balance so there was a lot of chatter on the left side of the tire. Tomorrow we know we can be a lot better in the dry as well.”
Stoner said he didn’t particularly dislike the new Motorland Aragon but in his opinion the track had no obvious standout sections.
“This track seems to be different,” Stoner said. “It’s a little bit slower than what I expected and I already expected it to be reasonably slow paced. There is not really any fast section but the best corner is the last turn. It is open and wide and there could be some overtaking opportunities there. It is difficult to pick where you make the exit but right now I’m pretty
happy with that part of it. I don’t hate it but it’s not fun. You go to Mugello, Phillip Island and Brno on corners where you can really hang it out. Here, almost all the corners you brake all the way in on the edge of the tire and it makes it very nerve wracking. Other than the last corner there is not really any enjoyable part of the track. In its own way it has got something but it wasn’t designed for bike racing a whole lot.”
Stoner also proved that previous testing experience at the circuit counted for little after he posted competitive times in the dry and wet. Several riders including Valentino Rossi, Jorge Lorenzo, Dani Pedrosa and factory Ducati teammate, Nicky Hayden, had used production road bikes to familiarize themselves with the circuit. Stoner had opted not to test and said it was obviously no major disadvantage.
“Obviously you have to go to tracks and practice,” Stoner said. “This is something that I’ve been talking about for years and people making excuses for not knowing tracks. For me it is not an excuse. I can understand you not being on the pace right away but by the end of the weekend you should be able to run pretty much the same pace. It has been no problem for me learning this track. It took me five or six laps this morning to understand where everything was and then slowly but surely improved braking markers.”
Reigning MotoGP world champion Valentino Rossi declared himself satisfied after the premier class field encountered a mixed day of weather at the new Motorland Aragon track. The Fiat Yamaha rider was sixth-quickest in dry conditions this morning but much happier after he rode his factory YZR-M1 to fourth on a wet track for this afternoon’s second 45-minute session. Rossi set a best time of 2.02.878 in the wet to finish just 0.467s behind Nicky Hayden in third, and the 31-year-old said: “It was a good day, especially because of the wet practice because after my accident I had only ridden
Rossi’s problems with his shoulder continued on Friday as the Italian took fourth in the second practice session.
in the wet at Brno in the warm-up and it was very, very bad. I needed some kilometers to reach the right pace with a good feeling. This morning in the dry I suffered with my set-up but this afternoon for the wet we made some changes and I’m fourth, not far from the top and for tomorrow we have some more modifications to try. It was a good day and it was positive to ride on the wet track.”
The nine-time world champion also declared himself a big fan of the new Motorland Aragon track. Rossi was impressed with the challenging layout, the 5.078 km circuit a blend of blind entry corners, hard braking sections and exciting undulation changes.
“The track is very beautiful, I like a lot,” Rossi said. “After the first left/right you go up and then do another right/left and after that you close and this is a good section. The Corkscrew and then the long left plus the last corner is very good. It is a good track.”
When asked about his physical condition with his damaged right shoulder still causing him considerable discomfort, Rossi added: “I have three right corners where I had some pain in the shoulder and after this morning I had more pain than yesterday. But now the situation is clear and my shoulder will stay like this. My leg is very good now but my shoulder is giving me some problems and we know we have to manage like this now until the end of the season. It’s easier for the shoulder in the wet but I would still prefer it to be dry because this is a fun track to ride on.”
Rossi will decide after the final race in Valencia in early November whether he will undergo surgery to repair major tendon damage in his right shoulder. He injured the shoulder during a motocross training accident in April.
Repsol Honda rider Dani Pedrosa blamed an electronics glitch for leaving him woefully off the pace in this afternoon’s rain-hit second practice session at the spectacular new Motorland Aragon track. The Spaniard had continued his impressive recent form to top the timesheets in this morning’s opening 45-minute session run in cool but dry
conditions. Pedrosa had beaten former HRC teammate, Nicky Hayden, by 0.411s but the electronics issue with his factory RC212V machine hindered his progress this afternoon. Pedrosa was looking strong in full wet conditions and once again was able to top the timesheets. But as the track dried and conditions improved in the final ten minutes of the session, Pedrosa was unable to capitalize. He ended with a best time of 2.05.394 that was 3.6 seconds off Casey Stoner’s best pace and only Mika Kallio, Aleix Espargaro and Hiroshi Aoyama were slower.
The 24-year-old, who has just signed a new contract with HRC, said: “In general this has been a good first day of practice for us at a brand new circuit for MotoGP. This morning we started well and got into a rhythm quickly, which was important because it makes a big difference going from the one-hour practice sessions we’re familiar with to 45 minutes. It’s necessary to stay out on track for longer runs and not spend too long in the garage, and this morning we did a good job to maximize our time. This afternoon in the wet we also started pretty well when it was raining properly, but then we had a small electrical problem with one bike and the other machine wasn’t ready to go out, so we lost some time in the garage and I wasn’t on track when the surface was improving at the end.”
Despite Ben Spies’ lack of experience riding a MotoGP bike in the rain, the rookie excelled quickly and is pleased with his progress so far.
Ben Spies is confident that come rain or shine he will be able to extend his brilliant recent run in the 2010 MotoGP world championship. The Texan has finished top rookie and top non-factory rider in the last four races and he ended Friday’s practice sessions at the new Motorland Aragon track with the 10-fastest time overall. The reigning World Superbike champion was 10th in dry conditions this morning but his confidence was given a major boost in wet conditions in the second 45-minute session. The Monster Yamaha Tech 3 rider set a best time of 2.03.874 to finish eighth-fastest in the rain.
“I was pleased with progress in the dry this morning and I’m really happy with how it went in the rain,” Spies said. “I just stayed out to get a feeling for the bike in the wet conditions. In Germany earlier in the season I did about three laps in the wet and that’s all my MotoGP experience in the wet since Indianapolis in 2008. It was a bit of an eye opener and it took me a while to get up to speed. But once I got comfortable I felt good. And if we do have to ride in the rain now I’m confident that we’re not miles off. The limits are super high in the rain and my lap times were coming down all session, so now I’ve got my head wrapped around what this bike and tires can do in the wet, hopefully we can step up again next time.”
Monster Yamaha Tech 3 teammate, Colin Edwards, was ninth-fastest overall today having finished 11th- quickest in this afternoon’s wet session.