Repsol Honda’s Dani Pedrosa proved to be the man to beat Friday with the Spaniard setting the fastest times in the two hour-long practice sessions at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.
“We did a good job today, we managed to get a good lap time in the morning and improved it in the afternoon,” said Pedrosa. “Although the grip level was very poor and we struggled a bit with the rear. The tires were working a little better in the afternoon, but it was hard to work on the consistency due to the lack of grip. I hope to be able to work on the pace tomorrow to prepare the race. The new bike is working good here, I will continue working on the set up tomorrow”.
Second fastest was championship points leader Jorge Lorenzo. Lorenzo was on pace early on in the first session and was atop the sheets in the afternoon practice, too.
“This afternoon we tried the hard rear tire but it didn’t work as well as the soft one this morning,” revealed Lorenzo. “We have to try the soft again tomorrow to improve the setting for the hard so we can decide which tire to use for the race. We also tried a different setting in the last ten minutes of FP2 but it didn’t improve anything so we lost that time. I’m hoping to improve both the feeling and also the lap time for tomorrow.”
Jorge Lorenzo has a few issues to sort out with his bike, but is feeling confident in his pace at Laguna Seca.
Reigning world champ, Casey Stoner finishing third despite not being totally comfortable with the set-up of his Honda.
“It hasn’t been a particularly eventful day, we didn’t really get the package we were hoping for,” shared Stoner who is planning on retiring at the end of the season. “We struggled a little this morning with stability on the soft tire, we improved it slightly this afternoon on the hard tire but found the bike to be quite aggressive and there wasn’t much grip. We have a few things to try tomorrow morning, if we can make some small improvements then we’ll be very happy with the bike. As it is now, we need to improve before we can say if we’re competitive or not”.
American rider, Ben Spies also impressed lapping on pace with the front runners: “Today was good, we worked on a lot of laps on the soft tire in the morning when the track wasn’t so great but not too bad either. We did a lot of laps on the old tires and the bike was pretty quick so I’m happy with that. The bike’s got a good balance, we just need to fine-tune it to get a few more tenths out of it but I think for race pace we’re looking good.”
Ducati’s Nicky Hayden announced at Laguna Seca that he had extended his contract with Ducati through 2013.
Both Monster Yamaha Tech 3 riders (Andrea Dovizioso and Cal Crutchlow) as well as Ducati’s Nicky Hayden and Stefan Bradl all got into the 1’22-lap time range which slotted them fifth, sixth, seventh and eighth, respectively.
“It’s been a tougher day than I was hoping, especially after the great news this morning,” said Hayden who confirmed earlier that he would continue with the factory Ducati squad next season. “In the first session I wasn’t going that great, and then on the last exit we had a problem with the brakes. This afternoon we went quite a bit faster, but at the moment, the hard tyre feels a bit too hard and the soft is a bit too soft. We need to choose one and set the bike up to work with it. At Mugello we felt like we were the closest we had been in a long time, so to be over a second off on such a tight track here is just too much. We need to stay calm and chip away at it tomorrow.”
Crashers included Valentino Rossi, Alvaro Bautista and Cal Crutchlow whom all fell down in seperate accidents during the afternoon practice session. All three riders appeared uninjured.
Friday Laguna Seca MotoGP Combined Practice Results:
1. Dani Pedrosa (Honda) 1’21.088
2. Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha) 1’21.444
3. Casey Stoner (Honda) 1’21.457
4. Ben Spies (Yamaha) 1’21.708
5. Andrea Dovizioso (Yamaha) 1’22.021
6. Cal Crutchlow (Yamaha) 1’22.258
7. Nicky Hayden (Ducati) 1’22.434
8. Stefan Bradl (Honda) 1’22.568
9. Valentino Rossi (Ducati) 1’23.772
10. Alvaro Bautista (Honda) 1’23.853
11. Aleix Espargaro (Forward) 1’24.835
12. Randy de Puniet (Aspar) 1’23.870
13. Colin Edwards (Suter) 1’24.732
14. Toni Elias (Ducati) 1’24.739
15. Yonny Hernandez (Avintia) 1’24.774
16. Karl Abraham (Ducati) 1’25.904
17. M. Masini (Aspar) 1’25.000
18. M. Pirro (Honda) 1’25.065
19. James Ellison (Gresini) 1’25.166
20. Ivan Silva (Avintia) 1’25.405
21. D. Petturcci (Ioda) 1’25.422
22. Steve Rapp (Attack Performance) 1’28.016