Valentino Rossi finished the...
Valentino Rossi finished the afternoon practice session on Friday in second, with the wet pavement playing into his and the Ducati GP12's favor.
JEREZ DE LA FRONTERA, SPAIN APR 27 – “So, I enjoy a lot more to ride this bike on the wet than on the dry and this is very strange, because usually is a lot better ride on the dry,” said Ducati Marlboro’s Valentino Rossi after setting the second fastest time in a wet/dry Friday afternoon practice session at the Spanish Grand Prix in Jerez de la Frontera, Spain. “For some reason, on the wet I can brake and enter in the corner like I want, but I don’t have the same feeling on the dry. But we don’t understand why. So we don’t understand why we have a problem on the dry and also for the same reason we don’t understand why we are so fast on the wet. Maybe is for the same reason.”
Rossi (1:51.440) finished second fastest to Repsol Honda’s Dani Pedrosa in the Friday afternoon session at Jerez that began wet, began to dry, then began to rain again before drying more. The conditions destroyed tires, causing everyone to speculate that if similar conditions exist in Sunday’s race tire longevity will be an issue. It certainly was in last year’s race, where tire conservation played a big part in riders making it to the finish line. That race was won in a runaway by Yamaha’s Jorge Lorenzo, with Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda) a distant second and Ducati Marlboro’s Nicky Hayden even farther back in third.
Having struggled so much to this point in the season, Rossi was “happy for the practice and for the result. Is a very good feeling come back at the top and finish the practice in second position. So is important for us, especially because last year with the old bike I was always quite competitive on the wet condition, so we have to confirm with the new bike if the feeling remain the same and it looks like with this practice we are quite good like last year.
Dani Pedrosa finished the...
Dani Pedrosa finished the afternoon session quickest, although technically Ivan Silva on the FTR Kawasaki CRT bike was quickest for the day...but that time was done on a slick tire gamble on the briefly drying track while the rest of the factory riders stayed in the garages during the mostly misty and foggy morning session.
“So it was important, because was a good point of the old bike and looks like it’s a good point of the new venture. Now we have to wait for the condition of the weekend of tomorrow, and especially Sunday, because looks like the weather forecast is quite bad and I think under the rain we are quite competitive. And we have to work a bit under some point of view and try to improve, but I’m already good with a good pace on the bike.
“And another thing that will be very important, I think, is if we have a race like last year with not a lot of water becomes very difficult for everybody because the tires finish all the rubber very early. So maybe will be a difficult race with half-half condition, but we wait. We will see.”
Having always been competitive on the old bike in the wet, Rossi was happy to again be competitive, “so if the conditions remain like this we can fight for a good result. Unfortunately, I expect that if is dry condition we are not so competitive.”
The motorcycle Rossi set his fast time on at Jerez Friday was the same as the one he’d ridden during the MotoGP IRTA test here in March. That one he called “the best one. The other one is a setting, is a different setting more similar to what Nicky (Hayden) uses. So different front, different size. But on the wet, I prefer the bike from the IRTA test.”
The longevity concern wasn’t restricted to the rear, Rossi said. The drying conditions also damaged the front, “and if the race starts like this afternoon at 2 o’clock, I think is very risky start with the slick. So maybe is better start with the rain tires. And, after, you try to manage to the end or maybe you stop for change the tire, but you lose a lot, a lot of time.” Rossi’s team hasn’t practiced changing tires, “but maybe is a good idea to try. Last year the guys that changed the tire doesn’t arrive in the top five.”
Teammate Nicky Hayden had much less to say. Hayden said the conditions didn’t allow for a true wet test, so he wasn’t going to speculate about the future. He’d ridden the GP12 a bit in a wet Mugello test recently, but that was a proper wet test in very cold conditions. “I’d say can’t really take a whole lot from that session,” he said.
Like Rossi, Hayden couldn’t explain why the Ducati went so well in the wet.
“It’s something we’ve certainly talked about in the past,” he began, “because we have to be smart and try to understand that. I’ve spoke to Filippo (Preziosi) about it. I don’t want to say too much, because today wasn’t really wet. So yeah, we were kinda fast, but let’s wait until we have a real wet session until we declare ourselves fast. Because when we was here for the test we were not very fast.
“We used to think with the carbon chassis that we thought in the dry we were too stiff. But in the wet, everybody’s too stiff because in those conditions it doesn’t matter what kind of frame you’ve got, so it would balance that out. And our theory was that the stiffness actually helped heat the tires more, because in the rain you don’t always want something real soft, even with suspension. Sometimes you think need to soften it up, but when you do that the tires don’t push into the ground, don’t push through the puddles and you don’t generate the heat and work the tires.
“So do we have any clear answer? No, but it’s definitely something we’ve discussed with the engineers and try to understand. Because last year was clear in real rain, I think we had clearly the best bike and also a lot of times to start the session…you look at, especially on a cool morning it would be Ducati-Ducati-Ducati the first five, ten minutes, the first five anyway. Maybe ten not so much.”
MotoGP Friday Practice Times:
1. Dani Pedrosa (SPA) Honda 1:50.780
2. Valentino Rossi (ITA) Ducati 1:51.440
3. Jorge Lorenzo (SPA) Yamaha 1:51.873
4. Casey Stoner (AUS) Honda 1:52.106
5. Nicky Hayden (USA) Ducati 1:52.254
6. Andrea Dovisioso (ITA) Yamaha 1:53.070
7. Alvaro Bautista (SPA) Honda 1:53.166
8. Cal Crutchlow (GBR) Yamaha 1:53.352
9. Ben Spies (USA) Yamaha 1:53.409
10. Stefan Bradl (GER) Honda 1:53.409
11. Randy De Puniet (FRA) ART/Aprilia 1:54.155
12. Mattia Pasini (ITA) ART/Aprilia 1:54.370
13 Karel Abraham (CZE) Ducati 1:54.378
14. Hector Barbera (SPA) Ducati 1:54.581
15. Colin Edwards (USA) Suter/BMW 1:54.707
16. Ivan Silva (SPA) FTR/Kawasaki 1:54.748
17. Yonny Hernandez (COL) FTR/Kawasaki 1:54.915
18. Danilo Petrucci (ITA) Ioda/Aprilia 1:55.752
19. Michele Pirro (ITA) FTR/Honda 1:56.067
20. James Ellison (GBR) ART/Aprilia 1:57.475
21. Aleix Espargaro (SPA) ART/Aprilia 1:57.789