2012 Assen MotoGP Thursday Press Releases

Press releases from the MotoGP teams after the first day of practice at Assen:


Courageous Crutchlow makes fast start in Assen

Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Team rider Cal Crutchlow finished the opening day of practice for the historic Dutch TT in second position after the British rider showed tremendous courage and impressive speed at the Assen circuit today.Only 11 days after breaking and dislocating his left ankle in a practice crash for his home round at Silverstone, the British rider demonstrated his bravery and skill once again by finishing just 0.006s behind fastest rider Ben Spies.Crutchlow, who rode to a heroic sixth place from the back of the grid at Silverstone, was ninth quickest this morning but was able to knock 1.2s off his best pace this afternoon to finish with an impressive lap time of 1.34.872.The 26-year-old finished the leading non-factory rider and today's positive start was an instant reward for Crutchlow's determined efforts to be in the best physical conditions possible for the Assen race on Saturday. He has been undergoing round-the-clock treatment on his left ankle since Silverstone and although not close to 100% fitness, he has targeted a top six finish in Saturday's 26-lap race.

Andrea Dovizioso has battled for the podium in each of the last three races and is confident he will be in contention for the top three again on Saturday after a positive start to his preparations for the seventh round of the 2012 MotoGP World Championship.

The Italian rider was eighth fastest but in a closely contested second session that saw the top 11 split by just 0.471s, Dovizioso's be st pace of 1.35.257 was only 0.391s off Spies at the top of the leaderboard.

Dovizioso will focus on improving front-end stability on his YZR-M1 machine ahead of tomorrow's final practice and qualifying.

Cal Crutchlow 2nd 1.34.872 – 40 laps:

“I am happy to be second quickest considering my physical condition is certainly still not the best after the crash at Silverstone. This morning was a bit of a shock to be honest because although I have been able to do a bit of cycling at home on the Isle of Man as part of the recovery, it definitely wasn't easy. There was quite a bit of pain with the ankle this morning and it took me longer than normal to get into a rhythm. But overall I am really pleased to be second because I am still quite sore. I am sure it is going to get better the more time I spend on the bike but I had arm pump this morning too because I was compensating for the ankle. But this afternoon it wasn't an issue at all. I tried the hard and soft rear tyres and felt good on both so we have done a good job as always. The target for this weekend was to try and be inside the top six throughout and I've done that today. My ideal time was actually fastest so that is a really big positive and gives me a good boost to take into tomorrow.”

Andrea Dovizioso 8th 1.35.257 – 41 laps:

“The characteristics of this track means the lap times look very close but if you look at the tyres some were using then it is easier to understand who is really fast for race pace. Obviously I would have liked to be higher up than eighth but I am not unhappy with my race pace. I am quite fast but I can improve the setting of the bike, particularly the front-end. I don't have the stability like normal and that means I don't have a comfortable feeling entering the corner and I can't be as aggressive as I'd like. But I am only 0.3s away from the fastest pace, so it is not such a big gap to close to the front and I am confident I will be higher up the order tomorrow.”


Karel Abraham is still limited by injury. He´s 16th after Thursday sessions at TT Circuit Assen

Karel Abraham is still fighting with pain in left hand caused by injuries suffered in Aragon three weeks ago. Czech rider completed two Thursday sessions for Dutch Grand Prix at TT Circuit Assen only thanks to anesthetics. Abraham reached the best lap time 1:37,628, which is 2,762 slower than the fastest rider of Thursday Ben Spies.

Karel Abraham

„I started first practice session hoping that the hand won´t hurt too much. But I must enter pits after three laps, it was unthinkable to continue. We were running to clinic immediately to anesthetize the hand. It helped a little and I was able to get back on track, but I needed another injection before afternoon practice. After anesthetics I don´t feel the pain so much, but the hand is less sensitive and I haven´t enough power to handle. Naturally this is affecting the results. We will try to ride again tomorrow and hope that it won´t be worse.”

Marco Grana, Cardion AB Motoracing chief mechanic

„We are in the situation, when the physical condition of rider is limiting our work. There are lot of fast corners in this track and it´s problem for Karel to change the direction with his handicap. We will try to set up the electronics to make the engine softer to help Karel to ride. Good news is, that we found the correct tyre set up, but the biggest quest is to adapt the bike to Karel´s situation.”


SEVENTEENTH POSITION FOR MATTIA PASINI IN THE SECOND FREE PRACTICE AT ASSEN

The seventh round of the World Championship for the MotoGP class kicked in today, at the historical circuit of Assen.

In this first day, marked by pleasant and sunny weather, Pasini and his technicians decided to take advantage of the sessions to try out some modifications to the running gear and suspensions of the bike. Mattia gathered some data that will be important to proceed with the decisions to be made for tomorrow, in order to obtain a good level of competitiveness for his ART throughout the weekend in Holland.

The Italian had the chance to improve his laptime from the morning during FP2, setting the time of 1'37.657.

Mattia Pasini #54 - 17th with 1'37.657

“I can say I’m satisfied with this first two sessions. In the morning, we got out on the track with a bike that was quite different from the setting we used from the beginning of the championship till Silverstone. We worked on the information we gathered in the last six races, and that was a good start. I really like the bike now, we still have to improve it, but this is a nice starting point and we have some margin to work on. It was a good session, even if we didn’t really get to focus on the lap time. We maintained a good consistency and now we’ll keep working for tomorrow and in particular for Sunday.”


Spies shines in Assen practice

Round 7: Dutch TT – Free Practice One and Two

Assen, Thursday 28 June 2012

Bridgestone slick compounds available: Front: Soft, Medium. Rear: Medium-Soft, Medium (Asymmetric)

Bridgestone wet tyre compounds available: Hard (Main), Soft (Alternative)

Weather: Dry. Ambient 22-28°C; Track 27-43°C (Bridgestone measurement)

Yamaha Factory Racing’s Ben Spies continued his affinity with the Assen circuit to set a blistering time of 1:34.866 in Free Practice Two and finish fastest on what was an incredibly close day of competition.

In an FP2 session that saw the top eleven riders set times within 0.471 seconds of each other, Spies used the combination of the harder front and softer rear slick to set the fastest time of the day to finish 0.006s ahead of Monster Yamaha Tech 3’s Cal Crutchlow, while Ducati’s Nicky Hayden was third fastest overall. The CRT riders also showed impressive pace today with Power Electronics Aspar’s Aleix Espargaro fastest today in 12th overall and just 1.749 seconds off Spies’ benchmark time.

Weather conditions today at Assen were fine and warm, with the sun shining for most of the day and track temperatures reaching a peak of 30°C in FP1 before rising to 43°C in FP2. The warmer than expected temperatures resulted in riders preferring to go with the harder option slicks today, though many riders used the combination of the softer rear and harder front to set their fast lap times at the end of FP2. As there is a good chance of overnight rain and cloud cover affecting tomorrow morning’s practice session, the softer slick options may be more widely used tomorrow.

MotoGP™ action resumes at 1010 local time tomorrow morning (GMT +2) for Free Practice 3, with the one hour qualifying session starting at 1355.

Shinichi Yamashita – General Manager, Bridgestone Motorsport Tyre Development Department

“Today’s warm conditions allowed riders to take to the track with a fast pace right from the beginning as grip levels were quite good. As warm-up performance wasn’t such an important consideration today, most riders preferred to use the harder front slick tyre as corner stability at a circuit like Assen is very important.

“The flowing nature of this circuit and the favourable track conditions were perhaps the reason why today’s lap times were so close and the signs are good for a highly entertaining race on Saturday. With track conditions being so good today, hopefully we don’t get too much rain overnight though we anticipated unsettled weather when selecting our tyres for this race to ensure maximum rider safety in any weather condition.”


Spies Kicks Off Assen Weekend on Top

Yamaha Factory Racing’s Ben Spies began his Assen weekend today with a confident turn of speed to wrap up the first sessions as the fastest rider. The 2011 Assen race winner put in a productive simulation run in the afternoon session on the harder tyre before switching to the soft to take the top spot on the time sheets with a 1’34.866 lap.

Team mate Jorge Lorenzo was also quick to get up to an impressive speed today. The Championship leader finished the morning session as the fastest rider and led the majority of the second session as well. Lorenzo was only overtaken when others switched to the softer option rear tyre whilst he remained on the hard. He finished the day in fifth position but less than two tenths from Spies in first.

Ben Spies

Position : 1st Time: 1'34.866 Laps: 45

“Today was a good day, both this morning and this afternoon. In the second session we did almost race distance on the tyres in case it rains tomorrow to be ready for Saturday. We had quick times and then tried the soft tyre at the end of the session and were able to put down some quick laps with over race distance on the front tyre. The bike feels good so we’re going to continue on this path and try to make the bike even better for tomorrow and Saturday.”

Jorge Lorenzo

Position : 5th Time: 1'35.057 Laps: 26

“The feeling is pretty good with the bike, we started in a good way this morning and were fastest. In the afternoon we were fastest for most of the session but finally the riders who switched to soft tyres went in front of me. We concentrated on improving the pace with a race tyre and I think we succeeded. We have a good package and I’m confident with the bike which is important.”

Wilco Zeelenberg

Team Manager

“A very good first day at Assen and great weather too! The bike is behaving really well, this morning we were quickest and Jorge was even a little faster in the afternoon session. We were very consistent so a happy team and a happy rider.”

Massimo Meregalli

Team Director

“A great start to the weekend, we completed a long race run successfully and Ben is pretty happy with the bike set up. We just have some small details to try and improve but we are close. Jorge was as usual showing a good fast consistent pace so a strong start for Yamaha.”


Work begins in Assen for the Repsol Honda Team

Today, the Repsol Honda Team were back in action at the Assen circuit on the first day of free practice for the Dutch TT.

With pleasant weather and good track conditions, the Honda factory riders began work on the set up of their RC213V machines and tested some new parts in preparation for Saturday's race.

Casey Stoner and Dani Pedrosa focused on a chassis comparison to improve the chattering issues whilst also spending time working on the tyres and trying different set ups with both soft and hard compounds. In the afternoon, with track temperatures 15 degrees higher than in the morning practice, Dani and Casey chose to remain on the hard compound, not switching to a new rear soft in the last minutes of the session.

Dani, second quickest in the morning, improved slightly in the afternoon and finished sixth in the combined free practice times with 1'35.080, just 0.2 tenths off the best lap time of the day, while Casey, third in the FP1, didn't improve in the second session and finished the day seventh with 1'35.181.

DANI PEDROSA 6th 1'35.080

"It's been very good to have these temperatures in Assen and it really helps us to take profit of both practice sessions to work on the setup of the bike. We tried different things on the chassis to improve our feeling with the front tyre and we did many laps on both tyres, the soft in the morning and the hard in the afternoon. We are pleased with the steps we made today and I think we have a good basic setting to keep improving tomorrow. Basically, we would like to get better traction to give us more corner speed. Concerning the chassis we tried, I felt slightly differences, but I still need to compare them a little bit more because we are looking to improve the performance with the front tyre and Assen doesn't really have hard braking. It's impressive that the lap times are so close from the first to the eighth position, it means that tomorrow's qualifying will be tough and here it's important to get a good position on the grid because the first corner is very tight".

CASEY STONER 7th 1'35.181

"We tried a few things with the bike but weren't really happy with them. We tested another chassis but haven't found many positives with it yet, in the morning if felt like we had slightly less chatter in the front, then this afternoon no real benefit, perhaps a little worse. In FP2 we couldn't get any feeling from the rear and to be honest I felt a little nervous on the bike because from the first two exits, the bike just wanted to throw me off, every time I touched the throttle the rear wanted to come around on me and I lost the front quite a few times, too many for my liking. Everything we're doing, trying to reduce the chatter is just making the bike difficult to ride. We're going to have to rethink things again and come out fresh tom orrow. I'm not too worried about finding the pace, it was just a little bit disappointing this afternoon".


POSITIVE FIRST DAY FOR THE PRAMAC TEAM IN HOLLAND

Just few days after the British Grand Prix, the Pramac Ducati Team was back on track in Holland today, with Spaniard Hèctor Barberà showing a good pace at the historic Assen circuit.

In unusually dry conditions, the Green Energy Team's sole rider started off the day in 7th place in the morning free practice and hoped to improve further in the afternoon. However this was not to be as he was only able to better his morning time by 0.020 seconds, slipping back through the order after a small crash.

The Spaniard is confident that he can move up the timesheets tomorrow, using the setup of the bike with which he crashed during the free practice, due to a mistake while he was changing gear.

Tomorrow’s final practice and qualifying sessions are expected to be run in dry conditions and this should be a great weather forecast for the Green Team.

Hèctor Barberà – Pramac Racing Team Rider –

“It was a satisfying day for us. In the morning session I had a good setup on my Ducati Desmosedici and I was able to stop the clock in 1’35.296, finishing in 7th place.

Unfortunately during the second free practice, I made a mistake at the entrance of a corner while I was changing gear and I crashed out. This made us change our initial plans because we lost some time fixing the second bike. Despite this small hitch I’m confident with my crew’s work and I know that we could have a more brilliant qualifying day, tomorrow.”

Francesco Guidotti – Pramac Racing Team Manager –

“Despite the small crash at the beginning of the afternoon’s session, we are gratified with today’s result. The bright spot of this warm Thursday in Holland was that the top ten riders were all within less then four tenths of a second, so tomorrow we will have a hard-fought one-hour qualifying session and we hope to wrap up in the front rows.”


BRADL ENJOYS HIS FIRST OUTING AT ASSEN DAY ONE

Assen, 28th June: the Dutch track provided largely sunny and dry conditions for the first day of free practices at the slightly revamped surface which hosts the seventh round of the 2012 calendar.

LCR Honda racer Stefan Bradl had a difficult 2011 Moto2 race in Assen and he is not a big fan of the 4.542km track but he made a positive first appearance at “The Cathedral” circuit aboard his RC213V posting the 11th fastest lap time (1’35.337) in a very close afternoon session with 10 riders in less than half second.

Bradl: “This morning we have struggled a lot with the bike and we were far away from our perfect set up and at the end of the first session I was a bit worried. I had no idea of what we should improve to be back in our standard shape. But in the second outing we made a good progression gaining much more confidence. The bike was easier to ride but I must improve on section one which is the main issue at the moment. If you look at the classification we are only 11th but if you check the lap times we are very close to the top ten”.


Promising start for Ducati Team in free practice at Dutch TT

The first day of free practice at the Dutch TT saw both Ducati Team riders reduce their gaps to the top of the time sheets. Nicky Hayden, who was third overall at day’s end, is just one tenth of a second from the provisional pole, while Valentino Rossi, who was eighth, has a gap of approximately four tenths. The Italian set his best time with the hard tyre.

The sessions took place in dry conditions, and both Rossi and Hayden hope that the good weather will continue tomorrow so that they can also try to improve their race pace.

Nicky Hayden (Ducati Team) 3rd (1:34.968)

“I really like the Assen track, and the weather was perfect today. The team had some good ideas, and we tried a couple of things. I enjoyed riding the bike, and the day went pretty well. This morning we used the hard tyre for the entire session, and I was able to improve the rhythm in the last exit, with a tyre that had quite a few laps on it. This afternoon we didn’t make any big adjustments because the bike is working pretty well at the moment. Tomorrow we’re going to work on making the bike better at changing direction, and we’ll keep trying to make it better for race distance.”

Valentino Rossi (Ducati Team) 9th (1:35.296)

“Today went pretty well, especially in the afternoon. I’m eighth, but the gap to the front is only four tenths, which is a decent step forward for us. Now the bike works well with new tyres, but we have to keep working on our race pace. Both Nicky and I start sliding a lot when the tyre is worn, so we have to slow down too much compared to the others. Tomorrow, in order to be more consistent and improve the pace, we must try to improve rear grip without losing it at the front. Anyway, today wasn’t a bad start.”


STRONG START AT ASSEN

It was a positive first day of the Dutch TT for Team San Carlo Honda Gresini, with Alvaro Bautista continuing his good recent form in free practice at Assen and Michele Pirro able to close the gap to the top CRT riders Espargarò and De Puniet. The Spaniard and the Italian were fourth and fourteenth fastest overall, with qualifying due to take place tomorrow and the race on Saturday.

Alvaro Bautista ( 4th 1’ 35” 008 ) "It has been a positive first day, which was important for me because this is my first time here with this bike and I don't have great memories of this track in MotoGP. It was like riding a completely new circuit for me this morning and we also had a setting in the bike that I didn't like so much, so in the afternoon we went back a step with the setting and tried the harder tyre. We had to work on the bike a little bit because it was moving around in corner exit and we also made some improvements to the handling. We have work to do but I am happy with the start we made today."

Michele Pirro (14th 1’ 37” 057) "Today provided further confirmation of the progress we are making every time we go on the track and now we are very close to being able to show our full potential. As always I have great faith in the team and they are helping me find those few tenths to join the fight with Espargarò and De Puniet. We are getting closer and I am sure we'll be there soon."

Fausto Gresini "The first day was proof positive that Alvaro has a great feeling with the bike. We took a major step forward in the Barcelona test that was confirmed with the performance at Silverstone and today was another example. Alvaro is fast and consistent now and the determination he is showing, along with the guys in the team, is a source of great satisfaction for me. When things are working like this it makes life much easier. I am also very happy with Michele's result today. He continues to outdo our expectations, riding well and giving great feedback to the engineers, which galvanises the whole team. We are getting close to the top CRT, which proves that our project is developing in the correct way."


POWER ELECTRONICS ASPAR PAIR CLOSE THE GAP TO FACTORY MOTOGP RIVALS

Espargaró just 1.7 seconds off the fastest time, De Puniet close behind

Jorge Lorenzo set the pace for much of the opening day of free practice at Assen although the time sheets were turned on their head in an entertaining finale to the day that saw challenges from Dani Pedrosa, Nicky Hayden, Cal Crutchlow and Ben Spies, who finally finished on top. However, with eleven riders within half a second it promises to be a close battle for the next two days around the fast and flowing Dutch circuit.

The two POWER ELECTRONICS Aspar Team riders continued their personal battle to be the fastest CRT rider on track, with just 0.256 seconds separating Aleix Espargaró from his team-mate Randy De Puniet after 39 laps apiece. De Puniet was the fastest of the two this morning only to be usurped by Espargaró in the afternoon, the Frenchman looking for solutions to improve his rear traction whilst the Spaniard reported positive feedback from the chassis of his ART machine. Both riders are within two seconds of Spies' best effort.

12th Aleix Espargaró 1.36.615 (39 laps): "We have improved at every race this season and the bike is getting easier and easier to ride. I really like this track and we've hardly touched the set-up from Silverstone, I feel at one with the bike and we were able to push hard today and close the gap to the factory bikes. This is a bold statement but I think we're getting close to finding the limit of this bike and it is going to be difficult to get more out of it. I spent three laps behind Bradl and Valentino and was barely conceding three tenths a lap to them. The chassis on the ART is magnificent, we're just struggling for power."

13th Randy De Puniet 1.36.871 (39 laps): "We have tried some different chassis settings today working from the base set-up and it seems like the results were positive this morning. We tried some more things this afternoon to improve the rear traction especially when the tyre begins to wear. We improved both the rear and the front but lost a little bit in turning so I need to adjust to that but in general I am happy because we're working in the right way. My fastest lap was on the hard tyre so we're happy with that but as always we need to keep working."


Encouraging beginning for Edwards at Assen

Good start for the seventh round of the championship for the NGM Mobile Forward Racing Team, who in the combined FPs of today finds himself in 18th position with Colin Edwards in MotoGP. The American riders has a particular improvement of 1.5 seconds from FP1 and FP2, finishing today’s session at only 2.8 seconds from Ben Spies´s best time.

Great job done by the team so far, they have focused their effort in the electronics and setup of the bike. The goal now will be to qualify within the fifth row of the grid, which is a within reach for the Texas Tornado, hoping that the weather conditions remain the same.

In Moto2, Alex De Angelis and Yuki Takahashi improve their performance and look forward to the rest of the Dutch GP weekend.

Colin Edwards – 5-

“This track takes a particular setup we got too much trail at the bike, it was just so hard to get it from left to right, get through the chicanes, struggled a lot, had issues with the traction control too. This afternoon it was all about at least trying to find something that works for this specific track. We went less trail on the bike, steepen it up a little bit, get it to turn a little better and everything kind of came alive, so I was very happy. With where we were this morning and where we are now, the bike actually feels a lot better.”

Sergio Verbena – Crew Chief

“This morning during FP1 we didn’t have a good start of the session but this afternoon we found a good solution and were able to improve by 1.5 seconds. The gap from the front is 2.8 seconds, it’s not bad but we have to work on closing the gap with the other CRTs. We still have seven or eight tenths fro the first CRT so we need to close this gap.”

Pietro Caprara – Moto2 Technical Director

“First day with the FTR bike for our team and the first impressions have been good so far with the setup. Both riders are happy with the feeling they had in both FPs. With Yuki we found some mechanical problems that we still need to work on but we are confident to improve the performance for tomorrow. He is very happy because the handling of the machine is better for him. Alex was able to do good lap times; his ideal lap time would have been 1.38.8 if he hadn’t crashed. He had a very good first impression. The collaboration between the team and the manufacture is been very good, we have full support including chassis data, setting base and we are constantly comparing data to make constant progress.”


2012

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