BIAGGI PUTS IN A SOLID PERFORMANCE IN CHALLENGING CONDITIONS
Nicky Hayden topped the combined "time sheets" at Shanghai today with team-mate Max Biaggi putting up the 11th fastest time of the day in a "two-part" Free Practice due to changing weather.
Action was delayed at the spectacular 5.2km circuit this morning while the organisers waited for a serviceable medical helicopter to be present at the circuit. When one duly arrived the MotoGP riders ventured out two and a half hours late for their first taste of the multi million-euro facility. The practice sessions for the rest of the day were subsequently delayed with the MotoGP riders getting away for their second Free Practice period at 16.00hrs local time, some two hours later than normal.
In the morning, as the 21-rider field learned the track, it was American Hayden who topped the leaderboard after the first hour. The 23-year-old put in the most laps of any rider of the session (23) and posted his fastest time on a very worn pair of Michelin tyres on the last lap. His team-mate, Biaggi, competing in his 200th GP this weekend, ended the first session 11th fastest.
The rain that had threatened all morning materialised in the early afternoon and damp patches around the track remained throughout the MotoGP session and none of the field improved on their morning's performance. Biaggi used his Michelins intelligently and ended the afternoon session fifth fastest while Hayden had a more challenging time, only managing the 16th fastest time as he opted for intermediate Michelins towards the end of the hour, but ran out of time.
"Today was supposed to be useful to learn the new track but the weather conditions compromised our job. Too many changes on the circuit: dry at first, then completely wet and finally very humid, anyhow always slippery and tricky. We really could not ride as much as we needed to. We still haven't found the right set-up of my bike. We must hurry up tomorrow morning, before the qualifying practice. But we'll use any available minute until Sunday warm-up. Here more than anywhere else going in and out of the turns is fundamental. And cornering is exactly the kind of problem that my bike carries since race one in Jerez. Certainly my team and I are giving our best, hopefully. The track is very technical and I like it, it's an interesting challenge. But for sure, the race won't be easy."
"The track is okay - a couple of strange corners - but overall I like it. I especially like the surface, real good grip and a lot of feeling, pretty sweet. It was nice to be quickest this morning but this afternoon was pretty tough. We were in good shape with full wets but had a few problems in the middle of the session when it started to dry. At the end of the session we put on intermediates but only managed one lap so really didn't get much of a feel. Overall not a bad day."
Makoto Tanaka - Team Manager-
"A hard first day at a new track but in the end a pretty satisfying one. The stoppage and the weather didn't help but it is the same for all. It is always difficult when the track is neither full wet or full dry especially when we need track time. Nicky did a good job this morning and on a standard race Michelin rear tyre put in a good time and Max is making good progress with his team although there is still some way to go."
Source: Repsol Honda Team Press Office