Rossi: "It is just Friday but I am very happy to be in front"

Valentino Rossi finished the opening day of the Catalan Grand Prix in first position for the Yamaha Factory Racing Team; topping his first dry session since Malaysia in 2010.

Rossi is out with a point to prove in Barcelona

Photo: Yamaha MotoGP

The nine time world champion has struggled since his stunning ‘comeback’ second position at Qatar back in April; Rossi has failed to finish on the podium since then. In front of his home crowd the Italian had a disastrous race at Mugello two weeks ago following a collision with Alvaro Bautista in the third corner of the first lap. Coming to Barcelona with a point to prove, Rossi set the fourth fastest time in the mornings free practice session, 0.439s off team-mate Lorenzo’s fastest time. In warmer conditions by the afternoon the 34 year old sat in fourth position for the majority of FP2 before setting a lap time of 1.42.297, which put him at the top of the timing sheets and 0.049s ahead of Lorenzo.

Despite winning at the Catalan track a total of nine times, Rossi isn’t getting ahead of himself “I love this track; it is one of the best. The M1 is always great here in Catalunya. It is just Friday but I am very happy to be in front, although we have still a lot of work to do. We have to decide which tyre to use and we have some corners and sections where we have to improve for tomorrow. Anyway, it is great to be back on top.”

Reigning world champion and Factory Yamaha team-mate Jorge Lorenzo had a strong day at his home track in the opening free practice sessions, finishing  the day in second position.

Lying just twelve points behind compatriot Dani Pedrosa in the world championship standings Lorenzo understands the importance of securing an early pace for the race weekends.The Spaniard proved this was a winning formula when he won the Italian Grand Prix at Mugello two weeks ago in dominant style. However, Mugello was only his second win in five races so far in 2013 and the 26 year old will need to begin pulling back the point deficit on Pedrosa. 

His time of 1.42.346 was just 0.049s off Rossi’s time, who pipped his team-mate to first position with three minutes of the session remaining. “We started very well but we tried two settings that didn’t work so well. We stayed with the same tyres for the whole practice to understand why they are dropping in this weather so we could solve this problem that I think all the riders are having. We have to try and improve the bike in order to let me have more confidence, then I can stay in the middle of the 42 second mark which is my target. We don’t focus so much on the classification because not all the riders kept on the same tyres during the practice, a new tyre can give you half a second or more. We have to trust the pace and the pace is good, one of the best of the grid.”


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