Wet, windy and cold weather dominated the opening day of the final MotoGP pre-season test session at the Circuito de Jerez in Spain today, the adverse conditions resulting in Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Team riders Cal Crutchlow and Bradley Smith completing less than 35 laps between them. The forecast heavy rain started to fall shortly after the pit lane opened at 10am and it wasn’t until more than five hours later when the worst of the rain had stopped that Crutchlow decided to venture out on his YZR-M1 machine. The British rider quickly adapted to the tricky conditions and within five laps he had stormed into the top three with a lap of 1.49.963. He completed a further 14 laps evaluating Bridgestone’s hard compound rear rain tyre and was able to improve his pace to a 1.49.692 to finish in eighth position.
With four sets of rain tyres available per rider and with further rain forecast, Crutchlow only used one set today to ensure he has plenty of new rubber to work on the rain set-up of his YZR-M1 machine tomorrow. Eager to get in more vital dry track time ahead of his MotoGP debut in Qatar next month, the treacherous conditions were the worst imaginable for rookie Smith. Smith did complete 14 laps in the wet today to gain some knowledge of the grip offered by Bridgestone’s hard compound rear tyre, but like Crutchlow his strategy was to use only one set today, keeping a further three in anticipation of further wet weather tomorrow. Smith ended today with a best lap of 1.52.047 to finish 16th on the timesheets.
8th 1.49.692 — 19 laps
“It’s a shame about the weather today and I didn’t decide to go out until the middle of the afternoon for a few laps. I ended up only doing 19 laps because I wanted to use only one set of tyres to keep some back for tomorrow when it looks like it will be raining again. The set I used today wore quite quickly but on the 800s we used a lot more lean angle and on the 1000 you have a lot more power going through the tyre and it is wearing faster. A lot of those in front of me put in a second set of tyres to go faster and I am sure if I’d done the same I’d have been much higher up. I was third after only five laps but I am not worried about the lap time. I tried a new setting for the rain that didn’t work so we went back to last year’s setting and I had a good fe eling again. We will see what the weather brings for tomorrow but I am hoping we can get a bit of time in the dry before we pack up for the first race in Qatar.”
16th 1.52.047 — 14 laps
“When you need as much dry track time as possible to build up experience, the last thing I wanted to see was conditions like today. Of course it is still good to get some time in the rain because that is also good experience for me but I only did two runs this afternoon. I was able to understand the bike quite quickly but the plan was always to use just one set of tyres today and keep the rest for tomorrow. With the tyres we have kept back for tomorrow it will mean I can have a lot of time on track to understand more about riding in the wet. I didn’t try and push too hard and I was quite cautious because the last thing I want to be doing is crashing. But I could understand the maximum lean grip, even with so much horsepower, was incredible. Tomorrow we will wait and see what happens with the weather but rain or sh ine I’ll be out on track trying to learn as much as possible because it is the experience on the bike that I am lacking.”