Yamaha Factory Racing rider Ben Spies was back on form in Estoril today for the first practice sessions of the Portuguese Grand Prix. The Texan was one of the first riders to venture out in the morning session, braving mixed track conditions of wet and dry to test a big set up change. The new direction proved to be confidence inspiring, Spies topping the morning timesheets and remaining highly competitive in the afternoon, leading for a while and eventually finishing in second place, 0.321 seconds behind Casey Stoner.
Team mate Jorge Lorenzo decided to sit out the morning session with little valuable data to be gained from the mixed track conditions. The afternoon session saw him hunting a set up to provide more rear grip for his YZR-M1, eventually settling for fifth in the timesheets. The team will look to find a solution tomorrow to be ready for qualifying. Today marks not only Lorenzo’s 25th birthday but also the ten-year anniversary to his first GP session at the Jerez circuit.
Position : 2nd Time: 1’38.717 Laps: 33
“It’s a good feeling today but it’s still early, it’s Friday. The most important thing is I have to thank my crew, they made a huge change to the bike, not only to the front but we also changed some rider position settings that I asked for and the bike seems good. Not only are the lap times fast, it’s much easier to ride at that speed than the slower times at Jerez. Right now the bike is quick and easy to ride, we need to make some more improvements to it. To be in the top three on the first day after two difficult weekends is a positive start.”
Position : 5th Time: 1’38.930 Laps: 16
“Today was so-so because we didn’t find a good set up or a good feeling with the bike. Also the new asphalt is not the best, I think it’s worse than last year in some places and also the weather doesn’t help with some wet patches in corners. I expect a lot of things to improve tomorrow, especially the rear of the bike which is not right in some corners.”
Wilco Zeelenberg – Team Manager
“This afternoon was the first free practice for us as we sat out the morning due to the weather conditions. We’re not perfect yet; we’re missing some rear grip, especially in corner entry so we need to find it for tomorrow. We’re confident we will and will be ready for qualifying.”
Massimo Meregalli – Team Director
“Definitely a promising start today, the new set up is giving Ben the right confidence so now it’s a matter of some little adjustments but he is up there which is the most important thing. Jorge missed the morning session due to the bad conditions; I think tomorrow he will be where he should be. A good starting day, let’s see what tomorrow brings.”