The Repsol Honda Team made a solid start during the first practice session for the Grand Prix of Valencia today, as the MotoGP field began preparations for the final race of the season. Dani Pedrosa and Andrea Dovizioso finished in third and eighth positions in the hour-long session at the 4.005km (2.489-mile) track - a venue characterized by second- and third-gear corners overlooked by vast grandstands. Come Sunday, this impressive arena will be packed solid with upwards of 120,000 passionate Spanish fans. Pedrosa, who loves this track and enjoys huge support here, immediately revealed his intentions by going to the top of the timesheets after fifteen minutes, and staying there for the first half of the session. At the end of the hour-long practice period, which was affected by strong winds buffeting the riders, Pedrosa was in third place, and tomorrow the 24-year-old Spaniard will be looking to close the gap to Casey Stoner and Jorge Lorenzo in front of him. Pedrosa is the only rider to have won in all three classes at the Ricardo Tormo circuit, and he would dearly love to sign off the 2009 season with another win here.
Dovizioso spent the hour honing suspension settings and tuning his RC212V to the tight and twisty nature of this circuit. He too was affected by the wind and found it especially intrusive when the front wheel lifts under power while exiting the many slow-speed corners at Valencia. With a good idea for the direction he and the team will now take, Dovizioso is confident he can climb the timesheets in tomorrow’s two sessions: a further hour of practice in the morning, and the afternoon’s qualifying period to decide grid-slots for Sunday’s 30-lap race. DANI PEDROSA – 3rd – 1m 33.241s "For a first practice session, this was OK today and we completed some valuable laps to famliarise ourselves with this circuit again. It was really windy out there and this affected the machine more in some corners than others - like in the third sector where it was quite difficult to control the bike. Still, we have time to solve this tomorrow. Also, it’s good that we got used to the windy conditions because it looks like we’ll have them for the whole weekend. The track surface was not totally clean, but actually the grip was good and the Bridgestone tyres were working well. There’s a gap to the riders in front and we need to make some improvements for tomorrow so that we’ve got the best chance of qualifying well. I really want to win this race - it’s more important to me than finishing third in the championship - so we need to work really hard to give us a good chance on Sunday." ANDREA DOVIZIOSO – 8th – 1m 34.382s "We got through quite a lot of work this afternoon, focusing mainly on some options for suspension set-up. We didn’t have the time to test all the ideas we have for this circuit, so tomorrow we will continue working. I’m confident we can improve and move forward because eighth is not where I want to be. The track conditions today were not too bad, but the strong wind made controlling the bike more difficult, and this took some getting used to. Here the bike usually tends to wheelie because there are a lot of slow corners, and the strong wind accentuated this issue. The characteristics of this circuit mean that it takes a while to get into a good rhythm, and so we did more laps on each run out of the pits - around 10-13 laps each time, which is more than we do at other circuits. Tomorrow we’ll focus on getting a good qualifying position to give us the best chance on Sunday." KAZUHIKO YAMANO - REPSOL HONDA TEAM MANAGER "We’re looking to finish the season with strong results from both Dani and Andrea here and the session today gave us the chance to move towards that. We know Dani is more than capable of winning here, so he and his crew will be totally focused on finding a machine setting that will allow him to fight for that. Andrea too can build on the performance from today and we can work with the information gathered during first practice. Tomorrow, the team needs to perform at a high level in both sessions to give us the best possible results in qualifying."