Rossi fastest at Jerez, wins BMW Valentino Rossi was fastest in today's 40-minute qualifying simulation in official practice at Jerez pipping the Repsol Honda's of Dani Pedrosa, both of whom were well clear of the field throughout the session. For his effort, Rossi won a new BMW sports car.
"It is great," said Rossi. "It is not important for the championship but it's the first battle and it means that our bike is a lot more competitive than last year.
"I had a fantastic lap in qualifying, so thank you to my bike - it was very good to ride. It was a good point to start from."
Pedrosa declared himself very happy with the session having gathered valuable data about the performance of Michelin’s qualifying tires. His best today of 1m 38.527s was nearly 1.4s faster than the mark he set when he topped the timesheets in the last test here in November and nearly half a second inside the existing 990cc pole position lap record of 1m 39.064s. The Repsol Honda ace was only bettered by Valentino Rossi today. Pedrosa also completed a continuous run of 28 laps - one more than race distance - in the afternoon, consistently lapping in the 1m 41s bracket.
The holder of the number one plate, American Nicky Hayden, was also upbeat after improving his pace on both race and qualifying tires. His flying laps during the shoot-out were good enough for fourth place and, having missed the November test to have crucial surgery to his shoulder, Hayden made further ground as he readies himself to launch the defense of his World Championship. In preparation for the second race of the season here in one month’s time the 25-year-old also put in a competitive 27-lap race simulation at the end of the day, taking his lap total for the day to a mammoth 101.
“It was definitely fun to get out there again with the boys with something on the line – the timed session gave it a bit of an edge today and was a little bit of a tease before the first race. The position is not too bad but my time is quite a long way from the front. I haven’t spent much time on qualifying tyres at the winter tests so it was good to get that time here and put in a few quick laps. Some of the other riders really put in some hot laps today so credit to them. The conditions towards the end of the session were dodgy because there was a fine mist of rain falling which made it interesting – and riding on qualifiers is always exciting enough anyway. I feel like perhaps we’re still missing a little something to get the speed I want but I’m excited to go racing – I’m really looking forward to it.”
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