The reigning World Champion set the fastest time in the first free practice session this morning, posting a benchmark lap of 2’01.003 at the recently remodelled track, only bettered in the afternoon by himself and a last-gasp effort from Loris Capirossi (Ducati), who tops the overnight time sheets after clocking a time of 2’00.757 on his final lap. Rossi and his Gauloises Yamaha team-mate Colin Edwards worked purely on race tyres as they began the quest to find an optimum set-up for their YZR-M1 machines before the seventh race of the 2005 season on Saturday. Edwards set the eighth fastest time overall in the afternoon after shaving over half a second off his morning time, despite rising temperatures which touched 34ºC in the early Dutch summer sunshine.
VALENTINO ROSSI – ( 2’00.840 – 30 laps)
“In the morning the bike was already good but we made a few modifications in the afternoon and, to be honest, it wasn’t quite as good as it had been in the morning and we lost some of the feeling. Anyway, we have a very good base to work from and tomorrow we can try something different. The changes to the track have taken a little bit of the taste away, but they were made for safety reasons, which means they are very important. Despite the changes it is still Assen and it is always a great pleasure to ride here, it’s a very special track. Once again the bike is working well right from the start and I think if we can improve the balance and the setting a little more, then we can make a good result in Saturday’s race.”
COLIN EDWARDS (2’01.588, 38 laps)
“It’s better than it looks! When everything is working perfectly and you find yourself in eighth place then it looks like you have a problem, but we have some very clear ideas where we can improve and we still have plenty of time. I feel like I can find another half-second tomorrow. I’ve been struggling for traction since Mugello so we’ve retraced our steps a little with the setting, made a pretty major change to the rear of the bike and it feels a lot better. I’m losing a few tenths in the new sections because I haven’t worked out which is the hot line through there yet but, like when you visit a new track, it always helps to sleep on it. Also, the corners at Assen are so unbelievably fast compared to anywhere else that it always takes me a day to get used to where I can brake – and where I don’t have to! At some tracks you can turn up and the bike works straight away but Assen is not one of them. It puts a lot of load on the bike and unless you find the right setting you can’t go fast. ”
DAVIDE BRIVIO – TEAM DIRECTOR
“Valentino started out very well this morning and found an immediate feeling for this track, so from then on it has just been a case of fine tuning the small details. He completed a lot of work today, working on different setting options, but there is still plenty of room for improvement and tomorrow it will be time to put it all together. Colin is in a similar situation – he has found a good base quickly and is now looking for the changes that can help take a few tenths off his lap time in different parts of the track. It has been a good first day for us and we have an excellent starting point for the rest of the Grand Prix. Now we just have to keep working hard tomorrow and make sure we are in the best possible conditions for Saturday’s race.”